Russian forces pounded mostly civilian targets in Ukraine with the largest missile and drone barrage of the 22-month invasion, killing at least 26 people, days after Moscow blamed Kyiv for a strike on a military ship in Crimea.
The bombardment hit homes, schools, a shopping mall and a maternity center, among other targets, and sparked international condemnation. A stray missile briefly entered the airspace of neighboring Poland, a NATO and European Union member. The UK said it would shore up Ukraine’s air defenses in the wake of the attack.
The most recent strikes on a similar scale happened in November 2022 when Russia fired nearly 100 missiles as part of repeated attempts to damage Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. This time little harm was reported to the power grid.
Ukraine’s air defense downed 114 out of 158 aerial targets overnight into Friday, commander-in-chief General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said on Telegram. The strikes involved more than 120 missiles, 87 of which were downed, he said.
The attacks resumed in the afternoon, when missiles hit 12 residential buildings in the small town of Smila in the central Cherkasy region, injuring six, local governor Ihor Taburets said on Telegram.
“We will certainly respond to terrorist strikes,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on X, formerly Twitter. The Ukrainian leader said targets had been struck by Russia from Kharkiv in the northeast to Lviv in the far west, hundreds of miles from the front lines.
Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas called Friday’s bombardment “a war crime on a massive scale” in a post on X, formerly Twitter. The Czech Foreign Ministry said the country will support the “punishment of war criminals,” while France pledged to provide Ukraine “with the necessary assistance to enable it to exercise its self-defense.” The UK’s defense ministry said it’s shipping about 200 missiles to Kyiv.
In a show of defiance, Zelenskiy on Friday made a surprise visit to troops in the town of Avdiyivka in eastern Donetsk region, the site of months of intense fighting against Kremlin invasion.
In addition to the deaths, more than 132 people were wounded across the country, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said on Telegram.
Putin Risks Losing Vital Naval Hub as Ukraine Strikes in Crimea
At least nine people were killed and 21 wounded in the capital, Kyiv, the city’s military administration said on Telegram. The strike damaged a depot and at least one high-rise apartment building, as well as a subway station used as a bomb shelter.
The barrage came three days after Russia reported one of its ships in Crimea was damaged by a Ukrainian missile strike. As the war grinds toward the two-year mark Kyiv has stepped up attacks against Moscow’s navy, which was used to hit Ukrainian cities and paralyze navigation in the Black Sea.
Within hours of the Ukrainian strike in Crimea’s Feodosia, the Kremlin reported that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed President Vladimir Putin about damage to the large landing ship.
Over recent months, a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the nation’s east and southeast has struggled to make headway against heavily fortified Russian defenses and has been hamstrung by a shortage of advanced weapons.
Beyond the need for armaments, Ukraine has pleaded with foreign donors to send aid urgently, saying it faces “exceptionally high uncertainty” over core budget needs heading into 2024.
In the US, where new military aid to Ukraine remains snarled in Congress, President Joe Biden called on lawmakers to “step up and act without any further delay.”
The overnight strikes caused deaths, injuries and damage in several major cities. As well as Lviv and Kharkiv, Kremlin forces struck cities of Kherson, Dnipro and Odesa, among others.
Russia used almost all types of aerial weapons in its arsenal, Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said in televised remarks, from Kinzhal hypersonic missiles to cruise missiles to drones.
“We have not seen so much red on our monitors for a long time,” Ihnat said. “In all regions, in all directions.”
Falling debris from downed missiles and drones damaged some local power lines, causing limited electricity supply disruptions in the Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Odesa regions, the energy ministry said on Telegram.
Russia’s defense ministry made a rare acknowledgment of its actions in Ukraine, saying that group strikes and “one mass strike” over the past week had successfully targeted military industry, airfields, arsenals and places of deployment, according to state-run RIA Novosti.
Source: Bnn Bloomberg