Wave of Russian missiles strikes Ukraine’s Kyiv, wounds more than a dozen

Dozens of cruise and ballistic missiles shot down over Kyiv in the first large attack on Ukraine’s capital in 44 days.

Firefighters work at the site after a Russian attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 21, 2024. Around 30 cruise and ballistic missiles were shot down over Kyiv on Thursday morning, said Serhii Popko, the head of Kyiv City Administration. The missiles were entering Kyiv simultaneously from various directions in a first missile attack on the capital in 44 days. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Firefighters work at the site of a building damaged after a Russian attack in Kyiv, Ukraine on Thursday [Vadim Ghirda/AP Photo]

At least 17 people have been injured after Russia launched a wave of missile strikes on Ukraine’s capital.

Local officials said the injuries were caused by falling debris from the missiles in Kyiv and the surrounding region.

The attack on Thursday, the first mass strike in 44 days, targeted the city with ballistic and cruise missiles, said Serhiy Popko, the head of the city’s military administration.

Reporting from Kyiv, Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride said the authorities believe about 31 missiles in total were launched by the Russians, including two Kinzhal hypersonic missiles.

Officials said air defences downed “about three dozen enemy missiles”, but rocket fragments fell onto a kindergarten in the Sviatoshynskyi district while an apartment building and a car caught fire in other areas.

A number of other residential buildings and industrial facilities were also damaged in the attack, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said, while air alerts lasted for nearly three hours.

An 11-year-old girl and a 38-year-old man were among the wounded, and two people were taken to hospital.

“Air raid sirens started to sound and just before dawn we got the first of these thunderous explosions ringing out across the capital as missiles were being intercepted, air defences got to work and missiles started falling down, or bits of those missiles as they were intercepted,”  McBride reported.

The attack came hours after a visit by White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to Kyiv, during which he promised that the United States’ support to Ukraine in the fight against Russia would continue, even as crucial aid remains stuck in the US Congress since late 2023.

The freeze has piled more pressure on already outgunned Ukrainian troops, with services on the front lines raising the alarm about ammunition shortages and warning they could not hold out forever under current conditions.

“From our perspective, we are confident we will get this done. We will get this aid to Ukraine,” Sullivan told a joint news conference on Wednesday after meeting Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak, without giving a timeline.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Western nations must show the “political will” to help Kyiv.

“Such terror continues every day and night. It is possible to put an end to it through global unity,” Zelenskyy said on Thursday, calling on the West to send Ukraine more air defence systems.

“This protection is required in Ukraine now. From Kyiv to Kharkiv, Sumy to Kherson, and Odesa to the Donetsk region. This is entirely possible if our partners demonstrate sufficient political will,” Zelenskyy added.

(Al Jazeera)

On Wednesday, a new round of aerial bombardments left civilians dead both in Ukraine and Russia.

“Five people were killed by a Russian missile in Kharkiv today,” Zelenskyy said in his evening video address.

Another nine were wounded and five more were unaccounted for as search-and-rescue operations continued into the night, local officials said.

Directly across the border from Kharkiv, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said multiple attacks had killed three people.

Ukraine has also increased drone, rocket and artillery fire on the region over the last two weeks, in a wave of attacks launched in the lead-up to Russia’s presidential elections.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who cruised to victory after facing no real opposition in his re-election campaign, has pledged to restore order to the border regions.

The escalation comes as Russian forces are on the offensive again after weathering Ukraine’s counteroffensive last year. Earlier this week, the Russian Defence Ministry said its forces had captured the village of Orlivka in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, close to the also Russian-controlled town of Avdiivka.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies