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Russia unleashes its largest aerial attack of Ukraine to date

At least 20 civilians were killed as fighting has been bogged down after Ukraine's summer counteroffensive failed to make a significant breakthrough.
Russia unleashes its largest aerial attack of Ukraine to date
Posted at 7:10 AM, Dec 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-29 08:37:05-05

Russia launched 122 missiles and a score of drones against Ukrainian targets, officials said Friday, killing at least 20 civilians across the country in what an air force official said was the biggest aerial barrage of the war.

The Ukrainian air force intercepted most of the ballistic and cruise missiles and the Shahed-type drones overnight, said Ukraine’s military chief, Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk wrote on his official Telegram channel that it was “the most massive aerial attack” since Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022.

According to the Ukrainian air force, the previous biggest assault was in November 2022 when Russia launched 96 missiles against Ukraine. This year, the biggest was 81 missiles on March 9, air force records show.

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Western officials and analysts recently 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.

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 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.

At least 88 people were injured and an unknown number were buried under rubble during the roughly 18-hour onslaught, Ukrainian officials said. Among the buildings reported to be damaged across Ukraine were a maternity hospital, apartment blocks and schools.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Kremlin’s forces used a wide variety of weapons, including ballistic and cruise missiles.

“Today, Russia used nearly every type of weapon in its arsenal,” Zelenskyy said on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said Russia “apparently launched everything they have,” except for submarine-launched Kalibr missiles, in the attack.

The aerial attack that began Thursday and continued through the night hit six cities, including the capital, Kyiv, and other areas from east to west and north to south Ukraine, according to authorities.

Reports of deaths and damage came in from across the country.

Five people were killed and 20 injured in the eastern city of Dnipro where four maternity hospital patients were rescued from a fire, officials said.

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In Odesa, on the southern coast, falling drone wreckage started a fire at a multi-story residential building, according to the regional head, Oleh Kiper. Two people were killed and 15, including two children, were injured in the course of the Odesa attack, he said.

The mayor of the western city of Lviv, Andrii Sadovyi, said one person was killed and eight injured and three schools and a kindergarten were damaged in a drone attack in the region.

Several dozen missiles were launched towards Kyiv during the night, with more than 30 of them intercepted, said Serhii Popko, head of the Kyiv military administration. The attack started a fire at a warehouse in the capital’s Podil district where five people reportedly were pulled from the rubble. Three people were killed in the capital.

In northeastern Ukraine, Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said the city was subjected to at least three waves of aerial attacks overnight that included S-300 and Kh-21 missile launches. One person was killed and at least nine injured, officials said.


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