Missiles and drones hammered Kyiv on Tuesday morning, officials said, in what appeared to be a large-scale Russian attack on the Ukrainian capital and other cities.
The Ukrainian Air Force said the barrage involved some of Russia’s most powerful weapons, possibly including hypersonic missiles that fly at several times the speed of sound.
Loud bangs jolted Kyiv as its air defense systems tried to shoot down the missiles. Massive plumes of black and white smoke rose from locations throughout the city, cutting through the gray early morning sky, as several buildings were hit.
Vitali Klitschko, the Kyiv mayor, said that debris from intercepted strikes had caused fires in several parts of the capital and that power had been cut off from several residential buildings and other facilities. In the center of Kyiv, near a thermal plant, white smoke billowed.
On Friday, Russia launched one of its largest air attacks of the war against Ukraine. The Ukrainian authorities had warned for months that Russia was likely to pound Ukrainian cities and target their infrastructure once the weather turned cold in a repeat of last year’s winter campaign against the energy grid, which plunged Kyiv into cold and darkness.
Since then, Ukraine has received powerful air defense systems from its allies, including Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries. They have proved successful at repelling many Russian attacks, but the delugeon Tuesday morning appeared intended to overwhelm those defenses.
In the attack on Friday, Russian missiles slipped through Ukraine’s air defenses thanks to a complex barrage of weapons that included hypersonic, ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as drones.
Though Ukraine is well supplied with Western weapons, the surface to air missiles that are needed to intercept Russian missiles are in short supply.