- By Hugo Bachega in Kiev & Kathryn Armstrong in London
- BBC news
The Ukrainian capital Kiev has been hit by further Russian airstrikes, described by one official as “exceptional in density”.
Ukraine said all 18 missiles were shot down and footage showed air defenses destroying targets over the city.
At least three people were wounded during the barrage, which used both drones and missiles, officials said.
Russia has stepped up its air campaign in recent weeks ahead of an expected Ukrainian offensive in the south.
The air raid alarm sounded around 02:30 local time (23:30 GMT Monday) and was lifted two hours later in the eighth attack to hit the capital this month.
An unusually high number of loud explosions were heard in the city center as authorities told residents in online messages that the air force had been activated.
The head of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valerii Zaluzhny, said Russia attacked Kyiv from the north, south and east and that 18 air, sea and land-based missiles had been used.
Serhiy Popko, head of the Ukrainian capital’s military administration, described the barrage as the “maximum number of attack missiles in the shortest period of time”.
“According to preliminary information, the vast majority of enemy targets in the airspace of Kiev were detected and destroyed,” he added.
Residents of Kiev were warned to stay away from windows as debris from intercepted missiles fell from the sky.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko said rocket debris had fallen in central districts, including in the city’s zoo. No animals or workers were harmed.
The Solomyansky district, which includes the international airport, is said to have been hardest hit.
Sir. Popko said a fire that broke out in a non-residential home in the district has since been extinguished.
Russia’s resumption of attacks on Kiev earlier this month came after a pause of more than 50 days. The Ukrainian authorities believe that Moscow’s strategy is to exhaust the air defense systems, which have been very successful in intercepting most of the missiles and drones launched.
In the past few days, President Volodymyr Zelensky has been on a European tour where he has been promised multibillion-dollar military equipment by Western allies, including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, thousands of civilians and combatants have been killed or injured, towns and cities have been destroyed in fighting, and nearly 8.2 million Ukrainians have been registered as refugees in Europe, with 2.8 million of them in Russia.