This week, Russia launched its most devastating attack on Kyiv since the invasion of Ukraine in February, killing and injuring some of those still in the capital, and crippling vital infrastructure.
The toll of the attack, and the panic which ensued, is brought into sharp focus in the latest edition of the Sky News Ukraine War Diaries podcast.
“There were seven bombs, seven missiles and seven hits that I heard,” explains Ilyas Verdiev, who watched the attack unfold from his apartment in the centre of the Ukrainian capital.
“I saw the smoke rising up from the buildings… some people don’t have electricity. Some people don’t have water.”
“The missile hit the road and crossed not far away from the kindergarten where my son used to go,” he continues. “Fortunately, I’m happy that they are [away] now and they don’t have to to witness this.”
Verdiev’s wife and two sons escaped to Poland in the days immediately following the Russian invasion. And because Kyiv has not suffered on the scale of other Ukrainian cities, the attack has brought its own emotional escalation.
“All you want is for them to die,” says Verdiev. “It’s just hate. It’s not even hate. It’s even more than hate. Or it’s just another stage.”
Officials now say at least 80 Russian missiles struck targets across Ukraine.
The Monday morning attack followed the bombing of the Kerch Bridge, which links Crimea with the Russian mainland – a vital supply line for Moscow’s war effort.
By coincidence, fellow Kyiv resident and Ukraine War Diaries contributor, Oksana Koshel, had departed the capital hours before on a bus to Warsaw, only to drive into the radius of further strikes.
“I woke up and I started browsing the news, and actually all of the cities that my bus passed along the way to the Polish border, they were all under attack,” she explains. “And I had this little thought, you know, just for a split a second that I really wouldn’t want, you know, a bomb to find me somewhere on route to another place.”
The mass missile strike is seen as a significant escalation on the part of Russia, an attempt by Moscow to score a significant military success after Ukrainian counter-offensives in the east and south of the country.
“It’s always more upsetting seeing the reactions of ordinary Russian people,” continues Oksana. “They’re like, ‘yeah, finally, like, wipe Kiev off the face of Earth. Kill [all] of the Ukrainians.’
“Somebody asked me, does it feel like the first day of the war? And I said, yes, the bombings. But we are completely different now. The main difference is that we are not afraid anymore.”
From the creators of Sky News’ award-winning StoryCast, Ukraine War Diaries is a weekly podcast following those living on Europe’s new frontline, and those who have escaped it.
Producer: Robert Mulhern
Digital promotion and additional writing: David Chipakupaku