‘Senseless barbarism’: Russian missiles target Ukraine’s cities

Explosions rock Kyiv as Moscow launches wave of attacks stretching from Kharkiv in the east to Lviv in the west.

Russia has launched a barrage of missile attacks across Ukraine targeting several major cities, including the capital Kyiv, in one of its biggest assaults in weeks.

Ukraine’s military said it shot down 54 missiles out of 69 launched by Russia in an attack that began at 7am local time (05:00 GMT) on Thursday. Air raid sirens rang out across the country, and in Kyiv blared for five hours – one of the longest alarms of the war.

No deaths were immediately reported.

Ukraine’s air force said the attacks had involved sea- and air-based cruise missiles fired “from different directions” and followed an overnight assault by kamikaze drones.

Air defence systems were activated in Kyiv to fend off the raids, according to local officials.

Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv’s mayor, said in a Telegram post that 16 missiles targeting the capital had been shot down.

At least three people were wounded and hospitalised, including a 14-year-old girl, after a house and a car were damaged by rocket debris, Klitschko said. Search and rescue operations were continuing, he added.

People take shelter inside a metro station during massive Russian missile attacks in Kyiv
People take shelter inside a Kyiv metro station amid Russian missile attacks [Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters]

Klitschko also warned of widespread power outages in the capital, saying 40 percent of its residents were without electricity following the attacks and asked people to stockpile water and charge their electronic devices.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba took to Twitter to describe the attacks as “senseless barbarism”.

“These are the only words that come to mind seeing Russia launch another missile barrage at peaceful Ukrainian cities ahead of New Year,” he wrote.

Lviv, Kharkiv targeted

Numerous explosions also took place in the cities of Kharkiv, located in eastern Ukraine, and Lviv, near the border with Poland, according to regional officials.

About 90 percent of Lviv was without electricity, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi wrote on Telegram. Trams and trolleybuses were not working, and residents might experience water interruptions, he said.

Meanwhile, the governor of Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region, Vitaliy Kim, said five missiles were shot down over the Black Sea.

Ukrainian military officials said two other projectiles were intercepted over the Sumy region, located on the border with Russia in the country’s northeast.

Elsewhere, air defence units shot down 21 missiles in the Odesa region in southwest Ukraine, its governor Maksym Marchenko said. The fragments of one missile hit a residential building, though no casualties were reported, the governor added.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Kyiv, said the nationwide raids represented “one of, if not the largest barrage of attacks” in recent months.

“It is an indication that [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin and Moscow are doing all they can to cripple Ukraine’s energy infrastructure,” Stratford said. But, he added, “the air defence systems seem to be working”.

Zelenskky’s peace plan rejected by Moscow

Thursday’s blitz came after Russia rejected a peace plan put forward by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Zelenskyy’s 10-point proposal calls for Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and withdraw all of its troops from his country.

But the Kremlin insists that Kyiv must accept Russia’s annexation of four partly occupied Ukrainian regions – Luhansk and Donetsk in the east, and Kherson and Zaporizhia in the south – which Moscow unilaterally claimed as its own in September.

Russia also says Ukraine must accept the loss of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Russia’s war in Ukraine, the largest in Europe since World War II, has killed tens of thousands of people, driven millions from their homes and reduced vast swaths of the country to rubble.

Kyiv has pleaded with its Western allies to provide it with additional air defences. Ukraine’s foremost backer, the United States, recently agreed to supply it with the highly sought-after Patriot missile defence system.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies