Explosions rattled Kyiv during daylight on Monday as Russian ballistic missiles took aim at the Ukrainian capital, hours after a more common nighttime barrage of the city by drones and cruise missiles.
Russian forces fired 11 ballistic and cruise missiles at Kyiv at about 11:30 a.m. (1400 IMT), according to Ukraine’s chief of staff, Valerii Zaluzhnyi. All of them were shot down, he said, and puffs of white smoke could be seen in the blue sky over the city from street level.
Debris from the intercepted missiles fell in Kyiv’s central and northern districts during the morning, landing in the middle of traffic on a city road and also starting a fire on a building's roof, the Kyiv military administration said. At least one civilian was reported hurt.
The blasts unnerved some locals, already under strain after being awakened by the night attack.
“After what happened last night, I react sharply to every siren now. I was terrified, and I’m still trembling,” shared Alina Ksenofontova, a 50-year-old woman who took refuge in the Kyiv subway with her dog Bublik.
The central station, Tetatralna, was crowded with sheltering locals.
Artem Zhyla, a 24-year-old who provides legal services abroad, took his laptop with him and kept working underground.
“I heard two or three explosions, went to the bathroom, and then I heard five or seven more explosions. That’s when I realised something terrible was happening,” he said.
Like many others in the capital, he feels exhausted and stressed. However, he has no intentions of giving up and plans to attend his yoga class to recharge.
“This is certainly not enough to break us,” he said.
Russia used Iskander short-range missiles in the morning attack, the spokesman for Ukraine’s air force said on local television.
The missiles were fired from north of Kyiv, Yurii Ihnat said without clarifying if he meant Russian territory. Kyiv lies around 380 kilometers from the Russian border.
The Russian Defence Ministry said that early on Monday it launched a series of strikes targeting Ukrainian air bases with precision long-range air-launched missiles. The strikes destroyed command posts, radars, aircraft and ammunition stockpiles, it claimed. It didn’t say anything about hitting cities or other civilian areas.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned against indifference, saying the repeated strikes on civilian areas amounted to “war crimes.”
“Russia’s drone and missile attacks on peaceful Ukrainian cities cannot be seen as usual, no matter how frequent they grow,” he tweeted in English.
During the previous night, Ukraine air defences brought down more than 40 targets as Russian forces bombarded Kyiv with a combination of drones and cruise missiles in their 15th nighttime attack on the capital so far this month, said Serhii Popko, the head of Kyiv's military administration.
Kremlin’s strategy of long-range bombardment has brought many sleepless nights for Ukrainians.
Over the winter, Russian forces aimed their missiles and drones at power plants and other infrastructure. The apparent goal was to weaken Ukraine’s resolve and compel the Ukrainian government to negotiate peace on Moscow’s terms, but Ukrainians swiftly and defiantly repaired the damage.
In recent months, Ukraine has been receiving advanced air defence systems from its Western allies, improving its ability to fend off bombardments by the Kremlin's forces.
Across the country, the Ukrainian air force said that over Sunday night it shot down 37 out of 40 cruise missiles and 29 out of 35 drones launched by the Kremlin’s forces.
At least three civilians were wounded nationwide in the latest wave of attacks, the Ukrainian presidential office said.
Russian missiles slammed into a military airport In the western Khmelnytskyi region of Ukraine, destroying five aircraft and damaging the runway, local Gov. Serhyi Hamaliy said on television.
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The strike sparked fires at nearby warehouses storing fuel and military equipment, he added.
Russian shelling and airstrikes also targeted nine localities in the eastern Donetsk region, including the city of Kramatorsk which houses the local Ukrainian army headquarters, local Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Ukrainian TV.
Elsewhere, Russian cruise missiles struck a village in the northeastern Kharkiv region, wounding six people including two minors and a pregnant woman, local officials said.
Also, one person was killed and nine others, including an 11-year-old child, were wounded in strikes on the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, authorities said.