Ukraine clinic and Russian town hit as China peace envoy reaches Moscow

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posts video of smoke billowing from buildings damaged in attack

Firefighters hose down a building after the Russian attack in Dnipro, Ukraine. AP
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Russian missiles hit a medical clinic in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, as Russia blamed Kyiv for dozens of strikes on its southern Belgorod region, officials said on Friday.

The fighting continued as the Chinese envoy tasked with promoting Beijing’s peace efforts met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.

Mr Lavrov said there were “serious obstacles” to resuming peace talks and blamed Ukraine and western countries for the continuing conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted a video on social media showing smoke billowing from buildings damaged in an attack that authorities said had killed two and injured 30.

Fire engulfed the three-storey building that appeared almost destroyed, with only parts of a wall standing, as firefighters battled the flames.

The Russian defence ministry said that its strikes on Ukraine had taken aim at arms depots and that all the assigned targets had been hit.

The town of Graivoron in Russia's Belgorod region, about 7 kilometres from the Ukrainian border, came under fire for several hours, damaging four houses, a store, a car, a gas pipeline and a power line, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov reported.

Mr Lavrov thanked Li Hui, China’s special representative for Eurasian affairs and a former ambassador to Russia, for Beijing’s “balanced position” on the war, according to a statement from the Russian foreign ministry.

Russia is committed to a “political and diplomatic resolution” of the conflict, it added.

“The Russian Foreign Minister reaffirmed Moscow's commitment to a political-diplomatic resolution of the conflict, noting the serious obstacles to the resumption of peace talks created by the Ukrainian side and its western mentors,” the ministry said.

China has not commented on the meeting so far.

The Moscow trip comes after Mr Li's visits to Ukraine – during which he met Mr Zelenskyy – and several European states as Chinese President Xi Jinping seeks to step up a diplomatic engagement to try to stop the fighting.

Beijing says it is a neutral party in the Ukraine conflict, but it has been criticised for refusing to condemn Moscow for its offensive.

“Both sides expressed readiness to further strengthen Russian-Chinese foreign policy co-operation, invariably aimed at maintaining peace and stability in the region and on the planet as a whole,” the Russian foreign ministry said.

Mr Li has said there is “no panacea to resolve the crisis”.

President Vladimir Putin, in a separate phone call with his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, confirmed that Russia was open to dialogue over Ukraine, the Kremlin said.

The Kremlin confirmed Mr Putin had told Brazil’s leader that Russia was open to dialogue after Mr da Silva tweeted: “I reiterated Brazil's willingness, along with India, Indonesia and China, to talk to both sides of the conflict in pursuit of peace.”

Updated: May 26, 2023, 6:54 PM