Skip to main content

People take shelter inside a metro station during Russian missile attacks in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Jan. 14, 2023.VIACHESLAV RATYNSKYI/Reuters

Russia launched a barrage of land-based ballistic missiles at infrastructure in the Kyiv and Kharkiv regions Saturday morning, a slight shift in tactics that an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said might be the result of a recent shuffle in Russia’s military command.

Russia has used ballistic missiles throughout the conflict, but less frequently in recent months as its stocks of the weapons have reportedly dwindled. Saturday’s launches went undetected by Ukrainian air defences, with warning sirens sounding in Kyiv only after a series of loud explosions in the capital.

Later in the day, a second round of attacks saw cruise missiles strike targets around the country, including an apartment block in the central city of Dnipro. At least 30 people were killed and dozens wounded, including 12 children. Thirty-nine people were rescued after the attack.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Mr. Zelensky’s chief of staff, said the use of ballistic missiles – including re-purposed S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft missiles – was likely related to this week’s announcement that Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of Russia’s General Staff, had taken direct command of the 325-day-old war. Russia has increasingly resorted to mass strikes on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure following a series of autumn battlefield setbacks in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions.

Pro-Russian slogans grow louder in former East Germany as Ukrainian refugees fear a far-right resurgence

Russian warships are heading to South Africa in the latest sign of Moscow’s growing presence

“Politically it’s related to appointment of Gerasimov, who wanted to show off new tactics and a new strategy of deliverance of warfare,” Mr. Podolyak said in an interview inside the fortified Presidential Administration building in Kyiv. “Gerasimov is trying to build up a complex attack that includes drones, remade ballistic rockets, and cruise missiles.”

The Globe reported on Friday that the Ukrainian defence establishment believes Gen. Gerasimov’s move to take command portends a large-scale Russian offensive in the months ahead that could be similar in size to, or larger than, the multi-pronged attack Russia launched at the outset of the invasion.

Kyiv’s military administration said in a statement that “an infrastructure facility” had been hit on Saturday morning. “No critical damage or fire. All emergency services are working at the site. No one is wounded.” National energy provider Ukrenergo said its workers were racing to fix the damage. Ukraine’s electricity grid was already suffering from a power deficit caused by earlier attacks, leaving Kyiv and other cities with only intermittent power and heat.

A man stands inside a crater left by a Russian missile, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the village of Kopyliv, Kyiv region, Ukraine January 14, 2023. REUTERS/Valentyn OgirenkoVALENTYN OGIRENKO/Reuters

Eighteen private homes in the Kyiv region were reportedly damaged by the attack, and missile shrapnel also fell on an open-air museum of folk culture.

Oleg Synehubov, governor of the Kharkiv region, said two S-300 missiles struck energy infrastructure and industrial facilities in Kharkiv and the nearby city of Chuguiv on Saturday. “Our emergency services units and energy workers are working to liquidate the consequences and stabilize the situation with energy supplies,” Mr. Synehubov said.

In addition to the attack on Dnipro, there were explosions reported in the western Ukrainian cities of Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk, as well as the southern port of Odesa, during the second round of strikes.

Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said on Ukrainian television that the ballistic missiles had likely been fired along a high, looping trajectory, which is why warning sirens did not sound during the morning attack.

Mr. Podolyak said the missiles had been fired from the Bryansk region of Russia, just northeast of where the borders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus meet. Ukraine currently lacks the air-defence systems to detect and intercept ballistic missiles, although the United States has promised to deliver at least one Patriot anti-aircraft system that has such capabilities.

“For us it is important to find and adopt solutions how to address these attacks, as we did it with the drones, which were quite effective,” Mr. Podolyak said, referring to Russia’s repeated use of Iranian-made drones, which Ukraine’s air defences have become adept at shooting down. “So, for these attacks, we’ll find a new solution how to resist them.”

With a report from Reuters