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Russian missiles hit cities across Ukraine killing at least 22 people

Three children were among at least 22 people killed on Friday as Russia launched a series of missile strikes against cities across Ukraine, officials said.

Vladimir Putin’s forces fired more than 20 cruise missiles and two drones at the capital Kyiv and other parts of the country.

Seventeen people died including two 10-year-old children and 17 people were injured in the central city of Uman after two missiles hit a nine storey residential building at around 4.30am, the regional governor said.

It was feared the death toll could rise further as images showed rescuers in a desperate search for survivors in the rubble. Three children were rescued.

A woman, 31 and her daughter, said to be aged two or three, were killed in the city of Dnipro and another three people wounded, officials said.

There were also explosions reported in the cities of Kremenchuk and Poltava.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Air raid sirens sounded around Kyiv in the first attack against the city in nearly two months.

Fragments from intercepted missiles or drones damaged power lines and a road in one neighbourhood in the capital. There were no immediate reports of any casualties or direct hits there.

Twenty-one out of 23 missiles and two attack drones were shot down by Ukraine’s air defence system across the country, Ukraine said.

The country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attacks saying they showed further international action needed to be taken against Russia.

“Evil can be stopped by weapons - our defenders are doing it. And it can be stopped by sanctions - global sanctions must be enhanced,” he said in a tweet.

On Telegram he wrote: “This Russian terror must face a fair response from Ukraine and the world. And it will.

“Every such attack, every evil act against our country and people brings the terrorist state closer to failure and punishment, not vice versa, as they think.

“We will not forget any crime, we will not let any invader avoid responsibility.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Survivors of the Uman strikes recounted terrifying moments as the missiles hit when it still was dark outside.

“All the glass flew out, everything flew out, even the chandelier fell. Everything was covered in glass,” resident Olha Turina said.

“Then there was an explosion. ... We barely found our things and ran out,” she said.

Turina, whose husband is fighting on the frontlines, said one of her child’s classmates was missing.

“I don’t know where they are, I don’t know if they are alive,” she said. “I don’t know why we have to go through all this. We never bothered anyone.”

One of the 10 people killed was a 75-year-old who was in her apartment in a neighbouring building and suffered internal bleeding from the shockwave of the blast, emergency personnel said.

Moscow has frequently launched long-range missile attacks during the 14-month war, often indiscriminately hitting civilian areas.

Firefighters work at an apartment building badly damaged by a Russian attack in the town of Uman (AP)
Firefighters work at an apartment building badly damaged by a Russian attack in the town of Uman (AP)

Ukrainian officials and analysts have alleged the strikes are part of a deliberate intimidation strategy by the Kremlin.

Russia has denied its military aims at civilian targets.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the latest long-range air-launched cruise missiles launched overnight were aimed at places where Ukrainian military reserve units were staying before their deployment to the battlefield.

"The strike has achieved its goal. All the designated facilities have been hit," Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the Defense Ministry's spokesperson, said. He didn't mention any specific areas or residential buildings getting hit.

The attacks come as Ukrainian forces are preparing for a counter offensive with new equipment, including tanks, supplied by Western allies.

Nato announced that its allies and partner countries have delivered more than 98% of the combat vehicles promised to Ukraine to launch its offensive.

Along with more than 1,550 armoured vehicles, 230 tanks and other equipment, “vast amounts of ammunition” and trained and equipped more than nine new Ukrainian brigades, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

More than 30,000 troops are estimated to make up the new brigades. “This will put Ukraine in a strong position to continue to retake occupied territory,” Stoltenberg said in Brussels.

Russia has struggled to make headway in a winter offensive including a 10-month battle for control of the strategically important city of Bakhmut.