Kyiv was rocked by multiple explosions overnight after Russian fighter jets fired missiles from the Caspian Sea as Vladimir Putin issued a warning to the West about supplying long-range missiles to the Ukraine.
The Russian president said Moscow would strike new targets if the United States began supplying Ukraine with longer-range missiles, Russian news agency TASS reported.
At least one person was taken to hospital following the exposures, but no deaths had been reported as of Sunday morning, Vitali Klitschko said.
Ukrainian officials said Russia was targeting Kyiv’s rail infrastructure, but Moscow claimed it destroyed T-72 tanks supplied to Ukraine from Eastern Europe.
In eastern Ukraine, where the bulk of the fighting has been concentrated in recent weeks, Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said Russian forces had been pushed back to Severodonetsk.
Control of the disputed factory town was now “more or less split in two”, he said.
Explosions heard in Kyiv
Black smoke billowed into the sky as the sun rose over Kyiv on Sunday morning after the Darnytskyi and
Neighborhoods in Dniprovskyi were hit by blasts, city mayor Vitaly Klitschko said.
“According to preliminary data, the (Russians) launched missiles from Tu-95 aircraft from the Caspian Sea,” the Ukrainian Air Force said in a statement.
The missiles were the first to hit the capital since late April, when a Radio Liberty producer was killed when a Russian missile hit the building in which she lived.
Posted on Telegram, Mr Klitschko said the explosions were heard in Darnytsky and Dniprovsky districts.
“There are currently no casualties from missile strikes on infrastructure,” he wrote.
“One injured person was hospitalized. Services are still operating in the affected areas.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said the bombing was Russia’s resort to “further insidious attacks” and denounced French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement that Moscow should not be humiliated.
Heavy fighting continues in the Donbass region
Meanwhile, fighting continues in the southeastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, the focus of the Russian military since it withdrew from Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.
Ukrainian forces counter-attacked in the factory town of Severodonetsk and claim to have retaken territory from Russian troops.
Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk province, said on Sunday that Ukrainian forces controlled about half of the city after recapturing much of it from Russian troops.
“It had been a difficult situation, the Russians controlled 70% of the city, but for the past two days they have been
postponed,” he told Ukrainian television.
UK MoD: Russia uses proxy troops in Severodonetsk to limit military casualties
The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Ukraine’s counterattack was “probably blunting the operational momentum that Russian forces had previously gained by concentrating combat units and firepower”.
They added that Kremlin forces in the region include “ill-equipped and poorly trained” separatist troops that lack heavy equipment, likely in an effort to limit casualties to the regular Russian military.
If Russia were to take Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, the province of Luhansk would be under Moscow’s control, and the entire Donbass region – which includes Luhansk and Donetsk – would be within its reach.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday evening: “The situation remains very difficult in Severodonetsk, where street fighting continues.”
“We must stop Russia”
Speaking at an international security forum last week, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said: “Russia continues to make efforts to occupy our entire state.
“It is currently impossible to predict when the war will end, but my optimistic predictions are that it will be possible to do so this year.”
Mr. Reznikov warned that until the Russians were driven out of Ukraineother countries are also at risk, saying: “The next step will be Poland, the Baltic countries, Slovakia and others.
“That’s why we have to stop Russia and hold (them) in the future.”
His warning about Russia’s ambitions came after President Macron was criticized for saying that Moscow must not be “humiliated” by the invasion of his neighbor.
In an interview with a regional newspaper, Mr Macron said: “We must not humiliate Russia so that the day the fighting stops, we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means.”
In response, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: “Calls to avoid the humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and all other countries that would demand it”.
He added: “We all better focus on how to put Russia in her place.”
Children armed with toy guns occupy checkpoints, while body hunters search for dead Russian soldiers
Elsewhere this weekend, Russian shelling killed at least three civilians in the Black Sea port city of Mykolaiv, Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich said.
Russian shelling and a fire helped destroy a 16th-century wooden Orthodox Christian monastery in eastern Ukraine, killing two monks and a nun.
And the number of civilian bodies that have been exhumed in the Kyiv region since Russia’s military withdrawal now stands at more than 1,300, according to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry.