Why Russia’s missile attack on Kiev is seen as an insult to the UN : NPR

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres walks with security personnel during his visits to Borodyanka, a town outside Kiev that was devastated by Russian attack and occupation, on Thursday. Russia sent a deadly attack to the capital when Guterres visited it.

Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images


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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres walks with security personnel during his visits to Borodyanka, a town outside Kiev that was devastated by Russian attack and occupation, on Thursday. Russia sent a deadly attack to the capital when Guterres visited it.

Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres just met Russian President Vladimir Putin in person and he was on a high-profile visit to Ukraine’s capital, but those circumstances were not enough to prevent Russia from launching a deadly attack on a residential area of ​​Kiev as Guterres visited the city on Thursday evening.

Ukrainian officials call the attack a “postcard from Moscow” and an affront to the UN

The timing of the attack soon sparked suspicions

Five Russian missiles hit Kiev “immediately” after Guterres and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ended a meeting, Zelenskyy said. It was a deliberate insult to the global diplomat, he added.

“This says a lot about Russia’s true attitude to global institutions,” Zelenskyy said Thursday evening. “On the efforts of the Russian leadership to humiliate the UN and everything it represents.”

Guterres arrived in Ukraine after meeting Putin on Tuesday, hoping to de-escalate the war and guarantee humanitarian aid for civilians whose lives have been turned upside down by the Russian invasion. On Thursday, Guterres toured the destroyed city of Borodyanka, northwest of Kiev, which was bombed and occupied. For him, it evoked the evil and absurdity of war.

“I have to say what I feel. I imagined my family in one of those houses that are now destroyed and black,” Guterres said. “I see my granddaughters running away in panic, part of the family eventually died. So the war is an absurdity in the 21st century. The war is evil.”

Guterres also spoke about the need to respect international law and being at “ground zero” – comments that later took on a chilling aspect, after Russia sent another attack on the capital.

“It’s a war zone, but it’s shocking that it happened close to us,” Saviano Abreu, a spokesman for the UN Humanitarian Office, told Agence France Presse.

Before Thursday’s strike in the heart of Kiev, attacks on the Ukrainian capital had largely stopped.

At least one person has been killed in the strike: a journalist

A Russian apartment building in Kiev was hit by a Russian attack on Thursday, in which a journalist was killed. It is next to a factory that makes parts for rockets, but also vacuum cleaners.

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A Russian apartment building in Kiev was hit by a Russian attack on Thursday, in which a journalist was killed. It is next to a factory that makes parts for rockets, but also vacuum cleaners.

Frank Langfitt / NPR

The Russian military says it has used “high-precision, long-range airborne weapons” to destroy buildings linked to the Artem missile and aerospace company in Kiev. But a site visit revealed the most visible damage to a nearby apartment building. The building is next to a factory that makes rocket parts, but also vacuum cleaners.

Rebar hung like locks of hair from the bottom three floors of the towering block of flats. Officials say the residence was hit by a cruise missile that came out of Russia-controlled Crimea and knocked out the bottom. One person was killed and nine others injured in the attack.

The blast killed Vira Hyrych, a journalist who worked for the US government broadcaster Radio Liberty in Ukraine and who lived in the building. The news channel confirmed her death and said her body was found among wreckage in the 25-story structure Friday morning.

Hyrych was also mourned by the Israeli embassy in Ukraine, who said: she used to work there. Radio Liberty says she worked in the Ukrainian TV industry before landing a job in Radio Svoboda’s Kiev bureau four years ago.

The perception of the attack as a deliberate disregard was reinforced by one of Guterres’s primary goals: to negotiate humanitarian corridors so that civilians could leave Mariupol. People in that besieged port city, he said, “need an escape route from the apocalypse.”

Ukrainian citizens suffer the most, says UN leader

As for what comes next in Ukraine, military experts see the Russians taking a big step in eastern Ukraine and trying to seize control of the south. Analysts expect the Russians to organize mock independence referendums in cities and towns so that Putin can present the invasion as a success to the domestic public at home.

Ukraine’s leaders have already said they will reject the results of such referendums.

No one expects a negotiated solution to end the war any time soon — including Oleg Ignatov, a senior Russia analyst with the International Crisis Group.

“They don’t know at this point how to stop this war because both sides still hope they can or will win this war.”

As the violence rages on, Guterres said when he visited the devastated suburbs of Kiev on Thursday, Ukrainians are suffering the most.

“This horrific scenario shows something that, unfortunately, is always true,” he said as he gestured at burnt-out buildings. “The citizens always pay the highest price.”

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