Thirty one dead in one of Russia’s biggest missile strikes on Ukraine: Kyiv

Russia fired one of its biggest missile barrages of the war at Ukraine on Friday, killing 31 civilians, wounding over 120 and hitting residential buildings in Kyiv, the south and west of the country and a maternity ward in the east, officials said.

NATO member Poland said a Russian missile appeared to have flown into its airspace for some 40 km before returning to Ukraine under three minutes later. There was no immediate comment from Moscow and NATO said it remained “vigilant.”

The Ukrainian foreign ministry said the vast end-of-year air assault showed there should be “no talk of a truce” with the Kremlin at a time when uncertainty hangs over the future of Western support for Kyiv.

“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,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, urging allies to press on with long-term military aid.

In the capital Kyiv at least nine people were killed and 30 confirmed wounded after a warehouse, residential buildings and another uninhabited property were hit, officials said.

Kyiv resident Mariia told Reuters she had been awoken by a “horrible sound” and taken shelter in her bathroom.

“It was so frightening. A missile was flying and everything was buzzing, whirring. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to run down to the shelter,” she said. “As I went inside the bathroom, the mirror flew off (the wall).”

Ukrainian servicemen inspect the remains of a missile in the yard of a damaged building after a missile attack in Lviv, western Ukraine, on December 29, 2023. (AFP)
Ukrainian servicemen inspect the remains of a missile in the yard of a damaged building after a missile attack in Lviv, western Ukraine, on December 29, 2023.

The air force said it had shot down 87 cruise missiles and 27 drones out of a total of 158 aerial “targets” fired by Russia.

Army chief General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said the attack had targeted critical infrastructure and industrial and military facilities.

“Russia attacked with everything it has in its arsenal… Approximately 110 missiles were fired, most of which were shot down,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Telegram messenger.

Ukraine has been warning for weeks that Russia could be stockpiling missiles to launch a major air attack on the energy system. Last winter, millions of people were plunged into darkness when Russian strikes pounded the power grid.

“It is obvious that with the stocks of missiles that the aggressor state has, it can and will continue such attacks,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said on Facebook.

The assault was “one of the largest missile attacks on Ukrainian cities and villages” since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022, the foreign ministry said.

In a roundup of Russian military activities this week, the Russian defense ministry said its forces had performed one “massive” strike on Ukraine since December 23, but provided no specifics.

Widespread damage reported

The president’s office put the death toll at 26, but statements from the various regions indicated at least 31 people had been killed.

As rescuers picked through the rubble of a strike that hit a house in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, Viktor Chuhunov, 73, told Reuters he had been at home when he suddenly heard a powerful explosion.

“A woman died here. I don’t know whether her son was at home, maybe he was at work,” he said of the ruined house.

Eight people were killed and 13 wounded in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region, the governor said. Civilian infrastructure facilities were also struck, he said.

Six people were killed in the central region of Dnipropetrovsk where missiles struck a shopping center, a house and a six-story residential building, the governor said.

The attack also caused a fire in a maternity ward, he said.

Four people were killed in the Black Sea port city of Odesa and at least 22 were wounded, including two children, the regional governor said, reporting hits on residential buildings.

One person was killed in a damaged multi-story residential building in the city of Lviv and 30 were wounded, the regional governor said. Three schools and a kindergarten were damaged, the mayor said.

In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, a missile strike damaged a warehouse, an industrial facility, a medical facility and a transport depot, the regional governor said. Three people were killed and 13 wounded.

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