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An explosion rocked Russia’s southern port city of Taganrog, injuring several people and causing damage on a scale Russians are unaccustomed to enduring at home 18 months into its full-blown invasion of Ukraine.
Hours later, Russian missiles struck a high-rise residential building and the regional office of Ukraine’s domestic security service, the SBU, in the city of Dnipro. Authorities said nine people, including two children aged 14 and 17, were wounded in the attack.
Dnipro Mayor Borys Filatov said it was the third time the SBU building had been targeted by Russian missiles.
Videos from the scenes showed large sections of the buildings collapsed and rescuers searching for people in the rubble.
“Russian missile terror again,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram, adding that he had called a meeting of his top military and security officials.
Kyiv has not commented on the Taganrog strike and its policy is to neither confirm nor deny attacks within Russia. The Russian defence ministry claimed the explosion was the result of its air defences intercepting a Ukrainian missile on Friday, with debris from the downed rocket destroying a café and museum courtyard in the city centre.
A second missile was shot down over the Rostov region by air defences soon after, Russian authorities said, with debris landing outside the city of Azov across the bay from Taganrog.
The strike follows a week of Russian missile and drone attacks on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, including Odesa, following Moscow’s withdrawal from the UN-brokered grain export deal.
Ukraine has hit targets inside Russia before, mainly with drones. Cases of sabotage of military supply sites such as oil terminals by partisan groups have also been attributed to Ukraine, while artillery fire has landed in Russian settlements close to the Ukrainian border.
Taganrog is located deeper in the southern Rostov region, about 50km from the border with Russian-occupied areas of southern Ukraine, and nearly 150km away from the frontline. A military air base used by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine is located on the outskirts of the city.
Thousands of Ukrainians from the country’s south-east were sent to camps in Taganrog in spring of 2022, as Russian forces laid siege to the city of Mariupol.
Videos shared on social media showed a ruined building and rubble scattered in the yard of Taganrog’s art museum, as well as a damaged café named after the playwright Anton Chekhov, who was born in the city. The strike gouged a deep crater in the museum yard and windows were blown out in a nearby apartment block.
“Rescuers are working at the site. There are no casualties,” Rostov governor Vasily Golubev wrote on social media. “Four people received light injuries from broken glass.” Later he added that nine people were hospitalised.
“Suddenly it hit, the windows flew out,” a chef working at the café told Russia’s Izvestia newspaper. “Dirt, shrapnel. Four people from the kitchen got cuts, a girl was cut. Three people who had been deafened were brought here.”
The second strike deployed “a S-200 air defence missile that had been converted to strike mode”, the Russian defence ministry said. “Russian air defences intercepted the Ukrainian missile near the city of Azov. The wreckage of the downed missile fell in a deserted area.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said President Vladimir Putin had been informed of the incident. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Russia reserved the right to “take tough retaliatory measures” after the explosion.