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Russia strikes Kyiv hours after Vladimir Putin rushed to Kremlin

·3 min read
Ukrainian rescue services pulled a seven-year-old girl from the damaged apartment building in Kyiv
Ukrainian rescue services pulled a seven-year-old girl from the damaged apartment building in Kyiv

Russian missiles hit an apartment block in central Kyiv for the first time since April on Sunday, hours after Vladimir Putin’s motorcade was seen speeding into the Kremlin late on Saturday night.

Ukrainian rescue services pulled a seven-year-old girl from the partly-destroyed building. Her father was reported to have been killed and her mother injured.

Residents were woken at dawn as four rockets hit the Artem industrial complex and an adjacent block of flats. A video posted on Twitter showed smoke billowing over the capital.

“I heard four explosions, the first not too loud, the last three very loud, rattling the windows,” said Oleg Bobkov, a 38-year-old construction worker who was in a nearby apartment block. “I fled down to the basement.”

The wail of missile sirens has become background noise in Kyiv over the past couple of months, with life returning to a semblance of normality after Russia shifted its focus to the eastern Donbas region hundreds of miles away.

Despite the damage to numerous apartment blocks and daily funerals for killed soldiers, thousands of people who fled the initial Russian invasion have returned to the capital.

Touring the site of the missile strike on Sunday, Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv’s mayor, accused Vladimir Putin of committing genocide.

“Vladimir Putin finds any reason to attack Kyiv,” he said. “Why does he want to kill civilians? It is genocide.”

A crater in the grounds of a kindergarten after the strike - Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters
A crater in the grounds of a kindergarten after the strike - Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters
An apartment block next to the Artem industrial complex was hit - Julian Simmonds/For The Telegraph
An apartment block next to the Artem industrial complex was hit - Julian Simmonds/For The Telegraph
Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, visits the area after the strike - Julian Simmonds/For The Telegraph
Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, visits the area after the strike - Julian Simmonds/For The Telegraph

Video footage from Moscow, reportedly shot at 11pm on Saturday, showed Putin’s motorcade of six black cars speeding through empty Moscow streets and into the Kremlin. The reason for the late-night trip was unclear.

Earlier that day, he had met key ally Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president, and promised to send him missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Some analysts suggested Sunday’s missile attack on Kyiv may have been in retaliation for the delivery of high-precision rockets to Ukraine from the West, which reportedly arrived a few days ago.

Russian missiles also hit targets north of Kyiv on Saturday, and there were reports of further strikes on Sunday. Russia’s defence ministry said it had hit Ukrainian military training centres.

The Artem factory, a sprawling office block and machine plant, was built in Soviet times and has manufactured missiles.

However, locals said the building now serves mainly as the company’s corporate headquarters, and that it diversified into civilian electronics manufacturing long ago.

When the complex was last hit in late April, the attack appeared to be timed to coincide with a visit to Kyiv by Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general.