Russian Strikes in Residential Areas Kill at Least Seven, Injure Dozens


Rescuers in the eastern Ukrainian city of Pokrovsk are digging through the rubble of several buildings destroyed by two back-to-back Russian missile attacks Monday that killed at least seven people.

Pokrovsk is located in the Donetsk region, which has been the scene of some of the most intense fighting since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022. Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of Donetsk, says the two missiles struck about 40 minutes apart, destroying residential buildings, restaurants, shops and administrative buildings and a hotel popular with foreign journalists.

The dead include an emergency official with the Donetsk regional government. At least 25 people were wounded in the twin attacks.

Meanwhile two people were killed in Russian missile strikes in Kruhliakivka village in Kupiansk district, according to Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential administration.

Jeddah Summit

The United States characterized as productive China’s participation at the Jeddah peace summit on Ukraine in Saudi Arabia this past weekend.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters that U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland held a brief sideline meeting in Jeddah with China’s Special Envoy for Eurasian Affairs and former ambassador to Russia, Li Hui.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that Beijing would uphold an independent and impartial position on a peace settlement.

Wang said China would serve as an “objective and rational voice” at any international forums and “actively promote peace talks.”

Western officials and analysts say Saudi diplomacy was important to securing China’s presence at the talks.

Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom has kept ties with both sides, presenting itself as a mediator and seeking a bigger role on the world stage.

Yermak, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, said Monday that the talks dealt a “huge blow” to Russia as the participants agreed to a follow up meeting.

“We will hold another meeting within a month [to a] month-and-a-half and we will move towards [holding] a summit,” Yermak said at a news briefing.

Senior officials from 42 countries participated in the two-day Jeddah peace summit. Russia was not invited to the high-level talks.

Yermak said all the countries present at the talks fully supported Ukrainian independence and territorial integrity, and that only peace initiatives put forward by Ukraine were discussed at the meeting.

He acknowledged that participants had not come to an agreement on parts of Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace formula, which calls for the withdrawal of all Russian troops and return of all Ukrainian territory to Kyiv’s control.

With the exception of Russia the high-level talks included delegates from all other BRICS bloc nations: Brazil, India, China and South Africa.

Moscow chided efforts by international officials meeting in Saudi Arabia to find a peaceful resolution for the Ukraine war without including Russia in the talks, which it described as lacking “the slightest added value.”

During the two-day summit, the head of Brazil’s delegation, foreign policy adviser Celso Amorim, stressed that “any real negotiation must include all parties,” including Russia, according to a copy of his statement shared with Agence France Presse.

Moscow dismissed the talks as a doomed Western attempt to align the Global South behind Kyiv.

Russia grain attacks

U.N. Spokesperson Farhan Haq said in a news briefing Monday that Humanitarian Coordinator Denise Brown visited the Danube port of Izmail Saturday, three days after it was hit in an attack on a grain storage facility that damaged thousands of tons of grain that would have been enough to feed approximately 66 million people for a day.

This attack, which is not an isolated incident, follows Russia’s decision to exit the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a move that is already impacting global food prices and is affecting the most vulnerable people.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned Russia’s intensification of attacks on Ukrainian ports, calling for the immediate cessation of all attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs continues to sound the alarm about the plight of civilians already facing a dire situation in Ukraine, as the intensification of attacks affecting critical civilian infrastructure in the country will likely worsen humanitarian needs.

Ukrainian counteroffensive

Ukrainian commander-in-chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi on Monday said Kyiv’s counteroffensive is progressing at a steady pace, and that its defensive lines are stable as troops repel Russian attempts to counterattack and distract Ukrainian forces from other parts of the front.

“Heavy fighting is underway, and step-by-step, Ukrainian troops are continuing to create the conditions to advance,” Zaluzhnyi said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app after a telephone call with U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley. “The initiative is on our side.”

Ukraine has so far recaptured several villages in the south and regained some territory around the ravaged city of Bakhmut in the east but has not achieved a breakthrough yet against heavily entrenched Russian lines.

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister Hanna Maliar said Russia was using all its resources to stop Kyiv’s advance, but that Ukrainian troops were advancing steadily toward the southern cities of Melitopol and Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov.

Ukrainian officials have responded to criticism that the counteroffensive is going slowly, saying they are trying to avoid high casualties as they attack well-fortified Russian lines that are strewn with landmines.

In its latest assessment on the war in Ukraine, Britain’s defense ministry said Tuesday that Russia’s national guard, Rosgvardia, will be equipped with heavy weaponry.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the new measure into law last week for the 200,000-member strong national guard.

The British defense ministry says the decision to boost the forces follows the brief mutiny of the private Wagner military company, which suggests the Kremlin is transforming Rosgvardia as one of the key organizations in Russia to ensure regime security.__VOA News