(Al Jazeera) Kyiv, Ukraine – Antonio Guterres, the United Nations secretary-general, had just finished a longer-than-scheduled meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv when Russian cruise missiles struck a nearby residential area.
The proximity of the attack stunned Guterres.
“I was obviously shocked when I was informed that two missiles had reached a target in Kyiv,” he told Al Jazeera later on Thursday. “I was shocked,” he repeated.
“Kyiv is a city with an enormous historical value,” Guterres said, calling the capital “wonderful”. “It represents, I would say, everything for both Ukrainians and Russians and I hope that Kyiv will be spared.”
Several people were reported wounded in the strikes, the first to hit Kyiv in almost two weeks. Zelenskyy described them as an attempt by Russia “to humiliate the UN and everything that the organisation represents”. Russia’s defence ministry called it a “high precision” strike on a space-rocket facility in the heart of the capital.
“If anything, the attack on Kyiv underlines how difficult it will be for the international community to mediate a settlement between the two sides,” Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from the capital, said. “For the secretary-general, the priority at the moment is to provide humanitarian relief to Ukrainians trapped in battle zones.”