Several explosions in Kyiv ahead of the G7 summit in Germany

Multiple explosions sounded in Kyiv at dawn on Sunday, hours before the opening of a G7 summit in Germany that will discuss Ukraine and as Russia advances its conquest of Donbass.

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Four explosions were heard in Kyiv early Sunday morning, hitting a residential complex near the city center, causing a fire and the release of a large cloud of gray smoke, AFP journalists noted.




AFP

The explosions happened around 6:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. GMT), there was initially no information about possible victims.

An AFP worker who lived in the same apartment complex heard a loud hum before the explosions.

The mayor of the Ukrainian capital, Vitaly Klitschko, reported on Telegram about these “explosions in Chevchenkivsky district” and specified that “ambulances are on their way”.

“Ambulances and first responders are on site. Rescue and evacuation of residents is underway in two buildings,” he added. Arriving on site, an AFP team noticed thick smoke in the affected residential area, which was cordoned off by the police.




AFP

These explosions occur hours before the opening of the meeting of the heads of state and government of the G7 countries in the mountains of southern Germany.

Great power leaders, including US President Joe Biden, will gather in the Bavarian Alps from 10am GMT for the annual summit of the Club of Seven developed countries, consisting of Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom-UK and the United States .

Mr. Biden arrived in Europe on Saturday night, where he intends to further solidify Westerners’ ranks against Moscow over time.

In addition to the G7 meeting, at which aid for Ukraine will be discussed, he also has to attend a NATO summit in Madrid starting Tuesday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday urged G7 leaders “not to give up on Ukraine”, warned of “fatigue” in supporting Kiev and announced additional economic aid of up to $525 million to match the total increase to 1.8 billion.

“Any sign of fatigue or weakening of Western support for Ukraine will work directly in President Putin’s favour,” Downing Street said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Saturday night that he intends to attend the G7 summit, citing the conflict entering the fifth month. He is scheduled to address the leaders of the world’s seven industrialized countries via video conference on Monday, calling again for the deployment of heavy weapons to counter Russian firepower.

“It’s such a step in war – morally difficult, emotionally difficult. (…) It’s not just the destruction of our infrastructure, it’s also the cynical pressure calculated on the emotions of the population,” he lamented. But “no Russian missile or bombing will break the spirit of Ukrainians”.

He also called again for increased Western support for armaments and anti-aircraft systems and considered the sanctions “insufficient”.

The Ukrainian Air Force on Saturday reported a “massive Russian attack (…) with more than 50 missiles of various types fired from the air, sea and ground,” stressing that the X-22, Onyx and Iskander were “extremely difficult” to intercept by Ukrainian devices.

And Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that “in the coming months” his country would supply missiles to Belarus, from which attacks on Ukrainian territory would be carried out.

It is Iskander-M, the Russian head of state said at the beginning of a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Saint Petersburg (in north-western Russia).

In statements that could further strain relations between Moscow and the West, the two leaders also said they wanted to modernize Belarusian aviation to make it capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

Attacks were carried out from Belarus at the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine launched on February 24.

Russian forces scored major military successes in eastern Ukraine on Saturday after fully capturing the strategic city of Severodonetsk and invading the neighboring city of Lysytchansk after a bitter battle early in the fifth month of the conflict.

Severodonetsk is “entirely occupied by the Russians,” its mayor Oleksandre Striouk recognized at the end of the afternoon, a day after the Ukrainian army announced it was withdrawing from this pre-war city of about 100,000 people in order to better defend the locality from Lysyhansk, located on the opposite bank of the Donets River.

The governor of the Lugansk region, Sergei Gaidai, confirmed the occupation of Severodonetsk on Saturday evening and emphasized that the city was “90 percent destroyed”. It will be very difficult to survive that.” According to him, the Russians have appointed a “commander” for this city, from which the only way to escape is “through occupied territories.”

At the same time, the separatists declared that they had “taken complete control of the Azot factory industrial zone” in Severodonetsk and entered Lysyhansk with the Russian military.

“There’s street fighting going on there right now,” they added, with no independent confirmation immediately available.

Crucial progress on the ground for Russia, which wants to seize the entire Donbass industrial basin, which has already been partially in the hands of pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

“Everyone suffers. We’re trying to survive,” says Nina, 64, a pensioner who pushes her bike near the front lines in Seversk. “There is no (running) water, no gas, no electricity. We’ve been living under bombs for three months, it’s the Stone Age.”

“The city is absolutely dead and we would like to live a little longer,” laments Marina, 63, a pensioner. “They’re just killing us, it’s dangerous everywhere.”

The Russian army said it killed “up to 80 Polish mercenaries” in a bombardment and also destroyed 20 armored vehicles and eight-degree multiple rocket launchers in high-precision gunfire at the Megatex zinc plant in Konstantinovka in the eastern Donetsk region.

This information was also not verifiable. Moscow frequently claims to “eliminate foreign mercenaries” who fought into Ukraine.

In the south, Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday that “more than 300 Ukrainian soldiers and foreign mercenaries and 35 heavy weapons units” were “liquidated in one day in the Mykolayiv region.”

The southern region’s task force announced on Saturday night that the Russians were continuing their “defensive actions” and increasing the intensity of the strikes, but “without aiming for new targets.”

In Kharkiv (northeast), Ukraine’s second largest metropolis, which has resisted pressure from Russian troops since the start of the offensive, rockets are once again falling on the city center on a daily basis.

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