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A woman walks past a building destroyed in Russian shelling in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of Kyiv. Natacha Pisarenko via PA

Explosions rock Kyiv as Russians 'fully occupy' Severodonetsk

AFP journalists reported a residential complex near the centre of Kyiv had been hit.

EXPLOSIONS ROCKED KYIV this morning, a day after a flurry of missiles struck targets across Ukraine and Russian troops “fully occupied” the key industrial hub of Severodonetsk.

AFP journalists reported a residential complex near the centre of Kyiv had been hit, causing a fire and cloud of grey smoke. A colleague living in the complex heard a loud buzz preceding the explosions

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who will address G7 leaders on Monday, said cities as far away as Lviv, near the Polish border, had been struck by a wave of attacks yesterday.

“This confirms … that air-defence systems — the modern systems which our partners have — should not be on the sites or in storage, but in Ukraine,” he said in his daily address.

Four blasts in all were heard this morning at around 6:30 am (3.30am Irish time) in the capital, which had not come under Russian bombardment for nearly three weeks.

While there were no immediate casualty figures, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the “rescue and evacuation of residents” was under way in two apartment buildings.

As the war enters its fifth month, the capture of Severodonetsk in the embattled Donbas region marks an important strategic win for Moscow, which is seeking full control over the east of the country after failing in its early objectives.

Russia’s army had “fully occupied” the key Ukrainian city after weeks of fighting, its mayor said yesterday.

The industrial hub was the scene of weeks of running battles before the Ukrainian army began withdrawing its outgunned forces to better defend the neighbouring city of Lysychansk.

“The city has been fully occupied by the Russians,” Mayor Oleksandr Striuk said Saturday.

Hours earlier, pro-Moscow separatists said Russian troops and their allies had entered Lysychansk, which faces Severodonetsk on high ground across the Donets river. Its capture would give Russia control of Donbas’ entire Lugansk region.

“Street fighting is currently taking place,” a representative of the separatists, Andrei Marochko, said on Telegram, in a claim that could not be independently verified.

Far from Donbas, meanwhile, Russian missiles were striking targets in northern and western Ukraine.

“More than 50 missiles of various types were fired: air, sea and ground-based,” Ukraine’s air force command said, noting the difficulty of intercepting Russian models such as the Iskander.

In Saint Petersburg yesterday, Putin said Russia would deliver Iskander-M missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to Belarus in the coming months, as he received Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

He also offered to upgrade Belarus’ warplanes to make them capable of carrying nuclear weapons, in comments broadcast on Russian television.

Putin has referred to nuclear weapons several times since his country invaded Ukraine on February 24, in what the West has seen as a warning to the West not to intervene.

Ukraine said it had come under “massive bombardment” yesterday morning from neighbouring Belarus which, although a Russian ally, is not officially involved in the conflict.

russia-ukraine-war A Ukrainian tank is in position during heavy fighting on the front line in Severodonetsk, the Luhansk region. Oleksandr Ratushniak Oleksandr Ratushniak

Twenty rockets “fired from the territory of Belarus and from the air” targeted the village of Desna in the northern Chernigiv region, Ukraine’s northern military command said.

Belarus has provided logistic support to Moscow since its February 24 invasion, particularly in the first few weeks, and like Russia has been targeted by Western sanctions.

“Today’s strike is directly linked to Kremlin efforts to pull Belarus as a co-belligerent into the war in Ukraine,” the Ukrainian intelligence service said.

– © AFP 2022,

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