Putin threatens to respond to Ukraine´s receipt of Western missiles and explosions in Kyiv

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Sunday that Moscow would target new sites if the West delivers long-range missiles to Ukraine, hours after several explosions were heard in Kyiv.


Also, the battle for control of the strategically important eastern city of Severodonetsk intensified, with the governor of Lugansk region Sergey Gaidai declaring in an interview broadcast on social media platforms that "our armed forces cleared half" of this industrial city of Russian forces, adding that "half of the city is under the control of our forces." ".


Thousands of civilians have been killed and millions forced to flee their homes since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.


Russian news agencies quoted Putin as saying that if missiles were delivered to Ukraine, "we will draw the appropriate conclusions and use our weapons ... to hit sites that we have not yet targeted," without specifying which targets he was talking about.


Putin's comments came after the United States announced last week that it would supply advanced missile systems to Ukraine.


Ukraine said on Sunday that the war with Russia had entered a long-term phase that needs continuous military support from Western countries until the Russian forces are defeated.


"We have entered a protracted war and we will need regular support," Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Gana Maliar told local media.


"The West must realize that our assistance should not be temporary, but should continue until our victory," she added.


Ukrainian officials said earlier Sunday that Russian missiles targeted infrastructure sites linked to the railway network, in the first strikes of its kind in Kyiv since April 28.


Russia stated that in these strikes it destroyed tanks supplied by countries in Eastern Europe to Ukraine.


"High-precision and long-range missiles fired by the Russian Air Force on the Kyiv suburb destroyed T-72 tanks supplied by Eastern European countries and other armored vehicles that were in the hangars," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.


One person was injured, while AFP reporters saw several buildings with windows smashed near one of the targeted sites.


Leonid, 63, who lives in Kyiv, reported hearing three to four explosions. "There is nothing military there, but they bomb everything," he said.


In turn, Fasil, 43, indicated that he heard five explosions.


"People are afraid," he said as he returned to his damaged home with a loaf of bread in hand.


Meanwhile, battles for control of Severodonetsk continued in the east of the country.


The largest city still under the control of Ukrainian forces is in the Donbass region of Lugansk, where Russian forces are gradually advancing after being withdrawn or defeated in other parts of the country, including Kyiv.


"The Russians control about 70 percent of the city, but they have been forced to retreat over the past two days," Gaidai said on Telegram.


"They are afraid to move freely in the city," he added.


On Saturday, the Russian army announced that Ukrainian military units were withdrawing from Severodonetsk, but its mayor, Oleksandr Stryuk, confirmed that Ukrainian forces were fighting to retake the city.


"We are doing everything possible to restore complete control of Ukraine" over the city, he said in an interview broadcast on Telegram.


In the neighboring city of Lysichansk, pensioner Oleksandr Lyakhovets said he had enough time to save his cat before his apartment caught fire after a Russian missile hit it.


"They are bombing here relentlessly... It's a horror show," the 67-year-old told AFP.


On Sunday, the press office of the Ukrainian presidency reported that nine civilians were killed in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions due to the bombing.
Western powers imposed tough sanctions on Russia and supplied arms to Ukraine, but divisions prevailed over how to handle the crisis.


French President Emmanuel Macron noted Friday that Putin had made a "fundamental mistake" but that Russia should not be "humiliated" in order to maintain a diplomatic exit.


Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded on Saturday by saying Macron's stance only serves to "humiliate France" and any other country that adopts a similar stance.


In a separate context, BMFTV channel announced on Sunday evening that the remains of journalist Frédéric Leclerc Imhoff, who was killed Monday in eastern Ukraine by shrapnel during the bombing, will be returned to France on Wednesday.


From a window overlooking Saint Peter's Square, Pope Francis renewed his call on Sunday for "genuine negotiations" to stop what he called an "increasingly dangerous level" of the war in Ukraine.


In addition to the casualties, the conflict caused extensive damage to Ukraine's cultural heritage.


On Saturday, Ukrainian officials announced that the Russian bombing had led to the burning of a famous wooden Orthodox monastery in eastern Ukraine.


Russian forces currently control a fifth of the Ukrainian territory, according to Kyiv, while Moscow imposed a blockade on the ports on the Black Sea, which raised fears of a global food crisis. Ukraine and Russia are among the world's largest wheat exporters.


The United Nations reported that it was leading intensive negotiations with Russia to allow shipments of Ukrainian grain crops to leave the country.
Away from the battlefield, Wales smashed Ukraine's dreams of participating in the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 2006, with a 1-0 victory. 

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