Ice Hockey Arena in East Ukraine Destroyed by Russian Strikes, Officials Say

An ice hockey arena in the east Ukrainian city of Druzhkivka was destroyed by Russian shelling late on Monday, January 2, according to Ukrainian officials.

This footage, released by Donetsk regional authorities on Tuesday, shows the aftermath of the strikes at the Altair ice arena in the center of Druzhkivka.

Speaking in the video is Dmytro Kirdyapkin, the head of police in Druzhkivka, who says three missiles struck the Altair ice arena in the center of the city, according to a Google translation of a Ukrainian subtitles provided by Donetsk regional government.

Around 20 private homes were also damaged in the barrage and one person was injured, Kirdyapkin said.

The strikes also damaged a hotel, a bus station, a church, and farm buildings, according to authorities.

The arena was the home of HC Donbass, an ice hockey club that had already been forced to relocate twice due to Russian hostilities in the region. In 2014, its home stadium in Donetsk, the Druzhba Arena, was looted and destroyed by a fire, prompting the club to move its games to the Mariupol Ice Center and then to the Altair arena in Druzhkivka, the club said in a statement on its website.

Fedor Ilyenko, the club’s general manager, wrote on Facebook that he had been left “emotionally numb” after the strikes. The arena was “more than just a building,” Ilyenko wrote, according to a Google translation, as it had hosted “hundreds of children’s competitions, dozens of international tournaments” and was home to the “largest hockey and figure-skating school in Ukraine.”

In his daily evening address on Tuesday evening, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky described the attack as an act of terrorism against the local community.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said its strikes on Druzhkivka had destroyed a stockpile of military equipment near Druzhkivka’s train station that included two US-made HIMARS rocket launchers, four Czech-made RM-70 ‘Vampire’ rocket launchers, more than 800 rockets, and six cars. The ministry also said up to 120 Ukrainian service members were killed in the shelling.

Storyful could not independently verify the details in Russia’s report.

In a statement, The Ukrainian Hockey Federation (FHU) said the arena was “completely empty” and could not be deemed a military target. It also accused two local officials of sabotaging plans the FHU had made months earlier to remove large equipment from the arena.

The FHU said the Altair was the fifth ice arena to be destroyed since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, following attacks on the Druzhba Arena in Donetsk in 2014, the Mariupol Ice Center in March 2022, the Saltivsky complex in Kharkiv in April, and the Sports Palace in Sievierodonetsk in June.

Druzhkivka was one of several cities in Donetsk Oblast targeted by Russian strikes on Monday night, police said. In Kramatorsk, a few miles north of Druzhkivka, Russian shelling killed a police officer and left numerous homes damaged or destroyed, officials said. Credit: Donetsk Regional State Adminstration via Storyful