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'Massive' Russian strikes kill at least 30 across Ukraine

Published : Saturday, 30 December, 2023 at 10:44 AM  Count : 540

'Massive' Russian strikes kill at least 30 across Ukraine

'Massive' Russian strikes kill at least 30 across Ukraine

Russia launched a massive air attack over Ukraine on Friday, killing at least 30 people and wounding scores across the country in the fiercest assault since the first days of the war nearly two years ago.

Schools, a maternity hospital, shopping arcades and blocks of flats were among the buildings hit in the barrage, said Ukrainian officials.

The attacks -- during which a Russian missile passed through Polish airspace -- triggered international condemnation and fresh promises of military support to Ukraine, which has been fighting off invading Russian troops since late February 2022.
"Today Russia hit us with almost everything it has in its arsenal," President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

Ukraine's military estimated Russia had launched 158 missiles and drones on Ukraine and 114 of them had been destroyed.

Air force spokesman Yuriy Ignat told AFP that this was a "record number" of missiles and "the most massive missile attack" of the war, excluding the early days of constant bombardment.

Russia tried to overwhelm Ukraine's air defences across most major cities, launching a wave of Shahed attack drones followed by missiles of numerous types fired from planes and from Russian-controlled territory.

Interior Minister Igor Klymenko announced on Telegram: "As of now, 30 people have been killed and more than 160 wounded as a result of Russia's massive attack on Ukrainian territory in the morning."

Late Friday, Russian authorities said a strike on a residential building in Belgorod, 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, had left one dead and four wounded.

A total of 13 missiles were intercepted over the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine and a "drone-type aircraft" was destroyed over the Bryansk region further to the northwest, according to Russian authorities.

- 'Stop this terror' -

Russia's army said it had "carried out 50 group strikes and one massive strike" on military facilities in Ukraine over the past week, adding that "all targets were hit".

The United Nations condemned the attacks and said they must stop "immediately".

"Regrettably, today's appalling assaults were only the latest in a series of escalating attacks by the Russian Federation," said UN assistant secretary-general Mohamed Khiari.

Poland reported that a Russian missile passed through its airspace.

"Everything indicates that a Russian missile entered Polish airspace... It also left," said General Wieslaw Kukula, chief of the general staff of the Polish armed forces.

After speaking to Polish President Andrzej Duda, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance "stands in solidarity" with Poland, adding: "NATO remains vigilant."

In the face of sustained Russian assaults, Ukraine is urging Western allies to maintain military support.

Ukraine presidential aide Andriy Yermak said Kyiv needed "more support and strength to stop this terror".

US President Joe Biden called on Congress to overcome its division to approve new aid for Ukraine, after Washington released its final package of weaponry under existing agreements still to be renewed by Congress.

"Unless Congress takes urgent action in the new year, we will not be able to continue sending the weapons and vital air defence systems Ukraine needs to protect its people," Biden said.

"Congress must step up and act without any further delay."

Britain announced it would send hundreds more air-defence missiles to Kyiv, after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared that "We must continue to stand with Ukraine -- for as long as it takes".

- Maternity ward 'severely damaged' -

The strikes targeted at least six Ukrainian regions including Kharkiv in the northeast, Lviv in the west, Dnipro in the east and Odesa in the south.

In the capital Kyiv seven people were killed, according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko, with damage to Lukyanivska metro station near the Artyom arms factory that Russia said it targeted early in the war.

Rescuers worked through the afternoon to pull people from under the rubble of a warehouse in the Shevchenko district, according to the city administration.

In Dnipro, a maternity hospital was "severely damaged" but staff and patients managed to shelter in time, the health ministry said. There were 12 women in labour and four newborns inside when it was struck, said Sergiy Lysak, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region.

Lysak also reported six killed and 28 wounded in strikes on a shopping mall, private houses and administrative buildings.

Kharkiv faced around 20 strikes, which killed three employees at a civilian enterprise and wounded 11, governor Oleg Synegubov said.

In Zaporizhzhia, on the shores of the Dnipro river, governor Yuriy Malashko reported seven dead and 13 wounded.

In the Odesa region, which has seen renewed attacks since the summer, four people were killed.

Strikes over Lviv in western Ukraine are much more rare, but the region was not spared on Friday.

One person was killed and 15 wounded as blocks of flats and two schools were damaged, the interior ministry said.

Zelensky said he had visited the town of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, which has become a key battle site since Ukraine's counteroffensive failed to pierce Russia's defensive lines.

"This is one of the most difficult areas of the front line," he wrote on Telegram, along with a video of him giving medals to soldiers there.

"I thank all those who are at the first line (of fire) for their service, for this year during which the entire country survived thanks to its soldiers," he said.


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