Russia showered Kyiv, Lviv and other major cities across Ukraine with what officials said was an unprecedented array of missiles on Thursday morning, stepping up its assault on the entire country as a sluggish ground war drags on in the east.
A total of 81 missiles were used in a “massive attack” on Ukrainian infrastructure, including six Kinzhal ballistic missiles that have the ability to elude Kyiv’s air defenses, the Ukrainian military said.
“The attack is really large-scale and for the first time using such different types of missiles. We see that this time as many as six Kinzhal were used. This is an attack like I don’t remember seeing before,” Yurii Ihnat, spokesman for the Air Force Command of Ukraine, said on Ukrainian television Thursday.
“So far, we have no capabilities to counter these weapons,” he added, referring to the Kinzhals, plus six X-22 air-launched cruise missiles that were also launched by Russian forces.
“It’s been a difficult night,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday in a Facebook message.
“The enemy fired 81 missiles in an attempt to intimidate Ukrainians again, returning to their miserable tactics. The occupiers can only terrorize civilians. That’s all they can do. But it won’t help them. They won’t avoid responsibility for everything they have done,” Zelensky said.
He listed 10 regions across Ukraine where aerial attacks took place, including Dnipro, Odesa, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia, and said the attacks hit “critical infrastructure and residential buildings.”
Unfortunately, there are injured and dead. My condolences to the families,” he added.
“Russia used the nuclear-capable Kinzhal missile, which it has described as a hypersonic weapon, on a few occasions in the first weeks of its invasion last year. But the powerful weapon, which Ukraine doesn’t have the capability to shoot down, has rarely been seen over the country’s skies.
At least 11 people were killed and more than 20 injured during the overnight attacks, according to preliminary information from regional authorities.
In Kyiv, an air raid alert lasted for almost 7 hours overnight into Thursday and power outages were implemented as a preventative measure, regional authorities said. In the Zolochiv community near Lviv, a fire broke out when the fragments of a Russian missile were shot down, regional authorities said.
The fire destroyed three residential buildings, and three cars. The rubble was being cleared and rescuers were searching for additional victims on Thursday morning. Several infrastructure facilities and other buildings were hit elsewhere in Ukraine.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said Thursday the barrage of missile strikes it launched was retaliation for what the ministry called “terrorist actions” organized by Kyiv in Russia’s Bryansk region last week.
“In response to the terrorist actions in the Bryansk region organized by the Kyiv regime on March 2 this year, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation delivered a massive retaliation strike,” it said in a statement.
“High-precision long-range air, sea and land-based weapons, including the Kinzhal hypersonic missile system, hit key elements of Ukraine’s military infrastructure, military-industrial complex enterprises, as well as energy facilities that serve them,” the ministry said.
Russian security officials claimed a small Ukrainian armed group last week crossed the Russian border into the southern Bryansk region. Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said the agency was carrying out operations following “armed Ukrainian nationalists who violated the state border.” Russian President Vladimir Putin described the incident as a “terrorist attack.” A local official said two civilians were killed.
HNN cannot independently verify the Russian claims, and local media did not carry any images of the supposed incidents, any type of confrontation or an alleged raid reported by Russian authorities.