23 Apr 2024

Russian air strike takes out TV tower in Ukraine's Kharkiv, Zelensky says

10:39 am on 23 April 2024
A man walks amongst debis from the Kharkiv Television Tower, after officials reported a Russian strike on the tower, on the outskirts of Kharkiv on April 22, 2024. Photos and videos showed the top of the televion tower breaking off and grey smoke billowing from the structure after Kharkiv Governor Oleg Synegubov said in a social media post that Russia had hit a "television infrastructure facility." (Photo by SERGEY BOBOK / AFP)

A man walks amongst debis from the Kharkiv Television Tower, after officials reported a Russian strike on the tower, on the outskirts of Kharkiv on 22 April, 2024. Photo: SERGEY BOBOK / AFP

A Russian missile strike that broke in half a 240-metre television tower in Kharkiv is part of a deliberate effort by Moscow to make Ukraine's second largest city uninhabitable, President Volodymyr Zelensky says.

Dramatic footage obtained by Reuters showed the main mast of the television tower breaking off and falling to the ground in the city that has been pounded by missile and drone strikes for weeks.

The Ukrainian leader said he told US President Joe Biden about the airstrike that was carried out several minutes before they spoke by telephone.

"It is Russia's clear intention to make the city uninhabitable," he said in a readout of the call published on the Telegram messaging app.

This photograph taken on April 22, 2024 in Kharkiv shows debris from the damaged Kharkiv Television Tower after officials reported a Russian strike on the tower.

Debris from the damaged Kharkiv television tower after officials reported a Russian strike. Photo: AFP

Later, in his nightly video address, the president said the attack was "an obvious attempt at intimidation so that the terror was visible to the whole city and an attempt to limit Kharkiv's access to communication and information".

Close to the border

The northeastern city of Kharkiv with a population of 1.3 million lies just 30km from the Russian border, making it an easy target for ballistic missiles and other weapons as Ukraine's air defences have dwindled.

Its power facilities have been damaged particularly badly since Russia last month began targeting the energy system with massive strikes.

"At the moment there are interruptions to the digital television signal," regional governor Oleh Synehubov said.

There had been no casualties because its workers had taken shelter, he added.

Synehubov later reported a missile attack had triggered a fire at a poultry farm outside Kharkiv, but without casualties. And prosecutors said one person was killed in the shelling of a village southeast of the city.

Reuters footage filmed at the scene of the aftermath showed the collapsed section of the tower lying in a forested strip nearby. Buildings next to the tower had been badly damaged by falling debris.

Ruins of the tower lying in the forest park in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on 22 April, 2024.

Ruins of the tower lying in the forest park. Photo: AFP / NurPhoto

The Service for State Special Communications said the structure of the tower had been "partially damaged" in what prosecutors said appeared to have been a strike with a Kh-59 cruise missile.

It said there was "temporarily" no television signal and that they were working to restore it, urging residents of the city and region without digital television signal to use cable or online television or the radio.

The remains of the television tower in Kharkiv, Ukraine, 22 April 2024.

The strike the 240m television tower in half. Photo: AFP / NurPhoto

The footage obtained by Reuters did not capture the impact of a missile, but showed a cloud of smoke rise into the sky as the mast fell.

The video was verified by corroborating video from another angle showing the same moment the top of the tower collapsed.

Russia first attacked Kharkiv's television tower several times in early March 2022 soon after it launched its full-scale invasion. The signal was disrupted at the time.

Moscow has recently stepped up its attacks, while Ukraine is suffering a shortage of air defence capabilities. Kharkiv and the surrounding region have experienced the most intense strikes.

- Reuters