Ukraine, G7 Countries Will Hold Emergency Talks as War Endangers Civilians

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and G7 leaders will hold emergency talks on Tuesday to address the latest Russian attacks on Ukraine, Reuters reports. Russia launched a salvo of cruise missiles at multiple Ukrainian targets on Monday, striking busy intersections during rush hour and knocking out power and heat for cities across the country.   

“They are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth,” Zelenskiy said, claiming the attacks were intended to kill innocent civilians and cripple Ukraine’s power grid. In a phone call with Zelenskiy, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz affirmed “the solidarity of Germany and the other G7 states” with Ukraine. “Germany will do everything in its power to mobilize additional aid and, in particular, to help repair and restore [Ukraine’s] damaged and destroyed civilian infrastructure, such as the electricity and heating supply,” government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit told AFP reporters. French President Emmanuel Macron promised to increase military aid to Ukraine, while also expressing “extreme concern” about attacks against civilian targets, his office said. 

In a televised address, Russian President Vladimir Putin justified the massive missile barrage as a response to an attack Ukraine allegedly carried out two days ago, which seriously damaged the bridge connecting Russia to Crimea and killed three people. “The Kyiv regime, with its actions, has put itself on the same level as international terrorist organizations. With the most odious groups. To leave such acts without a response is simply impossible,” Putin said. Without officially claiming responsibility for the blast, Ukraine identified the bridge as a military target that sustains Russia’s war efforts, Reuters explains.

The planned talks between G7 leaders and Zelenskiy are desperately needed as the human toll resulting from the 2022 Russia-Ukraine War continues its unsettling rise. Explosions from 81 cruise missiles killed at least ten people and injured dozens more, Ukrainian officials told Reuters, and left eight regions of the county with no electricity, water, or heat. The attack marked Russia’s most widespread air strike since the war began in February, though it was hardly the most deadly. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported in August that Russian attacks have claimed the lives of over 5,000 civilians and injured more than 8,000 in Ukraine. Another 24,000 people may have been killed in mass atrocities. 

As the conflict in Ukraine rages on, the devastation, trauma, and appalling human cost of using explosive weapons in urban areas should come as no surprise. The wide-ranging effects of many modern-day military technologies means that civilian deaths are inevitable, even if individual cases are the result of genuine accidents and not explicit policies set by ruling officials. According to the UN Security Council, civilians account for nearly ninety percent of wartime casualties. People caught between armed conflicts also suffer from the destruction of their homes and disruption of infrastructure, such as roads, hospitals, and communication lines, that support the delivery of vital goods and services. 

With no end in sight, the Russia-Ukraine war poses an increasing threat to the security and well-being of millions of ordinary citizens. Russia’s extensive shelling of Ukrainian cities suggests that the current diplomatic, political, legal, and humanitarian system for protecting innocent people is inadequate. The severe collateral damage resulting from the attacksas well as the recent explosion on the bridge linking Russia and Crimea—highlight the need for renewed efforts to ensure civilian protection in the planning and conduct of military operations.