A day after Volodymyr Zelensky said war was “returning to Russia” with an attempted drone strike on Moscow, the Kremlin launched a deadly airstrike against the Ukrainian president’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih.
At least six people were killed, including a 5-year-old girl, and dozens of others were wounded when a pair of ballistic missiles struck a school building and residential tower in the central Ukrainian city.
Zelensky said more than 350 people were involved in the rescue operation. Emergency services personnel were still searching for survivors under the rubble as of Monday afternoon.
Residents said there were no air raid sirens before the missiles struck and took out significant portions of two buildings. Some said they had little time to scramble for cover.
“This time, we did not have time to orient ourselves,” Kryvyi Rih resident Natalia Balaba said. “My husband was in the corridor, he was knocked down by the wave.”
Balaba said all the windows in their apartment had been shattered and damage lay everywhere.
“We were very frightened, we were in great shock,” she said.
It’s unclear why Russia targeted Kryvyi Rih. Ukrainian officials said there were no military targets nearby. The head of the local defense council, Oleksandr Vilkul called the bombardment a “terrorist attack.”
Russia carried out a similar attack on the city in June, killing 11 people.
The Russian Ministry of Defense has not commented on the situation in Kryvyi Rih. Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilian infrastructure, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
On Monday, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the Kremlin would intensify its attacks in response to Kyiv’s attempted drone strikes against Moscow the previous day that damaged a business and shopping development in the west of the capital.
Hours later, Zelensky said Ukraine “is getting stronger, and the war is gradually returning to Russia’s territory, to its symbolic centers and military bases.”
“This is an inevitable, natural, and absolutely fair process,” Zelensky said.
A spokesman for Ukraine’s Air Force said Kyiv was targeting Moscow to impact Russians who, since the invasion began in February 2022, felt the war was distant.
Early Tuesday, a Moscow building that was previously struck in the weekend drone strikes was hit again, according to the city’s Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.
“Several drones that were trying to fly into Moscow were shot down by [our] air defense. One flew into the same tower in [Moscow] city as last time. The facade at the 17th floor was damaged,” the mayor said.
Shoigu and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov both said Ukraine’s attempted drone strikes on Moscow were meant to deflect from a purported lack of success on the battlefield.
“Against the backdrop of an unsuccessful so-called counteroffensive, the Kyiv regime – with the support of Western sponsors – focused on carrying out terrorist attacks on civilian infrastructure in the cities and towns of the Russian Federation,” Shoigu said.
No casualties were reported in the attempted Moscow drone strikes. However, Russian bombardments in Ukraine have struck civilian homes, schools, hospitals, churches and power plants, killing thousands of bystanders in the process.
CNN’s Anna Chernova, Maria Kostenko and Joshua Berlinger contributed to this report.