The head of the United Nations said Ukraine has become “an epicentre of unbearable heartache and pain” — a description underscored a short time later by the first Russian strike on the capital since Moscow’s forces retreated weeks ago.
On Thursday, Russia pounded targets all over Ukraine, including the attack on Kyiv that struck a residential high-rise and another building and wounded 10 people, including at least one who lost a leg, according to Ukraine’s emergency services.
The bombardment came barely an hour after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a news conference with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who toured some of the destruction in and around Kyiv and condemned the attacks on civilians.
Meanwhile, explosions were reported across the country, in Polonne in the west, Chernihiv near the border with Belarus, and Fastiv, a large railway hub southwest of the capital. The mayor of Odesa, in southern Ukraine, said rockets were intercepted by air defences.
Ukrainian authorities also reported intense Russian fire in the Donbas — the eastern industrial heartland that the Kremlin says is its main objective — and near Kharkiv, a northeastern city outside the Donbas that is seen as key to the offensive.
In the ruined southern port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian fighters holed up in the steel plant that represents the last pocket of resistance said concentrated bombing killed and wounded more people. And authorities warned that a lack of safe drinking water inside the city could lead to outbreaks of deadly diseases such as cholera and dysentery.
Ukraine’s military said Russian troops have subjected several places in the Donbas to “intense fire” Thursday and that over the past 24 hours, Ukrainian forces had repelled six attacks in the region.
Four civilians were also killed in heavy shelling of residential areas in the Luhansk region of the Donbas, according to the regional governor.
Columns of smoke could be seen rising at different points across the Donetsk region of the Donbas, and artillery and sirens were heard on and off.