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Russian strikes kill 11 in Ukraine, Zelenskiy says intimidation effort failed

World Jan 26, 2023 02:03PM ET
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By Tom Balmforth and Dan Peleschuk

KYIV (Reuters) - Russia pounded Ukraine with missiles and drones in waves of attacks on Thursday, killing at least 11 people, damaging dozens of buildings and energy facilities in an array of regions, officials said.

Crowds of people took cover in Kyiv's metro stations as an air raid alert sounded at rush hour before Russia unleashed its latest in a campaign of attacks on the power grid since October that have caused sweeping outages during winter.

The missile strikes followed drone attacks overnight, one day after Ukraine secured pledges of main battle tanks from Germany and the United States to beef up its troops - a move that infuriated Russian officials.

"Another attempt by a terrorist country to intimidate us with a massive missile strike has recently suffered a defeat, just as the whole of Russia will soon be defeated," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a statement on Telegram.

Air defences shot down 47 of 55 missiles that included at least one Kh-47 Kinzhal hypersonic missile, said General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, Ukraine's top military commander.

Twenty missiles were downed in the vicinity of Kyiv where a 55-year-old man was killed and two people wounded as a missile hit non-residential buildings, officials said.

Zelenskiy said he had met top commanders on Thursday and discussed ways to counter future missile attacks even more effectively, but gave no details.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in what it calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine but has said critical infrastructure is a legitimate military target.

"This is such a tragedy for me. I'm telling you, I'm left without anything?" said 67-year-old Halyna Panosyan whose house was destroyed in the village of Hlevakha near Kyiv.

"There was an extremely loud strike that made me jump up. I was in the bedroom... I was saved by the fact that the bedroom is to the other side of the house," she said.

Oleksandr Khorunzhyi, spokesperson for the State Emergency Service, said Thursday's attacks killed 11 people, wounded 11 more and damaged 35 buildings across 11 regions.

In separate statements, officials said one person had been killed in the region of Kryvy Rih, two in the Donetsk and Kharkiv regions, and three in the region of Zaporizhzhia. An energy worker was also killed.

The military said it shot down all 24 drones unleashed by Russia overnight. Fifteen of them were downed around Kyiv where there were no reports of any damage, they said.

As many as six Tu-95 strategic bombers launched long-range missiles after taking off from the Arctic region of Murmansk in northern Russia, Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said.


Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Russia's main target had been energy facilities and that the strikes aimed to deprive Ukrainians "of light and heating" with the temperature in Kyiv at below freezing.

"Unfortunately, substations were hit. But the situation in the energy system remains under control," he wrote on Telegram.

A Reuters reporter heard the sound of a missile flying overhead at a low altitude, about 30 km (19 miles) from Kyiv.

Two critical energy infrastructure facilities were damaged in the southern region of Odesa, but no injuries were reported.

Impacts were reported in the central region of Vinnytsia, while Kyiv region officials said critical infrastructure and residential homes had been damaged.

In the capital, Iryna, an accountant sheltering in a metro station, said she was worried about her husband.

"He was planning to go to a post office in the morning and now he is not answering his phone," she said.

An eerie calm descended on a snow-blanketed Kyiv during the strikes, but life quickly returned to normal. Central bank officials announced the findings of their key interest rate meeting at a briefing from the safety of an undisclosed shelter.

DTEK, Ukraine's largest private energy producer, said it was conducting emergency power shutdowns in Kyiv, the surrounding region as well as the regions of Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk because of missile attacks.

Russian strikes kill 11 in Ukraine, Zelenskiy says intimidation effort failed

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