Vladimir Putin has launched a new missile attack at Kyiv during the visit of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres just two days after he sat down with the Russian dictator in Moscow.
At least one person was killed and several injured, including some who were trapped beneath the rubble in the western part of the city centre, according to rescue officials.
The bombardment came barely an hour after President Zelenskyy held a news conference with the UN Secretary-General, who said Ukraine has become ‘an epicentre of unbearable heartache and pain.’
A spokesperson said Guterres and his team were safe.
Guterres had visited Putin on Tuesday in order to discuss the urgent need for Russian forces to permit humanitarian corridors for civilian evacuations.
The missile strike can be viewed as Putin’s non-diplomatic response to the UN chief’s visit.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the Shevchenkivskyi district in the northwestern part of the city was hit twice, causing fires in at least two high-rise buildings.
Russian missiles hit Kyiv as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is visiting. It is the first such bombardment of Ukraine’s capital since mid-April
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said there had been ‘two hits in the Shevchenkovsky district’ in a post on Telegram and said they were clarifying details about casualties
Vladimir Putin (above) ordered the strikes just two days after he himself sat with Guterres for talks in Moscow. It was the first strike on the Ukrainian capital since mid-April
There was no immediate information about casualties from the strikes, which hit a western part of the city centre, but a close aide to the UN chief sent a message to journalists confirming they were safe
AFP correspondents saw black smoke pouring into the air and a building in flames with a heavy presence of police and rescuers in the area.
‘Missile strikes in the downtown of Kyiv during the official visit of @antonioguterres,’ tweeted Mykhaylo Podolyak, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
‘The day before he was sitting at a long table in the Kremlin, and today explosions are above his head,’ Mykhaylo said referring to Guterres’ visit to Moscow where he met Russian President Vladimir Putin a few days ago.
The United Nations chief and Ukrainian president had been out surveying the destruction in small towns outside the capital that saw some of the worst horrors of the first onslaught of the war.
At a press conference just before the missile strikes, Guterres condemned the atrocities committed in towns like Bucha, where evidence of mass killings of civilians was found after Russia retreated in the face of unexpectedly stiff resistance.
He said Ukraine has become ‘an epicentre of unbearable heartache and pain.’
‘Wherever there is a war, the highest price is paid by civilians,’ Guterres lamented, reiterating the importance of investigating alleged war crimes.
Appearing to be one of boldest attacks on Kyiv since Russian forces retreated from around the capital weeks ago, the explosions came as residents have been increasingly returning to the city.
Cafes and other businesses have reopened, and a growing number of people have been out and enjoying the spring weather.
Russian dictator Putin hosted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for talks about the ongoing war in Ukraine
Putin uses the tables for bilateral meetings with world leaders and met UN Secretary-General Guterres in Moscow two days before firing missiles at him when in Kyiv
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres walk after a news conference
Putin fired the missiles at Kyiv during the meeting between the Ukrainian president and the UN Secretary-General
The strike on the Ukrainian capital comes as the Russian offensive in the Donbas region gathers steam.
Several areas came under heavy shelling Thursday, amid suspicions Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to score a major battlefield success in time for Victory Day, one of Russia’s proudest holidays, on May 9.
Ukrainian authorities reported intense Russian fire in the Donbas – the eastern industrial heartland that the Kremlin is bent on capturing – 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 overnight killed and wounded more people.
Authorities warned that a lack of safe drinking water inside the city could lead to outbreaks of deadly diseases.