Russia launches "most massive" missile attack on Ukrainian cities
Russia on Thursday launched its "most massive" missile barrage against Ukrainian cities since the beginning of its invasion earlier this year, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.
Why it matters: Preliminary data released by the Ukrainian Air Force indicated Russia launched a total of 69 air- and sea-based cruise missiles and anti-aircraft-guided missiles.
- Ukraine's Defense Ministry said 54 cruise missiles and 11 Iranian-made drones supplied to Russia were shot down.
- The air force released a video of at least one missile being shot down by a Ukrainian soldier armed with an Igla MANPADS.
- It was not immediately known how many civilians were killed or injured from the barrage.
What they're saying: "They dream that Ukrainians will celebrate the New Year in darkness and cold. But they cannot defeat the Ukrainian people," Ukraine's Defense Ministry said on social media.
- "Senseless barbarism. These are the only words that come to mind seeing Russia launch another missile barrage at peaceful Ukrainian cities ahead of New Year," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.
- "There can be no ‘neutrality’ in the face of such mass war crimes. Pretending to be ‘neutral’ equals taking Russia’s side," Kuleba added.
- Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, said Russia launched more than 120 missiles in total in an attempt to "destroy critical infrastructure [and] kill civilians en masse."
Belarus, a close ally of Russia that's allowed Moscow to launch attacks on Ukraine from its soil, claimed Thursday it downed a missile launched from an S-300 missile system on Ukrainian territory.
- Belarus's Ministry of Defense claimed that pieces of the missile were found in a crop field near the village of Gorbakha in the Ivanovo region of southern Belarus near the border with Ukraine.
- No causalities have been reported from the missile, and the ministry said additional details would be released.
The big picture: President Biden announced earlier this month that the U.S. would supply Ukraine with one Patriot missile defense battery.
- The Patriot system will be the most advanced air defense system sent to the country since the war began and would help it further repel future missile barrages.
- Other countries, like France and Germany, have given Ukraine various missile defense systems, too, in response to relentless missile attacks by Russia.
- In previous attacks, Russia has targeted Ukraine's critical infrastructure, like its energy grid and water infrastructure in cities, but has also struck residential buildings, killing and injuring dozens of civilians.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials have recently voiced concern that Russia may be preparing to launch an offensive on Ukraine from Belarus, as Moscow tried to at the outset of the war.
- Recent exercises by Belarus' military also prompted fears that Minsk may be preparing to join Russia's faltering invasion.
- Analysts have said the activity is likely a ploy to distract Ukraine and force it to divert more troops to its northern border.
Editor's note: This story was updated with new details about a missile Belarus claims to have shot down and additional context.