Russia attacks more than 40 Ukrainian towns

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Russian missiles shelled more than 40 cities and towns in Ukraine, the country’s authorities said on Thursday, after a UN General Assembly resolution called the annexation “illegal”. of Ukrainian territory by Moscow and for kyiv’s allies to commit to providing more military aid to the country.

Russia reiterated its position that the West, by helping Ukraine, has indicated that it is a “direct party to the conflict”, warning that Ukraine’s admission to NATO could trigger World War III.

“kyiv is well aware that such a step would lead to a guaranteed escalation into World War III,” Russian Federation Security Council Deputy Secretary Alexander Venediktov told the state news agency TASS on Thursday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced a surprise request for fast-track entry into the NATO military alliance in late September, after Russian President Vladimir Putin held a ceremony in Moscow to proclaim annexation to the territory. of Russia from four partially occupied regions.

In the past 24 hours, Russian missiles have hit more than 40 locations, while the Ukrainian air force carried out 32 strikes against 25 Russian targets, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said.

Mykolaiv Mayor Oleksandr Senkevich said in a social media post that the southern Ukrainian port city was “massively shelled”.

“A five-story residential building was attacked, the top two floors were completely destroyed, the rest under rubble. Rescue teams are working on the spot,” he said.

Mykolaiv, a shipbuilding center and port on the Bug River, which flows into the Black Sea, has been under heavy Russian bombardment throughout the war.

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Russia also attacked a settlement early Thursday using explosive drones in the region of the Ukrainian capital kyiv, authorities in the region reported on the Telegram messaging app.

The governor of the kyiv region, Oleksiy Kuleba, said that according to preliminary information, the attacks were caused by loitering Iranian-made bombs. They are often referred to as “kamikaze drones”.

Several essential infrastructure facilities were hit by the drones, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The missiles hit more than 30 multi-story buildings and houses, as well as gas pipelines and power lines in the city of Nikopol, in the Dnipropetrovsk region, after which more than 2,000 families were left without electricity, the governor wrote on Telegram. regional, Valentyn Reznichenko.

Reuters could not immediately verify this information.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia’s missile strikes are a sign of weakness. “Russia is really losing on the battlefield,” Stoltenberg said.

As his forces have lost ground since September, Putin has escalated the conflict, calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists, proclaiming the annexation of occupied Ukrainian territory and repeatedly threatening to use nuclear weapons to protect Russia.

Putin has threatened to use nuclear weapons to protect Russian soil, which he says includes the four regions he declared annexed last month.

US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he doubts Putin will resort to the use of nuclear weapons.

A senior NATO official said a Russian nuclear strike would change the course of the conflict and would almost certainly trigger a “physical response” from Ukraine’s allies, “and potentially from NATO itself.”

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In New York, three quarters of the 193 members of the General Assembly – 143 countries – voted on Wednesday in favor of a resolution that describes Moscow’s measure as illegal, which deepens Russia’s international isolation.

Only four countries joined Russia in voting against the resolution: Syria, Nicaragua, North Korea and Belarus. Thirty-five countries abstained in the vote, including Russia’s strategic partner China, while the rest did not vote.

Moscow proclaimed in September the annexation to Russia of four partially occupied regions of Ukraine – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – after organizing what it called “referendums”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter (NYSE: TWTR ) that he is “grateful to the 143 states that supported the historic resolution of the United Nations General Assembly (…), (Russia’s attempted annexation) it’s worth nothing.”

In Brussels, more than 50 Western countries met to pledge more military aid to Ukraine, especially air defense weapons, following heavy retaliatory strikes ordered this week by Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to a bridge explosion in Crimea.

The allies’ pledges included France’s announcement that it would deliver radar and air defense systems to Ukraine in the coming weeks. Britain has pledged air defense missiles, while Canada has said it will provide artillery ammunition, among other supplies.

At the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting in Brussels, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Russia’s latest attacks underscore its “malice and cruelty” since it invaded Ukraine on 24 February. At least 26 people have been killed since Monday in Russian missile strikes across Ukraine.

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Ukraine has changed course since September with extraordinary progress, but will need more help, he said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure they have what it takes to be effective,” Austin told reporters.

Since Monday’s attacks, Germany has shipped the first of four promised IRIS-T SLM air defense systems, while Washington said it will speed up delivery of a NASAMS air defense system.

“The more help Ukraine receives now, the sooner we will end the Russian war,” Zelensky said by video at a forum during the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, told the General Assembly before the vote that the resolution was “politicized and openly provocative”, adding that it “could destroy all efforts for a diplomatic solution”.

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