Russian missile attacks hit critical infrastructure in Kyiv and the eastern city of Kharkiv on Saturday morning, officials said, and the governor of another region warned that a massive missile strike could follow in the coming hours.
Reuters journalists heard a series of blasts in Kyiv before the air raid siren even sounded, which is highly unusual. Officials told residents to stay in shelters.
“Explosions in Dniprovskiy district. All agencies heading to the site. Stay in your shelters!” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Russia, which invaded last February, has been pounding Ukraine’s vital energy infrastructure with missiles and drones since October, causing sweeping blackouts and disruptions to central heating and running water as winter bites.
“Missile attack on critical infrastructure facilities. Details are being checked,” said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office.
Oleg Synehubov, Kharkiv’s regional governor, said two S-300 missiles struck the city near the Russian border early on Saturday. The attacks hit critical energy infrastructure and industrial facilities in the Kharkiv and Chuhuev district of the region, he said.
“Our emergency services units and energy workers are working to liquidate the consequences and stabilise the situation with energy supplies,” he said.
In Kyiv, the mayor said the debris of a missile came down on a non-residential area in the Holosiivskiy district in the west of Kyiv, causing a fire but hurting no one.
Residential infrastructure was also hit in the village of Kopyliv in the Kyiv region just outside the capital. The windows and roofs of 18 privately owned houses were shattered or damaged by the blast, Oleksiy Kuleba, the regional governor, said.
The governor of the central Cherkasy region warned that a massive Russian missile strike could follow later on Saturday, while the governor of Mykolaiv to the south said that 17 Russian Tupolev warplanes had taken off from their air bases.
But after their statements the air raid alarm in Kyiv and the surrounding region was lifted.
The strikes on Saturday came as Ukrainian and Russian forces battled for control of Soledar, a small salt-mining town in eastern Ukraine that has for days been the focus of a relentless Russian assault.
Russia said on Friday that its forces had taken control of Soledar, in what would be a rare success for Moscow after months of battlefield reverses, but Kyiv said its troops were still fighting in the town.
Reuters could not immediately verify the situation in Soledar.