Ukrainian cities from east to west were hit overnight in Russia’s largest wave of missile attacks in more than a month, as at least two were killed and dozens wounded on United Nations World Peace Day.
The strikes, the biggest since 15 August, came a day after reports of sabotage at a Russian military airfield in Chkalovsk, near Moscow, and in the week the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, presented a Ukrainian “peace formula” to the UN general assembly summit in New York.
The Ukrainian army chief, Gen Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said Ukraine’s air defence successfully shot down 36 out of 43 Russian cruise missiles launched from 10 warplanes in multiple waves.
Twenty of those were shot down over Kyiv, according to Sergiy Popko, the head of the city’s military administration, who said they were of the X-101/555/55 type launched from Tu-95MS strategic aircraft.
However, falling debris in the city resulted in damage to buildings and a fire at a service station in the Darnytskyi district, where seven people were injured, including a nine-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman who were taken to city hospitals. Four others received treatment at the scene, as confirmed by the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko. Additionally, in the southern city of Kherson, two men aged 29 and 41 were killed in an attack on a dormitory. Four others, including a 61-year-old woman in serious condition, were admitted to hospital.
Kharkiv also experienced several strikes, damaging civilian infrastructure and injuring two individuals, according to the regional governor, Oleh Syniehubov. In Lviv an industrial area was hit, resulting in building damage and a fire.
Officials in Kyiv on Thursday warned of another hard winter after the attacks caused power cuts in almost 400 locations. “Difficult months are ahead: soon Russia will attack again energy and critically important facilities,” said Oleksiy Kuleba, the deputy head of Kyiv’s presidential office.
Overnight Ukraine launched a fresh drone attack on Russian-occupied Crimea, targeting an airbase on the Black Sea peninsula. “Ukrainian defence forces have carried out a combined attack on a military airbase near the city of Saky in temporarily occupied Crimea,” the Ukrainian military said on the Telegram messaging app.
Ukraine previously targeted the Saky airbase in August 2022, destroying an estimated nine Russian fighter jets. The Russian military confirmed the Ukrainian attack, saying it had shot down 19 Ukrainian drones over Crimea and the Black Sea, but gave no details on casualties or damage.
Kyiv has stepped up its missile and drone strikes on occupied Crimea in recent weeks as it seeks to inflict strategic and symbolic blows against Russian troops that illegally annexed the peninsula in 2014.
Zelenskiy told the UN security council in his address to the general assembly, his first in person since the full-scale Russian invasion, that the way to bring peace in Ukraine and to prevent further wars of aggression was through fundamental UN reform. He argued that the war had demonstrated the need to limit veto power, such as that used by Moscow.
He said the fact Russia – the aggressor state in Ukraine – also had a veto to prevent the security council doing anything to stop the war, made a nonsense of the UN. “All the UN actions, either by the security council or by the general assembly, that could have stopped this aggression are shattered by the privilege granted to the aggressor with this seat,” Zelenskiy said.
“We should recognise that the UN finds itself in a deadlock on the matters of aggression. Humankind no longer pins its hopes on the UN when it comes to the defence of the sovereign borders of nations.”
During his speech, Zelenskiy accused some European countries of prioritising grain exports to Russia, which has been exacerbated by Moscow’s control of the Black Sea shipping lanes. The European Commission recently lifted import restrictions on Ukrainian grain that were designed to protect farmers in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
However, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia have rejected this decision, prompting Zelenskiy to condemn their actions as detrimental to Ukraine. In response, Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, suspended arms shipments to Ukraine and said Poland must prioritise its own defence.
Poland, a key ally since the Russian invasion in February 2022, is one of Kyiv’s main weapons suppliers.