Ukrainian families rally to the call to ‘hold on’ against Putin’s winter blitz says RICHARD PENDLEBURY, as Russian missiles continue rain down on Kyiv
- Kyiv was hit by Russian missile attacks as deadliest strike was in city of Dnipro
- A nine-storey apartment block partially collapsed after being struck by a missile
- At least five people were killed and 27 injured, including six children
- Rescuers strove to recover at least 20 survivors from ruins
The icy calm of freezing fog in Kyiv was broken without warning yesterday by the first of two waves of Russian missile attacks on the city centre.
I heard three or four loud explosions in quick succession, apparently from a district close to the hotel where I was staying. Shortly afterwards – and belatedly – air-raid sirens began to wail for the first time in more than a week.
The city’s missile-warning mobile phone app also told people to take to shelters again. So began the latest co-ordinated Russian missile assault on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure – power stations and water supplies – in towns and cities across the country.
The deadliest strike was in the central city of Dnipro. A nine-storey apartment block partially collapsed after being struck by a missile. At least five people were killed and 27 injured, including six children.
Emergency workers clear the rubble after a Russian rocket hit a multistory building leaving many people under debris in Dnipro, Ukraine, Saturday, January 14, 2023
Harrowing images from the scene show how an entire block was obliterated into a mountain of brick and mortar
Social-media video footage showed victims apparently trapped and screaming in smoking rubble. Rescuers strove to recover at least 20 survivors from ruins. The search for further victims continued as darkness fell and temperatures plunged.
The morning’s strikes were launched ‘from the north’ – Belarus – according to a military spokesmen.
The sudden arrival of the missiles, before a warning could be sounded, initially suggested they were of the nuclear-capable Iskander ballistic type. Last night armed forces commander-in-chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi revealed they included S-400 missiles, 25 of which were shot down.
The second wave of cruise-missile attacks in the afternoon apparently originated from Russian naval vessels in the Black Sea and 17 Tupolev long-range bombers which took off from Russia. The final air-raid alert in Kyiv did not end until 5.20pm.
Infrastructure targets were also struck in the cities of Lviv in the west and Kharkiv in the north-east, affecting heating, water and power supplies in those regions.
Kyiv’s mayor, the former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko, said strikes took place on both sides of the Dnipro river. Ukrainian air defence systems were active throughout the day over the city.
Fragments of a missile fell on a non-residential area in the Holosiivskyi district, starting a fire in a building. Officials said that 18 houses were damaged in the Kyiv region by the missile attack.
Emergency workers clear rubble with many people under debris in the southeastern city of Dnipro
Having faltered or failed on the battlefield, the Kremlin’s aim has been to make this bitter winter so miserable for Ukrainians that they pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government to seek an unfavourable, negotiated end to the war.
There have now been 12 mass attacks using cruise and ballistic missile and Iranian-manufactured suicide drones against critical infrastructure since October, when the weather began to worsen.
Results are devastating in the short term with access to lighting, heating and water denied in millions of homes for up to a week at a time, as engineers struggle to repair damage.
In cities such as Kyiv, domestic power supplies operate at only a fraction of their pre-Kremlin blitz capacity. The fragile resources have to be carefully husbanded by the authorities, hence regularly controlled blackouts that are sometimes extended by new Russian attacks.
Yesterday morning’s attacks resulted in 11 Ukrainian regions imposing further emergency power cuts to conserve energy.
‘Today, the enemy again attacked the country’s power generation facilities and power grids,’ said energy minister German Galushchenko. ‘Emergency shutdowns are introduced in most regions.
‘The next few days will be difficult. Energy workers are already working to restore the power supply.
‘Let’s hold on! Every day brings victory closer!’
Allies delivered more than 300,000 generators to Ukraine last month. The units are now a familiar sight and sound on pavements outside offices and businesses, as the country heeds the energy minister’s exhortation to ‘hold on’.
DESPAIR: A couple console each other after being evacuated from bombarded Soledar
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