Devastating booms. Flashes. Falling debris. Residents of the Ukrainian capital said Wednesday that Russia’s latest missile barrage has shaken them out of sleep and any complacency about the reality of the conflict.
Alarms across the capital were sounded at 2:25 a.m. on Tuesday and just 30 minutes later Russian missiles flew over Kyiv. Ukrainian air defense teams raced to track the incoming salvo and fired surface-to-air missiles to intercept it.
Millions of people in Kyiv are used to occasionally hearing explosions in the sky. But they have little chance to prepare this time because of Russia’s use, according to Ukrainian and American officials, of six Kinzhal missiles – among the most sophisticated in its arsenal – along with three land-based ballistic missiles , cruise missiles and drones. The explosions as the attacks were intercepted were also louder than many had heard before.
“When the alarm goes off, I’m not the person who panics or runs,” said Sam Memedov, 32, an account manager who lives upstairs in a five-story apartment in the city center. “But it was very scary. My house is shaking.”
The strikes showed an apparent increase, after the weeks of March and April when there were no attacks in the capital and the residents learned all but ignored the air alarms.
At this time, Mr. Memedov said, he was thinking of spending the night in one of Kyiv’s deep metro stations. He decided against it, but the next night, as a precaution, he did.
Maria Tomak, a senior government official, said that on the night of the strikes she slept in the bathroom of her 18th-floor apartment. The missile threat, he said, led him to look at his home in a new way.
A windowless bathroom, once a dark space, now offers protection. However, as he crouches on the floor, he realizes that the bathroom mirror, which is an asset, may break.
Oleksandr Pedan, a TV and social media star, said that he and his partner were not afraid of the explosions, and they chose to stay at home rather than go to the metro, but they faced an additional concern – if how to reassure their child.
“Our 6-year-old son woke up and asked ‘What happened?’ We said: ‘It’s OK. Sleep. Sleep.’ We understand that if we are nervous it will be worse,” said Mr. Pedan.
On Tuesday, a video posted on Twitter showed a mother giving her daughter a whistle that she can use to alert rescue workers if their building collapses and she finds herself trapped. that is stuck. The video shows the child asking what the whistle is; the mother says, through tears, that she cannot explain for fear of alarming her daughter.
On Tuesday morning, rush hour traffic was noticeably lighter, two residents said, adding that they were grateful to the country’s military and NATO allies for providing air defenses.
A statement from Ukraine’s Air Force did not specify whether a new Patriot system donated by the West was involved in the shooting down of Russian missiles. But President Volodymyr Zelensky called the fall of the Kinzhals “a historic act.”
“We are told that such missiles bring a guaranteed death because they are supposed to be impossible to shoot down,” he said on Tuesday.
Two US officials confirmed that one Patriot system had been damaged, although they said it was still operational against all threats.
Some residents said the incident reminded them that other parts of the country have often gone through similar troubles. Anna Ivanova, a freelance translator and photographer who usually lives in the western city of Lviv but was in Kyiv this week, said she expected more attacks as Ukraine prepared to launch a counteroffensive.
He described the attacks as Moscow’s “mind games”. “You relax a little and then they do something,” he said. “People around me are not afraid. People adapt. “
Yurii Shyvala and Marc Santora contributed to the report.