KYIV — Russia hit Kyiv with cruise missiles fired from the Caspian Sea on Sunday, striking a rail car repair facility in the Ukrainian capital, in the first such attack for weeks, Ukraine’s army and the country’s railway chief said.
Dark smoke funneled into the sky above Kyiv’s eastern outskirts. At least one person was hospitalized though no deaths were immediately reported, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
Ukrainian air defenses shot down one incoming missile at around 6 am local time (0300 GMT), the military said.
Kyiv resident Kostyantyn Nikitenko, who lives near the repair facility, said that he immediately took shelter in his apartment’s corridor when he heard several powerful explosions around that time.
“Every 10-30 seconds the next explosions came. With every new explosion, it was more and more powerful, and I got the impression that it was getting closer and closer,” he said, adding that afterwards he saw a 100-meter column of black smoke emerging from behind a nearby building.
“There hasn’t been a strike on Kyiv in a while, and perhaps most people, including myself, developed a kind of illusion that the worst was behind us. But this was a reminder that the war is still going on,” Nikitenko said .
One Russian missile that was probably headed for Kyiv flew “critically low” over a major nuclear power plant in the southern Mykolaiv region, state-run nuclear power operator Energoatom said on Telegram. It later posted a video appearing to confirm its account. Reuters could not independently verify the footage.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said its missiles had destroyed T-72 tanks and armored vehicles supplied to Ukraine by eastern European countries housed in a rail car repair facility in Kyiv.
Oleksandr Kamyshin, head of the Ukrainian railway, confirmed that four missiles had smashed into the Darnytsia rail car repair facility in eastern Kyiv, but said there was no military hardware at the site.
“Their (Russia’s) target is the economy and the civilian population,” he said.
Moscow has denied targeting civilians in what it calls a “special military operation.”
The sprawling railway system has served as a vital lifeline as Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion has crippled the Ukrainian economy and severed export routes via the Black Sea.
The missiles were the first to hit the capital since late April when a Radio Liberty producer was killed in a Russian strike that hit the building she lived in.
“According to preliminary data, the (Russians) launched missiles from Tu-95 aircraft from the Caspian Sea,” the Ukrainian air force said in a statement.
Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak called on the West to impose more sanctions on Russia to punish it for the strikes and to supply more weapons to Ukraine.
“The Kremlin resorts to new insidious attacks. Today’s missile strikes at Kyiv have only one goal – kill as many as possible,” he wrote in a tweet.
The mayor of the historic town of Brovary, around 20 km (12 miles) from Kyiv’s center, urged people to remain inside their homes as there had been reports of a sooty smell coming from the smoke.
Air raid sirens regularly disrupt life in Kyiv, but there have been no major strikes on the city in several weeks after Moscow turned the focus of its invasion to the east and south.
The Darnytskyi district on the left bank of the Dnipro River stretches from the fringes of Kyiv to the river’s shores while the Dniprovskyi area in the city’s north lies along the river.
Oleksandr Honcharenko, mayor of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region in the east, reported overnight strikes on the city, resulting in widespread damage but no casualties. (Writing by Lidia Kelly and Tom Balmforth; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Tomasz Janowski)