At least 24 killed across Ukraine as Russia unleashes war’s ‘biggest air attack’ after warship humiliation

By Isaac M December 29, 2023

At least 24 people were killed and dozens injured as Russia on Friday unleashed one of its biggest missile attacks of the war on Ukraine so far, targeting critical infrastructure, industry, and military facilities.

Russia targeted Ukraine with 158 drones and missiles overnight, Ukraine’s army chief wrote on Telegram, adding that it was “the most massive attack from the air” of the war so far.

“Russia attacked with everything it has in its arsenal… Approximately 110 missiles were fired, most of which were shot down,” president Volodymyr Zelensky said.

According to news agency AP at least 24 civilians have been killed but the exact number of fatalities remains unclear

Ten people in Kyiv were trapped under rubble at a warehouse damaged by falling debris, the city’s military administration said. A maternity ward was damaged in the city of Dnipro, but no casualties were reported, the governor said.

“Today, millions of Ukrainians awoke to the loud sound of explosions. I wish those sounds of explosions in Ukraine could be heard all around the world,” foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said, calling for Kyiv’s allies to step up their support.

Russia also attacked the cities of Lviv, Kharkiv, and eastern Dnipro using hypersonic, ballistic and cruise missiles, including the extremely hard-to-intercept X-22 type, Ukrainian air forces said.

Firefighters work on a site of a building damaged after a Russian attack in Kyiv, Ukraine

(AP)

Air defence systems were engaged in Kyiv after multiple explosions set fire to residential buildings and warehouses, prompting authorities to announce a missile threat.

Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk suggested the strike was Russia’s largest aerial barrage since the February 2022 invasion, describing it on Telegram as “the most massive attack from the air”.

Army chief General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said the attack targeted critical infrastructure and industrial and military facilities. There was no immediate comment from Russia.

The Energy Ministry reported power outages in the regions of southern Odesa, northeastern Kharkiv, central Dnipropetrovsk and central Kyiv.

Five people were killed in the central region of Dnipropetrovsk where missiles hit a shopping centre, a privately-held home and a six-storey residential building.

One person was confirmed dead at a warehouse in Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said, revising down an earlier toll of two. Residential buildings and an uninhabited building were also hit, a senior military official said.

Three people were killed in the Black Sea port city of Odesa and at least 15 were wounded, including two children, as missiles hit residential buildings, the regional governor said

Kharkiv in the northeast was rocked by 22 Russian strikes, which damaged a hospital, residential buildings and an industrial facility, according to the local authorities.

An explosion of a missile is seen during a Russian missile and drone strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine

(REUTERS)

One person was killed in a damaged multi-storey residential building in the city of Lviv, the regional governor said. Three schools and a kindergarten were also damaged, the mayor said.

In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, a missile strike damaged a warehouse, industrial facility, a medical facility and a transport depot, the regional governor said. One person was killed and 11 other were injured, he said.

Missiles hit several infrastructure facilities in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia and one person was killed, the interior minister said.

Air raid alerts were also issued in other parts of the country, including Khmelnytskyi, Rivne and Lutsk, local media reported.

Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal said Russia targetted social and critical infrastructure in a major missile and drone strike on Ukraine.

The energy ministry reported power outages in four regions after the air attack amid fears of Russian strikes pounding power grids this winter.

Rescuer work at the site damaged by the debris of a downed drone in Odesa, Ukraine

(via REUTERS)

The air attacks took place just days after “completely furious” Vladimir Putin reportedly ordered raids to retaliate against the destruction of a Russian warship in the occupied Crimean port of Feodosia.

Footage shared by the Ukrainian air force showed a 10-metre-high fireball erupting from the area where the 110-metre-long Novocherkassk ship was located.

Ukraine has been warning for weeks that Russia could be stockpiling missiles to launch a major air attack on the energy system. Last year millions of people were plunged into darkness when Russian strikes pounded the power grid.

The Ukrainian air force said it intercepted 87 of the missiles and 27 of the Shahed-type drones overnight, Mr Zaluzhnyi said.

Fighting along the front line is largely bogged down by winter weather after Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive failed to make a significant breakthrough along the roughly 1,000km (620-mile) line of contact.

Ukrainian officials have urged the country’s Western allies to provide it with more air defenses to protect itself against aerial attacks like Friday’s one. Their appeals have come as signs of war fatigue strain efforts to keep support in place.

Western officials and analysts have warned that Russia had limited its cruise missile strikes in recent months in an apparent effort to build up stockpiles for massive strikes during the winter, hoping to break the Ukrainians’ spirit.

The fresh bout of far-reaching attacks, nearly two years into Russia’s war, comes as Mr Zelensky expressed his gratitude to the US for releasing the last remaining package of weapons available for the battered country under the existing authorisation.

“I thank president Joe Biden, Congress, and the American people for the $250m military aid package announced yesterday,” Mr Zelensky said on social media.

On Friday, an unidentified aerial object entered the airspace of Poland from the direction of the border with Ukraine, the Polish army’s Operational Command said.

“In the morning, an unidentified aerial object entered the airspace of the Republic of Poland from the side of the border with Ukraine, and from the moment it crossed the border until the signal disappeared, it was observed by the radars of the country’s air defence system”, the operational command said on social media platform X.

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