Russia launches biggest drone, missile attack on Ukraine in months

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Russia launched 122 missiles and 36 drones against Ukrainian targets, officials said Friday, killing at least 20 civilians in what a Ukrainian air force official said was the biggest aerial barrage of the 22-month war.

The Ukrainian air force intercepted 87 of the missiles and 27 of the Shahed-type drones overnight, said Ukraine’s military chief, Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

Air force Cmdr. Mykola Oleshchuk wrote on his official Telegram channel that it was “the most massive aerial attack” since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

According to the Ukrainian air force, the previous biggest assault was in November 2022 when Russia launched 96 missiles against Ukraine. This year, the biggest was 81 missiles on March 9, air force records show.

Damage in multiple cities

Damage was reported in the capital of Kyiv, the central city of Dnipro, the western city of Lviv, the southeastern port of Odesa and the eastern city of Kharkiv.

Fighting along the front line is largely bogged down by winter weather after Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive failed to make a significant breakthrough along the roughly 1,000-kilometre line of contact.

Ukrainian officials have urged Western allies to provide it with more air defences to protect itself against aerial attacks like this most recent barrage. Their appeals have come as signs of war fatigue strain efforts to keep support in place.

Western officials and analysts have warned that Russia had limited its cruise missile strikes in recent months in an apparent effort to build up stockpiles for massive strikes during the winter in hopes of breaking the Ukrainians’ spirit.

At least 88 people were injured and an unknown number were buried under rubble during the roughly 18-hour onslaught, Ukrainian officials said. Among the buildings reported to be damaged across Ukraine were a maternity hospital, apartment blocks and schools.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Kremlin’s forces used a wide variety of weapons, including ballistic and cruise missiles.

“Today, Russia used nearly every type of weapon in its arsenal,” Zelenskyy said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Russia ‘launched everything they have’

Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat said Russia “apparently launched everything they have,” except for submarine-launched Kalibr missiles, in the attack.

Reports of deaths and damage came in from across the country.

Five people were killed and 20 injured in the eastern city of Dnipro, where four maternity hospital patients were rescued from a fire, officials said.

In Odesa, falling drone wreckage started a fire at a multi-storey residential building, according to the regional head, Oleh Kiper. Two people were killed and 15, including two children, were injured in the course of the Odesa attack, he
said.

Two firefighters are dwarfed by a building heavily damaged and burning as they wield hoses.
In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service, firefighters work on a site of a building damaged after a Russian attack in Kyiv on Friday. (Ukrainian Emergency Service/The Associated Press)

Lviv Mayor Andrii Sadovyi said one person was killed and eight injured, and three schools and a kindergarten were damaged in a drone attack in the region.

Several dozen missiles were launched toward Kyiv during the night, with more than 30 of them intercepted, said Serhii Poplo, head of the Kyiv military administration. The attack started a fire at a warehouse in the capital’s Podil district, where five people reportedly were pulled from the rubble.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said the city was subjected to at least three waves of aerial attacks overnight that included S-300 and Kh-21 missile launches. One person was killed and at least nine injured, officials said.

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Russia launches biggest drone, missile attack on Ukraine in months

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