Ukraine on fire as Putin unleashes ‘intense’ missile strike on Kyiv

Pockets of the Ukrainian capital were set alight overnight after Vladimir Putin launched a missile attack “exceptional in its density”, local officials have revealed. Kyiv residents rushed to the underground bomb shelters in the first hours of Tuesday as abandoned public transport depots were destroyed by missile fragments, shot down over the capital by the air defence systems, while cars were destroyed in the “intense” assault.

Despite the ferocity of the attack, coming just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky concluded his four-nation tour of Europe, there were only three casualties, all with minor injuries.

At 1.24am local time (11.24pm GMT), Kyiv mayor Vitaliy Klitschko urged the city’s residents to “stay in shelters” as a salvo of Russian missiles broke into the local airspace.

He issued six warnings over the next hour on Telegram as 18 missiles were successfully shot down by Ukrainian air defence systems.

Ukraine’s commander-in-chief, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said Kyiv’s defenders had shot down all Russian rockets and drones fired overnight.

He said the attack had come from the “north, south and east” featuring missiles fired from air, sea and land.

Dame Melinda Simmons, the UK ambassador to Ukraine, said the walls had been “shaking” as she tried to sleep, with Russian missiles and air defence shells clashing overhead.

She said: “A full on aerial attack on Kyiv last night, pretty intense. Bangs and shaking walls are not an easy night. Hope everyone is ok.”

The southwestern district of Solomyansk was the worst affected area, where three residents were injured by the debris of a felled Russian missile.

Animals from the Kyiv Zoo, located in the Solomyansk district, were also frightened by falling debris that “damaged the greenery” around the complex.

On Tuesday morning, Mr Klitschko called on the city to “come and calm down” the animals when the zoo reopened at 10am local time.

Notwithstanding the severity of the attack, the three wounded residents, the damaged cars and the frightened animals were all Russia appears to have accomplished from the strikes.

Ukraine’s State Emergency Service published dramatic photos of their emergency services frantically battling to extinguish fires on the outskirts of the capital.

But the area was deserted and the fires were extinguished within an hour of the emergency services arriving.

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Residents of Kyiv had to be warned, however, not to post photos of the air defence systems at work just after midnight as they risked giving away their locations.

Top presidential adviser Andriy Yermak, just before 1am local time, called on civilians to “not shoot or post videos” for fear Russian forces would get a hold of them.

It is believed the US-supplied Patriot air defence missile systems, which arrived in Ukraine last month, were used to successfully repel the Russian attacks.

When they landed in Ukraine, on April 20, Ukraine’s defence minister said the country’s “beautiful sky had become more [immediately] secure”.

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