- Cruise missiles were fired at many cities – Ukrainian Air Force
- Ukraine shoots down 54 missiles out of 69
- Three people were wounded in the Kyiv mayor’s bombings
- Lavrov says Ukraine peace plan ‘illusion’
KYIV (Reuters) – Russia fired dozens of missiles into Ukraine early Thursday, targeting the capital Kyiv and other cities including Lviv and Odessa in the west, in one of its biggest aerial bombardments that sent people rushing to and destroying shelters. power.
“Senseless barbarity. These are the only words that come to mind when you see Russia unleash another missile barrage on peaceful Ukrainian cities before the New Year,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.
Ukraine’s military said it shot down 54 of the 69 rockets fired by Russia in an attack that began at 7 a.m. local time. Air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine and the Kiev siren sounded for five hours – one of the longest alarms of the war.
Officials said earlier that more than 120 missiles were fired at Ukraine during the attack.
Reuters footage in Kyiv showed a team of emergency workers inspecting the wreckage of residential homes destroyed by an explosion and smoke from rockets hanging over the capital.
In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, firefighters worked to put out a huge fire at a power station.
In the south-central city of Zaporozhye, houses were damaged and a huge crater was left by a missile.
“I woke up to everything trembling, falling apart. I got up and shouted, Vitya, Vitya (my husband), where are you?” Halina, 60, a resident of the area, said, “I ran barefoot on glass, and the glass was falling from it.”
The Ukrainian military said that Russia has launched air-to-sea cruise missiles, anti-aircraft guided missiles and the S-300 ADMS system at energy infrastructure facilities in the eastern, central, western and southern regions. The attacks followed an attack by “kamikaze” drones.
Waves of Russian air strikes in recent months targeting energy infrastructure have left millions without electricity and heating in often frigid temperatures.
“The enemy has put a huge stake in this offensive, and has been preparing for it for two weeks. Ukraine’s air defense forces have shown an incredible level of skill and competence,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on the messaging app Telegram.
“At the same time, there have been injuries and damages, especially in power facilities. In some areas, emergency shutdowns may be applied to avoid accidents in the networks. Our power engineers are already working on fixing everything,” he added.
The latest attack came sharply on the heels of the Kremlin’s rejection of the Ukraine peace plan, insisting that Kyiv must accept Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions.
Kyiv authorities said two private homes in the Darnitsky district were damaged by shrapnel from the missiles, as well as a business and a playground. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said 16 rockets were shot down and three people were injured in the attacks.
Lviv’s mayor, Andrzej Sadovy, said on Telegram that 90% of his city near the Polish border was without electricity. Missiles destroyed the power infrastructure unit.
District governor Maksym Marchenko in the southwestern Odessa region said fragments of a missile hit a residential building, though no injuries were reported.
Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians, but Ukraine says its daily bombardment is destroying cities, towns, the country’s strength, medical and other infrastructure.
For months, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been asking Western countries for more help in the area of air defence.
Belarusian state news agency Belta reported that a Ukrainian S-300 missile fell on Belarusian territory on Thursday and published a photo of what it said were parts of it lying in an empty field.
Minsk was investigating whether its air defense systems shot down the missile or if it was a mistake. The incident occurred as Russia was firing missiles into Ukraine.
And in Russia, a regional governor said air defenses shot down a drone near the Engels air base, hundreds of kilometers from the front lines in Ukraine and home to long-range strategic bombers. Russia says Ukraine has already tried to attack the base twice this month.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what President Vladimir Putin described as a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbor. Kyiv and its Western allies have denounced Russia’s actions as imperial-style land grabs.
Comprehensive sanctions were imposed on Russia because of the war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, displaced millions from their homes, destroyed cities and shook the global economy, driving up energy and food prices.
There is still no prospect of talks to end the war.
Zelensky is aggressively pushing a 10-point peace plan that envisages Russia respecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and withdrawing all its forces.
But Moscow rejected this on Wednesday, stressing that Kyiv must accept Russia’s annexation of the four regions – Luhansk and Donetsk in the east, and Kherson and Zaporizhia in the south. It also says Ukraine must accept losing the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there could be no peace plan “that does not take into account today’s realities regarding the Russian territory with the entry of four regions into Russia”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Zelensky’s idea of removing Russia from eastern Ukraine and Crimea with the help of the West and getting Moscow to pay compensation to Kyiv is an “illusion,” RIA reported.
Additional reporting by the Reuters TV team in Zaporizhia and other Reuters offices, by Alexandra Hudson. Editing by Gareth Jones
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