Russian missiles struck three Ukrainian cities Tuesday, including its two biggest, killing at least seven people and wrecking apartment buildings after Moscow shunned any deal backed by Kyiv and its Western allies to end the nearly 2-year-old war.
The barrage included more than 40 ballistic, cruise, anti-aircraft and guided missiles, officials said. Ukraine’s air force said it intercepted 21 of them.
The attacks keep Ukrainians on edge while the 930-mile front line has barely budged. Both sides’ inability to deliver major gains on the battlefield has pushed the fighting toward trench and artillery warfare. Analysts say Russia stockpiled missiles at the end of last year to press a winter campaign of aerial bombardment.
In Kharkiv, in northeast Ukraine, the onslaught killed five and injured 48, including four minors, as the missiles damaged around 30 residential buildings and shattered hundreds of apartment windows in icy weather, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said.
Russia used S-300, Kh-32 and hypersonic Iskander missiles in the attack, he said.
An entire section of a multistory residential building was destroyed, trapping an unknown number of people there, Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said. The temperature in the city was minus 7 degrees Celsius (19 degrees Fahrenheit), he said.
Kharkiv, about 18 miles from the border with Russia, has often felt the brunt of Russia’s winter campaign of long-range strikes that commonly hit civilian areas.
The attack injured at least 20 people in four districts of Kyiv, the capital, including a 13-year-old boy, according to Mayor Vitalii Klitschko. Officials corrected initial reports that a civilian had been killed there, saying the wounded person was hospitalized on life support.
A missile also killed a 43-year-old woman and damaged two schools and eight high-rise buildings in Pavlohrad, an industrial city in the eastern Dnipro region, the country’s presidential office said.
In Balakliia, in the Kharkiv region, an 88-year-old man and a 78-year-old woman were rescued from the rubble of a house after Russian shelling, it said.
In the south, Russia attacked the city of Beryslav with drones, killing a 69-year-old man on a motorcycle.
There appeared to be scant chance of an end to the war anytime soon. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov defied the United States and other Ukraine supporters at a U.N. meeting on Monday, ruling out any peace plan they support.
Lavrov claimed that Ukrainian forces have been “a complete failure” on the battlefield and are “incapable” of defeating Russia.
The attacks on Kyiv and Kharkiv came two days after Moscow-installed officials in eastern Ukraine claimed that Ukrainian shelling killed 27 people on the outskirts of Russian-occupied Donetsk. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it a “monstrous terrorist act.”
The Ukrainian military, however, denied it had anything to do with the attack.
Peskov said Tuesday’s attacks should not be seen as Moscow’s response to the Donetsk strike. He repeated Kremlin’s claim that its forces don’t strike civilian areas, although there is substantial evidence to the contrary.
Deaths of Ukrainian civilians have stirred international outrage over Russia’s invasion, and Ukrainian officials have pointed to the attacks in their efforts to secure further military aid from the country’s allies.
NATO on Tuesday signed a $1.2-billion contract to make tens of thousands of artillery rounds to replenish the dwindling stocks of its member countries. The contract will allow allies to backfill their arsenals and provide Ukraine with more ammunition.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Monday was the latest foreign leader to visit Ukraine and announce a new aid package that includes a loan to buy larger weapons and a commitment to find ways to manufacture them together.
Ukraine’s allies have recently sought to reassure the country that they are committed to its long-term defense amid concerns that Western support could be flagging. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and France’s new foreign minister also traveled to Kyiv in the new year.
But the United States, Ukraine’s main supplier, is currently unable to send Ukraine any ammunition or weapons. While waiting for Congress to approve more money for Ukraine’s fight, the U.S. is looking to its allies to bridge the gap.