Hypersonic missiles part of Russia’s latest barrage
KYIV, Ukraine — Russia launched its biggest aerial attack in weeks on Thursday, hitting targets across Ukraine with a complex barrage of weapons including its newest hypersonic missiles, in what it said was retaliation for an incursion last week by a pro-Ukrainian armed group in the Bryansk region of Russia.
Ending weeks of relative calm in Kyiv and other cities, the strikes killed at least nine people nationwide, knocked out power in several areas and damaged three electrical plants, Ukrainian officials said. The strikes included six of the new hypersonic missiles known as Kinzhals, or Daggers, the most Russia has used in a single wave since the war began a year ago, according to Ukraine’s air force.
Air raid sirens wailed through the night as the attacks targeted a wide swath of the country, including western Ukraine, which is far from the front lines. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the assault that came while many people slept was an attempt by Moscow “to intimidate Ukrainians again.”
The Russian Defense Ministry said the strikes were in retaliation for a recent incursion into the Bryansk region of western Russia by what Moscow claimed were Ukrainian saboteurs. Ukraine denied the claim and warned that Moscow could use the allegations to justify stepping up its own assaults.
Overall, Russia fired nine types of cruise and ballistic missiles alongside a volley of eight Iranian-made exploding drones.
Of the 81 missiles fired overnight and through the morning, 47 hit targets, Ukraine said. That is a far higher ratio of strikes to missiles fired than Russia has achieved in barrages over recent months. Moscow’s higher success rate was made possible because Russian forces used some of their limited supply of hypersonic Kinzhal missiles and a higher than typical number of ballistic rather than cruise missiles, Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s air force, said in an interview.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the barrage hit military and industrial targets in Ukraine “as well as the energy facilities that supply them.”
The missile strikes took no toll on the army’s combat capability, but they played “on the nerves of the civilian population of Ukraine,” Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said.
Nearly half of households in Kyiv were without heat, as were many in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, where the water was also cut on a day when outdoor temperatures were expected to fall to around freezing, local officials said.
Viktor Bukhta, a 57-year-old resident of Kyiv’s Sviatoshynski district, where officials said three people were wounded, said a missile landed nearby in the early morning.
“We went into the yard. People were injured,” he said. “Then the cars caught fire. We tried to extinguish them with car fire extinguishers. And I got a little burned.”
In other developments:
• The head of the United Nations’ nuclear agency issued an impassioned plea after the strikes cut off the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine from external power lines and forced it to switch to diesel generators. It was the sixth time the plant had to move to its emergency power supply since the war began, the official, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said. “If we allow this to continue time after time, then one day our luck will run out,” he said, referring to the possibility of a nuclear accident.
• Georgia’s governing party, facing mounting pressure from protesters, said on Thursday that it had decided to withdraw proposed legislation on “foreign agents.” Critics said the bill mimicked a Russian law used by the Kremlin to thwart opposition news media outlets and civil society.