Russian hits Ukraine with missiles one day after West’s tank pledge

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The US and Germany have announced they will be sending their respective Abrams and Leopard tanks to boost the defenders. It follows moves by Britain and other Western nations to assist Ukraine against the Russian invasion.

Boris Pistorius, Germany’s new defence minister, said the country “stands with Ukraine” yesterday as he rubber-stamped the transportation of the tanks to Kyiv.

The Kremlin responded, calling the decision “absurd” and ruling out any talks for a peace deal.

Then, late on Wednesday, Russian forces fired a barrage of Iranian Shahed drones at southern and eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s air defence suppressed the drone attacks throughout the night. But, as sunrise approached, more air-raid sirens were heard as missiles approached, with sounds of explosions evident across the Kyiv region.

Valerii Zaluzhnyi, below, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukraine military, confirmed that Russia fired 55 air and sea-based missiles, with 47 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukraine air defence, including 20 in the Kyiv area.

The Ukraine Armed Forces added that they had downed 24 of the Iranian-made drones overnight.

But, despite about 85 per cent of the Russian attacks being thwarted, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko later said that one person had been killed.

After the air attacks hit buildings in the south of Kyiv, the onslaught killed a 55-year-old man – the first death since New Year’s Eve in the capital. Two other people were also wounded.

Mr Klitschko said: “As a result of a rocket hitting a non-residential building in the Holosiivskyi district, there is currently information about one dead and two wounded.”

Russian premier Vladimir Putin has often warned that any foreign intervention into the conflict in Ukraine, like supplying arms to Kyiv, would see a quick response from Russia.

Yuriy Ignat, a Ukrainian forces spokesman, said that the attacks included Russian Tu-95 bombers and cruise missiles which had been launched from a military base in Russia’s Arctic north.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, the wave of attacks affected at least two energy infrastructures in the port city of Odesa, while there were reports of power cuts in Kyiv.

Russian forces have been targeting Ukraine’s energy facilities for months, with electricity and power cuts common throughout the country.

Many Kyiv residents took shelter underground yesterday while desperately looking for updates online.

Metro stations have been the go-to place for millions of citizens recently, often taking cover during such ­emergencies. However, thanks to Ukraine’s air defence, much of the nation was spared severe bombardment.

The air raid sirens finally ended at lunchtime, after 12 hours of anxiety, and Kyiv residents were able to come out.

But the attacks are another reminder of Russia’s long-range capabilities – and the reaffirmation that nowhere in Ukraine is safe, even in the winter months when attacks were predicted to be at a lull.

Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak said ­“everything is going according to plan” regarding the supply of tanks to Ukraine.

The Prime Minister said: “When it comes to the question of tanks, everyone should feel very proud of the leadership role that we here in the UK have played – one of the early nations to provide tanks to Ukraine.

“As ever in this ­conflict we have tried to make sure we can provide as much support to Ukraine as possible.

“We have demonstrated that again by providing our Challenger tanks before
others. We are now in dialogue with the Ukrainians about how best to provide those tanks and make sure their troops get the training they need on them as well.

“Everything is going according to plan.”

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