Blasts hit Kyiv as UN chief visits

STORY: Video obtained by Reuters showed the immediate aftermath of blasts in Kyiv Thursday.

Smoke and fire could be seen from the wreckage, debris on the street.

Emergency services rushed to the scene after the city's mayor said Russia fired two missiles into the Ukrainian capital, during a visit by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who earlier met with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensiky for talks focusing on efforts to evacuate civilians from the Russian-besieged southern port of Mariupol.

Kyiv has enjoyed relative calm since Russian invasion forces failed to capture it in the face of stiff Ukrainian resistance and withdrew several weeks ago, but remains vulnerable to longer-range Russian heavy weaponry.

Guterres told Portuguese broadcaster RTP when asked about the blasts: "There was an attack on shocked me, not because I'm here, but because Kyiv is a sacred city for Ukrainians and Russians alike."

Zelenskiy's chief of staff said the blasts were "proof’ that Ukraine needs ‘a quick victory’ over Russia "because every day Ukraine pays a high price.”

Reuters could not independently verify the cause of the explosions.

After being beaten back in efforts to capture Kyiv in the north, Russia has shifted strategy.

Russian forces are now entrenched in the east, where Moscow-backed separatists have held some territory since 2014, and also hold a swathe of the south they seized in March.

President Vladimir Putin calls Russian actions a "special military operation" to disarm Ukraine that became necessary as the United States was using the country to threaten Russia and Moscow had to defend Russian-speaking people from persecution.

Ukraine says it is fighting an imperial-style land grab and that Putin's claims of persecution are nonsense.

Western countries have ramped up weapons supplies to Ukraine in recent days as the fighting in the east has escalated.

More than 40 countries met this week at a U.S. air base in Germany and pledged to send heavy arms such as artillery for what is expected to be a vast battle of opposing armies along a heavily fortified front line on open, flat terrain.

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