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'Lives are falling apart:' Kyiv residents shook by another mass missile attack

by Dinara Khalilova March 22, 2024 1:37 AM 6 min read
A man hugs a woman on the site of Russia's morning missile attack on March 21, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Tanya Dzafarowa/Suspilne Ukraine/JSC "UA: PBC"/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
by Dinara Khalilova March 22, 2024 1:37 AM 6 min read
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KYIV – Viktor Syrotyn was sleeping in his apartment near central Kyiv when the first powerful explosion rang out. He immediately woke up, ran into his children’s room, and covered his daughter with his body.

The next moment, he heard another explosion, even more powerful, with windows getting blown out of their frames into the room.

"That’s how our morning started," Syrotyn, 39, told the Kyiv Independent in a tired voice, showing the damage that the overnight Russian missile attack inflicted on his home.

In the small two-story building, built in the early 20th century, around half of the windows were shattered. "That’s where a fragment (of the missile) flew in," Syrotyn said, pointing to a hole left in his room’s window.

In the latest mass strike against Ukraine, Russia launched 31 missiles, two ballistic and 29 cruise ones, in the early morning of March 21, according to the Air Force. The attack mainly targeted Kyiv and the surrounding region. All the missiles were reportedly shot down.

Four people suffered injuries due to falling missile remains in Kyiv Oblast, where over 60 houses, five apartment buildings, and two educational institutions were damaged, according to the regional administration.

Debris from the missiles also fell in several locations across Kyiv, wounding 13 people, including a child, as well as damaging homes, enterprises, and other infrastructure, the city authorities said.

Firefighters are extinguishing a fire that broke out in a building after a Russian missile attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 21, 2024. (Tanya Dzafarowa/Suspilne Ukraine/JSC "UA: PBC"/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

In the capital’s Shevchenkivskyi district, where Syrotyn lives, the debris caused a fire in a six-story apartment building, prompting the evacuation of residents. Seven people were injured in this area, according to the Kyiv City Military Administration.

In the area, windows and doors of several residential buildings and a church nearby were shattered, while balconies and facade elements were crooked. Hours after the attack, in the early afternoon, local residents and business owners rushed in and out, taking out the glass and other litter from their properties. Many of their relatives and friends rushed to the site to help.

The authorities supplied the victims with thick plastic sheets and wooden panels to cover the shattered windows right on the spot. However, receiving state assistance in repairing the damage caused by the attack would require a much longer wait.

Rescuers and city utility workers remove the aftermath of a Russian missile attack on Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 21, 2024. (Vitalii Nosach/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

Dozens of first responders and utility workers were helping the residents and cleaning the street covered in glass. In the middle of the scene, a several-meter-wide crater showed how powerful the strike was.

Some people were wandering around, quietly observing the aftermath of the attack. An elderly woman who lives nearby came to see what happened to the building where her daughter went to a kindergarten a long time ago.

"It will all be restored," she told the Kyiv Independent, pointing at the damaged buildings and bursting into tears, "but people's lives are falling apart."

'We are all fatalists here'

Tetiana, a 42-year-old dentist who lives in her grandmother’s Soviet-style apartment, was not at home on the night of the attack. Now, she was collecting glass that was scattered in her home.

Tetiana said her relatives often worry about her living in this area as it is often targeted by Russian attacks. A key industrial facility that was hit multiple times throughout the full-scale invasion lies just two kilometers away.

When asked whether she thinks about moving to another district, Tetiana replies with an ironical smile, "We are all fatalists here, if it hits, it hits."

"Well, you see, God had mercy, I am alive and well."

Meanwhile, on the first floor of her building, a group of young, energetic-looking people were clearing the office of a dental clinic from the wreckage left by the attack.

The clinic’s head, Oleksandr Baido, told the Kyiv Independent that he planned to re-open the place, which now has holes instead of windows, already the next day.

Baido said he had received immense help from the community formed around the clinic and would not wait for the state's assistance in repairing the office.

"We have to keep working," said Baido, whose clinic provides free services to Ukrainian soldiers.

"I woke up in the corridor because of the explosions, me and my five and my kid, who’s eight months old. Then I got this call from the clinic saying that we have problems here. But I immediately thought — I’m alive and not injured, my wife and the clinic’s personnel too, so what else can you ask for?"

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'Every Ukrainian is suffering'

Not everyone was as optimistic as Baido.

A 64-year-old woman, Syrotyn’s neighbor, was sitting beside her building, looking shocked and lost. Valentyna told the Kyiv Independent that her family didn’t know what to do with their damaged apartment.

The main thing for them to figure out is how they would spend the next night in their windowless rooms without heating.

Valentyna said she woke up from a loud noise similar to that of a flying airplane and then saw a missile flying above.

"I moved away from the bed, and a second later, it hit, and everything fell from above," she said. "We jumped out into the corridor and didn’t know what to do; everyone was fussing, especially me; there was no light; it was dark."

"I feel so bad that you can’t imagine… But we are not the only ones suffering, every Ukrainian is suffering. It’s scary, very scary."

Note from the author:

Hi, this is Dinara Khalilova, the author of this article. While doing this field report for you, it was painful to see Kyiv residents having to go through the horror of Russian missile attacks yet again. But, at the same time, their courage and resilience were truly inspiring and I would be glad to know if you feel the same way. If you want to see more on-the-ground coverage like this, please consider becoming a member of the Kyiv Independent community.

With arrival of spring, a look at Russia’s winter strikes on Kyiv
In total, at least 45 people were killed in the capital, and more than 130 were wounded by Russian attacks over the winter of 2023-2024.

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