- Cruise missiles were launched in several cities – the Air Force of Ukraine
- 3 injured in explosions in Kiev – Mayor
- Russia’s Lavrov says Ukrainian peace plan is an “illusion”.
KYIV, Ukraine, Dec 29 (Reuters) – Russia launched a barrage of missiles into Ukraine early on Thursday, targeting Kiev, the northeastern city of Kharkiv and other cities in a massive aerial bombardment that sent people into shelters and cut power. Officials said.
In Gaya, emergency crews searched through the smoldering ruins of a residential home destroyed by the blast, and footage showed smoke trails from missiles lingering in the sky over the capital. Firefighters are working to put out a fire at a power plant in Kharkiv.
“Senseless barbarism. These are the only things that come to mind when we see Russia launch yet another missile attack on peaceful Ukrainian cities before the New Year,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.
Ukraine’s military said it shot down 54 of the 69 missiles fired by Russia in the attack, which began at 7 a.m. local time. Air raid sirens sounded across the country and in Kiev for five hours – one of the longest alarms of the war.
“This morning, the aggressor launched air and sea-based cruise missiles, anti-aircraft guided missiles and S-300 ADMS at our country’s energy infrastructure facilities,” Ukraine’s top general Valery Zalushny wrote in a telegram.
Ukraine’s Armed Forces Brigadier General Oleksiy Khromov said the missiles were fired at “critical and energy infrastructure facilities in the eastern, central, western and southern regions”.
The attacks followed an overnight attack by ‘kamikaze’ drones. Russia has carried out numerous airstrikes against Ukrainian critical infrastructure in recent months.
The latest outburst came sharply against the backdrop of the Kremlin’s rejection of a Ukrainian peace plan, insisting that Kyiv accept Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions.
The Kyiv City Military Administration reported that two private houses in Darnytskyi district were damaged by fragments of fallen missiles, and a business and a playground were damaged. Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said 16 missiles were fired at the capital, injuring three people.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekov said authorities would clarify what was hit and whether there were casualties, while Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovy said in a telegram that 90% of his city in western Ukraine was without power. The missiles damaged the energy infrastructure sector.
Air defense units shot down 21 missiles in the Odesa region of southwestern Ukraine, its governor Maksim Marchenko said. Fragments of a missile hit a residential building, but there were no casualties, he said.
Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians, but Ukraine says its daily bombardment is destroying towns, cities and the country’s power, medical and other infrastructure.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a video message, urged Ukrainians to hug loved ones, express their appreciation to friends, support colleagues, thank parents and often rejoice with children.
“Even though we have endured terrible months, we have not lost our humanity,” he said. “Even though we have a tough year ahead, we won’t lose it.”
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what President Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation” to militarize his neighbor. Kiev and its Western allies have denounced Russia’s actions as an imperialist-style land grab.
Russia has been hit with heavy sanctions for the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people, driven millions from their homes, left cities in ruins and rocked the global economy, driving up energy and food prices.
There is still no chance of talks to end the war.
Zelensky has been actively promoting a 10-point peace plan that would see Russia respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and withdraw all its troops.
But Moscow rejected that on Wednesday, reiterating that Kyiv must accept the annexation of four regions by Russia: Luhansk and Donetsk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzia in the south. It also says Ukraine must accept the loss of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.
“With the entry of four regions into Russia, there cannot be any peace plan that does not take into account today’s reality regarding Russian territory,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Zelensky’s idea of forcing Russia out of eastern Ukraine and Crimea with Western help and forcing Moscow to compensate Kiev was an “illusion,” RIA news agency reported.
TASS quoted Lavrov as saying that Russia would continue to build up its combat power and technical capabilities in Ukraine. He said Moscow’s mobilized troops had undergone “intense training” and that while many were now on the ground, the majority were still not on the front lines.
Zelenskiy called for unity in Ukraine’s parliament and praised Ukrainians for helping the West “reinvent itself.”
“Our national colors are today an international symbol of courage and indomitability to the entire world,” he said in an annual address held behind closed doors.
Report by Reuters Bureau; By Himani Sarkar and Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Michael Perry and Gareth Jones
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