Ukraine accuses Russia of war crimes as attacks target civilians and infrastructure

Moscow says it is ‘open’ to talks with the western powers as a second day of air strikes hits electrical installations and non-military objectives

Ukraine war
Cars burn after Russian military strike, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in central Kyiv, Ukraine October 10, 2022.GLEB GARANICH (REUTERS)

The Russian military carried out renewed air strikes against several regions of Ukraine on Tuesday, mostly targeting electrical installations, a day after missile attacks hit civilian and essential infrastructure targets in Kyiv and other cities. The governors of the provinces of Vinnytsia in central Ukraine, Dnipro in the east and Lviv in the west stated that Russian missiles had hit electrical supply installations in their territories. Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia of committing “war crimes” by deliberately targeting critical infrastructure with the intention of leaving civilians in “unbearable conditions.” At least one person was killed in Zaporizhzhia when 12 Russian missiles struck the city, which is in one of the four regions annexed last week by Moscow with Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson. In total, there have been 19 civilian fatalities over the past two days as a result of the latest Russian air strikes. The chief of the regional police in Zaporizhzhia, Artem Kisko, said that a school and an orphanage had been destroyed on Tuesday. “There is not a single military target in the areas that were attacked,” he said.

Amid the current escalation in the war and the Ukrainian counter-offensive on the ground, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Tuesday urged the G7 nations to provide new missile defense systems to repel Russian air strikes. Speaking at an emergency meeting of the world’s most advance economies, Zelenskiysaid that the supply of such hardware to the Ukrainian war effort is now “priority number one.” The White House confirmed that US President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders had held a virtual conference to discuss what could be done to boost Ukraine’s defensive capacity against Russian cruise missile attacks. Zelenskiy assured the other leaders at the meeting that when Ukraine “obtains sufficient weapons” of this kind, “the threat posed by Russia will diminish.”

Biden has said that the United States will provide missile defense systems to Ukraine, a commitment that Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, believes will serve only to prolong the conflict. “The mood of this summit is already obvious and predictable. The confrontation will continue,” Peskov told reporters. Zelenskiy also took advantage of the meeting to address claims made by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko that Ukraine was planning “military action” against its neighbor, stating that Ukraine is interested only in its own territorial sovereignty. Zelenskiy proposed the establishment of an international peacekeeping mission on the Ukraine-Belarus border to monitor the situation. “Putin could escalate the war and that is a threat to everyone,” he told the meeting.

The leaders of the G7 issued a joint statement after the conference, describing the latest attacks by Russia on the civilian population of Ukraine as war crimes: “We will hold President Putin and others to account,” the statement said. “We deplore these escalation measures, including the mobilization of reservists and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, which is placing global peace and security at risk. We reaffirm that any use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons by Russia will be met with severe consequences.”

Putin “desperate,” says British intelligence

On the ground and in the face of a wave of successful counterattacks by Ukrainian forces, Russia is running critically low on armaments, troops and allies, while the Putin administration in Moscow is growing ever more “desperate,” Jeremy Fleming, the head of Britain’s intelligence, cyber and security agency GCHQ said on Tuesday. According to Fleming, despite these deficiencies and the Kremlin’s losses, Russia still possesses “a very capable military machine,” although the intelligence chief noted that it is being worn down considerably by Ukrainian resistance.

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said on Tuesday that Moscow remains “open” to dialog with the western powers over the war in Ukraine, but that the Kremlin had yet to receive “any serious proposal” to begin negotiations. In an interview broadcast on Russian state television, Lavrov denied that Moscow had turned down an offer of talks put forward by John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the US National Security Agency.

Cumbre OTAN Madrid
French soldiers fire mortars near Rena, Norway during NATO's Exercise Brilliant Jump 2022, aimed at training the very high-readiness component of the NATO Response Force. Anadolu Agency (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

NATO to press ahead with nuclear exercises

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told a press conference ahead of a meeting of the ministers of defense of the Atlantic Alliance on Tuesday that Ukraine’s allies would stand with Kyiv “for as long as necessary.” Speaking about the latest developments on the ground in Ukraine, Stoltenberg said: “Ukraine has the momentum at the moment and continues to achieve significant gains while Russia is increasing its indiscriminate and horrific attacks on civilians and critical infrastructure. Putin is failing in Ukraine. His attempts at annexation, partial mobilization and reckless nuclear rhetoric represent the most significant escalation since the beginning of the war, and demonstrate that this war is not going as he had envisioned.”

Stoltenberg also added that NATO would press ahead with its planned annual nuclear exercises, which involve 14 NATO member countries, as canceling them would send the wrong signal to Moscow. “This is routine training, which is conducted every year to keep our deterrent safe, secure and effective,” he said, adding that although NATO will maintain its stance of not playing a direct role in the conflict, the alliance’s assistance to Ukraine has been and will remain decisive. “NATO is not part of the conflict, but our assistance is playing a key role. The allies stand united in supporting Ukrainian sovereignty and self-defense.” Stoltenberg also welcomed the news from the G7 conference that more advanced missile defense systems would be provided to Kyiv.

“Our message is clear: NATO will be at Ukraine’s side for as long as is necessary. President Putin started this war, and he must end it by withdrawing his forces from Ukraine. And President Lukashenko must put an end to Belarus’ complicity in this illegal conflict,” Stoltenberg concluded.

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