UN calls emergency meeting after Russian strikes kill 31: ‘Attacks against civilians are unacceptable’

US, France and the UK condemn Russia’s onslaught as 31 people confirmed dead

Stuti Mishra
Saturday 30 December 2023 07:06

Related: Firefighters battle blaze in Ukraine’s Odessa after Russian airstrike on residential building

The United Nations Security Council called an urgent meeting to discuss the escalating situation in Ukraine after Russia launched its biggest air attack of the war so far.

The meeting was called at 9pm UK time on Friday after Ukraine requested an urgent session to address missile and drone strikes by Russia.

“Once again, Ukrainians are forced to spend the holidays seeking shelter, clearing the rubble, and burying the dead, amidst freezing temperatures,” said Khaled Khiari, assistant secretary-general at the UN department of political and peacebuilding affairs, while briefing members.

The United States, France and Britain were among the countries that condemned the attacks on Ukraine.

The attacks were “a desperate and futile attempt by Russia to regain momentum” in its war with Ukraine, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Barbara Woodward told the council. “They will not succeed.”

Ukraine‘s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said earlier on X/Twitter that Ukraine and three dozen other UN member states had requested the security council meeting after the attacks, “which resulted in multiple civilian casualties and heavy destruction of civilian infrastructure”.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, secretary-general António Guterres said the attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine “violate international humanitarian law, are unacceptable and must end immediately”.

At least 31 Ukrainians have been confirmed dead and more than 160 others are wounded, according to officials, as rescuers pulled bodies out from debris and firefighters struggled to control blazes in targeted buildings.

In an 18-hour onslaught, Russia launched 158 missiles and drones targeting locations across Ukraine, including in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Sumy, Odesa and Zaporizhzhia regions among others.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia used every sort of weapon it had to launch the biggest aerial bombardment of the war.

A shopping centre was heavily damaged in Russian attacks

Meanwhile, Poland, a Nato member, said a Russian missile appeared to have flown into its airspace before returning to Ukraine.

“Everything indicates that a Russian missile intruded into Poland’s airspace. It was monitored by us on radars and left the airspace. We have confirmation of this on radars and from allies” in Nato, said Poland’s armed forces chief, General Wieslaw Kukula.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said on X, formerly Twitter, that he had spoken to Poland’s president about the “missile incident” and stated that Nato was vigilant and monitoring the situation “as the facts are established”.

Additional reporting with agencies

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