Russia launched one of the largest aerial barrages during its war with Ukraine overnight Thursday and into Friday, striking areas across the country and killing at least 18 people. At least 86 people were also injured during the roughly 18-hour onslaught.

Ukrainian officials said the massive attack included 122 missiles and 36 drones striking six different cities, including the capital, Kyiv. According to Ukraine’s military chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Ukrainian forces intercepted 87 of the missiles and shot down or disabled 27 of the Shahed-type drones.

Air Force commander Mykola Oleshchuk said the overnight assault was “the most massive aerial attack” since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Previously, in November 2022, Russia launched 96 missiles into Ukraine in a single attack, the Ukrainian air force said. The largest previous attack this year was on March 9, when Russia fired 81 missiles.


Building on fire

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service, firefighters work on a site of a building damaged after a Russian attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Dec. 29, 2023.  (Ukrainian Emergency Service via AP)

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.”

A maternity hospital, apartment blocks and schools were among the buildings damaged in the attack, he added. Ukrainian officials said an unknown number of people are among the rubble and the number of deceased and injured is expected to increase.

A destroyed building

Smoke rises behind a building damaged in Russia’s missile attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Dec. 29, 2023. Russia launched about 110 missiles as well as drones against Ukrainian targets during the night Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday, in what appeared to be one of the biggest aerial barrages of the 22-month war. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said Russia “apparently launched everything they have” in the assault. The assault included S-300 and Kh-21 missiles.

The Russian aerial barrage comes as the two sides have mostly failed to make any territorial gains through the winter and as the conflict has fatigued diplomatic relations on both sides. Fighting continues along the roughly 620-mile line of contact.

Map of Ukraine

ANKARA, TURKIYE – DECEMBER 29: An infographic titled ‘Russia launches massive air attack across Ukraine’ created in Ankara, Turkiye on December 29, 2023.  (Yasin Demirci/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The scene where a missile struck a building

An aerial view of a destroyed building after the Russian strike hits the city center in Dnipro, Ukraine on December 29, 2023. Appolo mall, the Blue building, maternity hospital and many other buildings were damaged in the attack.  (Arsen Dzodzaiev/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Ukrainian officials continue to urge Western allies to provide it with more air defenses to protect itself against aerial attacks like Friday’s attack.

Western officials and analysts have warned that Russia was stockpiling its cruise missiles for months in an apparent effort to carry out massive strikes, such as Friday’s, hoping to break Ukrainians spirit.

A burning car

A car burns near a residential building following a Russian missile strike on Dec. 29, 2023, in Lviv, Ukraine.  (Oleksandr Hryvul/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

Two people were killed and 15 were injured in Odesa, on the southern coast. One person was killed and eight injured in the western city of Lviv. One person was killed and at least nine injured in Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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