US condemns ‘war crimes’ after Russian drone attack on Kyiv apartment

  • The center of Kyiv was hit by Russian drones, at least four dead
  • Ukrainian cities hit again a week after missile strikes
  • In Russia, a fighter plane crashed into an apartment building

Kyiv/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will hold Russia accountable for “war crimes”, the White House said on Monday, hours after Russia attacked Ukrainian cities with drones during morning rush hour, killing at least four people. Apartment building in Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his video address on Monday evening, said there were more attacks. “At the moment, there is a new Russian attack with a drone. There (the drones) have been shot down.”

Ukraine’s Interfax news agency said Telegram users had reported explosions in the town of Fastiv outside Kyiv as well as in the southern port of Odessa.

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Russian forces also targeted infrastructure across Ukraine in the second wave of air strikes within a week, like the first that came in the morning as people went to work and school.

Ukrainian soldiers fired into the air in an attempt to shoot down drones after explosions rocked the capital Kyiv Monday morning. An anti-aircraft missile was seen piercing the morning sky, followed by an explosion and orange flames, as residents rushed to seek shelter.

US Presidential Press Secretary Joe Biden told reporters that the White House “strongly condemns the Russian missile strikes today” and said the attack “continues to demonstrate (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s brutality.”

Referring to a new $725 million military aid package announced to Ukraine last Friday, she said: “We will continue to stand by the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes.

“…we will continue to impose costs on Russia, holding it accountable for its war crimes.”

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said a pregnant woman was among four people killed in the attack on the apartment block. Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denis Monastirsky said there had been deaths in other cities, but did not give the full death toll.

Black smoke scattered from the windows of the Kyiv apartment building, and emergency services workers worked to put out the flames.

“I’ve never been afraid…it’s murder, it’s just murder,” said Vitaly Dushevsky, 29, a food delivery rep who rents an apartment in the block.

His flatmate, who gave his name only as Nazar, said they tried to leave only to find the stairs had “completely disappeared”.

Nearby, Elena Mazur, 52, was looking for her mother, whom she was able to call to say she was buried under the rubble.

“She’s not answering the phone,” Mazur said, hoping her mother would be rescued and taken to hospital.

Drones “suicide”

Ukraine said the attacks were carried out by Iranian-made “suicide drones” that flew toward their target and exploded. The United States, Britain and France have agreed that Iran’s supply of drones to Russia violates a United Nations Security Council resolution that ratified the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the six powers. Iran on Monday stuck to its denial that it is supplying Russia with drones, while the Kremlin has not commented.

The White House accused Iran of lying when it said that Iranian drones were not used by Russia in Ukraine.

In response to a request for comment, Iran’s mission to the United Nations reiterated a statement the government issued on Friday saying it supports upholding the UN Charter and UN attempts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine.

Several European Union foreign ministers on Monday called for sanctions against Iran over the transfer of drones to Russia.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it carried out a “massive” attack on military targets and energy infrastructure across Ukraine using high-precision weapons.

Reuters saw parts of a drone used in the attack bearing the following words: “For Belgorod” – an apparent reference to Ukrainian bombing of a Russian border area.

“This is already a tradition: to wake up Ukrainians with rockets on Monday,” said Alla Volosko, a 47-year-old lawyer who has taken refuge in the basement of her apartment.

The Ukrainian military said it had destroyed 37 Russian drones since Sunday evening, or about 85% of those used in the attacks. Reuters was not able to independently verify this outcome.

A drone attack hit the Ivry Naval Station in the southern port of Mykolaiv on Sunday evening, damaging sunflower storage tanks and igniting leaking fires, officials said.

Russia denies targeting civilians in what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, which began on February 24 and includes the largest territorial annexation in Europe since World War II.

Russian fighter crash

In Russia itself, a Russian fighter plane crashed into an apartment building in the southern city of Yeisk, and apartments caught fire, according to the region’s governor. Interfax reported that at least four people were killed.

The RIA news agency said the accident occurred during a training flight. It quoted the Ministry of Defense as saying that the pilots, who were ejected, reported that an engine caught fire on takeoff, and that the plane’s fuel ignited when it hit the building.

The Russian State Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal case. Yeisk is separated from the occupied Russian territories in southern Ukraine by a narrow stretch of the Sea of ​​Azov.

Ukraine’s state energy company, Energoatom, said a Russian bombing near the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant, the largest in Europe, caused it to again be disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid. The International Atomic Energy Agency (AEA) said it was quickly connected to a backup system.

The factory, which was bombed during the war, is occupied by Russian forces but operated by Ukrainian staff. Their reactors need energy to keep the fuel inside cool and prevent melting.

Russia has always blamed Kyiv for the bombing of the station.

Meanwhile, Moscow and Kiev on Monday carried out one of the largest prisoner exchanges of the war to date, exchanging a total of 218 detainees, including 108 Ukrainian women, officials from both sides said.

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Gareth Jones, Nick McPhee, and Grant McCall; Editing by Peter Graf and Bill Bercrot

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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