Ukraine war: Dozens wounded in Russian missile strikes on Kyiv

Russia's missile strike caused considerable damage, which Kyiv blamed on debris from 10 ballistic missiles it had shot down
Image caption,Russia’s strike caused considerable damage, which Kyiv blamed on debris from 10 ballistic missiles it had shot down

By Jessica Parker & George Wright

BBC News in Kyiv and London

Dozens of people have been injured in a wave of missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv overnight, authorities say.

Fifty-three people were hurt in the attacks, including six children, Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

Kindergarten and hospital buildings were reportedly damaged by debris as authorities said 10 Russian ballistic missiles had been shot down.

The strikes happened after President Volodymyr Zelensky left the US.

His plea for Congress to agree more military aid for Ukraine made little progress in winning over reluctant Republicans.

EU leaders will also discuss further aid for Ukraine on Thursday, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “we must give Ukraine what it needs to be strong today”.

On Wednesday, the EU said it would unblock €10bn in funding for Hungary, in a move criticised as an attempt to persuade Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to loosen his objections to helping Ukraine.

Mr Zelensky promised a response to Wednesday’s overnight attack. “Russia has proven once again that it is a heinous country that fires missiles at night, trying to hit residential areas, kindergartens, and energy facilities during the winter,” he posted on X.

Wednesday’s attack on Kyiv began at around 03:00 (01:00 GMT) – the third Russian missile strike on the capital in the past week.

Although Kyiv has been targeted by Russian drones in recent weeks, cruise missiles were launched on the city for the first time in 79 days on Friday, while ballistic missiles were used on Monday and in the latest attack.

Ukraine’s air force said it had shot down all 10 targets flying towards the city, using anti-aircraft missiles.

The staff of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine and the police work together to rescue people from a burning building after a recent shelling amid Russia's attack in Kyiv on 13 December
Image caption,Kindergarten and hospital buildings were reportedly damaged while fires broke out in the capital

The windows of residential apartment blocks were blown out and parked cars were destroyed due to falling debris. Loud explosions were heard in Kyiv before air raid sirens sounded, because ballistic missiles fly at such a speed that it is hard to detect them in time.

“Ballistics [are] used precisely so that people have no chance to hide in bomb shelters,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, wrote on X.

Ukraine’s Armed Forces General Staff identified the projectiles as Iskander-M ballistic missiles, as well as S-400s: extremely fast missiles intended for air defence, but which have also been used to hit ground targets.

One man, Oleksander, told the BBC that the windows in his apartment were blown out in the middle of the night. He started crying as he recalled seeing his neighbours and their children being taken away by ambulance.

Oleksander in Kyiv
Image caption,Oleksander saw his neighbours being taken away by an ambulance

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s biggest mobile network operator says it hopes to restore operations on Wednesday after what appeared to be the largest cyberattack since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Tuesday’s attack on Kyivstar, which has more than half of Ukraine’s population as mobile subscribers, has put millions of people in danger of not receiving air raid alerts. A Russian hacking group, which targeted internet providers and Ukrainian websites earlier this year, said it was behind the latest cyberattack.

Queues formed during the day at a shopping centre in Kyiv as people tried to switch mobile phone networks.

Lidia told the BBC that her entire family used Kyivstar and her grandson needed internet access to join school lessons online.

Lidia joined a queue for an alternative Ukrainian network because of the attack on Kiyvstar
Image caption,Lidia joined a queue for an alternative Ukrainian network because of the attack on Kiyvstar

The port city of Odesa was also attacked for “several hours” by drones overnight, a regional military chief said. Two men were reportedly injured and there was damage to civil infrastructure.

The Ukrainian president arrived in Norway on Wednesday for a previously unannounced visit to discuss support for his country’s defences.

He flew there after a trip to the US, where he made a last-ditch effort to win new military aid from Congress before the currently approved amount runs dry.

But hopes that Mr Zelensky could use his powers of persuasion to unlock military aid in Washington DC appear to have fallen flat.

US President Joe Biden warned Republicans that they would give Russia a “Christmas gift” if they failed to provide additional military aid to Ukraine.

Mr Zelensky said afterwards that he and Mr Biden had “just agreed to work on increasing the number of air defence systems in Ukraine, and the terrorist state demonstrated how critical this decision is”.

“Each additional system and missile is vital for Ukraine, our cities, and our people. They are saving lives,” he added.

Mr Zelensky’s push for aid came ahead of a summit of European leaders where Ukraine hopes to be given a start date for talks on joining the EU. caption,

Watch: Zelensky faces political deadlock in Washington

Hungarian PM Viktor Orban reaffirmed his position that the EU should not open accession talks. “The EU is preparing to make a terrible mistake and we must prevent that even if 26 (members) want to make the mistake,” Mr Orban told local website Mandiner.

“If we want to give support to Ukraine, a geostrategic signal, then we should, but this is not membership.”

Hungary has repeatedly been at odds with its EU partners over Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. It has watered down sanctions against Russia and last December vetoed a deal to grant Ukraine €18bn (£15.5bn) in 2023.

The EU has authorised about €10.2bn in funding for Hungary ahead of the meeting, saying Budapest had taken measures on the independence of its judiciary. However, it said additional funding would remain blocked without progress on the rule of law.

“Ukraine is not only fighting against the invader, but for Europe, and joining our family will be Ukraine’s ultimate victory. And for this, we have a decisive role to play,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament.

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