Russia launched a massive barrage of missiles toward the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Tuesday, but Ukrainian forces say they managed to shoot down all 18 missiles before they hit their targets.
While Ukraine has typically been able to deflect most missiles in a Russian attack, it has rarely reported a perfect success rate. Tuesday’s defense comes after Kyiv has been bolstered by further air defenses from the U.S. and other Western countries.
Russian forces launched the missiles from land, air and sea, creating an attack that was “exceptional in its density — the maximum number of attacking missiles in the shortest period of time,” according to Serhii Popko, the head of the Kyiv military administration.
Ukrainian forces tracked six ballistic missiles fired from MiG-31K aircraft, as well as nine cruise missiles launched from the Black Sea, and three more land-launched missiles.
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No casualties were reported in the capital, though city officials said falling debris did start fires.
Many people inside the city during the barrage recounted a harrowing experience, nonetheless, with loud booms echoing across the city throughout the night and early morning on Tuesday.
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“A full on aerial attack on Kyiv last night, pretty intense. Bangs and shaking walls are not an easy night. Hope everyone is ok,” wrote Melinda Simmons, the U.K. ambassador to Ukraine.
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Tuesday’s defense comes as Ukraine is widely expected to launch a spring counteroffensive in the coming weeks. Ukraine claimed on Friday it had recaptured ground in Bakhmut in a rare and significant shift in the war-ravaged region, but the move was not part of a larger offensive.
The city of Bakhmut has for months seen some of the most intense fighting of the war, with Wagner mercenaries opposing Ukrainian forces.
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The fighting grew so intense and costly for Wagner earlier this year that the group’s chief, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, reportedly offered to detail Russian troop positions in exchange for Ukraine backing down from the area.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.