United Nations, Oct 10 (EFE).- At least 14 civilians died and 97 others were wounded Monday in Russian missile attacks targeting cities across Ukraine, Kyiv’s ambassador to the United Nations said.
Ukrainian authorities had initially reported 10 deaths and 60 injuries in those strikes, which Moscow said was in retaliation for an explosion Saturday that damaged a key bridge linking the Russian mainland and annexed Crimea.
President Vladimir Putin says the blast at the Kerch Bridge was a “terrorist act” carried out by the Ukrainian secret service.
In a speech at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York on Monday, Ukraine’s permanent representative to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, said Russia’s missile attacks hit energy facilities, residential buildings, schools and universities, museums and city centers.
“The entire world has once again seen the true face of the terrorist state that kills our people. Suffering defeats on the battlefield, Russia takes it out on the peaceful residents of Ukrainian cities,” he added, referring to a recently effective Ukrainian counteroffensive in the country’s east and south.
Kyslytsya referred to Monday’s missile attacks at the start of a speech in which he presented a draft resolution condemning Russia’s attempt to annex four regions of eastern Ukraine – Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzia and Kherson – comprising about 15 percent of that country’s territory.
Late last month, Russia vetoed a similar but legally binding UN Security Council resolution that said the attempted annexations are an illegal attempt to modify Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and demanded that Moscow “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces” from Ukrainian territory.
The West says the referendums held in those four regions, which Moscow does not fully control, were a sham and that people were essentially pressured at gunpoint into voting to join the Russian Federation.
Putin says ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in those regions have been persecuted by Ukraine and that the referendums were a means of “saving” that population.
Moscow’s attempt to wrest control of that territory from Ukraine is a particularly dangerous development in the seven-month war because Putin has said he could resort to using nuclear weapons to defend Russia’s territorial integrity.
Following that Sept. 30 veto, Kyiv and its allies decided to hold a non-binding vote in the 193-member General Assembly, where a new meeting of the Emergency Special Session on the war in Ukraine is being held to discuss the attempted annexations.
A vote on the Ukrainian draft resolution is not expected until Wednesday at the earliest.
Separately Monday, US President Joe Biden slammed the attacks on several Ukrainian cities and promised that Putin and Russia would be held accountable for their “atrocities and war crimes.”
“The United States strongly condemns Russia’s missile strikes today across Ukraine, including in Kyiv. These attacks killed and injured civilians and destroyed targets with no military purpose,” Biden said in a statement.
In a phone conversation Monday with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Biden conveyed his condolences to the loved ones of those killed and injured in the attacks and promised to continue providing that Eastern European country with military aid, including advanced air defense systems.
He said the missile attacks “once again demonstrate the utter brutality of Mr. Putin’s illegal war on the Ukrainian people.”
“These attacks only further reinforce our commitment to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes. Alongside our allies and partners, we will continue to impose costs on Russia for its aggression, hold Putin and Russia accountable for its atrocities and war crimes, and provide the support necessary for Ukrainian forces to defend their country and their freedom,” the US president said. EFE