Russia pummels Ukraine with ‘massive’ wave of airstrikes; 31 killed

Russia pummels Ukraine with 'massive' wave of airstrikes; 31 killed

Russia pummels Ukraine with ‘massive’ wave of airstrikes; 31 killed

An aerial view of a destroyed building after Russian strikes hit the city center in Dnipro, Ukraine on December 29, 2023. A mall, maternity hospital and many other buildings were damaged in the attack.

Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

Russia on Friday launched one of its worst aerial attacks on Ukraine since the start of the war, killing at least 31 civilians, officials said.

Ukraine’s foreign affairs minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said around 110 Russian missiles and numerous drones targeted areas across the country, including a maternity ward, schools, hospitals, residential buildings and commercial areas.

The number of deaths is being updated following the strikes in the morning local time. A CNBC tally of reports from local authorities puts the current total at least at 31.

Ukrainian firefighters extinguish a fire inside a destroyed building after a missile attack in Odesa, on December 29, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia launched drone and missile strikes across Ukraine on December 29, 2023, killing at least 12 people and wounding over 70 in one of the biggest air attacks of the war. 

Oleksandr Gimanov | AFP | Getty Images

Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk called it “the most massive attack from the air” on the messaging app Telegram.

“Today, Russia used nearly every type of weapon in its arsenal: ‘Kindzhals,’ S-300s, cruise missiles, and drones. Strategic bombers launched X-101/X-505 missiles. A total of around 110 missiles were fired against Ukraine, with the majority of them being shot down,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on X, formerly Twitter.

“We will surely respond to terrorist strikes. And we will continue to fight for the security of our entire country, every city, and every citizen. Russian terror must and will lose,” he added.

A woman walks past a damaged business centre after a rocket attack in the centre of Kyiv on December 29, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sergei Chuzavkov | Afp | Getty Images

The Kyiv City Military Administration said the death toll in the capital was now five, after bodies were pulled from the rubble of a warehouse. A metro station and business center were damaged and scores were injured.

Other deaths and injuries were reported in Zaporizhzhia, Lviv, Dnipro and beyond. The Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office said three died after the city was hit 22 times over three hours starting at 5 a.m. local time. Odesa’s governor said four people died and 22 were injured, including two children aged 6 and 8, and a pregnant woman.

U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine Denise Brown condemned the attacks, which she said had killed and injured civilians in “almost every region of the country.”

The Russian Ministry of Defense said in its daily briefing Friday that it had carried out “50 group and one massive strike” between Dec. 23 and Dec. 29 using “precision weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles.”

It claimed the strikes were against military facilities and storage units, and Ukrainian armed forces units.

Kuleba said he wished the “sounds of explosions” could be heard “in all major capitals, headquarters, and parliaments, which are currently debating further support for Ukraine.”

A teacher inspects her classroom that was damaged after a missile attack in Lviv, western Ukraine, on December 29, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Yuriy Dyachyshyn | AFP | Getty Images

“Our only collective response can and must be continued, robust, and long-term military and financial assistance to Ukraine,” he added.

Ukraine has the backing of the United States and European Union, but both have become embroiled in political disputes over the continuation of significant financial support for the war-torn country.

The U.S. on Wednesday released $250 million in weaponry for Ukraine, but officials warned this could be the final delivery as the approval of further funds fails to pass Congress.

The EU earlier this month also failed to pass a 50 billion euro ($54 billion) aid package for Ukraine after the move was vetoed by Hungary.

It comes at a crucial time as Kyiv assesses what progress it can make in occupied and under-attack areas in 2024 after its summer counteroffensive operation proved tougher than hoped.

Correction: Russia on Friday launched one of its worst aerial attacks on Ukraine since the start of the war, killing at least 26 civilians, officials said. An earlier version misstated the figure.

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