Ukrainian air defenses thwarted an intense Russian air attack on Kiev early Tuesday, shooting down all 18 missiles aimed at the capital, as European leaders sought new ways to punish Russia for the war and a Chinese envoy sought traction for Beijing’s peace proposal.
Loud explosions boomed over Kiev as the nighttime attack combined Russian missiles launched from the air, sea and land in an apparent attempt to overwhelm Ukraine’s air defenses. No casualties were reported as Western-supplied weapons helped fend off the assault.
Russia’s latest attack on Kiev was “exceptional in its density — the maximum number of attacking missiles in the shortest period of time,” said Serhii Popko, the head of the Kiev military administration.
Valentyna Myronets, a 64-year-old Kiev resident, said she felt “pain, fear, nervousness, restlessness” amid the assaults. “God, we are waiting for victory and when all this is over,” she said.
The British ambassador to Ukraine, Melinda Simmons, tweeted that the barrage was “pretty intense.”
“Bangs and shaking walls are not an easy night,” she wrote.
It was the eighth time this month that Russian air raids had targeted the capital, a clear escalation after weeks of lull and ahead of a much-anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive. It also came as President Volodymyr Zelensky concluded a whirlwind European tour to greet Ukraine’s key wartime allies, which spurred an additional tranche of pledged military aid.
Six “Kinzhal” aero-ballistic missiles were launched from MiG-31K aircraft, nine cruise missiles from ships in the Black Sea and three land-based S-400 cruise missiles targeted the capital, Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said in a statement on Telegram.
After the first onslaught, Russia also launched Iranian-made Shahed attack drones and conducted aerial reconnaissance, Ihnat said.
Debris fell across several districts in the capital, starting fires, but no losses were reported, Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
Sophisticated air defense systems provided by Ukraine’s Western allies, including American-made Patriot missiles, have helped spare Kiev from the kind of destruction witnessed elsewhere in the country as Russian forces press on with their tactic of long-range bombardment.
The bolstered air defenses have deterred Russian aircraft from going deep into Ukraine and helped shape the course of the war, military experts say.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov cheered the display of defensive prowess, calling it in a tweet “another unbelievable success.”
The barrage came as European leaders were due to attend a rare summit of the 46-nation Council of Europe, the continent’s main human rights body.
The two-day meeting in Iceland seeks to set up a way of logging damage in Ukraine caused by the Kremlin’s forces so compensation claims can be lodged against Moscow.
Meanwhile, a Chinese envoy is preparing to visit Ukraine and Russia in coming days as Beijing presses the peace plan it released in February.
Li Hui, a former ambassador to Moscow, also will visit Poland, France and Germany, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s government says it is neutral and wants to play a role as mediator in the war, but it has given Moscow political support and a breakthrough appeared unlikely more than 14 months after Russia’s full-scale invasion.
At least seven civilians died and 14 others were wounded in Russian shelling of Ukrainian regions from Monday through Tuesday morning, the country’s presidential office said.