Hours after the Kremlin warned residents of Kyiv that it was going to hit targets in the city, an airstrike hit the Kyiv TV Tower, disrupting the flow of information inside Ukraine.
Video footage of the explosions shows the tower still standing, but the attack succeeded in disrupting television and radio broadcasts in the city. The Kyiv Independent reported that “channels stopped broadcasting” moments after the blast.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine confirmed the tower had been hit and posted a message on its official Telegram channel to inform citizens that “TV channels will not work for some time. Backup broadcast channels will come online in the near future.”
Moments after the strike, there were reports of another explosion seen close to the same location. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted that this second explosion hit the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center and killed five people.
The explosions in central Kyiv came just 90 minutes after the Kremlin issued a warning that it was preparing “high-precision strikes” against “technological centers of the Ukrainian Security Service and the 72nd main PsyOps center in Kyiv.” The Kremlin claimed the attacks were designed to prevent “information attacks” on Russia, and urged people near the sites to leave the area.
“We urge Ukrainian citizens… as well as Kyiv residents residing near relay stations to leave their homes,” Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian defense ministry, said.
The TV tower, built in 1973, is, at 385 meters high, the second tallest free-standing lattice tower in the world and was originally designed to be located in Moscow.
The attack on the TV tower appears to be part of a concerted effort by invading Russian forces to disrupt the free flow of information both inside Ukraine and to the wider world.
Alp Toker, the director of Netblocks, a digital advocacy group that tracks internet outages globally, told VICE News that Tuesday’s attack on the tower didn’t appear to have affected internet service in the Ukrainian capital.
Within hours of the invasion beginning last week, a significant number of users in the country’s second-largest city of Kharkiv lost internet access. While Russia is likely to continue to target TV, phone, and internet infrastructure within the country, there are efforts underway to bolster Ukraine’s communications infrastructure.
To counter Russia’s efforts, Ukraine appealed to SpaceX founder Elon Musk to send his terminals for his Starlink satellite internet service to the country. On Monday the country’s vice president tweeted to say the terminals had arrived.
Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.