The morning routine on Jan. 23 of the residents of an apartment complex in a western suburb of Kyiv was violently disrupted by a Russian missile strike.
Missile debris landed a few dozen meters from a children's playground in the complex, damaging two stories of a new high-rise residential building and causing a fire in a parking lot.
Hours after the 7 a.m. attack, some residents stood outside the building, horrified by the thought of what could have happened if the destroyed apartments were already inhabited by people. Since the building is new, some of the apartments remain vacant.
“I thought that was it, it was the end,” said Iryna Barinova, who lives in the nearby building, and saw the immediate result of the Russian attack from her window.
“I just closed my eyes,” she went on in a trembling voice, covering her face with her hands.
“I first thought it was flying toward our building.”
On the morning of Jan. 23, Russia launched a massive missile attack on Ukraine, killing at least nine people and injuring over 80, officials said. At least 22 people, including four children, suffered injuries in Kyiv alone, according to the State Emergency Service.
Overall, Russia launched 41 primarily ballistic missiles at Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, and Sumy oblasts. Ukraine’s Air Force reported to have shot down 21 of them.
The massive attack follows a series of Russian strikes against cities across Ukraine that have intensified this winter. A previous attack of a similar scale took place on Jan. 2, when Russia launched 99 missiles at Kyiv, Kyiv Oblast, and Kharkiv, killing five and injuring 130 people.
When the strike hit the western suburb of Kyiv, Barinova’s neighbor, Mykola Mamai, was outside. Mamai, who lives on the ninth floor, went outside after hearing explosions to shelter in the arch between high-rise buildings. While he was standing there, missile debris hit the nearby building.
“The fire was crazy,” he told the Kyiv Independent. “I tried to come closer, but the fire was burning my face, and I felt like I was suffocating because of the smoke so I stepped back.”
Multiple residents of the apartment complex told the Kyiv Independent that following the attack they saw the warhead of a Russian missile on the ground that they believe hadn’t exploded. According to the witnesses, the Ukrainian military soon arrived at the site and took away the warhead along with the debris. Without specifying the location, the State Emergency Service reported that one of the missiles Russia fired at Ukraine didn’t explode.
“Thank God the warhead didn’t explode. If it did there would have been a massive ditch instead of our apartment complex,” Pavlo Rozma wrote in a public group chat with residents of the complex. He said he was at home with his wife and a newborn child during the attack.
As the residents discussed the morning attack in the chat, many left messages expressing gratitude to the neighbors who rushed to put out the fire in the parking lot and tried to save the cars.
According to locals, five cars burnt down, but others were saved.
“Neighbors, guys, who helped to push my blue Toyota away from fire – I am so thankful! I bow my head for your bravery when there was fire and danger,” said resident Alina in the chat.