World leaders condemn Russia’s fresh onslaught on Ukraine | Top points | World News

Several world leaders, including United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and US President Joe Biden, expressed condemnation and shock as Russia rained cruise missiles on Ukrainian cities on Monday killing civilians and cutting out power with its most widespread air attacks since the start of the war.

Ukrainian officials said at least 11 people were killed and scores injured, with swathes of the country left without power.

Here are the top points:

– In a statement, Biden said these attacks killed and injured civilians and destroyed targets with no military purpose, adding they once again demonstrate the “utter brutality of Mr Putin’s illegal war on the Ukrainian people”.

– US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Blinken said Moscow’s attacks on Kyiv present a “profound moral issue” and the international community has a responsibility to make clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions are unacceptable. “The international community has a responsibility to make clear that President Putin’s actions are completely unacceptable,” Blinken said in a statement. “Now is the time to speak out in support for Ukraine; it is not the time for abstentions, placating words, or equivocations under claims of neutrality. The core principles of the UN Charter are at stake.

Also read | On deadly strikes in Ukraine, Putin doubles down on threat: ‘We’ll respond’

– Expressing his concerns, the United Nations chief said the large-scale missile attacks by Russia were deeply shocking. “As always, civilians are paying the highest price,” he added.

– UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement, “This constitutes another unacceptable escalation of the war and, as always, civilians are paying the highest price.”

– Missiles tore into intersections, parks and tourist sites in capital Kyiv, while explosions were reported in Lviv, Ternopil and Zhytomyr in western Ukraine, Dnipro and Kremenchuk in the centre, Zaporizhzhia in the south and Kharkiv in the east.

– Thousands of residents raced to bomb shelters as air raid sirens rang out through the day.

– Putin said he had ordered the strikes after an attack on the bridge linking Russia to the annexed Crimean peninsula over the weekend, and threatened more strikes in future if Ukraine hits Russian territory. “To leave such acts without a response is simply impossible,” he said.

Also read | India calls for immediate halt to hostilities in Ukraine as war toll rises

– Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said “they are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth”. “Such a time and such targets were specially chosen to cause as much damage as possible,” he said in a video message filmed on a mobile phone on an empty central Kyiv street.

– Stating that 11 major infrastructure targets were hit in eight regions, leaving swaths of the country with no electricity, water or heat, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal promised to restore utilities as quickly as possible. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted, “Putin is a terrorist who talks with missiles.”

– By mid-morning, Ukraine’s defence ministry said Russia had fired 81 cruise missiles, and Ukraine’s air defences had shot down 43 of them. Russia’s defence ministry said it had hit all its intended targets.

– Putin’s closest ally, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, said he had ordered troops to deploy jointly with Russian forces near Ukraine, which he accused of planning attacks on Belarus with its Western backers. He allowed Russia to use Belarus as a staging ground early in the war but has not sent in his troops.

(With agency inputs)

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