- Cruise missiles were launched in several cities – the Air Force of Ukraine
- Ukraine shot down 54 of 69 missiles
- 3 injured in explosions in Kiev – Mayor
- Russia’s Lavrov says Ukrainian peace plan is an “illusion”.
KYIV, Dec 29 (Reuters) – Russia launched a barrage of missiles into Ukraine early on Thursday, targeting the capital Kyiv and other cities in the west, including Lviv and Odessa, in one of its largest aerial bombardments, sending people rushing to shelters. power
“Senseless barbarism. These are the only things that come to mind when we see Russia launch yet another missile attack on peaceful Ukrainian cities before the New Year,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.
Ukraine’s military said it shot down 54 of the 69 missiles fired by Russia in the attack, which began at 7 a.m. local time. Air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine and in Kiev for five hours – one of the longest alarms of the war.
Officials previously said more than 120 missiles were fired at Ukraine during the attack.
In Kiev, Reuters footage showed teams of emergency workers digging through the smoldering ruins of residential homes, where missiles had exploded in the sky above the capital and plumes of smoke.
Firefighters battle a major fire at a power plant in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.
In the south central city of Zaporizhzhia, houses were damaged and a missile left a large crater.
“I woke up to everything shaking and crashing. I woke up and said, ‘Vidya, Vidya (my husband), where are you?’ I ran barefoot over the glass and he appeared and the glass was falling,” said Halina, a 60-year-old local resident.
Ukraine’s military said Russia launched air- and sea-based cruise missiles, anti-aircraft guided missiles and the S-300 ADMS at energy infrastructure facilities in the eastern, central, western and southern regions. The attacks followed an overnight attack by ‘kamikaze’ drones.
A wave of Russian airstrikes in recent months targeting energy infrastructure has left millions without electricity and heat in often freezing temperatures.
“The enemy prepared for this attack for two weeks and put a lot of effort into this attack. The Ukrainian Air Defense Forces have demonstrated an incredible level of skill and competence,” Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denis Shmyhal said on the Telegram messaging app.
“At the same time, there were impacts and damages, especially in energy facilities. In some areas, emergency shutdowns may be used to avoid accidents in the networks. Our electrical engineers are already working to repair everything,” he added.
The latest outburst came sharply against the backdrop of the Kremlin’s rejection of a Ukrainian peace plan, insisting that Kyiv accept Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions.
Kyiv officials said two private houses in Darnytsky district were damaged by shrapnel from downed missiles, and a business and a playground were damaged. Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said 16 missiles were shot down and three people were injured in the attack.
The mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadovy, said in a telegram that 90% of his city near the Polish border was without power. The missiles damaged the energy infrastructure sector.
Fragments of a missile hit a residential building in the southwestern Odesa region, but there were no casualties, said its governor, Maxim Marchenko.
Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians, but Ukraine says its daily bombardment is destroying towns, cities and the country’s power, medical and other infrastructure.
For months, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been asking the West for air defense assistance.
Belarus’ state-run Belda news agency published a photo of a downed Ukrainian S-300 missile in Belarus on Thursday, parts of it lying on vacant land.
Minsk was investigating whether its air defense systems shot down the rocket or whether it was a misfire. The incident happened at a time when Russia was firing missiles at Ukraine.
In Russia, air defense forces shot down a drone near Engels Air Force Base, hundreds of kilometers from the front line in Ukraine. Russia says Ukraine has already tried to attack the base twice this month.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what President Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation” to militarize his neighbor. Kiev and its Western allies have denounced Russia’s actions as an imperialist-style land grab.
Russia has been hit with heavy sanctions for the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people, driven millions from their homes, left cities in ruins and rocked the global economy, driving up energy and food prices.
There is still no chance of talks to end the war.
Zelensky has been actively promoting a 10-point peace plan that would see Russia respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and withdraw all its troops.
But Moscow rejected that on Wednesday, reiterating that Kyiv must accept four oblasts — Luhansk and Donetsk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south — for Russian annexation. It also says Ukraine must accept the loss of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.
“With the entry of four regions into Russia, there cannot be any peace plan that does not take into account today’s realities regarding Russian territory,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Zelensky’s idea of forcing Russia out of eastern Ukraine and Crimea with Western help and forcing Moscow to compensate Kiev was an “illusion,” RIA news agency reported.
Additional reporting by the Reuters TV team in Zaporizhia and other Reuters bureaus by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Gareth Jones
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