Russia shattered weeks of relative peace in the Ukrainian capital by firing long-range missiles toward Kyiv early on Sunday morning, in what appears to be a Kremlin show of power as Western leaders meet in Europe to bolster Ukraine's military and economic backing.
At least two residential structures were struck by missiles, according to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, and according to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a 37-year-old man was murdered along with his 7-year-old daughter and wife. Journalists from the Associated Press witnessed firefighters battling flames and rescuing citizens.
The hits also harmed a nearby kindergarten, whose courtyard was pocked by a crater. After arriving in Germany for a Group of Seven conference, Vice President Joe Biden labeled the attacks "barbarism."
Later on Sunday, a local official informed the Unian news agency of a second fatality, stating that a train worker was murdered and numerous others were injured while servicing rail infrastructure during the attacks.
The first air-launched weapons to effectively hit the capital since June 5 were Kh-101 cruise missiles fired from warplanes over the Caspian Sea, more than 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away, according to the spokesman for the Ukrainian air force, Yuriy Ignat.
The mayor of Kyiv told journalists that he believed the airstrikes were "maybe a symbolic attack" before Tuesday's NATO summit in Madrid. A former commander of U.S. forces in Europe stated that the strikes were also a message to the G-7 leaders meeting in Germany on Sunday.
"Russia declares, "We can do this all day." You are incapable of stopping us,' "Former U.S. Army forces in Europe commanding general, retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges stated. "The Russians are humiliating the leaders of the West."
The G-7 leaders announced new restrictions on Russian gold imports as the latest in a long line of international economic measures to squeeze and isolate Russia for its war in Ukraine. Standing alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the host of the three-day gathering, Biden stated of the missile attacks on Kyiv, "It's more of their barbarism."
In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy pleaded with the G-7 leaders for further assistance, stating that stopping Russian aggression "is possible only if we get everything we ask for, and in the time we need it - weapons, financial support and sanctions against Russia."
Oleksandr Goncharenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, stated on the messaging app Telegram that preliminary evidence showed that Russia launched 14 missiles against the capital region and the city of Kyiv. Zelenskyy said that several missiles were intercepted, and he pledged retribution against "all pilots, dispatchers, technicians and other people who ensure the launch of missiles in Ukraine."
"We will locate you all. You are each liable for these strikes "Zelenskyy promised. "And if you believe you can avoid responsibility by claiming this was an order, you are mistaken. It is a war crime if your missiles impact residential areas. The court is your destination. And you will not hide anywhere - neither on the Caspian Sea shores, from which your missiles are launched, not in Belarus... Nowhere."
In a phone interview with The Associated Press, retired U.S. general Hodges stated that Russia has a limited supply of precision missiles, and "if they are using them, it's going to be for a special purpose,"
Russia has denied targeting civilians during the four-month-old conflict. Hodges said it was difficult to determine whether the missiles launched on Sunday were meant to strike the apartment complexes.
Early in the battle, Russian forces attempted to capture control of Kyiv. After Ukrainian forces repelled them, the Kremlin redirected its attention primarily to Ukraine's southern and eastern regions.
Sunday, regional governor Ihor Taburets reported that Russian rocket strikes in the city of Cherkasy, approximately 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Kyiv, resulted in one death and five injuries.
In the east, Russian forces tried to consolidate their gains by capturing the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the province of Luhansk. Sunday, the governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai, stated that Russia was conducting heavy airstrikes against the city of Lysychansk, destroying its television tower and severely damaging a road bridge.
"There is a great deal of destruction. Lysychansk is difficult to recognize "He made a Facebook post.
The Russian army and their separatist allies have been waging a brutal and destructive attack against Lysychansk and the adjoining city of Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine's Donbas region for weeks.
Haidai said on Saturday that Sievierodonetsk, including a chemical factory where hundreds of Ukrainian military and civilians had taken refuge, had fallen.
Commenting on the siege of Sievierodonetsk, Igor Konashenkov, a spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry, stated late Saturday that Russian and Moscow-backed separatist militants now hold not only the city but also the neighboring settlements. According to him, the Russian military prevented Ukrainian forces from transforming the Azot chemical facility into a "stubborn center of resistance."
By seizing Lysychansk, Russian and rebel forces would control every important settlement in Luhansk. As of the most recent report, they controlled around half of Donetsk, the second province in the Donbas.
Saturday, Russia fired scores of missiles against other locations around the country, far from the eastern battlefront. According to Ukraine's air command, some rockets were fired from Russian long-range Tu-22 bombers deployed for the first time from Belarus.
In response to the bombardment by Russian bombers, Zelenskyy urged the Belarusian populace to refrain from cooperating with the Russian military. "The Russian leadership wants to draw you - all Belarusians - into the war, wants to sow hatred between us," he added in his Sunday video message. "You are free to decline participation in this battle. Your lives are solely yours, not someone in the Kremlin's."
Belarus hosts Russian military formations and served as a staging area before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but its forces have not crossed the border. Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin informed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during a meeting that Russia intended to provide Belarus with the Iskander-M missile system.
On the economic front, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated that prohibiting Russian gold imports would significantly escalate sanctions.
"That is the second-most lucrative export that Russia has after energy." Blinken told CNN, an American television network, "Approximately $19 billion yearly. And the majority of that is within the G-7. Therefore, blocking access to around $19 billion in annual profits is substantial."
Russia is on the verge of defaulting on its foreign debt for the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, severely isolating the nation from the global financial system in the wake of international sanctions imposed over its war in Ukraine.
Sunday night is the deadline for meeting a 30-day grace period on interest payments that were initially due on May 27. However, it may take some time to finalize a default.
Russia considers any default artificial because it has the means to pay its bills, but claims sanctions have frozen its foreign currency reserves.