Russian forces have launched an intense and unusual daytime missile barrage at Kyiv, forcing residents to flee to bomb shelters, in what appears to be an effort to exhaust Ukraine’s air defences.
The Ukrainian military said it had intercepted all the ballistic missiles fired at the city in the attack that began at 11am. One person was reported to have been injured. Residents who had become accustomed to a string of night-time attacks ran to Kyiv’s metro stations and other shelters after a succession of loud bangs as incoming missiles were intercepted and bursts of smoke from air defences dotted the clear morning sky.
One video posted on social media showed children running down a road screaming under the barrage. Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be a smouldering rocket motor in the middle of a busy street.
He said: “Another difficult night for the capital. But, thanks to the professionalism of our defenders, as a result of the air attack of the barbarians in Kyiv, there was no damage or destruction of infrastructural and other objects.”
The assault, which used short-range Iskander ballistic missiles, came after a series of night-time attacks on Kyiv involving Iranian-made Shahed drones and cruise missiles. The Ukrainian air force said that over Sunday night it shot down 37 of 40 Russian cruise missiles and 29 of 35 drones. In the early morning hours of Sunday, which marked Kyiv Day commemorating the city’s founding, Russia launched its biggest-ever drone attack on the Ukrainian capital city, involving 54 Shahed combat aerial vehicles.
Serhii Popko, the head of Kyiv’s military administration, said that as well as keeping Ukrainian civilians in a state of “deep psychological tension”, Russia’s leaders were seeking to exhaust the Ukraine’s air defences with the relentless spate of attacks.
Ukrainian officials have flagged their concerns that their anti-aircraft defences from the Soviet era were running out of ammunition and that western systems such as the US Patriot were not arriving in sufficient quantities to fill the gap.
Kyiv was not the only target on Monday. An airfield in the western Khmelnytskyi region was also struck. The region’s governor said five aircraft had been “disabled”and a fire had broken out in a fuel depot.
A drone was shot down over Odesa, and debris fell on the port causing a fire. Rockets and drones were reported to have been shot down over the Lviv, Kirovohrad, Poltava and Mykolaiv regions.
In Russia, the governor of the Belgorod, which borders the Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, said on Monday that several Russian settlements had come under fire from Ukrainian forces.
Asked on Russian television how he thought Belgorod should be made safe, Vyachesla Gladkov said Kharkiv should be annexed.