February 22nd, 2024

Russia fires 122 missiles and 36 drones in what Ukraine calls the biggest aerial barrage of the war

By Illia Novikov And Hanna Arhirova, The Associated Press on December 29, 2023.

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service, firefighters work to extinguish a fire after a Russian attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Dec. 29, 2023. (Ukrainian Emergency Service via AP)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Russia launched 122 missiles and 36 drones against Ukrainian targets, officials said Friday, killing at least 13 civilians in what an air force official said was the biggest aerial barrage of the 22-month war.

The Ukrainian air force intercepted 87 of the missiles and 27 of the Shahed-type drones overnight, Ukraine’s military chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said.

Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk wrote on his official Telegram channel: “The most massive aerial attack” since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

According to the Ukrainian air force, the previous biggest assault was in November 2022 when Russia launched 96 missiles against Ukraine. This year, the biggest was 81 missiles on March 9, air force records show.

Fighting along the front line is largely bogged down by winter weather after Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive failed to make a significant breakthrough along the roughly 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) line of contact.

Ukrainian officials have urged the country’s Western allies to provide it with more air defenses to protect itself against aerial attacks like Friday’s one. Their appeals have come as signs of war fatigue strain efforts to keep support in place.

Scores of people were injured and an unknown number were buried under rubble during the roughly 18-hour onslaught, Ukrainian officials said. Among the buildings reported to be damaged across Ukraine were a maternity hospital, apartment blocks and schools.

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

“Today, Russia used nearly every type of weapon in its arsenal,” Zelenskyy said on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said Russia “apparently launched everything they have,” except for submarine-launched Kalibr missiles, in the attack.

The aerial attack that began Thursday and continued through the night hit six cities, including the capital, Kyiv, and other areas from east to west and north to south Ukraine, according to authorities.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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