Russia fired more than 20 cruise missiles and two drones at Ukraine early on Friday, killing at least 22 people.
Most of them died when two missiles slammed into an apartment building in a terrifying night-time attack, officials said. Three children were among the dead, the added.
The large-scale strikes included the first one against Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, in nearly two months, although there were no reports of any targets hit.
The city government said Ukraine’s air force intercepted 11 cruise missiles and two unmanned aerial vehicles over Kyiv.
The strikes on the nine-story residential building in central Ukraine occurred in Uman, a city located about 134 miles south of Kyiv. Twenty people died in that attack, according to the interior ministry. They included two 10-year-old children and a toddler.
Another of the victims was a 75-year-old woman who lived in a neighbouring building and suffered internal bleeding from the huge blast’s shock wave, according to emergency personnel at the scene.
The Ukrainian national police said 17 people were wounded and three children were rescued from the rubble. Nine were hospitalized.
The bombardment was nowhere near the war’s sprawling front lines or active combat zones in eastern Ukraine, where a grinding war of attrition has taken hold.
Moscow has frequently launched long-range missile attacks during the 14-month war, often indiscriminately hitting civilian areas.
Ukrainian officials and analysts have alleged such strikes are part of a deliberate intimidation strategy by the Kremlin.
The Russian defence ministry said the long-range cruise missiles launched overnight were aimed at places where Ukrainian military reserve units were staying before their deployment to the battlefield.
“The strike has achieved its goal. All the designated facilities have been hit,” Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov, the defence ministry’s spokesman, said.
He did not mention any specific areas or residential buildings getting hit.
Survivors of the Uman strikes recounted terrifying moments as the missiles hit when it still was dark outside.
Ukraine officials said last week that they had taken delivery of American-made Patriot missiles, providing Kyiv with a long-sought new shield against Russian airstrikes, but there was no word on whether the system was used on Friday.
The city’s anti-aircraft system was activated, according to the Kyiv city administration. Air raid sirens started at about 4am, and the alert ended about two hours later.
The missile attack was the first on the capital since March 9. Air defences have thwarted Russian drone attacks more recently.
The missiles were fired from aircraft operating in the Caspian Sea region, according to Ukrainian armed forces commander-in-chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi.
Overall, he said, Ukraine intercepted 21 of 23 Kh-101 and Kh-555 type cruise missiles launched, as well as the two drones.
The war largely ground to a halt over the winter, becoming a war of attrition as each side has shelled the other’s positions from a distance.
Ukraine has been building up its mechanised brigades with armour supplied by its Western allies, who have also been training Ukrainian troops and sending ammunition, as Kyiv eyes a possible counteroffensive.
Meanwhile, the Moscow-appointed mayor of the Russia-held city of Donetsk, Alexei Kulemzin, said a Ukrainian rocket killed seven civilians in the centre of the city Friday. He said the victims died when a minibus was hit.