Ukraine hit with massive Russian missile barrage as UK commits to £2.3bn more in funding
Several regions of Ukraine, including its capital Kyiv, were facing a massive Russian missile attack on Thursday, the latest in a series targeting national infrastructure.
Air raid sirens sounded across the country.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said Russia launched more than 120 missiles.
In Kyiv, air defence systems were activated to fend off the ongoing missile attack, according to the regional administration.
Russia sent explosive drones to selected regions overnight before broadening the barrage with “air and sea-based cruise missiles launched from strategic aircraft and ships” in the morning, the Ukrainian air force reported.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the UK was committed to providing more support to Ukraine.
He said: “Another £2.3 billion worth of support next year and in that we make sure they have the weapon systems they need and at the moment the United Kingdom will go and help them buy it from elsewhere around the world.
“We’ll resource weapon systems that match their Soviet era, we recently donated thousands of anti-air missiles so we can bring down these drones.
“At the same time Britain is providing their knowledge and expertise about making sure we coordinate better the air defence on the ground.
“But also, in parallel it’s making sure that Ukraine can win on the ground, that it can push back Russia’s forces.
“I noticed Gordon Brown’s comments yesterday, very importantly, we should point out and remind the world that what we’re seeing is Russia breaking international law, systematically being involved in war crimes and rape and all those things and you can’t ignore that we have to all stand up to that and make sure Russia understands that unless it ceases what it is doing now, there will be long term consequences.”
Anastasia, a medic who took shelter on Thursday at a central Kyiv underground station and gave only her first name, said she was tired of the war.
“We don’t know how long the war will last. It’s hard to be afraid every day and put your life on hold,” she said.
Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov said numerous explosions took place in Ukraine’s second-largest city.
Explosions were also heard in the city of Lviv near the border with Poland, according to mayor Andriy Sadovyi.
Ukrainian authorities in several regions said some incoming Russian missiles were intercepted.
The governor of southern Ukraine’s Mykolaiv province, Vitaliy Kim, said five missiles were shot down over the Black Sea.
The Ukrainian military’s command north said two were downed over the Sumy region, located on the border with Russia in the country’s northeast.
Fragments from downed Russian missiles damaged two private buildings in the Darnytskyi district of Kyiv, the city administration said.
An industrial facility and a playground in neighbourhoods across the Dnieper River also were damaged, city officials said. No casualties were reported.
The widespread attack was the latest in a series of Russian strikes targeting vital infrastructure across Ukraine.
Moscow has launched such attacks on weekly basis since October, causing widespread blackouts and cutting water supplies.
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko warned on Thursday that there could be power cuts in the capital, asking people to stockpile water and to charge their electronic devices.
After earlier attacks, the Ukrainian military reported shooting down incoming Russian missiles and explosive drones, but some still reached their targets, increasing the suffering of the population amid freezing temperatures.
As the latest wave of Russian strikes began, authorities in the Dnipro, Odesa and Kryvyi Rih regions said they switched off electricity to minimise the damage to critical infrastructure facilities if they were hit.
Earlier this month, the US agreed to give a Patriot missile battery to Ukraine to boost the country’s defence.
The US and other allies also pledged to provide energy-related equipment to help Ukraine withstand the attacks on its infrastructure.
Mr Podolyak said that Russia was aiming to “destroy critical infrastructure and kill civilians en masse”.
“We’re waiting for further proposals from ‘peacekeepers’ about ‘peaceful settlement,’ ‘security guarantees for RF’ and undesirability of provocations,” he wrote on Twitter, a sarcastic reference to statements from some in the West who urged Ukraine to seek a political settlement of the conflict.