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Russia launches biggest aerial attack with 122 missiles, 36 drones towards Ukraine, 31 killed

Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk described the barrage as the "most massive aerial attack" on his official Telegram since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February last year. At least 88 people were injured and an unknown number were buried under rubble during the 18-hour Russian attack.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Kyiv Updated on: December 30, 2023 12:27 IST
Russian attacks continue in Ukraine
Image Source : REUTERS Russian attacks continue in Ukraine

Russia launched a massive barrage of 122 missiles and 36 drones against Ukrainian targets in what officials called the biggest aerial attack in the 22-month war on Friday, killing at least 31 civilians. The Ukrainian air force intercepted 87 of the missiles and 27 of the Shahed-type drones overnight, Ukraine's military chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said.

Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk described the barrage as the "most massive aerial attack" on his official Telegram since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February last year. 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.

India Tv - Firefighters work at a site of a warehouse heavily damaged during a Russian missile strike.

Image Source : REUTERSFirefighters work at a site of a warehouse heavily damaged during a Russian missile strike.

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 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) line of contact. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Kremlin's forces used a wide variety of weapons, including ballistic and cruise missiles and Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said Russia “apparently launched everything they have,” except for submarine-launched Kalibr missiles.

The aerial attack hit six cities including Ukraine's capital Kyiv along with other areas across the country. At least 160 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.

Russian attacks continue

The Ukrainian city of Kharkiv came under a Russian missile attack on Friday morning, Mayor Ihor Terehov said, with at least six blasts registered. At the same time, air defences were active in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv as it came under the attack of Russian drones, according to regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi.

"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," said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, calling for Ukraine's allies to step up their support.

India Tv - Ukrainian firefighters at work after a Russian strike in Odessa

Image Source : APUkrainian firefighters at work after a Russian strike in Odessa

Ukraine is struggling to gain support from its allies after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban blocked a crucial 50 billion euros-worth package by the European Union (EU), hours after the bloc's leaders approved to open membership talks with Kyiv despite his opposition. EU leaders decided that they would resume the aid negotiations next year, after the US failed to reach a deal on assisting Ukraine.

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.

Russia ready to negotiate on Ukraine: Putin

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would be prepared to talk to Ukraine, the United States and Europe about the future of Ukraine if they wanted to, but that Moscow would defend its national interests. 

"In Ukraine, those who are aggressive towards Russia, and in Europe and in the United States - do they want to negotiate? Let them. But we will do it based on our national interests... we will not give up what is ours," Putin told a meeting of the defence leadership in Moscow.

Russia controls about 17.5% of the territory that was internationally recognised as part of Ukraine when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014, and last year said the four additional regions of Ukraine that its troops partially control are part of Russia.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | One killed as Ukraine strikes Russian warship on Black Sea port in Crimea, Moscow admits damage

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