Russia launched a missile barrage into Ukraine during rush hour on Thursday, the day after Kiev secured Western pledges of dozens of modern battle tanks to deter a Russian invasion, killing at least 11 people.
The death toll was released by a spokesperson for state emergency services. Another 11 people were injured in the attack, which damaged 35 buildings across 11 districts, spokesman Oleksandr Korunzi told Ukrainian television.
Moscow has left millions of people without light, heat or water in airstrikes that have been an apparent success for Ukraine in the past. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said an electrical substation came under attack Thursday as Russia continued to attack energy facilities.
The Ukrainian military said Russia shot down 24 drones and 47 of 55 Russian missiles it sent overnight, including 15 near the capital.
Moscow used the Kh-47 Kinzhal hypersonic missile, among other models, General Valery Zaluzhny said on his Telegram channel. Twenty of the incoming missiles were shot down in the capital Kyiv area, he said.
“The Russians’ goal remains unchanged: psychological pressure on Ukrainians and destruction of vital infrastructure.” “But we can’t be broken!”
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In the Ukrainian capital, many people have hidden themselves in metro stations. Mayor Vitali Klitschko said missiles struck a non-residential building in the south of the city, killing one and wounding two.
The Kyiv military government said more than 15 missiles fired from Kiev had been shot down, but urged people to stay in shelters.
DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private energy producer, said it was implementing an emergency power shutdown in Kyiv, surrounding areas, Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk regions because of the imminent danger.
A Russian missile strike in Odessa damaged energy infrastructure, the regional military administration said.
Western analysts say the attacks on Ukrainian cities are more of a demoralization attempt than a strategic campaign.
Russia laughs at Western claims
The Kremlin said Thursday that the U.S. and Europe had committed to deliver Western tanks to Ukraine in a “direct intervention” in the 11-month-old conflict.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “There are constant statements from European capitals and Washington that the sending of various weapons systems, including tanks, to Ukraine does not imply that these countries or their allies intervene in hostilities in Ukraine.” said.
Ukraine’s allies have already provided billions of dollars worth of military aid over the past six months, including sophisticated US missile systems that have helped turn the tide of the war.
The U.S. had been wary of deploying the difficult-to-maintain Abrams, but had to turn around to convince Germany to send the easier-to-operate German-made Leopards to Ukraine.
Germany will send an initial company of 14 tanks from stock it said could be operational in three to four months, and will authorize shipments by its European allies with the aim of equipping two battalions in a 100-tank area.
Weeks of training required
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Ukrainian military exercises would begin within days. Ukrainian crews will start training on German-made Marders, an infantry fighting vehicle, and then on the heavier Leopard 2 tank.
“Anyway, the goal of the Leopards is to have the first company in Ukraine by the end of March/early April,” said Pistorius. “I cannot give an exact date.”
Ukraine and Russia have so far relied primarily on Soviet-era T-72 tanks.
“The key now is speed and quantity. The speed of training our troops, the speed of supplying tanks to Ukraine,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video address on Wednesday evening.
Zelenskyy maintained Kyiv’s request, saying he spoke with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and requested long-range missiles and aircraft.
Both sides are expected to launch new ground offensives this spring, with Ukraine seeking hundreds of modern tanks to break through Russian defenses and recapture occupied areas to the south and east.
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Since February 24, 2022, the Russian invasion has killed thousands of civilians, displaced millions from their homes, and left entire cities in ruins.
The most intense fighting now has seen some of the most brutal fighting around Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, which had a pre-war population of 70,000.
The Ukrainian military said Russia was attacking “with the aim of occupying the entire Donetsk region, regardless of its own casualties.”