- Cruise missiles shelled many cities – the Ukrainian Air Force
- Ukraine shot down 54 of 69 missiles
- Three people were injured in the explosions in Kyiv – the mayor
- Russia’s Lavrov: Ukraine’s peace plan is an ‘illusion’
Russia launched a barrage of missiles into Ukraine early Thursday, targeting the capital Kiev and other cities including Lviv and Odesa in the west. the power
“Senseless barbarism. These are the only words that come to mind as Russia fires yet another barrage of missiles into peaceful Ukrainian cities before New Year,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba tweeted.
Ukraine’s military said it shot down 54 of the 69 missiles fired by Russia during the attack that began at 7 a.m. morning local time. Air raid sirens echoed across Ukraine and Kiev for five hours, one of the longest-running alarms of the war.
Officials previously said more than 120 missiles were fired into Ukraine during the attack.
In Kiev, Reuters footage showed a team of emergency workers wading through the rubble of homes destroyed by the blast and a trail of rocket smoke in the sky above the capital.
Firefighters battled a major fire at a power station in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
In the south-central city of Zaporozhye, houses were damaged and the rocket left a huge crater.
“I woke up to the fact that everything was shaking, collapsing. I got up and screamed: “Vitia, Vitia (my husband), where are you?” I ran barefoot on the glass. He appeared and the glass fell from him,” said Halyna, a 60-year-old local resident.
Ukraine’s military said Russia launched air and sea cruise missiles, anti-aircraft guided missiles and S-300 ADMS at energy infrastructure facilities in the eastern, central, western and southern regions. The attacks followed a nighttime attack by kamikaze drones.
In recent months, waves of Russian airstrikes targeting energy infrastructure have left millions without electricity and heating in often freezing temperatures.
“The enemy played a big role in this attack, preparing for it for two weeks. The Air Defense Forces of Ukraine demonstrated an incredible level of skill and efficiency,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said via the Telegram messaging app.
“At the same time, there were shocks and damage, especially to energy facilities. In some areas, emergency shutdowns may be applied to prevent accidents in the networks. Our energy workers are already working to repair everything,” he added.
The latest flare-up came over the Kremlin’s rejection of a Ukraine peace plan, demanding that Kyiv accept Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions.
Kyiv authorities said shrapnel from the downed missiles damaged two private homes in the Darnytsky district, as well as a business and a playground. Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said 16 rockets were shot down and three people were injured in the attacks.
Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovy said on Telegram that 90% of his city near the Polish border was without power. The rockets damaged the energy infrastructure block.
In the southwestern Odesa region, shrapnel from one rocket hit a residential building, but no casualties were reported, said its governor Maksim Marchenko.
Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians, but Ukraine says its daily bombardment destroys cities, towns and the country’s electrical, medical and other infrastructure.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been asking Western countries for further air defense assistance for several months.
Belarus’ state news agency BelTA reported that a Ukrainian S-300 missile fell on Belarusian territory on Thursday and published a photo of what it said were parts of it lying in an empty field.
Minsk is investigating whether its air defense systems shot down the missile or whether it was not a launch. The incident happened around the time Russia was firing missiles into Ukraine.
Russia’s regional governor said air defenses shot down the drone near Engels Air Force Base, hundreds of kilometers from the frontline in Ukraine and home to long-range strategic bombers. Russia says Ukraine has already tried to attack the base twice this month.
Russia on February 24 invaded Ukraine in what President Vladimir Putin calls a “special military operation” to demilitarize its neighbor. Kyiv and its Western allies condemned Russia’s actions as an imperialist-style land grab.
Massive sanctions have been imposed on Russia over the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people, driven millions from their homes, left cities in ruins and shaken the global economy, sending energy and food prices soaring.
There are still no prospects for negotiations to end the war.
Zelensky is vigorously pushing a 10-point peace plan that requires Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and withdraw all its troops.
But Moscow rejected it on Wednesday, reiterating that Kyiv must accept Russia’s annexation of four regions – Luhansk and Donetsk in the east and Kherson and Zaporozhye in the south. It also says Ukraine must come to terms with the loss of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.
There can be no peace plan “that does not take into account today’s realities regarding Russian territory, when four regions fall into Russia,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Zelensky’s idea to push Russia out of eastern Ukraine and Crimea with Western help and force Moscow to pay Kiev damages is an “illusion,” RIA news agency reported.
Additional reporting from the Reuters TV team in Zaporozhye and other Reuters offices. Writer Alexandra Hudson; Edited by Gareth Jones
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