Kyiv: CCTV shows a blast next to pedestrian bridge
With bombs hitting Kyiv in the early hours of this morning, a US man said he would have been among the victims – had he left his home just 20 minutes earlier. Former US Marine John Sennett, 57, who is originally from New Jersey, moved to the Ukrainian capital with his wife Natasha in November 2020, where they now live with their dog Philly, named after John’s beloved Philadelphia Eagles.
He told Express.co.uk: “They hit when I was just out with coming out with the dog at around eight-ish, 8.05am.
“The ground shook but the ground has shaken before and I was like, ‘Well, they probably didn’t hit anywhere close to us’.
“So we went towards our normal path, which takes us up to Taras Shevchenko Boulevard. I saw a bunch of people running that way and thought ‘oh what’s this?’
“And when I got up there, I saw that it had hit right on the route where I usually take the dog, either me or the wife, today it was my day. And so I walked as close as I could get and saw the damage.
“There was one car which I assumed had bodies in it and they had put some sort of barriers in the windows so people wouldn’t be gawking.”
Kyiv: A missile hit in the centre of the city this morning
Kyiv missile attack: John Sennett said he and his wife were braced for more
Reflecting on his lucky escape, Mr Sennett, who moved to Ukraine with his wife so they could be closer to her parents in Belarus, said: “Shevchenko Park is this green area in the centre of Kyiv and it is really convenient to walk your dog.
“I would usually come home on Voldymyrska Street, which is right where it hit.
“The windows were blown out, the cars were on fire, there was debris everywhere.
“There were people who had come out of their offices with some blood on their faces.”
Mr Sennett added: “I took my time and finished the walk with the dog – I didn’t want to alarm my wife because she just knew that it struck in our district.
Philly pictured in home, just 600 yards from where the missile struck
“I wanted to give her time to process it before I got home and then I got home and I showed her the photos and obviously that was an emotional time.
“The thing is she almost always takes that route when she walks the dog in the morning so she might have been there right when the missile struck.”
Asked about the mood in the city currently, Mr Sennett said: “It’s become very quiet there are not many people on the streets right now, there’s not many cars out on the streets, A lot of people are in the shelters already.
“It’s gone back to what it was like on February 25, it’s become very quiet very quickly.”
Mr Sennett admitted residents of Kyiv were bracing themselves for more attacks.
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Kyiv: Broken glass in the street
Kyiv missile attack: Blown-in windows of a cafe
He explained: “The Russians do they have a pattern where they usually hit between like 5am and 10am when people are sleeping, or are just getting up and going to work.
“So we expect that if we’re going to get hit again it’s going to be tomorrow morning.
“It looks like an act of desperation, it’s looked like an act of desperation for months now.
“As a former US Marine so like, to me, just not a war, it’s mass murder.
“They are afraid I think to fight the Ukrainians because the Ukrainians are routing them.
Kyiv missile attack: Mr Sennett narrowly missed being caught in the blast
“It would be really nice to know to be quite honest with you how much he has left as far as long range missiles go, because like, you know, they shot I think somewhere around 75 to 83 this morning, and they said they shot down 41 or 42 of them.
“How many does he how much of that stuff does he have left in his arsenal to continue to hit civilian infrastructure?”
As for whether Mr Sennett’s plans for the future, he said: “We’re gonna have to kind of see how things play out the next couple of days.
“We haven’t left yet and we’ve stayed the whole time since February.
“But this really hit close to home. Previously the closest thing that was hit was maybe six kilometres away. This was is literally 600 metres from the house.”
Kyiv missile attack: Smoke billows across Taras Shevchenko Boulevard
British Security Minister Tom Tugendhat today branded the strikes on Ukrainian cities “war crimes” while Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said they were “unacceptable”.
Apart from Ukraine, there were also reports of explosions in Dnipro, Lviv, Ternopil, Khmelnytskyi, Zhytomyr and Kropyvnytskyi.
The timing of the attacks suggests they were a response to Ukraine’s strike against the Kerch Bridge, the crossing between Russia and annexed Crimea which has both strategic and symbolic importance.
Russian President Mr Putin called the attack “a terrorist act” masterminded by Ukrainian special services.
BBC journalist Hugo Bachega was broadcasting live in Kyiv when the attack happened, with the sound of a missile overhead and subsequent explosion captured on his microphone.