Ukraine wakes up to deadly attacks after securing battle tanks
Eleven people were killed in a nationwide strike a day after Russia warned Western tank deliveries signal an escalation.
Eleven people were killed across Ukraine as Russia pummelled the country with a wave of missile and drone attacks, according to Ukraine’s emergency services.
Thursday’s rush-hour assault came a day after Kyiv secured the battle tanks it has long called for from Germany and the United States, a development Russia warned was a “dangerous” escalation.
Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said a missile killed a 55-year-old man, the first death from an attack in the capital since New Year’s Eve, while two people were injured.
Over the course of the day, the official death toll rose to at least 11 people; the attack spanned 11 regions and damaged 35 buildings.
Crowds of people took shelter in train stations as air raid sirens rang out across the country.
A Ukrainian air force spokesperson said as many as six Tu-95 warplanes took off from the Arctic region of Murmansk in northern Russia and launched long-range missiles.
Kyiv authorities said their air defences shot down more than 15 Russian missiles fired at the capital, but they urged residents to take shelter due to the threat of more attacks.
Strikes were also reported in the central region of Vinnytsia.
Ukraine’s military said its anti-aircraft defences shot down all 24 Iranian-made drones sent by Russia overnight.
Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from Kyiv, said that according to local officials, 20 missiles heading in the direction of the capital were intercepted.
“We heard a very loud explosion,” Butler said. “We now know that it was a rocket that hit a non-residential building. We believe it might have been some critical infrastructure.”
Odesa’s governor, Maksym Marchenko, said several energy facilities were damaged, causing “significant problems” with the electricity supply.
DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private energy producer, said it was introducing emergency power shutdowns in Kyiv, the surrounding region, and the regions of Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk because of the danger of missile attacks.
Other power producers elsewhere in Ukraine also said they were conducting emergency shutdowns.
Meanwhile, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said Ukrainian soldiers will start training on how to use Leopard 2 tanks and Marder infantry fighting vehicles “a little later”. His comment followed Berlin’s announcement on Wednesday that it would send the tanks to Ukraine, ending a weeks-long Western political deadlock.
“In any case, the aim with the Leopards is to have the first company in Ukraine by the end of March, beginning of April,” Pistorius said. “I can’t say the precise day.”