Kyiv reels from new attack during U.N. chief’s visit

Kyiv reels from new attack during UN chiefs visit

Far from the war’s front lines, central and western Ukraine were on high alert Friday after Russian missiles rained down on the capital, Kyiv, killing at least one person and shattering a relative return to calm that saw the United Nations chief visit mass graves on the city’s outskirts.

In a video address overnight, President Volodymyr Zelensky said the aerial attack Thursday near the center of Kyiv after his meeting with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres was a sign of “Russia’s true attitude to global institutions” and would provoke “a strong response.”

“We still have to drive the occupiers out,” Zelensky said, citing recent bombings in the capital as well as in Fastiv — southwest of Kyiv — and Odesa, a strategic port city on the Black Sea that’s increasingly become a target of missiles, including one that struck a major bridge and railway link this week.

The shifting state of affairs in Ukraine, where Russia had telegraphed its intention to focus on the eastern Donbas region claimed by pro-Moscow separatists yet has continued to assault parts of the west and center, prompted the U.S., Britain and other NATO members to increase troops around Ukraine and pledge billions of additional dollars in humanitarian and military aid through the summer.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in Kyiv on Thursday.

(Ukrainian Presidential Press Office)

“We need to be prepared for the long term,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said late Thursday after President Biden announced that he would ask Congress to approve $33 billion in new aid to Kyiv.

“There is absolutely the possibility that this war will drag on and last for months and years,” Stoltenberg said.

The British government said Friday that it would dispatch 8,000 troops over the summer to Eastern Europe for extended exercises to deter Russian aggression. The deployment is among the largest by the nation since the Cold War and will include training with thousands of troops from NATO and the Joint Expeditionary Force alliance, a group that includes Finland and Sweden, two non-NATO nations that this week were told their membership would be fast-tracked if they petitioned to join.

Britain also said Friday that it would send war crimes investigators to Ukraine, following reports of rape by Russian troops, the discovery of mass graves outside Kyiv and reports of additional mass burials outside Mariupol, a heavily bombarded southern city nearly under full Russian control.

“Russia has brought barbarity to Ukraine and committed vile atrocities, including against women. British expertise will help uncover the truth and hold [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s regime to account for its actions. Justice will be done,” said British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

As Kyiv cleaned up the aftermath of missiles that hit a commercial and residential neighborhood northwest of the presidential office, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram that a body had been recovered from the rubble.

Local reports said a journalist from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was killed.

In Mariupol, where authorities said up to 1,000 people — a mix of military and civilians — were surrounded by Russians in a vast steelworks that is Ukraine’s last holdout in the once-thriving city, another attempt at an evacuation was announced Friday.

“An operation is planned today to get civilians out of the plant,” said a statement from Zelensky’s office, which did not provide more details. Several previous attempts to transport Ukrainians out of the Azovstal plant, including Russian offers to allow safe passage, have not materialized.

Cleanup crews at the explosion site in Kyiv, Ukraine

Cleanup crews work Friday at the site of an explosion in Kyiv, Ukraine, which has come under fresh attack from Russian forces.

(Emilio Morenatti / Associated Press)

Fighting continued to rage in the east, along a 300-mile battlefront in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where Ukrainians and Russians have traded increasingly heavy fire for weeks as locally organized humanitarian efforts distribute basic supplies to fleeing populations.

In Sumy, near the Russia border, officials said there were multiple rounds of shelling Friday morning but did not report deaths or injuries.

West of the front lines, in Dnipro, Ukrainian fighter jets flew over farmlands Friday as workers planted zucchini and cabbage in the fields. Air-raid sirens went off regularly in city, where buses and everyday life seemed to go on without great interruption.

Air-raid sirens also sounded overnight in Lviv, the western city near the Polish border that has become a major transit point for millions of refugees, though no explosions could be heard. In the morning, the streets were full of traffic and people clustered at coffee kiosks.

The Lviv area, which has been mostly spared from violence but has been the site of deadly missile attacks a few times since March, is now home to 335,000 internally displaced Ukrainians, Mayor Maksym Kozytsky said Friday on Telegram. Overall, more than 8 million Ukrainians have been displaced within the country’s borders and upwards of 5 million have fled abroad.

In his Telegram message, Kozytsky urged residents to stay calm. “Have a nice day everyone! Everything will be fine,” he said.

In Odesa, near the Moldova border, where it was a rainy Friday, locals said their sense of safety had been punctured in recent days after attacks severed the Zatoka Bridge, a vital road and railway link.

That, along with increased fears of the war extending to Transnistria, a breakaway Russian-backed region sandwiched between Odesa and Moldova, left many people feeling tense, said Vladislav Davidzon.

Davidzon, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council who comes from Odesa and lives there intermittently, added that the local government scheduled a full-day curfew for Monday, the anniversary of 2014 clashes between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian activists. Rallies are held to commemorate the day each year.

“The city authorities are trying their best to make sure the situation doesn’t explode,” he said.

King reported from Lviv, Bulos from Odesa and Kaleem from London. Staff writer Carolyn Cole contributed reporting from Dnipro, Ukraine.

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