Russian attack on Ukraine cities hits deadly new level

Russian attack on Ukraine cities hits deadly new level

At least 30 people have been killed in what Ukraine says is Russia’s biggest missile bombardment of the war so far.

More than 160 people were injured as Russia hit Kyiv, Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Lviv in the early hours of Friday morning.

Russia “used nearly every type of weapon in its arsenal”, with homes and a maternity hospital hit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

Ukraine’s air force said it had never seen so many missiles launched at once.

Kyiv’s air defences have drastically improved in recent months, but on Friday they were overwhelmed.

An Air Force spokesperson said Russia used hypersonic, cruise and ballistic missiles, including X-22 type, which are difficult to intercept. “We’ve never seen so many targets hit simultaneously,” he added.

The air force said 114 of 158 missiles and drones had been shot down.

Black smoke billowed from the different blast sites. We headed to one which was a 200-metre-long warehouse in Kyiv’s Podilskyy district, owned by a construction company. It had been completely hollowed out from the impact.

It’s a level of devastation only caused by a direct missile strike. For months, mostly falling debris caused the damage and loss of life that Ukrainians constantly fear. A bigger threat has now returned.

A few kilometres away, glass on one whole side of a skyscraper had been blown off from the force of another impact. Smoke had started to darken the sky. It was a drive through Kyiv which we hadn’t made since the early days of the full-scale invasion.

Nine people were killed in Kyiv. A metro station that was acting as an air raid shelter was also struck.

Once again, it wasn’t just Kyiv picking up the pieces either. Authorities claimed more than 10 Iranian-made Shahed drones and 15 missiles targeted the western city of Lviv, somewhere which has often been spared the worst of this invasion.

The city of Konotop in Sumy Region, close to the country’s northern border, was also hit by a missile. Officials in Odesa say a high-rise building caught fire after being struck by a drone. Four people were killed and 22 were injured, including two children aged six and eight.

The north-eastern city of Kharkiv is no stranger to missile strikes, but not the 20 it felt on Friday morning. Kharkiv mayor Igor Terekhov said three people were killed and 13 were injured in a series of strikes on the city which damaged a hospital and residential buildings.

The governor of Dnipropetrovsk region said that six people were killed and 28 were injured in what he called a “tragic morning for the region”. Serhiy Lysak said that a shopping centre and a maternity hospital were targeted in the regional capital of Dnipro. In Zaporizhzhia, eight people were killed after attacks on infrastructure and 13 people were injured.

One Russian missile even briefly entered Polish airspace as it homed in on its Ukrainian target.

The UN’s humanitarian envoy for Ukraine, Denise Brown, said the attacks “left a path of destruction, death and human suffering” and were “another unacceptable example of the horrifying reality” Ukrainian people face.

So why did Russia do this now?

Its missile stockpiles aren’t what they were, but Moscow has shown it still wants to continue its tactic of suppressing Ukraine’s population, in the hope that not feeling safe will lessen their appetite for this war.

It’s also been a week when Ukraine destroyed a major Russian landing ship in occupied Crimea, and the US delivered the last of its approved military packages to Ukraine worth $250m.

However, that is relatively small change compared to the $50bn aid package currently blocked by political disagreement in the US Congress.

Responding to the latest Russian bombardment, US President Joe Biden described it as “a stark reminder to the world that, after nearly two years of this devastating war, Putin’s objective remains unchanged. He seeks to obliterate Ukraine and subjugate its people. He must be stopped.”

Maybe the renewed missile attack was revenge, or another statement? A spokesman for Russia’s Defence Ministry simply said “all the designated military targets have been hit”.

It has always been the whole of Ukraine under Russian attack. The country has been able to defend against most of the invader’s nationwide drone and missile attacks.

But its ability to keep doing so is far from assured. (BBC)

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