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'Exceptional' Russian Attack Targets Kyiv But All 18 Missiles Shot Down


In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry, a firefighter tries to put out fire caused by fragments of a Russian rocket after it was shot down by air defense system during a Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 16, 2023.

New developments:

  • South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has said a delegation of African leaders plans to travel to Russia and Ukraine to present a peace plan
  • French President Emmanuel Macron says France is open to training Ukrainian fighter pilots.
  • U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths says continuing Black Sea Grain deal is "critically important" and that the U.N. is engaged in "intensive discussions" to keep it alive.

Ukraine said Tuesday Russia had launched a barrage of nighttime aerial attacks on Kyiv that was “exceptional in its density” but that Ukrainian forces had shot down all 18 missiles targeting the capital.

Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv's city military administration, posted on Telegram that the attack featured “the maximum number of attack missiles in the shortest period of time,” with loud explosions booming across the city. Six of the destroyed missiles were hypersonic Kinzhal missiles.

British Ambassador Melinda Simmons tweeted that the barrage was "pretty intense," adding that “bangs and shaking walls are not an easy night."

Popko said the aerial attack was the eighth targeting Kyiv since the beginning of the month as Russia ramps up its attacks ahead of an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive in the eastern regions of the country.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported falling debris caused damage in several of the capital city’s districts, including in the Solomyanskyi neighborhood, where three people were injured.

A missile explodes in the sky over the city during a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 16, 2023.
A missile explodes in the sky over the city during a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 16, 2023.

Russia launched the six Kinzhal aero-ballistic missiles from MiG-31K aircraft, nine cruise missiles from ships in the Black Sea and three land-based S-400 cruise missiles targeted the capital, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said in a statement on Telegram.

Ukraine’s Western allies have supplied sophisticated air defense systems, including American-made Patriot missiles, and they have helped spare Kyiv from the kind of widespread destruction seen elsewhere in the country.

A metal fragment from Tuesday’s attacks landed inside the Kyiv Zoo. Associated Press reporters said it was labeled Lockheed Martin and Boeing, two of the companies involved in the manufacture of the Patriot missile system.

A Russian defense official said that Tuesday's attack destroyed a Patriot missile battery in Kyiv but the statement couldn't be independently verified. Ukraine refused to comment on the claim.

Despite success in thwarting attacks on Kyiv, Ukraine said at least seven civilians died and 14 others were wounded in Russian shelling of other Ukrainian regions Monday through Tuesday morning.

New military aid

Britain said Monday it is sending Ukraine hundreds more missiles and attack drones in hopes of boosting Kyiv's fight against Russia's invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a staunch ally, for the new weaponry as they met at Chequers, Sunak's official country retreat.

Zelenskyy characterized the war effort as a matter of "security not only for Ukraine, it is important for all of Europe."

Sunak told Zelenskyy that "your leadership, your country's bravery and fortitude are an inspiration to us all."

Zelenskyy's visit to Britain was his fourth stop in Western allied countries in recent days as he looks to shore up military support ahead of Ukraine's counteroffensive against Moscow's forces to try to retake regions of eastern Ukraine that Russia continues to hold. He had earlier stopped in Italy, Germany and France to meet with their leaders.

"The [United Kingdom] is a leader when it comes to expanding our capabilities on the ground and in the air," Zelenskyy tweeted ahead of his meeting with Sunak. The British leader called the impending fighting "a crucial moment in Ukraine's resistance to a terrible war."

The Kremlin said it views more British aid to Ukraine "extremely negatively," but spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia does not believe the new weaponry would drastically change the course of the war.

"Britain aspires to be at the forefront among countries that continue to pump weapons into Ukraine," Peskov said. "We repeat once again — it cannot yield any drastic and fundamental influence on the way the special military operation [in Ukraine] is unfolding. But definitely, it leads to further destruction, further action. ... It makes this whole story for Ukraine much more complicated."

Along with the U.S. and other European countries, Britain has become one of Ukraine's major military allies, sending Kyiv short-range missiles and Challenger tanks and training 15,000 Ukrainian troops on British soil.

Last week, Britain announced it had sent Ukraine Storm Shadow cruise missiles, which have a range of more than 250 kilometers — the first known shipment of the weaponry that Kyiv has long sought from its allies.

Sunak's office said the newest shipment announced Monday would include more air defense missiles, as well as "long-range attack drones" with a range of more than 200 kilometers.

"This is a crucial moment in Ukraine's resistance to a terrible war of aggression they did not choose or provoke," Sunak said. "They need the sustained support of the international community to defend against the barrage of unrelenting and indiscriminate attacks that have been their daily reality for over a year. We must not let them down."

Zelenskyy said Ukraine needs to build a "fighter jet coalition" to provide it with vital air defenses. Sunak's spokesman said no planes would be provided by Britain but that it would begin training Ukrainian fighter pilots as soon as this summer.

In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said France would supply dozens of light tanks, armored vehicles and more air defense systems "in the weeks ahead," without giving specific numbers. France is also aiming to train 2,000 Ukrainian troops in France and nearly 4,000 others in Poland this year.

Germany announced a $3 billion aid package for Ukraine, its biggest since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

SEE ALSO: A related video by VOA's Arash Arabasadi

Zelenskyy Visits Germany After Country Pledges Largest Yet Aid Package
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"Now is the time for us to determine the end of the war already this year, we can make the aggressor's defeat irreversible already this year," Zelenskyy said Sunday during a joint news conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.