At least 18 people have been killed and more than 130 injured after Russia hit Ukraine’s biggest cities with waves of missiles.
Speaking in a sombre evening address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia had launched some 40 missiles of varying types.
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More than 200 sites were hit, including 139 homes, with many deaths in “an ordinary high-rise apartment building”, Zelenskyy said. “Ordinary people lived there.”
He promised a strong response.
“The Russian war will inevitably be brought back home, back to where this evil came from, where it must be quelled,” he said.
The northeastern city of Kharkiv suffered three waves of attacks. There were also attacks on the capital Kyiv and in central Ukraine while the southern region of Kherson was subject to constant shelling.
Oleksandra Terekhovich ran into the corridor of her home in Kharkiv when she heard the first explosion. The second blast hit the building next door, shattering her windows and door, she said.
“There are no more tears. Our country has been going through what has been happening for two years now. We live with horror inside of us,” she told the AFP news agency.
The relentless Russian bombardment has kept Ukrainians on edge while the 1,500km (930 mile) front line, where soldiers are engaged in trench and artillery warfare, has barely moved.
Analysts say Russia stockpiled missiles at the end of last year in preparation for the latest campaign that a US official said was an attempt to probe the weaknesses in Ukraine’s air defences.
Kharkiv regional Governor Oleh Syniehubov said more than 100 high-rise apartment blocks had been damaged in the first two attacks on the city, with Russia using S-300, Kh-32 and hypersonic Iskander missiles. An attack later on Tuesday evening also hit a residential building and other infrastructure, causing more injuries.
The city’s mayor, Ihor Terekhov, said people were trapped in the rubble with temperatures at -7C (19.4F).
‘All these buildings were on fire’
In Kyiv, emergency services said the destruction spread across four districts.
At one site, rescuers tended to dazed and groaning residents as workers swept away debris and broken glass.
“There was a very loud bang, and my mother was already running outside, shouting that we need to leave. We all went to the corridor,” 21-year-old Daniel Boliukh told the Reuters news agency.
“Then, we went on the balcony to have a look and saw all these buildings were on fire.”
Emergency services said apartment buildings as well as medical and educational institutions were damaged in the capital. Some of the damage occurred next to the United Nations office, resident coordinator Denise Brown said in a statement.
Pavlohrad, an industrial city in the eastern Dnipro region, also came under attack. One person was killed and two schools and eight high-rise buildings were damaged, according to the presidential office.
Ukraine’s General Staff said the country’s armed forces had destroyed 22 of the missiles with nearly 20 shot down over Kyiv, the city’s military administration said.
The recent Russian attacks represent “an alarming reversal” of a trend last year, which saw a drop in civilian casualties from Kremlin attacks, according to the UN.
More than 10,000 civilians have been killed and nearly 20,000 injured since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, the UN said.
The Kremlin denied it targeted civilians in Wednesday’s bombardment.
The Russian defence ministry said the raids had struck companies producing missiles, explosives and ammunition.