Russia launches 110 missiles in biggest air attack on Ukraine since start of full-scale invasion

ByVictoria Butenko, Maria Kostenko, Mariya Knight, Svitlana Vlasova and Christian Edwards, CNN, CNNWire
Friday, December 29, 2023
Final aid package approved for Ukraine
Ukraine received the last package of military aid from the United States until Congress approves the Biden administration's funding request.

KYIV, Ukraine -- Russia has launched the biggest air attack on Ukraine since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the Ukrainian military told CNN, with an unprecedented number of drones and missiles fired at targets across the country, killing at least 12 people and injuring dozens more.

The wave of attacks began overnight into Friday and struck nationwide, with blasts reported in the capital Kyiv, as well as at a maternity hospital in the central city of Dnipro, the eastern city of Kharkiv, the southeastern port of Odesa, and the western city of Lviv, far from the frontlines.

Ukraine's president Volodymyrr Zelenskyy says Russia launched about 110 missiles.

"It's been a long time since we have seen so many enemy targets on our monitors in all regions and all directions," Yurii Ihnat, spokesperson for Ukraine's air force, told national television. "Everything was being fired."

Russia used 158 drones and missiles, including hypersonic Kinzhal missiles, cruise missiles and Shahed drones, to strike targets in Kyiv, the east, south and west of the country, Ukraine's air force said.

"Today the enemy has struck a powerful blow. There are downed targets, however unfortunately there are also casualties," Ihnat added.

At least one person was killed and 21 injured in Kyiv after Russia targeted a metro station and residential buildings. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said at least three people are trapped under the rubble of a damaged warehouse in Shevchenkivskyi district.

Kharkiv was hit by a "massive attack," Ukrainian Prime Minster Denys Shmyhal said, with more than 20 strikes reported in the region, including on a hospital. A 35-year-old man was killed and 11 people were injured, according to regional military administration head Oleh Syniehubov.

At least one woman was killed and 10 people were injured in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia, the regional military administration head Yurif Malashko said on Telegram. Emergency workers are still working to see if people are trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Further south, a school building was hit in Odesa, injuring seven people, including a child. At least one person was killed in the region, according to Ukraine's health ministry.

The massive overnight assault comes just days after Ukraine struck a Russian Navy landing ship in Crimea on Tuesday, causing severe damage to the vessel in another major blow to Moscow's Black Sea fleet.

But the onslaught also came shortly after Ukraine received the last package of military aid from the United States until Congress approves the Biden administration's funding request.

Nearly two years since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky is facing a largely-stalled counteroffensive while Western aid has begun to dry up.

The head of Ukraine's Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, called for support as his country battles Russian airstrikes.

"A massive terrorist attack, rockets are flying at our cities again, and civilians are being targeted," Yermak said in a Telegram post on Friday.

"Ukraine needs support. We will be even stronger, we are doing everything to strengthen our air shield. But the world needs to see that we need more support and strength to stop this terror."

Prime Minister Shmyhal said the attacks "targeted social and critical infrastructure," but praised the work of Ukraine's air force.

"Ukrainian air defense forces have once again demonstrated a high level of professionalism. Most of the air targets were shot down. We thank the soldiers for saving lives."

Bombers in the air

The Ukrainian Air Force said it recorded "the departure of 9 Tu-95MS strategic bombers from the 'Olenya' airfield in the Murmansk region of Russia."

The Tu-95 bomber is a mainstay of Russia's aerial attacks on Ukraine, able to launch cruise missiles against its neighbor out of the range of most air-defense systems.

In Kyiv, officials warned residents to take shelter as a "UAV threat" was detected in the area, a reference to drones.

Klitschko said at least seven people had been hospitalized following the attacks. Trains were halted as a building was damaged at Lukianivska subway station in central Kyiv, which is also operating as a shelter, Klitschko added.

Many were wounded and a search for victims is underway after a warehouse caught fire in the Podilskyi district of the capital region, the head of Kyiv's military administration, Serhiy Popko, said in a Telegram post.

In the northeastern city of Sumy, numerous explosions were heard on Thursday evening local time following Russian shelling "of the border territories and settlements," the administration in the area reported.

In Lviv, which borders Poland, explosions were recorded as air defenses intercepted Russian drones, Maksym Kozytskyi, head of the Lviv regional military administration said early Friday.

A residential building was hit and caught fire, Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on Telegram Friday.

Friday's widespread strikes followed Russia's launch of 53 attacks across eastern Ukraine on Thursday, according to a Telegram post from the Ukrainian General Staff.

Russia launched dozens of airstrikes, wounding civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure, the post said.

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