Russian missile attacks hit critical infrastructure in Kiev and the eastern city of Kharkiv on Saturday morning, with the governor of another region warning that a massive missile strike could occur in the coming hours.
Reuters reporters heard multiple explosions in Kiev before the air raid siren went off, which is highly unusual. No one was reported injured, but rocket debris caused a fire at one site and damaged homes outside the capital, officials said.
“Explosions in (Eastern) Dniprovsky district. All agencies are on site. Stay in your shelters!” Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko wrote in the Telegram messaging app.
Russia, which invaded last February, has been pounding Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with missiles and drones since October, causing massive blackouts, central heating and water supply disruptions during the winter.
“An infrastructure object has been affected. No critical damage or fire. All emergency services are working on the spot. No one is injured,” the Kyiv military administration said in a statement.
Ukrenergo, which runs the power grid, said its workers were racing to repair the damage and that the grid was battling power shortages caused by earlier attacks, even though it was -2 degrees Celsius (28 Fahrenheit) in Kiev, only slightly cold.
The mayor of Kiev said debris from the rocket fell on a residential area in the Holosiivsky district in western Kiev, causing a fire but no one was hurt.
Residential infrastructure was also damaged in the village of Kopyliv, which is near the capital. Windows and roofs of 18 private houses were broken or damaged in the blast, regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said.
Air Force spokesman Yuri Ikhnata said the Russian missiles were likely launched on a high ballistic trajectory from the north, which explains why the air raid siren did not sound.
Ukraine is unable to identify and shoot down ballistic missiles, he told the online publication Ukrainska Pravda.
MISCELLANEOUS ARTICLE IN CHARKIV
Oleg Sinehubov, the governor of Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, said two S-300 missiles hit the city near the Russian border early Saturday.
The attacks hit critical energy infrastructure and industrial facilities in the region’s Kharkiv and Chuhuevo districts, he said.
“Our emergency services units and energy workers are working to eliminate the consequences and stabilize the situation with energy supply,” he said.
The governor of the central Cherkassy region warned of a massive Russian missile strike later Saturday, while the governor of Mykolaiv in the south said 17 Russian Tupolev warplanes had taken off from their air bases.
However, after their statements, the alarm in Kiev and the surrounding region was canceled.
The airstrikes on Saturday came as Ukrainian and Russian forces battled for Soledar, a small salt-mining town in eastern Ukraine that has been the focus of a relentless Russian offensive for days.
Russia said on Friday that its forces had taken control of Soledar, a rare success for Moscow after months of battle, but Kyiv said its troops were still fighting in the city.
Reuters could not immediately verify the situation in Soledar.
Written by Tom Balmforth Edited by Angus MacSwan, Mark Heinrich and Frances Kerry
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