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Russian missile and drone strikes across Ukraine claim at least 18 lives

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Russian missile strikes on two Ukrainian cities have killed at least 19 people. That's according to Ukrainian authorities. It's the first large-scale attack in Ukraine in about two months. The missiles hit high-rise apartment buildings and a warehouse. Ukraine says it will investigate the attacks as war crimes. NPR's Joanna Kakissis has this report from Kyiv.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: Most of the dead are in the city of Uman, south of Kyiv. A Russian missile hit a nine-story apartment building while most people were sleeping.

(SOUNDBITE OF MISSILE EXPLODING)

KAKISSIS: A video posted to Telegram by local residents showed flashes in the night and the sound of explosions. Ukraine's interior minister, Ihor Klymenko, spoke to a TV station while standing in front of a damaged apartment building still smoldering from the missile attack. The connection was bad as he spoke.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

IHOR KLYMENKO: (Non-English language spoken).

KAKISSIS: He said that a cruise missile struck the building early this morning, destroying more than half of the apartment and burying residents in rubble. He said a child was among the dead. Uman is far from the front line and has rarely been the target of Russian attacks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KLYMENKO: (Through interpreter) Security services have opened a criminal investigation. Forensic specialists are coming from Kyiv to help document this war crime as soon as possible.

KAKISSIS: Local officials said Russian forces also struck a nearby warehouse. The Russian military also hit a residential area in the central city of Dnipro, killing a 31-year-old woman and a 2-year-old child. The capital, Kyiv, was also targeted in today's attacks. But Ukrainian officials say air defenses shot down those missiles and drones and none did any damage.

Joanna Kakissis, NPR News, Kyiv.

(SOUNDBITE OF CLOGS' "5/4") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joanna Kakissis is a foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she reports poignant stories of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.