Russia has carried out two mass rocket strikes on Ukraine on Saturday, devastating an apartment block in the south-central city of Dnipro, where at least 12 people have died and many more were injured. Rescue workers are still clearing the rubble at the scene.
The targets of the attack, said Ukraine’s authorities earlier on Saturday, was Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, a continuation of its strategy to leave the country without power and limit its ability to fight.
During the second attack in the afternoon, one rocket hit a nine-storey apartment in Dnipro, destroying an entire stretch of the building. Rescue workers were attempting to retrieve survivors from the rubble, according to the deputy head of the presidential administration, Kyrylo Tymoshenko. He posted a picture of a crane, saying people still in their apartments were using their phones to catch the attention of rescue workers.
Tymoshenko added on Telegram that he knew the block well as he was born and lived nearby. “We will spend all night clearing up the rubble,” said Tymoshenko, who was on the scene.
One video, purported to be from near the scene of the attack, showed people running away, while another showed the immediate aftermath of the attack – a courtyard covered in a thick layer of grey dust, a cloud of smoke and a woman can be heard screaming in the background.
A residential house in the village of Kopyliv, Kyiv region, was also destroyed in the first attack on Saturday morning, but no casualties have been reported.
Energy facilities were hit during the attack. Power outages were reported in Kharkiv after the first attack. Ukraine’s energy minister, Herman Halushchenko, said emergency shutdowns have been introduced in several cities to stabilise the grid and the “next few days will be difficult”.
The morning attack in Kyiv caught residents by surprise. For the first time since Russia began launching regular attacks on the capital, the air raid siren did not sound, indicating that the missiles evaded Ukraine’s radar detection systems.The morning attack in Kyiv caught residents by surprise. For the first time since Russia began launching regular attacks on the capital, the air raid siren did not sound, indicating that the missiles evaded Ukraine’s radar detection systems.
uriy Ignat, the spokesperson for Ukraine’s air defence forces, told Ukraine’s United News TV programme that Russia probably used ballistic missiles in that instance and Ukraine does not have the means to destroy or detect them.
One village suffered a hit during a rocket attack on the Odeskyi district of Odesa region, and fragments of a downed missile hit transport infrastructure involved in the grain agreement, according to authorities.
The debris of a missile landed in Moldova for the second time in recent months, according to the country’s interior ministry.
The latest spate of attacks came as the UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, announced the UK would provide Ukraine with about 12 Challenger tanks as well as artillery systems.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, thanked Sunak, saying that it would “not only strengthen us on the battlefield but also send the right signal to our other partners”.
The tanks will be the most modern at Ukraine’s disposal. Until now, Ukraine’s allies have hesitated to provide tanks, fearing Russia would see it as an escalation.
On Friday, in a visit to Ukraine, Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, promised to give Ukraine 14 German-made Leopard tanks. But Poland needs re-export approval from Germany first.
In early January, France, Germany and the US committed to providing armoured fighting vehicles, also a first, but have thus far put off calls for tanks.
Meanwhile, the battle for Ukraine’s Donetsk region continues. Russia has claimed to have captured the town of Soledar which, if true, could make it more difficult for Ukraine to hold the neighbouring town of Bakhmut, the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in recent months.
The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War assessed that Russia probably controls almost all of the town, but it did not think a win in Soledar would result in Russia taking over Bakhmut.
But Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, Hanna Malar, has denied the claims, stating that heavy battles continued “day and night”. She said Ukrainian forces were “repelling continuous attacks by the Russian military, who are suffering heavy losses”.
The raid involved eight drones, all of which have been neutralized, Russia’s Ministry of Defense has said