Missiles hit Kyiv as EU labels Russia a state sponsor of terrorism

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KYIV, Ukraine – Russia pounded Ukraine on Wednesday with another barrage of missiles, hitting critical energy infrastructure and residential areas and triggering blackouts across the country, including in the capital Kiev and Lviv in the west.

At least four people were killed in the Kiev region, Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said, and at least 34 were injured, including five children.

As Moscow persisted in its relentless bid to leave millions of Ukrainians without electricity, heat and water during the cold winter months, the European Parliament in a symbolic vote on Wednesday designated Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism”, citing its “brutal and inhuman actions” against ordinary citizens.

In a video address to the UN Security Council, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for a “firm response” to the carnage. “In our midst,” he told the council, which included Russia’s ambassador, “you have the representative of a state that offers the world nothing but terror” and should not participate “in any vote on its terror.”

“This is a dead end,” Zelensky said at the emergency meeting called by the United States and Albania to discuss the Russian attacks. “We need your decision.”

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motive “could not be more clear and more cold-blooded. … He has decided that if he cannot conquer Ukraine by force, he will try to freeze the country to submission.”

But while condemnation of the Russian strikes was widespread, a number of council members from Africa, along with India, China, Brazil and others, expressed concern that what have become almost weekly meetings on the crisis were achieving little and called for renewed diplomacy to stop the war.

In addition to what Ukraine’s main grid operator, Ukrenergo, said on its Telegram channel were blackouts in “all regions” of the country, the energy ministry said strikes had also led to temporary shutdowns at all nuclear power plants under Kiev’s control. as at “most thermal and hydroelectric plants.”

Power was also knocked out in most of neighboring Moldova, where the power grid is connected to Ukraine. Minister of Foreign Affairs Nicu Popescu, posting on Twittersaid he had summoned the Russian ambassador for “explanations”.

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Ukraine’s air force said it had shot down 51 of 70 missiles fired on Wednesday and also destroyed five self-destructing drones. Kyiv’s military administration reported that of 31 missiles fired at the capital, 22 were intercepted by air defense systems.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko also said the city’s water supply will be temporarily cut off, and by nightfall large parts of the city were without electricity. The strikes also left all of Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine, without power, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on his Telegram channel.

“While someone is waiting for World Cup results and the number of goals scored, Ukrainians are waiting for another score – the number of intercepted Russian missiles,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, wrote on Twitter as the bombardment was underway.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has insisted that the bombing serves military purposes and will continue until Moscow’s war aims are achieved.

An early morning missile strike smashed the maternity ward of a hospital in Vilnyansk, a city in the Zaporizhzhia region, killing a 2-day-old boy.

The rocket, which Zelensky said was fired by Russia, hit the hospital at 2 a.m. as a mother slept next to her newborn’s crib, according to the hospital’s medical director, Valeria Kroshena.

The strike destroyed the maternity ward on the second floor and the clinic below it, causing the building’s brick walls to fall to the ground. The blast also injured a doctor on duty overnight, who is now recovering from severe burns, Kroshena said.

Another doctor who delivered the newborn baby was off duty and rushed to the hospital as soon as she heard the explosion, according to Kroshena. The doctor knew the only patients in the hospital that night were the mother and her infant son, Kroshena said, and she knew exactly where they were. The mother, who is in her mid-30s, was not injured. The boy was her fourth baby, Kroshena said. “It’s unthinkable,” she said.

On Wednesday afternoon, rescue workers used excavators to dig through what was left of the birth canal. Some rooms remained partially standing, with pieces of the ceiling collapsed onto hospital beds and a cot. Windows in the building next door were blown out and shattered after the explosion.

The missile was a Russian-made S-300, local officials said.

The attack in Vilnyansk, about 20 miles northeast of Zaporizhzhia city, the regional capital, came less than a week after another missile hit a residential building in the same city, killing 11 people. Zaporizhzhia is one of four Ukrainian regions that Putin has claimed were annexed by Russia – a violation of international law.

Despite Putin’s claims of annexation, Russia has not taken the city of Zaporizhzhia, and it has also withdrawn from the city of Kherson, the only regional capital it had captured since the start of the full-scale invasion in February.

Two of the dead in the previous strike in Vilnyansk were also young people aged 10 and 15.

Following the Russian retreat from the city of Kherson, attention has turned to the Zaporizhzhia region as the most likely location for a new Ukrainian counter-offensive, potentially pushing south towards the occupied city of Melitopol and the critical Kakhovka hydroelectric plant and dam in the Kherson region.

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Wednesday’s vote in the European Parliament, the legislative assembly of the 27-member EU, reflected continued anger in Brussels and across Europe over Russia’s invasion and the outbreak of full-scale war on the European continent for the first time in the 21st century.

Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, said Wednesday’s decision by the European Parliament is against international law and that a state cannot be labeled a terrorist.

“Russia has always been strongly opposed to the concept of ‘state terrorism’,” Kosachev wrote in a statement on Telegram, adding: “The collective West is actively trying to introduce the principle of collective responsibility and punish all ‘offensive’ countries and regimes simply because there are an alternative point of view and a different behavioral model.”

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In his response at the UN Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said Russia’s attack was designed to weaken “the military capabilities of our adversaries” and was carried out with “precision”. He charged that Western-supplied weapons were responsible for much of the damage to residential areas and other civilian areas and chastised the international community, saying it had not shown the same concern for what he described as Ukrainian war crimes.

The Pentagon said Wednesday it would speed up an additional $400 million in military aid for Ukraine, including additional air defenses to counter Russia’s “relentless and brutal” missile and drone attacks on the country’s civilian infrastructure.

The package contains an unspecified amount of ammunition for the two NASAMS surface-to-air systems Washington has provided, plus 150 heavy machine guns equipped with thermal sighting means to help Ukrainian forces find and shoot down drones. More than 200 power generators will also be shipped from US warehouses.

Schmidt reported from Vilnyansk. Francesca Ebel in London and Karen DeYoung in Washington contributed to this report.

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