Russia on Saturday renewed its campaign of attacks on Ukraine and its civilian power grid, launching dozens of missiles from ships and aircraft, and setting off explosions inside cities across the country.
The launches by bombers flying above the Caspian Sea, and Russian warships in the Black Sea, triggered air raid warnings across Ukraine. According to early estimates, the Kremlin fired at least 70 cruise missiles of various types in three waves.
It’s the third consecutive day of Russian strikes against Ukraine’s power infrastructure since Dec. 29, when three civilians died after a missile hit their apartment building.
According to a preliminary statement by the Kyiv regional administration, seven explosions hit the capital, Kyiv on Saturday Dec. 31. In the Holoseivsky a private home and automobile were damaged. In the Solomensky, a private home and a hotel were struck. In the Pechersk region a hotel was seriously damaged, as was a privately-owned building next to it.
Ukraine's Office of the President published video from Kyiv's Protasiv Yar district, a residential region with mixed apartment buildings and single-family homes, showing a massive crater in a sidewalk and smashed buildings in all directions. Eleven persons, among them at least one child, were injured in the strike, the official statement said.
Unspecified damage was reported in the riverside Dnipro region. One person was killed and at least 20 injured, according to early counts, the statement said.
Ukraine’s air defense network reported launches at 12:45. As in previous missile raids, authorities shut down large parts of the power grid prior to the actual strikes, to prevent grid damage caused by power surges.
Social media in the city Konotop, to Kyiv’s south, reported “a very great number” of missiles flying low over the Dnipro River valley. Video from Russia’s Astrakhan showed contrails of at least 27 missiles heading north.
The capital Kyiv was the primary target. In the final minutes before the missiles hit, Ukrainian social media reported Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) fighter jets racing to intercept in clear skies above the city. A Kyiv Post reporter observed a probable missile strike in the center of the city, and multiple launches of anti-aircraft missiles in the south of the city. The Kyiv city administration said one missile blew up between a pair of apartment buildings in the capital’s residential Solomyansky district.
Kyiv Post reporters heard multiple explosions in the minutes after 14:00, including a series of explosions possibly from ground cannon fire. Kyiv-based news platforms reported at least ten explosions at locations throughout the city. Missiles detonated in the city’s central Pechersk and southern Holosievsky regions, a Kyiv city statement said.
Local news agencies reported four heavy explosions in the southern city Mykolaiv. Vitaly Kim, Mykolaiv regional defense commander, said skies were clear over the city and it was not immediately clear what caused the blasts. Explosions likewise were reported in Vinnitsiya, and Kmelnitsky, where local officials reported Iran-manufactured drones had detonated.
Ukrainian air defenses reported shoot downs of Russian missiles in the Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Ternopil, and Kherson regions. Ground-to-air missile systems made most of the intercepts, but mobile anti-aircraft teams riding in pickup trucks armed with machine guns also fired on incoming missiles, the UNIAN news agency reported. Overall AFU gunners knocked down at least two thirds and probably more of the Russian weapons, the reporter Yury Tsaplienko wrote in his Telegram feed.
Oleksandr Starukh, head of the Zaporizhia regional defense administration, said two privately-owned buildings were partially destroyed and at least eight persons were injured.
New Year’s Eve is the most important holiday in both Ukraine and Russia.
Dnipro city mayor Borys Filatov in a statement published while the missiles were still in flight said: “Light/water/hear we will turn back on in any case. But you, inhumans (Russians), we will hate for centuries. It is surprising you haven’t understood that yet. You and your spawn. “
Kyiv Region head Oleksy Kuleba in a statement following the strikes said: “The terrorist state launched several waves of missiles. They’re wishing us a happy New Year. But we will stand fast.”
Unconfirmed social media images from Russia’s southern Volgograd Oblast showed buildings in the village Zhironovsk burning following a strike by a missile that went off track and hit Russian territory.
The all clear was given shortly after 4pm.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in October kicked off a campaign to attack Ukraine’s power grid in a bid, he said, to force Ukraine’s government to “cease resistance”. According to a recent national poll, 93 percent of Ukrainians said they believe Russia will eventually be defeated.
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