The aftermath of a Russian cruise missile attack in the Kyiv region on Dec. 29, 2022. Photo by Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.
KYIV, Ukraine — Following an air raid alert that began shortly after 6 a.m. this morning, the sounds of explosions thundered through Kyiv while Ukrainian air defenses shot down all 16 of the cruise missiles Russia targeted against the capital city.
Damage from falling debris was scattered and relatively light across Kyiv. Missile fragments wounded three people, including a 14-year-old girl, and damaged some 10 houses and a medical facility in the Kyiv region, city officials reported. Debris also fell on other places, including a school and a playground, without causing significant damage.
“We thank our air defense forces,” Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv's military administration, said in a statement.
Overall, Russia fired 69 sea- and air-launched cruise missiles, as well as converted S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, at civilian infrastructure targets across Ukraine on Thursday, Dec. 29. Of that number, Ukrainian air defenses downed 54 missiles, according to a statement by Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander in chief of Ukraine's armed forces.
Thursday’s missile strike marked Russia’s eighth large-scale assault against civilian infrastructure since the full-scale war began on Feb. 24. Ukraine's Defense Ministry wrote on Twitter that today's attack was "one of the most massive missile attacks since the beginning of the full-scale invasion."
In addition to Kyiv, explosions were reported in other cities, including Lviv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and Dnipro. The mayor of Lviv said about 90% of the city was without power.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba described Thursday's mass strike as “senseless barbarism.”
A barrage of Russian missile strikes on Oct. 10 heralded a new phase of Moscow’s full-scale war in which civilian suffering has become a key military objective. Since then, Russian missile and exploding drone attacks have steadily chipped away at Ukraine’s national power grid, as well as other utilities. Periodic blackouts have become a new staple of life in cities across Ukraine.
Despite Russia's strategic strike campaign, Ukrainian national morale remains resolute. Recent polling shows that Ukrainian civilians remain overwhelmingly confident their country will prevail over Russia.
"Has this attack broken us? It has only strengthened our will for victory," Olena Halushka, a Ukrainian anti-corruption activist, wrote Thursday on Twitter.
The crater left by a Russian missile, which hit a playground in Kyiv's Shevchenko Park on Oct. 10, 2022. Photo by Nolan Peterson/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Following Thursday's strikes, Kyiv Oblast Police Chief Andrii Nebytov issued a message on his Telegram channel, thanking Kyiv citizens who called in to a special number to report missile sightings. Those 20 citizen reports helped the military successfully down all 16 missiles fired against the city, Nebytov said.
“Thanks to the timely notification of the air defense forces, it was possible to ensure effective countermeasures against the air threat,” Nebytov said.
According to Ukraine’s air force, Russia fired a wave of exploding drones in advance of this morning’s missile launches. Thus, in addition to targeting civilian infrastructure, today’s attack also underscores an ongoing aerial war of attrition in which Russia intends to incrementally exhaust Ukraine's air defenses through concentrated missile and drone assaults.
Natalia Humeniuk, head of the Press Center of Defense Forces of South Ukraine, described today’s strikes as “a very powerful mass attack, which was aimed specifically at identifying the air defense forces.”
Generators have become a common sight in Kyiv as Russian strikes targeted the power grid in December 2022. Photo by Nolan Peterson/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Kyiv’s energy system operators enacted emergency measures to protect the power grid during today’s attack. As of 3 p.m., those precautionary shutdowns had left some 40% of the city without power. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said heating and water supplies worked as normal but urged citizens to charge their electronic devices and stock up on fresh water.
A spell of unseasonably warm weather is expected this week, with temperatures consistently above freezing. Thus the effects of an extended blackout will be less dire than during more extreme cold weather.
"It is evident that this latest massive Russian missile attack didn't scare people or [make] them less willing to resist," Ukrainian journalist Olga Tokariuk wrote Thursday on Twitter. "Ukrainians won't surrender whatever Russians do."
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