Biden condemns ‘Russian brutality’ after deadly Ukraine strikes

WASHIGTON   -   US President Joe Biden has condemned a wave of Russian missile strikes that killed at least 38 people in Ukraine as a “horrific reminder of Russia’s brutality”, as he vowed to strengthen Kyiv’s air defences. At least 190 were injured across the country, including some at Ukraine’s biggest children’s hospital in the capital, Kyiv, on Monday.

Ukraine published photos on Tuesday of what it said were recovered fragments of a Russian cruise missile that hit the Ohmatdyt hospital.

Russia claimed the blast was caused by a misfiring Ukrainian air defence missile, but the UN said it was highly likely Moscow was behind the attack - a conclusion shared by analysts who spoke to BBC Verify. It comes as President Biden prepares to host a Nato summit in Washington later on Tuesday. He said further boosts to Ukraine’s air defences would be announced at the meeting.

Leaders from the 32 Nato member states, their partner countries and the EU are gathering to mark the 75th anniversary of the bloc. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky is also expected to attend. He has been urging Western allies to step up deliveries of air defences for months, amid increased Russian attacks. UN officials said May was the deadliest month for civilian casualties in almost a year. The summit will focus on defence and deterrence in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine is not a Nato member, but it has asked to be admitted as soon as possible after its war with Russia ends.

 Nato’s outgoing secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said it is “inevitable” that Ukraine will eventually become a member, but not until after the war.

Russia fiercely opposes Ukraine joining the bloc, fearing it would bring the alliance’s forces too close to its own territory.

“We will be announcing new measures to strengthen Ukraine’s air defences to help protect their cities and civilians from Russian strikes,” Mr Biden said.

“I will be meeting with President Zelensky to make clear our support for Ukraine is unshakeable.”  The UN Security Council is also meeting on Tuesday at Ukraine’s request.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres joined Western officials in condemning Russia’s missile attack on Ukraine.

Kyiv’s mayor, Vitaliy Klitschko, declared 9 July as a day of mourning following the deadly attacks on the capital.

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