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Russian Missile Attacks Kill at Least 16 in Ukraine

Russia targeted Ukrainian cities with more than 150 missiles and drones on Friday morning, killing several people, injuring dozens of others and damaging critical infrastructure in what Ukrainian officials said was one of the largest air assaults of the war.

“This is the biggest attack since the counting began,” Yurii Ihnat, a Ukrainian Air Force spokesman, said in a brief telephone interview, adding that the military did not track air assaults in the early days of Russia’s full-scale invasion last year.

For several hours on Friday, missiles, drones and debris slammed into factories, hospitals and schools in cities across Ukraine, from Lviv in the west to Kharkiv in the east, straining the country’s air defenses and sending people scrambling for shelter. At least 16 people were killed, and nearly 100 were wounded, according to Ukraine’s prosecutor general.

Although the level of destruction countrywide has yet to come into full focus, the scale of the Russian strikes appeared to have overwhelmed Ukraine’s air defenses. The Ukrainian military said that it had shot down 114 missiles and drones, out of a total of 158.

“Today, Russia was fighting with almost everything it has in its arsenal,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in a statement, noting that Moscow had launched a complex barrage of weapons including hypersonic, cruise and air defense missiles.

Ukraine has been struggling to contain renewed Russian assaults all along the front line and is concerned about a possible shortfall in Western military assistance as the war stretches into another new year. The Ukrainian authorities had warned for months that Russia was likely to pound Ukrainian cities and target their infrastructure when cold weather began to bite, in an echo of last year’s winter campaign against civilian targets and the country’s energy grid, which plunged many areas into cold and darkness.

The country’s energy ministry said on Friday that power had been disrupted for residents in four Ukrainian regions.

Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top commander, said the attacks had also targeted critical industrial and military facilities. That was evident in Kyiv, the capital, where huge plumes of black smoke rose from several areas, cutting through the blue morning sky.

In the center of the city, the Artem factory, which the Ukrainian authorities say manufactures missiles and aircraft parts, was engulfed in columns of smoke. Inside the factory, firefighters were working to extinguish a blaze that was raging amid piles of smashed brick walls, with shards of glass cracking underneath their feet. Many were wearing helmets and bulletproof vests, worried that Russia would hit the site again, in a so-called double-tap attack.

Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said three people had died and four others had been rescued from the rubble in a strike in the neighborhood where the factory is situated.

A few miles away, columns of thick black and white smoke billowed from a warehouse. Firefighters were also at work there, and intermittent loud bangs could be heard from inside.

Workers at the warehouse said they had seen a missile slamming into the building shortly before 8 a.m. Looking shellshocked, Volodymyr Maliukhnenko, a 53-year-old employee, said he had been starting his day shift when the assault occurred. He said that the blast had thrown him about five yards and that he had temporarily lost consciousness. As he spoke, employees around him were discussing what stock might be salvageable.

“Fortunately, everyone stayed alive,” a teary-eyed Anton Moiseinko, the warehouse manager, said as he reviewed the damage.

Ukraine’s Western allies have provided its military with powerful air defense systems that have repelled many Russian attacks. But Ukraine’s supply of surface-to-air missiles — key ordnance needed to down incoming Russian missiles — is running short.

And with a front line more than 600 miles long, the anti-air defenses must be evenly distributed to protect Ukrainian troops from Russian attack helicopters and jets. This has left Kyiv’s forces in a difficult position as they juggle resources between the front line and cities such as Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipro and Lviv.

Friday’s attack struck six cities, as well as other areas across Ukraine. In the southern port city of Odesa, drone debris started a fire in a residential building, killing at least two and injuring 15, according to Oleh Kiper, the region’s governor. In the central region of Dnipropetrovsk, six people were killed as missiles hit a shopping center and high-rise residential buildings, according to Serhii Lysak, the regional governor. He said that a maternity ward was also damaged, but that no casualties were reported.

In Lviv, where missile strikes have been rare, the distant thud of explosions prompted residents to stop their morning commutes and stare toward the horizon before hurrying away. Emergency service sirens echoed through the city.

“Maternity hospital, educational institutions, shopping center, high-rise buildings and private houses, commercial warehouse,” Mr. Zelensky said in a post on the Telegram messaging app, listing sites that had been hit. His post also included footage of the attack’s aftermath, including people stepping on heaps of rubble as they escaped a burning building.

Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting from Lviv, Ukraine.

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Nathan is an experienced journalist. He's covered a broad spectrum of topics, including politics, culture, and human interest stories, always aiming to engage and inform his audience. Nathan has a degree in Journalism and upholds the highest standards of integrity and accuracy in his work.

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