KYIV: The United States and other G7 powers will hold crisis talks on Tuesday over the recent Russian bombardment across Ukraine that Kyiv allies said was a mark of desperation and a turning point in the war.
Their meeting comes a day after Russian missiles rocked the Ukrainian capital for the first time in months. A defiant president, Volodymyr Zelensky, responded by warning Moscow that his country “cannot be intimidated”.
Moscow forces rained down more than 80 missiles on cities across Ukraine on Monday, according to Kyiv.
Ukraine’s emergency services said on Tuesday the overall death toll was 19 dead and more than 100 injured.
The United Nations said on Tuesday that the wave of attacks may have violated the laws of war and would constitute war crimes if civilians were deliberately targeted.
“These strikes may have violated the principles of conduct of hostilities under international humanitarian law,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN human rights office, told reporters in Geneva, adding that intentionally targeting civilians and civilian property “equals war”. criminality.”
Monday’s mass barrage came in apparent retaliation for an explosion on Saturday that damaged a key bridge linking Russia with Crimea, a peninsula Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine for the bridge explosion and warned of “harsh” reactions to any further attacks.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Monday’s strikes showed Moscow was “desperate” after a series of embarrassing military setbacks.
Turkey on Tuesday called for a viable ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine “as soon as possible”.
Speaking in a TV interview, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also called for a “just peace” based on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Ukrainian officials said Russia fired four more missiles into the county on Tuesday, all of which were shot down by air defenses.
At an urgent meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Monday – convened to discuss Moscow’s declared annexation of four partially occupied Ukrainian regions – Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya called Russia a “terrorist state”, noting that his own immediate family had been attacked on Monday.
“Unfortunately, you can hardly call for a stable and healthy peace as long as an unstable and senseless dictatorship exists in your neighborhood,” he said.
British Prime Minister Liz Truss’ office said it would use the rally “to urge other leaders to stay the course”.
“No one wants peace more than Ukraine. And for our part, we must not waver one iota in our determination to help them win it.
German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit told reporters on Monday that Chancellor Olaf Scholz had spoken to Zelensky and assured him “of the solidarity of Germany and the other G7 states.”
French President Emmanuel Macron summoned his defense and foreign ministers over the strikes, which he said signaled “a profound change in the nature of this war”.
US President Joe Biden condemned Monday’s attacks in stark terms, saying they demonstrated the “extreme brutality” of Putin’s “unlawful war”.
In a statement, the White House said Biden had spoken to Zelensky and pledged to provide Ukraine with “advanced air defense systems.”
Ahead of Monday’s General Assembly session, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the latest attacks as an “unacceptable escalation of war”, his spokesman said.
Although Russia’s UN representative Vasily Nebenzya did not directly address the missile strikes during the session, he defended his country’s annexation of Ukrainian areas, saying the goal was to “protect our brothers and sisters in eastern Ukraine”.
Meanwhile, Putin was due to meet the head of the UN’s nuclear energy watchdog, Rafael Grossi, in St. Petersburg on Tuesday to discuss the Russian-controlled nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region.
Moscow recently said it had transferred control of the plant to Russia and fighting around the facility for months has raised fears of a nuclear accident.
And on Wednesday, Putin was due to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a summit in the Kazakh capital Astana, a Turkish official said.