For the first time in more than a month, Russia launched airstrikes on Ukraine’s capital. Explosions rocked Kyiv’s eastern suburbs early this morning, filling the city’s skies with smoke. Russia’s military announced that the strikes were going after new tanks given to Ukraine by Western nations. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that only one person was injured and was taken to the hospital.
It was the first major Russian attack on the capital since Ukrainian forces pushed Russian troops back from Kyiv in late April. Since then the war had shifted to the eastern regions while the invading forces regrouped and focused on smaller targets. Although some Russian incursions have been toward the west, the capital has been safe, while the Donbas and Luhansk regions have been devastated by major artillery strikes.
Several Western nations have provided a variety of armaments to Ukraine. Those include multiple T-72 tanks, which were the apparent target in today’s strike on Kyiv. However, Ukraine’s government claims none were hit. Other weapons sent to the country have included Javelin and Stinger missiles to counter tanks and planes, plus several large long-range howitzers. Over the last several weeks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had pleaded for the United States to send more weapons, including the long-range High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS. The weapons platforms are important both because of how far they can strike, but also how mobile they are. Biden agreed this past week, on the condition that the HIMARS (which can strike as far as 43 miles away) are not used to target Russia itself.
In an interview with Rossiya-1 state television channel after the strike on Kyiv, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “we will strike at those targets which we have not yet been hitting” if the American HIMARS platforms are supplied, Russian state news agency TASS reported. However, Putin also downplayed what impact new Western rockets could have on the war, saying they wouldn’t drastically alter Ukraine’s capabilities.
The strike on Kyiv marks a shift in how the war has been progressing in recent weeks. With fighting focused on the east, life in the country’s west and capital had started to ease. There was even a new exhibition that debuted in Kyiv, collecting destroyed Russian machinery and abandoned gear (some salvageable tanks are being repaired and redeployed against Russians in the east). The Ukrainian defense ministry set up the exhibit as a morale boost for the capital, one of several efforts over the last 100 days, such as the Ghost of Kyiv myth, to boost the country’s spirits.
After capturing the port city of Mariupol last month, Russian forces have been trying to take the city of Sievierodonetsk, the capital of the eastern Luhansk region which Russia has tried to annex. Luhansk’s governor claimed that Ukraine controls half of the city. The artillery fight around Sievierodonetsk has ravaged the metropolitan area.
Also this morning Ukraine’s nuclear energy firm Energoatom claimed that a Russian missile flying toward Kyiv “flew critically low” over the southern Ukrainian Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear plant, putting the facility at risk.
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