Russia launched new missile attacks Sunday on Ukraine’s two biggest cities, the capital of Kyiv and Kharkiv, even as leaders of the Group of Seven nations from the world’s leading democracies held talks in the Bavarian Alps to determine new ways to isolate Moscow.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said at least two apartment buildings in the city were hit, leaving at least one person dead, and four others injured.
Russia ramped up its use of cruise missiles, striking targets across northwestern Ukraine. Air raid sirens blared in several cities.
“It’s more of their barbarism,” U.S. President Joe Biden said of the Russian strike on Kyiv as he appeared at a G-7 welcoming ceremony with Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a key focus of the summit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Saturday he will take part in the meeting Monday.
Biden said that the United States and the other G-7 economies will ban the import of Russian gold, the latest sanction imposed on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine, now in its fifth month.
The leaders of the G-7 nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — are trying to maintain unity against Russia, even with the war’s growing toll on the global economy, including in the U.S., which is confronting a four-decade high surge in consumer prices.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on CNN’s “State of the Union” show that Western nations cannot succumb to weariness in the fight against Russia and “have to step up to freedom and democracy.”
Johnson called the U.S. “a shining city on the hill and it will continue to be” in the pursuit of Ukrainian freedom. He said it would be “catastrophic” for Russian President Vladimir Putin to prevail in taking over Ukraine.
Russia has made advances in eastern Ukraine even though it failed earlier in the war to topple Zelenskyy’s government or capture Kyiv.
The new attack on Kyiv came a day after the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, a major victory for Russia after weeks of fierce fighting, with the ongoing battles resulting in international food and fuel price increases.
Russia now controls virtually all of the Luhansk province, part of the eastern Donbas region that Moscow is trying to take over, one of its major war aims.
Russian rocket attacks across Ukraine on Saturday were reported to be launched from Belarusian airspace, just hours before Putin met with Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Zelenskyy said in his daily address Saturday that “Ukraine needs more armed assistance, and that air defense systems — the modern systems that our partners have — should be not in training areas or storage facilities, but in Ukraine, where they are now needed. Needed more than anywhere else in the world.”
Ukraine said Russian forces had fully occupied Lysychansk, a neighboring city of Sievierodonetsk, in the eastern Luhansk region. Moscow claimed it had encircled about 2,000 Ukrainian troops in the area.
To stabilize the situation in Luhansk, Ukraine needs "fire parity" with Russia, Ukraine's top general told his U.S. counterpart Friday.
"We discussed the operational situation and the delivery flow of international technical assistance," Ukraine's General Valeriy Zaluzhnyy wrote on the Telegram app after a phone call with the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley.
Ukraine has said Russia's artillery advantage on the Donbas front lines is taking a significant toll on Ukrainian troops and has called on its Western partners to supply more weapons to minimize the deficit.
A senior U.S. defense official Friday praised the Ukrainian decision to withdraw from Sievierodonetsk, describing the move as “professional” and “tactical.”
“What they are doing is putting themselves in a position where they can better defend themselves,” the official told reporters on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss intelligence and other sensitive information.
And while the official said Russian forces have been able to gain ground around Sievierodonetsk, the gains have come at considerable cost.
“The Russians have suffered heavy casualties and they also have suffered heavy equipment losses,” the official said. “The Russian forces are showing the signs of wear and tear, and debilitated morale, and it is impacting their ability to move forward swiftly.”