Fresh missile strikes hit Kyiv as Russia gains control of eastern city of Sievierodonetsk

John Ray speaks to Kyiv residents after a nine-floor apartment building was struck by Russian missiles on Sunday

Several large explosions hit Kyiv on Sunday morning in a bid to intimidate Ukraine ahead of international summits in the coming days where support for the country will be one of the main topics on the agenda.

The general prosecutor’s office said preliminary information indicated one person was killed and four injured.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said four people were hospitalised with injuries and a seven-year-old girl was pulled alive from the rubble.

A nearby nursery was also damaged, with a crater in its courtyard.

Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Goncharenko wrote on Telegram that 14 missiles were launched against the Kyiv region, according to "preliminary data".

Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said the missiles were Kh-101 air-launched cruise missiles fired from planes over the Caspian Sea.

Two more explosions were later heard in Kyiv, but their cause and possible casualties were not immediately clear.

Before Sunday's early morning attack, Kyiv had not faced any such Russian airstrikes since June 5.

Mr Klitschko told journalists that he believed “it is maybe a symbolic attack” ahead of an upcoming Nato summit in Madrid on Tuesday.

The strikes also happened as leaders of the world's most "advanced" economies - the G7 - met in Bavaria where Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to pledge further financial support for Ukraine over the coming days and call on fellow leaders to do more to help the embattled country.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is expected to address the leaders as the conflict enters what he called "an emotionally difficult stage."

Speaking at the G7 summit in Bavaria, US President Joe Biden, branded the latest missile strikes on Kyiv as more of Russia's "barbarism".

Meanwhile, the UK, US, Canada and Japan have announced they will ban imports of Russian gold in the latest stage of the effort to cripple Russia’s economy in response to the war in Ukraine.

Gold exports were worth £12.6 billion to Russia in 2021 and its importance has increased since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as oligarchs have rushed to buy bullion to avoid the impact of sanctions, Downing Street said.

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Also on Sunday morning, the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that most Ukrainian forces have likely withdrawn from their remaining defensive positions in the Donbas city of Sievierodonetsk, after it was earlier reported Russian forces have now taken full control of the city.

The capture of Sievierodonetsk is Russia's biggest victory since it captured the city of Mariupol last month.

In a statement on Sunday morning, the MoD said Moscow's capture of Sievierodonetsk was a "significant achievement" for Russia.

"In April 2022, Russia revised its immediate campaign plan from aiming to occupy the majority of Ukraine, to a more focused offensive in the Donbas," the MoD said."Russia’s capture of the city is a significant achievement within this reduced objective.

"The settlement was a major industrial centre and it occupies a strategic position on the Siverskyi Donets River."However, it is only one of several challenging objectives Russia will need to achieve to occupy the whole of the Donbas region.

"These include advancing on the major centre of Kramatorsk and securing the main supply routes to Donetsk city."

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said Sunday that Russia was conducting intense airstrikes on the adjacent city of Lysychansk, destroying its television tower and seriously damaging a road bridge.

“There’s very much destruction — Lysychansk is almost unrecognisable,” he wrote on Facebook.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said late on Saturday that Russian and Moscow-backed separatist forces now control Sievierodonetsk and the villages surrounding it.

He said the attempt by Ukrainian forces to turn the Azot plant into a “stubborn center of resistance” had been thwarted.

Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted a spokesperson for the separatist forces, Andrei Marochko, as saying Russian troops and separatist fighters had entered Lysychansk and that fighting was taking place in the heart of the city. There was no immediate comment on the claim from the Ukrainian side.

Lysychansk and Sievierodonetsk have been the focal point of a Russian offensive aimed at capturing all of the Donbas and destroying the Ukrainian military defending it — the most capable and battle-hardened segment of the country’s armed forces.

Capturing Lysychansk would give Russian forces control of every major settlement in the province, a significant step toward Russia’s aim of capturing the entire Donbas. The Russians and separatists control about half of Donetsk, the second province in the Donbas.

On Saturday, Russia also launched dozens of missiles on several areas across the country far from the heart of the eastern battles. Some of the missiles were fired from Russian long-range Tu-22 bombers deployed from Belarus for the first time, Ukraine’s air command said.

The bombardment preceded a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, during which Putin announced that Russia planned to supply Belarus with the Iskander-M nuclear-capable missile systems.