Russia launches dozens of missiles at Kyiv in first attack in 44 days, leaving 12 people, 1 child injured

Russia fired 31 ballistic and cruise missiles at Kyiv before dawn Thursday in the first attack on the Ukrainian capital in 44 days, officials said. Air defenses shot down all the incoming missiles, though 13 people including a child were injured by falling wreckage, they said.

Residents of Kyiv were woken up by loud explosions around 5 a.m. as the missiles arrived at roughly the same time from different directions, said Serhii Popko, head of the Kyiv City Administration.

Ukraine’s air force said Russia launched two ballistic missiles and 29 cruise missiles against the capital.

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Kyiv has better air defenses than most regions of the large country. The missile interception rate is frequently high, rendering Russian attacks on the capital significantly less successful than during the early days of the war.

An 11-year-old girl and a 38-year-old man were hospitalized in Kyiv, the city administration said. Eight other people sustained light injuries, according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

Ukraine’s Emergency Service said around 80 people were evacuated from their homes.

Falling wreckage from the intercepted missiles set fire to at least one apartment building, burned parked cars and left craters in streets and a small park. Some streets were littered with debris, including glass from shattered windows.

A firefighter stands among debris in Kyiv, Ukraine, following a Russian missile attack that took place Thursday, March 21, 2024. This was the first attack on Ukraine’s capital in 44 days.  (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The attack came after repeated Ukraine aerial attacks in recent days on Russia’s Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine. On Thursday, five people were injured in the latest attack on the Belgorod region, which damaged homes and the city sports stadium, Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said. Russia’s Ministry of Defense said it stopped 10 rockets over the region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin had threatened Wednesday to “respond in kind” to the attacks.

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At an event in the Kremlin, Putin said Russia “can respond in the same way regarding civilian infrastructure and all other objects of this kind that the enemy attacks. We have our own views on this matter and our own plans. We will follow what we have outlined.”

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the country’s Western partners to send more air defense systems so they can be distributed across the country where missile strikes have become more common.

“Every day, every night such … terror happens,” he said on Telegram after Thursday’s attack on Kyiv. “World unity is capable to stop it by helping us with more air defense systems.”

Zelenskyy said Russia doesn’t have missiles that can evade U.S.-made Patriots and other advanced air defense weapons.

Russia has largely turned its attention to other Ukrainian cities, targeting them with drones and ballistic missiles.

On Wednesday, Russian ballistic missiles killed five people and injured nine in the eastern Kharkiv region, and strike on southern Odesa last week killed 21.

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