Ukraine urges increased support as Russia unleashes huge air assault

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Cities and infrastructure across the country are hit with Russian drones and missiles, killing nine, injuring dozens.

Russia has unleashed a huge air assault against Ukraine, illustrating Kyiv’s desperate need for additional defence capabilities.

A wave of Russian strikes, using drones and several types of missiles, battered Ukrainian cities on Friday, in one of the largest and fiercest bombardments in recent months. With civilian areas across the country hit, Ukrainian officials said that the broadside shows the need for increased support from international partners, which it is struggling to secure.

At least 12 people are reported to have been killed and 75 injured as Russia targeted the capital, Kyiv, the northern city of Kharkiv, eastern Dnipro, Odesa in the south, and Lviv in the west.

With the front line largely bogged down in trench warfare, Russia has in recent weeks returned to its tactic from last winter, during which it targeted infrastructure, especially energy and heating, leaving millions of Ukrainians struggling to stay warm.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal noted that the barrage on Friday targeted critical infrastructure. The energy ministry reported that four Ukrainian regions in the north and south were facing power cuts.

Missiles and drones were also reported to have hit numerous civilian sites, including residential buildings. Falling debris caused fires in a residential building and a warehouse in Kyiv and blasts were heard in Lviv, officials said.

A metro station building in Kyiv being used as a shelter was damaged, Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said on the Telegram messenger app. Twenty-two Russian strikes were recorded in Kharkiv, damaging a hospital, residential buildings and an industrial facility, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.

“We understand that four areas have been hit here in the capital, Kyiv,” Al Jazeera’s Assed Baig reported. “Dnipro we’ve heard from the mayor there that said there are dead and injured and that the rescue teams are working. Now in the western city of Lviv, we heard two sites were hit there and again rescue teams are working through the damage.”

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that overall, 110 drones and missiles were fired at Ukraine overnight; the highest number in a single night.

The air force later reported that it had destroyed 114 out of 158 missiles and drones.

The surge in Russian attacks has been linked to a successful Ukrainian strike on a Russian warship in Crimea earlier this week.

Hard to intercept

Kyiv leaped upon the barrage to insist that it illustrates the keen need for increased support from its Western allies, which has become bogged down by political manoeuvring in Washington and Brussels.

Hypersonic, cruise and ballistic missiles, including the X-22 type, which are extremely hard to intercept, were used in the attacks, said Ukraine’s Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat. “We have not had so many red enemy targets on our monitors for a long time,” he noted.

“We are doing everything to strengthen our air shield. But the world needs to see that we need more support and strength to stop this terror,” presidential aide Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the United States for releasing the last remaining package of weapons available for Ukraine under existing authorisation.

But uncertainty surrounds further aid. The US, Ukraine’s biggest single-country donor, has sent more than $40bn since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, but right-wing Republicans are opposing President Joe Biden’s bid to win approval for additional spending.

The impasse is mirrored in the European Union, where Hungary is blocking a 50 billion euro ($55bn) aid package. The bloc is due to revisit the issue in January, but it is understood that it will be unable to uphold promises to send 1 million ammunition rounds.

Zelenskyy, meanwhile, continues to urge the West to raise its backing. “To defend freedom and security not only in Ukraine and Europe but also in the United States, we must continue to respond to ongoing Russian aggression,” he said.

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Ukraine urges increased support as Russia unleashes huge air assault

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