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Russia achieves what Ukraine calls

Kyiv, Ukraine — Russia launched 122 missiles and about 20 drones against Ukrainian targets, officials said Friday, killing at least 22 civilians across the country in what an Air Force official said was the largest air barrage of the war.

The Ukrainian Air Force intercepted most of the ballistic and cruise missiles as well as Shahed-type drones overnight, Ukrainian military chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said.

Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk wrote on his official Telegram channel that it was the “most massive air attack” since the full-scale invasion of Russia in February 2022.

Aftermath of Russian missile attack in Zaporizhzhia
Police and military carry the body of a local resident to the site of a Russian missile strike amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, December 29, 2023.

STRINGER / REUTERS


According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the previous largest attack took place in November 2022, when Russia launched 96 missiles against Ukraine. This year, the largest launch was 81 missiles on March 9, according to Air Force records.

Western officials and analysts have recently warned that Russia has limited its cruise missile strikes in recent months, in an apparent bid to build up stockpiles for massive strikes over the winter, hoping to break the morale of the Ukrainians.

An unknown number were buried under rubble during the assault, which lasted about 18 hours, Ukrainian officials said. Buildings reported to have been damaged across Ukraine included a maternity ward, apartment buildings and schools.

The Ministry of Health in the city of Dnipro said the maternity ward was “severely damaged”, but staff and patients managed to seek shelter in time, AFP reports.

Aftermath of Russian missile attack in Zaporizhzhia
A local resident as rescuers work at the site of a Russian missile strike amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, December 29, 2023.

STRINGER / REUTERS


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Kremlin forces used a wide variety of weapons, including ballistic and cruise missiles.

“Today, Russia has used almost every type of weapon in its arsenal,” Zelensky said on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said Russia “apparently launched everything it had”, except for Kalibr missiles launched from submarines, during the ‘attack.

The air attack that began Thursday and continued throughout the night hit six cities, including the capital, Kiev, and other areas from east to west and north to south of Ukraine, according to the authorities.

In a statement Friday, President Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin “seeks to annihilate Ukraine and enslave its people.” The US president urged Congress to reach a bipartisan agreement to provide more funding to Ukraine.

“In the face of this brutal attack, Ukraine deployed the air defense systems that the United States and our allies and partners delivered over the past year to successfully intercept and destroy numerous missiles and drones,” Mr. Biden said. “The American people can be proud of the lives we helped save and the support we have given Ukraine as it defends its people, its freedom and its independence. But unless Congress takes action urgent needs in the new year, we will not be “We are able to continue sending the vital weapons and air defense systems that Ukraine needs to protect its population. Congress must step up its efforts and act without further delay.”

Ukrainian and Russian War
In this photo provided by Ukrainian emergency services, firefighters work at the site of a damaged building after a Russian attack in kyiv, Ukraine, December 29, 2023.

Ukrainian Emergency Service via AP


Fighting along the front line largely bogged down by winter weather after Ukrainian summer the counter-offensive failed to achieve a significant breakthrough along the contact line of approximately 620 miles.

Ukrainian officials have urged the country’s Western allies to provide it with more air defenses to protect it against air attacks like Friday’s. Their appeals are signs of war fatigue that is straining efforts to keep support in place.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was among Ukrainian officials who called on kyiv’s allies on Friday to increase their support. “Today, millions of Ukrainians woke up to the sound of explosions. I would like these sounds of explosions in Ukraine to be heard around the world,” he said, as quoted by Reuters.

Separately, the Polish Armed Forces said on Friday that an unknown airborne object entered the country’s airspace from Ukraine and subsequently disappeared from radar.

The operational command of the Armed Forces said on the social media platform country from the time he crossed the border until the signal disappeared.

He also said troops had been mobilized to identify and recover the object.

Local authorities said the object crossed the border near the town of Hrubieszow.

No explosions or casualties were immediately reported.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk called a meeting with the Minister of Defense, military commanders and heads of national security bodies, which was to be followed by a meeting of the National Security Bureau.

Poland’s border with Ukraine is also the border of the European Union and NATO with Ukraine.

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