Russian Missile Attack on Kyiv Injures Dozens

Russian Missile Attack on Kyiv Injures Dozens

Russia launched a barrage of ballistic missiles at Kyiv before dawn on Wednesday, injuring more than 50 people and damaging several apartment buildings in the third attack on Ukraine’s capital in the past week.

The assault began at about 3 a.m., with a series of explosions heard in Kyiv as the city’s air defenses activated. The wail of air-raid sirens followed soon after. The Ukrainian Air Force said that the attack had involved 10 missiles and that it shot down all of them, but added that falling debris from the interceptions had wreaked havoc on apartment blocks in the city’s eastern Dniprovskyi district.

The scale of the damage was evident at one of the buildings on Wednesday morning: Nearly all of its windows were blown out, and shards of glass cracked under the feet of rescuers who had rushed to the scene. Several charred cars lay in front of the building and a large crater had been blown into the ground.

Standing next to the crater, Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said that 20 of the wounded had been hospitalized in the city, including two children.

Not far from where he stood was a playground littered with glass and metal fragments from the surrounding damaged buildings. Two more burned-out vehicles lay between the multicolored children’s benches and playhouses, one of them overturned. In a nearby kindergarten, blown-out window frames had landed on a row of children’s beds covered by flowered blankets.

“Everything is on fire. There’s glass everywhere. Glass all over the apartment,” said Vadim Obremskyi, as he surveyed the damage to his apartment building. “It’s a nightmare.”

The attack came hours after President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine wrapped up a trip to Washington to appeal for more U.S. military aid, amid signs that support is waning nearly two years into the war.

“Russia has once again confirmed its title as a shameful country that releases rockets at night, hitting residential areas, kindergartens and energy facilities in winter,” Mr. Zelensky said in a statement.

The Ukrainian authorities have been warning for months that Russia would aim to repeat the assault it mounted last winter against the country’s energy infrastructure, a campaign that was apparently aimed at terrorizing and demoralizing the population.

On Monday, Britain’s defense intelligence agency suggested that those efforts were already underway, writing that a Dec. 7 attack was “probably the start of a more concerted campaign by Russia aimed at degrading Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.” Kyiv came under attack again that same day.

Then on Tuesday, a cyberattack on Kyivstar, Ukraine’s largest mobile operator, knocked out service to millions of people across the country. Solntsepek, a Russian hacking group, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

John Hultquist, an analyst on cyber threats at Mandiant Intelligence, owned by Google, said in a statement that the group “regularly claims credit for the activity” of Sandworm, a hacking unit working for Russia’s foreign military intelligence agency that has long menaced Ukraine.

Kyivstar said it began restoring services on Wednesday evening.

The military administration in Kyiv said that 35 buildings had sustained damage in the pre-dawn missile attack. Falling debris also affected part of the city’s water supply, it added.

Andriy Yermak, Mr. Zelensky’s chief of staff, noted that Western-supplied air defense systems had successfully repelled the attack.

“The effectiveness of Western weapons in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers cannot be doubted,” Mr. Yermak said.

But it remains unclear whether Ukrainian air defenses will be able to withstand repeated large-scale attacks this winter. Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said last month that Russia had stockpiled more than 800 high-precision missiles. At the same time, Ukraine’s reserves are dwindling.

That urgency sent Mr. Zelensky to Washington this week to press Congress to pass a stalled spending bill that includes $50 billion more in security aid for Ukraine. He made the case that supporting Kyiv would protect the West by preventing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia from seizing more of Europe — only to be told by Republicans that Ukraine’s concerns were not their main focus.

But Mr. Zelensky said in a post on the Telegram messaging app that President Biden had “agreed to work on increasing the number of air defense systems in Ukraine” — and traveled on to Norway to seek more support.

In Oslo on Wednesday morning, Mr. Zelensky hinted at what might await Ukraine without more help from allies.

“You know, in the first days of the full-scale war, on Feb. 24, we were really alone. And it was difficult, and it was tough,” Mr. Zelensky told reporters at a news conference.

He met in Oslo with the leaders of Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland. Those nations have strongly backed Ukraine since the start of the war, and pledged on Wednesday to sustain military aid. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark said her government would present a new 1 billion euro, or $1.08 billion, package of support for Ukraine to its Parliament this week. And Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store of Norway said his country would give Ukraine additional air defense equipment.

Ukraine’s complex air-defense network has become increasingly adept at intercepting Russian missile and drone attacks. But even successful interceptions pose a danger, with unexploded missiles or fragments landing on residential areas.

Valeria Khomych, 20, said she was awakened on Wednesday by the sound of air defenses intercepting the Russian missiles.

“The explosions were very loud,” she said. “At first I didn’t understand what was happening.”

Ms. Khomych said she and her family had gathered their documents and some blankets before leaving the building in the dead of night. They returned home a few hours later to devastation.

Some residents decided they could not stay: Shortly after 9 a.m. local time, people were heading out of the snow-covered neighborhood with bags under their arms.

“It’s a shock and I still do not fully understand what happened,” said Denys Toporenko, who was carrying his cat, Chicha, in a carrier box. “We have another apartment, thank God. We’ll just move there.”

Many others did not have that option. A group of residents who had been evacuated from their apartments stood in 35-degree cold as a team from the Red Cross handed out food and hot drinks in white tents.

Vitalii Barabash, 42, had a small cut on his face and said he had stitches in his left arm.

“It’s good they shot down the rocket, or else there would have been more damage,” he said, holding a plate of porridge. As Mr. Barabash expressed gratitude for Ukraine’s air defenses, he could not hide his anger toward the Russian Army.

“They won’t let us live,” he said.

Nastya Kuznietsova and Daria Mitiuk contributed reporting.