Russian drones swarm Kyiv as China President Xi Jinping leaves Moscow

A swarm of Russian drones were launched 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.

Sirens blared across the capital and swathes of northern Ukraine, and the military said it 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 were partially destroyed, the State Emergency Service said on the Telegram messaging app on Wednesday.

Four people were killed there and others buried under the rubble. More than 100 workers and 28 vehicles were deployed to the scene, and the search for survivors is 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 Zelensky 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 Mr Xi this week was Mr Putin’s grandest diplomatic gesture since he launched the war a year ago and became a pariah in the West.

Mr Xi and Mr Putin referred to each other as dear friends, promised economic co-operation 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 Mr Xi departed he told Mr Putin: “Now there are changes that haven’t happened in 100 years. When we are together, we drive these changes.”

“I agree,” Mr Putin said, to which Mr Xi responded: “Take care of yourself dear friend, please.”

Mr 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 II.

Washington also criticised the timing of the trip, just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Mr Putin on war crimes charges for deporting Ukrainian children. Moscow says it has taken in children for protection.

China proposed a peace plan for Ukraine last month, which the West has largely dismissed as vague at best, and at worst a ploy to buy time for Putin to regroup his forces.

“A ceasefire right now, freezing the lines where they are, basically gives him the time and space he needs to try to re-equip, to re-man, to make up for that resource expenditure,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said.

Mr Putin praised Mr Xi for the plan, and blamed Kyiv and the West for rejecting it.

Kyiv, for its part, has cautiously welcomed the Chinese proposal while urging Beijing to consider Ukraine’s own peace plan. Mr Zelensky has called on Mr Xi to speak to him.

Ukraine says there can be no peace unless Russia withdraws from occupied land.

Moscow says Kyiv must recognise territorial “realities”, referring to Russia’s claim to have annexed a fifth of Ukraine.


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