Russian missiles and drones hammered Kyiv on Tuesday morning, officials said, in a large-scale attack on the Ukrainian capital and other cities that killed at least five people and injured nearly 130 others, a day after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia promised to retaliate for a Ukrainian assault on a Russian city.
The barrage — which the Ukrainian Air Force said involved about 100 missiles, including hypersonic weapons that fly at several times the speed of sound — was the latest in an escalating cycle of air assaults between the two countries, as both sides look for ways to inflict damage away from the largely deadlocked front line.
Moscow claimed that Ukraine retaliated hours later on Tuesday, firing at least eight missiles on the Russian city of Belgorod. The attack killed one civilian and injured four others, according to the local governor. Later in the day, a strike hit the nearby town of Shebekino, the governor said, damaging an administrative building but causing no injuries.
The recent strikes against Ukraine may also be the start of another Russian air campaign against critical infrastructure. The Ukrainian authorities had warned for months that Russia was stockpiling high-precision missiles to pound cities once the weather turned cold in a repeat of last year’s bombing campaign. Experts believe that strategy is aimed at diminishing Ukrainian morale and weakening its military and industrial capacities.
Both sides have improved their air defenses in the past year, but they have also expanded their military capacity to hit targets away from the front lines. And as the past week’s cycle of strikes and counter-strikes escalates, Moscow and Kyiv are showing growing readiness to deploy these capabilities.