Russia launched a swarm of drones into Ukraine overnight, killing at least four people near Kyiv in a display of force as China’s President Xi Jinping left Moscow with promises of friendship but little public mention of the war.
Sirens blared across the capital and swathes of northern Ukraine and the military said it had shot down 16 of 21 Iranian-made Shahed suicide drones. Two accommodation blocks and an educational facility in the riverside town of Rzhyshchiv south of the capital had been partially destroyed, the State Emergency Service said on the Telegram messaging app.
Four people were killed there and others buried under the rubble. More than 100 workers and 28 vehicles were deployed to the scene, and that the search for survivors was continuing.
“Over 20 Iranian murderous drones, plus missiles, numerous shelling incidents, and that’s just in one last night of Russian terror against Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Twitter.
In an apparent reference to the Chinese leader’s visit, he added: “Every time someone tries to hear the word ‘peace’ in Moscow, another order is given there for such criminal strikes.”
Hosting Xi this week was Putin’s grandest diplomatic gesture since he launched the war a year ago and became a pariah in the West. Xi and Putin referred to each other as dear friends, promised economic cooperation and described their countries’ relations as the best they have ever been.
The two leaders “shared the view that this relationship has gone far beyond the bilateral scope and acquired critical importance for the global landscape and the future of humanity,” said a statement released by China.
As Xi departed he told Putin: “Now there are changes that haven’t happened in 100 years. When we are together, we drive these changes.”
“I agree,” Putin said, to which Xi responded: “Take care of yourself dear friend, please.”
Xi did not specify the changes and had little to say in public about the Ukraine war beyond saying that China’s position was “impartial”.
The White House urged Beijing to pressure Russia to withdraw from Ukraine to end Europe’s biggest conflict since World War Two. Washington also criticised the timing of the trip, just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin on war crimes charges for deporting Ukrainian children. Moscow says it has taken in children for protection.