US condemns ‘war crimes’ after Russian drone strikes building in Kyiv

Kyiv/Washington: The United States will hold Russia accountable for ‘war crimes’, the White House said on Monday, hours after Russia attacked Ukrainian towns with drones during the morning rush hour, killing at least four people in a building in Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in his Monday night video address, said there had been other attacks. “Right now there is a new Russian drone attack. There are (drones) that have been shot down.

The Interfax Ukraine news agency said Telegram users reported explosions in the town of Fastiv, just outside Kyiv, as well as in the southern port of Odessa.

Russian forces have also targeted infrastructure across Ukraine in the second wave of airstrikes in a week, as the first came in the morning with people on their way to work and school.

Ukrainian soldiers fired into the air in an attempt to shoot down the drones after explosions rocked the capital Kyiv on Monday morning. An anti-aircraft flare could be seen in the morning sky, followed by an explosion and orange flames, as residents rushed for cover.

US President Joe Biden’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, told reporters that the White House “strongly condemns the Russian missile strikes today” and said the attack “continues to demonstrate brutality ( of Russian President Vladimir) Putin”.

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

“…We will continue to impose costs on Russia, to hold her accountable for her war crimes.”

A pregnant woman was among four people killed in the attack on the residential building, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said. Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi said there were deaths in other cities, but did not provide a full toll.

Black smoke billowed from the windows of the building in Kyiv and rescuers worked hard to put out the flames.

“I’ve never been so scared… This is murder, this is just murder,” said Vitalii Dushevskiy, 29, a food delivery courier who rents an apartment in the building.

His roommate, who only gave his name as Nazar, said they tried to leave to find the staircase “all gone”.

Nearby, Elena Mazur, 52, was looking for her mother, who had managed to call her to tell her she was buried under the rubble.

“She doesn’t pick up the phone,” Mazur said, hoping her mother had been rescued and taken to hospital.

Smoke rises after a strike by Russian drones, believed by local authorities to be Iranian-made Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 17, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Gleb Garanich

“suicide” drones

Ukraine said the attacks were carried out by Iranian-made “suicide drones”, which fly towards their target and explode. The United States, Britain and France have agreed that Iran supplying drones to Russia would violate a UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six powers. Iran on Monday maintained its denial that it would supply the drones to Russia, while the Kremlin had no comment.

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

Asked for comment, Iran’s mission to the United Nations repeated a statement issued by the government on Friday that it supports compliance with the UN Charter and the UN’s attempts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine.

Several EU foreign ministers on Monday called for sanctions against Iran for transferring 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 that bore the words: “For Belgorod” – an apparent reference to the Ukrainian bombardment of a Russian border region.

“It’s already a tradition: waking up Ukrainians with missiles on Mondays,” said Alla Voloshko, a 47-year-old lawyer who took refuge in the basement of her building.

Ukraine’s military said it had destroyed 37 Russian drones since Sunday evening, around 85% of those used in the attacks. Reuters was unable to independently verify this count.

A drone attack struck the Everi maritime terminal in the southern port of Mykolaiv on Sunday evening, officials said, damaging sunflower storage tanks and igniting leaking oil.

Russia denies targeting civilians in what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, launched on February 24 and including the largest annexation of territory in Europe since World War II.

Activists protest against Iran allegedly supplying drones to Russia outside the Iranian embassy after a Russian drone strike in the morning, which local authorities believe are Iranian-made Shahed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) -136, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 17, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Gleb Garanich

Russian fighter crash

In Russia itself, a Russian fighter jet crashed into a residential building in the southern city of Yeysk, engulfing apartments in flames, the regional governor said. At least four people were killed, according to Interfax.

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

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

Elsewhere, Russian shelling near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, has again disconnected it from the Ukrainian power grid, Ukraine’s state-owned energy company Energoatom said. It was quickly hooked up to a backup system, the International Atomic Energy Agency (AEA) said.

The factory, which was bombed during the war, is occupied by Russian forces but operated by Ukrainian personnel. Its reactors need energy to cool the fuel inside and prevent a meltdown.

Russia has long accused Kyiv of bombing the factory.

Meanwhile, Moscow and Kyiv carried out one of the largest POW swaps to date on Monday, swapping a total of 218 detainees, including 108 Ukrainian women, officials from both sides said.

(Reuters)