Ukraine says Russia launched barrage of missile attacks nationwide

Mass onslaught took place before France’s new foreign minister’s visit to Kyiv.

A man covers a damaged window with a fiberboard panel in a two-storey housing block
Russian missiles were shot down in at least five regions across Ukraine [File: Stinger/AFP]

Russia launched dozens of attacks across Ukraine overnight, the Ukrainian air force said, as Kyiv continued its diplomatic efforts to ratchet up support and military aid.

“A total of 40 means of enemy air attack were recorded,” the air force said on Saturday, adding that it destroyed eight missiles. “More than 20 devices” failed to reach their targets due to “active measures by means of electronic warfare”.

Russia said it destroyed all targets in a barrage of attacks on facilities producing ammunition and drones in Ukraine.

The defence ministry in Moscow said its armed forces “carried out a group strike … against facilities of the Ukrainian military-industrial complex”.

It said it was targeting places producing shells, gunpowder and unmanned aerial vehicles. “All designated facilities were hit,” it added.

No fatalities were reported so far, but Ukrainian authorities said a civilian was wounded in the northeastern Sumy region.

According to the Ukrainian air force, Russia fired Kinzhal missiles, perhaps the toughest conventional Russian missile to shoot down, moving at several times the speed of sound.

The missiles were shot down in at least five regions across Ukraine, according to local officials from those provinces.

Police in the northern region of Chernihiv posted a picture of a large crater made by a downed missile.

“As a result of being hit by the debris of an enemy missile, several private homes and non-residential buildings were damaged, one building was practically destroyed,” the police wrote, adding that a dog had been killed but no people were hurt.

The air force in Ukraine’s neighbour Poland said it had briefly activated air defence systems due to the increased level of threat.

The attacks took place as France’s newly appointed foreign minister, Stephane Sejourne, arrived in Kyiv on Saturday for his first official trip abroad, in a sign of support as the Russian invasion of Ukraine nears its second year.

French Foreign and European Affairs Minister Stephane Sejourne
Stephane Sejourne (centre) and Dmytro Kuleba, right, walk to enter the building of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in downtown Kyiv [Roman Pilipey/AFP]

Speaking at a news conference in Kyiv, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba praised Sejourne for not “being intimidated by Russia’s latest large-scale missile attack” and reaching the Ukrainian capital so soon after his appointment on Thursday, which he said “says a lot about the priorities of France’s foreign policy”.

Sejourne confirmed his visit was a “message to the Ukrainians”.

“Ukraine is and will remain France’s priority,” he said. “Our resolve is intact and so is our admiration for the courage of the Ukrainian people during this difficult time.”

He added that he would work in the coming days and weeks to fix European Union and bilateral legal issues to help French companies set up more military production facilities in Ukraine, without saying what these legal issues were.

Sejourne also encouraged French companies to invest in Ukraine, mentioning the transport, energy, telecoms and water sectors.

The visit follows that of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday, where he unveiled new military funding for Ukraine and reassured the country that the West is still providing support.

Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a bilateral security agreement for the next 10 years. It will remain in effect until Ukraine acquires its hoped-for NATO membership, Zelenskyy said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies