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Russia missile strikes intensify aerial war with Ukraine

Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire in a multi-storey residential building destroyed by a missile attack in central Kyiv, on Jan. 2, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian strikes on Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, and the northeastern city of Kharkiv killed at least five people. (Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Ukraine said at least four people were killed in Russian missile strikes in the early hours of Tuesday that mainly targeted the country’s largest cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv.

Another 92 people were wounded, though the casualties would have been in the hundreds if Ukraine’s partners hadn’t boosted the country’s air defenses, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on social media platform X.

An exchange of aerial strikes has intensified in recent days as the Kremlin’s invasion approaches its third year and the ground conflict is mired in a stalemate, with neither Russia nor Ukraine able to make a significant breakthrough. Kyiv has pleaded with Western allies for more support to tilt the war in its favor.

Attacks against Ukrainian cities flared up after a cruise missile claimed a large Russian landing ship at the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia last week. A deadly strike on Belgorod, a Russian city near the Ukrainian border, prompted warnings from President Vladimir Putin that more assaults would follow.

The area was targeted again on Tuesday, shortly after Moscow’s forces sent almost hundred missiles toward Ukraine. Russia’s military claimed it downed 17 missiles over the Belgorod region, the Defense Ministry said on its Telegram channel. One person was killed and five injured, according to Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.

Meanwhile, two people were left dead in Kyiv and at least 49 wounded as result of Russia’s latest assault, which resulted in several districts of the capital without electricity or water, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram.

Air raid sirens could be heard across the country as the military sought to repel the barrage. Neighboring Poland scrambled two pairs of F-16 jets earlier on Tuesday in response to Russia’s long-range targeting of Ukraine, the country’s operational command said on X.

The Russian Defense Ministry said it had targeted Ukraine’s defense-industry facilities near Kyiv, according to the state-run Tass news service.

As was the case during a record year-end barrage, Russia fired a combination of various types of missiles from several directions, Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said on Telegram. Ukraine downed 72 of the 99 missiles launched on Tuesday, he said.

As hostilities spike, there was no immediate sign of the conflict approaching its endgame. Putin, who is facing election in March, said on Monday that Russia doesn’t want to fight “endlessly” in Ukraine, but won’t give up its positions and is ready for peace only on its own terms.

As missiles pounded Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry said an “emergency discharge of ordnance” from a warplane led to a village inside Russia being hit, according to Interfax. There were no casualties, but several buildings were damaged in the Voronezh region village of Petropavlovka, Governor Alexander Gusev said on Telegram.

Tuesday’s bombardment follows large-scale drone attacks around New Year’s Eve. Ukraine shot down 87 Russian explosive-laden drones in the night of Jan. 1 and another 35 drones the day after, launched from occupied Crimea peninsula and Russian territory, Ukraine’s military said.

Russia also launched missiles on Tuesday at the northeastern city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest, killing one person and wounding more than 40, regional Governor Oleh Synehubov said.

Kyiv has come under growing strain as more than $110 billion in total aid from the European Union and the US is held up by political infighting. In a letter to donors last month, Ukraine’s premier said his country confronts “exceptionally high uncertainty” over its budget at the start of the year.

The UK last week said it’s shipping about 200 missiles to bolster the country’s air defenses in the wake of Russia’s intensified strikes.


© 2024 Bloomberg News

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