Explosions rock Kyiv, other Ukrainian cities as Russia fires scores of missiles

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Rescuers work at a site of private houses heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine December 29, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential aide Kyrylo Tymoshenko via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS

Russia fired more than 100 missiles into Ukraine on Thursday morning, targetting the capital Kyiv where three people were wounded, the northeastern city of Kharkiv, and other cities in a large-scale aerial bombardment, Ukrainian authorities said.

Ukraine’s Air Force said the attacks had involved sea- and air-based cruise missiles fired “from different directions” and followed an overnight assault by ‘kamikaze’ drones. Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak put the number of missiles fired at more than 120. Air raid sirens rang out across Ukraine.

The latest blitz came hard on the heels of the Kremlin’s rejection of a Ukrainian peace plan, insisting that Kyiv must accept Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

“Two private houses in Darnytskyi district were damaged by the fragments of downed missiles,” the Kyiv city military administration said on Telegram.

It said a business and a playground were also damaged and the situation of the victims “is being clarified”. The mayor of

Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, said 16 missiles were shot down over the capital.

Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov said officials were clarifying what had been hit and whether there were any casualties after the Russian missiles caused a series of explosions.

The mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi, said on Telegram that 90% of his city in western Ukraine was without electricity and that electric-powered public transport was not running.

Explosions were also heard in Zhytomyr and Odesa, according to a Reuters correspondent and local media reports.

Air defence units shot down 21 missiles in the Odesa region in southwest Ukraine, its governor Maksym Marcheno said. The fragments of one missile hit a residential building, though no casualties were reported, he added.

Power cuts were announced in Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk regions to minimise potential damage to energy infrastructure.

Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians, but Ukraine says its daily bombardment is destroying cities, towns, and the country’s power, medical and other infrastructure.

MATERNITY WARD

Russian shelling hit the maternity wing of a hospital in the southern city of Kherson on Tuesday, though no-one was hurt, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s deputy chief of staff. Staff and patients were moved to a shelter, Tymoshenko said in a post on Telegram.

“It was frightening … The explosions began abruptly, the window handle started to tear off … oh, my hands are still shaking,” Olha Prysidko, a new mother, said. “When we came to the basement, the shelling wasn’t over. Not for a minute.”

Ukraine recaptured Kherson last month in a major victory but the city has remained under constant bombardment by Russian forces after they retreated to the east bank of the Dnipro River.

Zelenskiy, in a video address, urged Ukrainians to hug loved ones, tell friends they appreciate them, support colleagues, thank their parents and rejoice with their children more often.

“We have not lost our humanity, although we have endured terrible months,” he said. “And we will not lose it, although there is a difficult year ahead.”

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what President Vladimir Putin calls a “special military operation” to demilitarize its neighbour. Kyiv and its Western allies have denounced Russia’s actions as an imperialist-style land grab.

Sweeping sanctions have been imposed on Russia for the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people, driven millions from their homes, left cities in ruins and shaken the global economy, driving up energy and food prices.

Russian gas exports to Europe via pipelines collapsed to a post-Soviet low in 2022 as its largest customer cut imports due to the Ukraine conflict and a major pipeline was damaged by mysterious blasts, Gazprom data and Reuters calculations show.

‘TODAY’S REALITIES’

There is still no prospect of talks to end the war.

Zelenskiy is vigorously pushing a 10-point peace plan that envisages Russia respecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and pulling out all its troops.

But Moscow dismissed it on Wednesday, reiterating that Kyiv must accept Russia’s annexation of the four regions – Luhansk and Donetsk in the east, and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south. It also says Ukraine must accept the loss of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

There can be no peace plan “that does not take into account today’s realities regarding Russian territory, with the entry of four regions into Russia”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Zelenskiy’s idea of driving Russia out of eastern Ukraine and Crimea with Western help and getting Moscow to pay damages to Kyiv is an “illusion”, the RIA news agency reported.

TASS cited Lavrov as saying that Russia would continue to build up its fighting strength and technological capabilities in Ukraine. He said Moscow’s mobilised troops had undergone “serious training” and while many were now on the ground, the majority were not yet at the front.

Zelenskiy told Ukraine’s parliament to remain united and praised Ukrainians for helping the West “find itself again”.

“Our national colours are today an international symbol of courage and indomitability for the whole world,” he said in an annual speech held behind closed doors.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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