Deadly strikes hit residential buildings in Ukraine and a Russian border region Tuesday as an escalation of aerial attacks also wounded dozens and prompted Kyiv to urge speedier Western weapons shipments.
The bombardment of mainly Kyiv and northeastern Kharkiv came less than 24 hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to step up strikes following an unprecedented Ukrainian attack on the Russian city of Belgorod.
In total, five people were killed and 130 wounded, authorities said.
“The enemy has planned their trajectories to cause as much damage as possible. This is an utterly premeditated terror,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address.
Since December 29, Russia has launched nearly 300 missiles and more than 200 drones against Ukraine, he said.
Meanwhile, a new Ukrainian strike on Russia’s Belgorod border region killed at least one person Tuesday and wounded five, the local governor said.
Moscow claimed to have struck only military installations, but Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov said Russia was deliberately hitting critical infrastructure and residential neighbourhoods.
Kyiv urged Western allies to respond to the bombardment by speeding up the delivery of air defence equipment, combat drones and long-range missiles at a time when allied backing has wavered.
Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said late Tuesday he had discussed the attacks with White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
“We agreed on the importance of strengthening Ukrainian air defence,” he said.
Kyiv said Moscow fired 99 missiles on Tuesday but 72 were downed, while Russia said it had shot down nine Ukrainian missiles over the Belgorod region.
In Kyiv, a building near the centre of the city was partly destroyed. Two people were killed and 49 injured in the capital, Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said.
“It’s a residential building. They hit a residential building,” said Violetta Solovyova, 56.
Galyna Solovyova, 79, suffered a head wound in the strike that destroyed her home.
“It’s a real horror to be left without… everything. And we don’t know about the neighbours. They’re people we know. How are they?” she asked, her head bandaged.
Ukraine interior minister Igor Klymenko said another two people were killed in the Kyiv region.
Polish jets scrambled
A 91-year-old woman was killed and 52 people were injured as at least four strikes hit the northeastern city of Kharkiv, said the head of the city’s military administration, Oleg Sinegubov.
The cities of Orikhiv and Nikopol were also targeted by strikes that left three people wounded overall, authorities said.
UN human rights chief Volker Turk called for an immediate de-escalation of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine as his office voiced alarm at the intensification of attacks.
“International humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate attacks and attacks against civilian objects,” the UN Human Rights Office said on social media platform X.
In a sign of growing concern, Poland on Tuesday scrambled four F-16 fighter jets to its border with Ukraine to protect its airspace.
During the last wave of deadly attacks on Ukraine on Friday, Poland said a Russian missile had passed through its airspace.
Poland — a NATO and EU member — has remained a staunch ally of Ukraine as the Russian invasion nears its second anniversary.
Tuesday’s attacks came after an escalation of the war in recent days, with Russia launching on December 29 a wave of strikes across Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, that killed 39 people.
Moscow also hit Ukrainian cities on New Year’s Eve, with Kyiv saying it had foiled a “record” number of drones launched by Russia.
‘Critical we support Ukraine’
Ukraine is seeking assurances from its backers that military aid will continue as a new budget for US support is stalled in Washington.
“Thanks to the partners for air defences. There is no reason to believe that the enemy will stop here. Therefore, we need more systems and munition for them,” army commander-in-chief Valery Zaluzhny said on social media.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock accused Moscow of seeking to “annihilate” Ukraine after residential buildings were hit Tuesday.
Germany will “stand by the people in Ukraine for as long as they need us”, she wrote on X.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also said his country would “continue to stand steadfastly by Ukraine as they fight aggression and occupation”, in a phone call with Zelensky.
UK support would include “further deliveries of lethal aid,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.
“Putin is ringing in 2024 by launching missiles at Kyiv and around the country as millions of Ukrainians take shelter in freezing temps. Loud explosions in Kyiv this morning,” US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink wrote on X.
“It’s urgent and critical that we support Ukraine now — to stop Putin here,” she said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)