At least 24 killed as Russian missile, drones hit cities across Ukraine - GulfToday

At least 24 killed as Russian missile, drones hit cities across Ukraine


Police and military experts stand near the body of a woman as local residents react, at the site of a Russian missile strike, in Zaporizhzhia on Friday. Reuters

Russia launched 122 missiles and dozens of drones against Ukrainian targets, officials said on Friday, killing at least 24 civilians across the country in what an air force official said was the biggest aerial barrage of the war.

The Ukrainian air force intercepted most of the ballistic and cruise missiles and the Shahed-type drones overnight, said Ukraine’s military chief, Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk wrote on his official Telegram channel that it was "the most massive aerial attack” since Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022.

According to the Ukrainian air force, 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.

Gazakid-saved2 Firefighters work on the site of a building damaged after a Russian attack in Kyiv. AP

Western officials and analysts recently warned that Russia had limited its cruise missile strikes in recent months in an apparent effort to build up stockpiles for massive strikes during the winter, hoping to break the Ukrainians’ spirit.

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 line of contact.

Ukrainian officials have urged the country's Western allies to provide it with more air defences to protect itself against aerial attacks like Friday's one. Their appeals have come as signs of war fatigue strain efforts to keep support in place.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the huge attack should stir the world to further action in support of Ukraine.

"These widespread attacks on Ukraine’s cities show (Russian President Vladimir) Putin will stop at nothing to achieve his aim of eradicating freedom and democracy,” Sunak said on social media platform X, formerly Twitter. "We must continue to stand with Ukraine - for as long as it takes.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the scale of the attack should wake people up to Ukraine's continuing needs.

"Today, millions of Ukrainians awoke to the loud sound of explosions,” he wrote on X. "I wish those sounds of explosions in Ukraine could be heard all around the world. In all major capitals, headquarters, and parliaments, which are currently debating further support for Ukraine.”

Ukraine-1 Local residents react after a missile attack in Odesa. AFP

At least 130 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.

In Boyarka, a city near Kyiv, the debris of a shot-down drone fell on a home and started a fire. Andrii Korobka, 47, said his mother was sleeping next to the room where the wreckage landed and was taken to hospital suffering from shock.

"The war goes on, and it can happen to any house, even if you think yours will never be affected,” Korobka said.

Tetiana Sakhnenko, who lives next door, said neighbours ran with buckets of water to put out the blaze but it spread quickly. "It’s so scary,” she said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Kremlin’s forces used a wide variety of weapons, including ballistic and cruise missiles.

"Today, Russia used nearly every type of weapon in its arsenal,” Zelensky said on X.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said Russia "apparently launched everything they have,” except for submarine-launched Kalibr missiles, in the attack.

Associated Press

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