Civilian deaths, injuries as Russia pounds Ukraine with missiles in massive overnight attack

9 March, 11:18 AM
Rocket attack on Lviv Oblast (Photo:Operational Command “North”)

Rocket attack on Lviv Oblast (Photo:Operational Command “North”)

The latest, and long-expected, massive Russian missile attack roared into Ukraine in the early hours of March 9, knocking out power in cities across the country, and killing and injuring civilians.

Air raid sirens began to wail in the capital Kyiv at 12.51 a.m., and soon air raid alerts were in place across the entire country. Reports of explosions and the operation of Ukraine’s air defenses started to flood the news channels of the Telegram messenger – widely used by Ukrainians to obtain the latest news.

Video of day

The west of the country was targeted by Russian Kalibr cruise missiles, fired from Russian warships in the Black Sea. A group of the missiles again crossed Moldovan airspace on their way to their targets in Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Ternopil oblasts.

The city of Kharkiv – the closest major Ukrainian city to Russian territory – was subjected to waves of attacks by missiles from the S-300 air defense system, which Russia has adapted to work as inaccurate, but still deadly ballistic missiles to attack ground targets. The city was reported to have lost power.

The city of Zaporizhzhya, close to Russian-occupied parts of Ukrainian territory, also came under attack by S-300 system missiles.

The cities of Odesa and Zhytomyr were reported to have lost power due to missile attacks, as were parts of Lviv and the capital Kyiv. Two-and-a-half hours into the attack, which lasted nearly seven hours in total, explosions from the firing of air defense missiles could be heard in oblasts across the entire country.

As more and more reports of missile impacts started to come in, the massive scale of the attack became apparent. The first deaths were also reported – a Russian missile hit a residential area in the Zolochiv District of Lviv Oblast, killing at least five people.

In a video message on the Telegram messenger, Lviv regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi said the resulting fire from the missile strike had destroyed three residential buildings, three cars, a garage, and several outbuildings.

The city of Zhytomyr has been left without water and power supplies after Russians attacked the city with Iranian-made Shahed drones. According to Zhytomyr Mayor Serhiy Sukhomlyn, the situation in the city is difficult and many restrictions are to be introduced. In particular, electric transport will be suspended, while critical infrastructure facilities will be connected to generators.

Meanwhile, Russia also hit an energy infrastructure facility, as well as residential buildings in the city of Odesa.

“Several residential buildings were damaged, but the most important thing is that there were no casualties,” Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesperson for the Odesa Regional Military Administration, said on Ukrainian national television.

“As a precautionary measure, the electricity supply has been cut off in the city.”

In Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, the Russians attacked four districts with drones and missiles, killing one person and injuring two others. Dnipropetrovsk Governor SerhiyLysak said seven incoming missiles had been shot down by air defense forces.

The enemy hit the oblast’s Dnipro, Pavlohrad, Kryvyi Rih, and Nikopol districts, resulting in the damage to energy infrastructure facilities and industrial enterprises, he said.

Kharkiv’s ground electric transport and metro were completely halted after the Russian missile attack.

“Ground electric transport doesn’t work,” the city council’s press service said.

“Buses are running under the blackout scheme.”

According to Oleksiy Bitner, the press secretary of the Kharkiv Metro, the city’s underground stations are now functioning as bomb shelters.

After dawn, Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief General Valery Zaluzhnyi reported that Russia had launched 81 missiles of various types at Ukraine in its latest attack, as well as eight Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones. He said 34 of the cruise missiles had been shot down, as well as four of the Shaheds.

The shoot-down ratio in recent, smaller scale attacks on Ukraine by Russia has not been as good as previously, when Ukraine would regularly down 80-90% of the missiles fired. The lower kill rate may reflect a change in tactics by Russia to evade Ukraine’s new air defenses, and a change in the mix of missiles it uses, with more ballistic and faster cruise missiles – more difficult to intercept – being fired.

Indeed, Ukraine for the first time reported the use by the Russians of the feared Kh-47 Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic missile, which has a range of 2,000 kilometers and is capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to targets. Ukraine lacks the capability to shoot down such missiles, according to the country's air force.

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Zaluzhny said Russia fired six Kinzhals during its latest attack. One of them is presumed to have hit an electrical infrastructure target in Kyiv at 5.51 a.m., when a massive explosion was heard across the Ukrainian capital.

According to Zaluzhny, during the attack, the Russians also fired 28 Kh-101/Kh-555 air-based cruise missiles, 20 Kalibr sea-based cruise missiles, six Kh-22 air-launched cruise missiles, eight guided air missiles (two Kh-31Ps, and six Kh-59s) and 13 S-300 anti-aircraft guided missiles.

The last major Russian missile attack on Ukraine came on Feb. 16, when Ukraine shot down 16 of 41 incoming Russian missiles. The attack included launches of the Kh-22 supersonic anti-ship missiles, which Ukraine lacks the ability to shoot down.

Ukraine had been expecting a large-scale attack by Russia since Feb. 24, the anniversary of the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and close to the ninth anniversary of the start of the long-running war.

There were signs that Russia might be gearing up for a big attack: In recent weeks the Russians appeared to have been probing and testing Ukrainian air defenses, testing its reactions with balloons and waves of drones flying from different directions.

In the days previous to the big attack, Kyiv was subjected to overnight attacks by Shahed drones, most of which were shot down.

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