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Russia launches a new wave of missiles into Ukraine

People rest in the subway station being used as a bomb shelter during a rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Efrem Lukatsky
/
AP
People rest in the subway station being used as a bomb shelter during a rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Updated December 29, 2022 at 9:27 AM ET

KYIV, Ukraine — All of Ukraine spent much of Thursday morning under air raid alerts after Russia launched its largest air barrage in nearly two weeks. Sirens rang out in cities near the Russian border to the country's relatively peaceful west. The scale of the damage remained unclear, but Ukrainian air defenses repelled several drones and missiles throughout the attack,

Russian forces fired 69 missiles against Ukraine, according to Ukraine's Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny. He said that Ukraine shot down all but 15.

The State Emergency Service reported strikes on 10 of Ukraine's 25 regions.

Several residential buildings in the capital Kyiv were destroyed, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the lead for disaster response in the Ukrainian presidential office.

An explosion near a playground rattled the windows of nearby homes. Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko urged residents to charge their electronic devices and fill water containers in case of shortages.

Klitschko said Ukrainian air defenses intercepted all 16 missiles fired at Kyiv, and that at least three areas of the city were damaged by debris. Three people were reported injured in Kyiv from falling debris after defensive missiles shot Russian-launched ones out of the sky.

Ukrainian air defense systems shot down 21 cruise missiles near Odesa, said Maksym Marchenko, the regional administrator for that region along the Black Sea. But successful missile strikes left the city without electricity or water.

There were conflicting messages from the Ukrainian government as to how many missiles Russia fired. Mykhailo Podolyak, a top Ukrainian official, tweeted that Russia launched more than 120 missiles "to destroy critical infrastructure and kill civilians en masse." Later, the Ukrainian military said the actual number was fewer than 70. Belarusian state media reported one of Ukraine's air defense rockets landed on its territory. Last month, a Ukrainian air defense missile landed in Poland, killing two people.

Ninety percent of Lviv, a city near the Polish border, lost power, according to Mayor Andriy Sadovyi. The outage forced diesel generators to kick in to power emergency services. Public transportation there ground to a halt.

Strikes of the scale like the one launched Thursday's have become less frequent since they began Oct. 10. Earlier this week Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine's military intelligence, said that's because Russia is running low on its stock of cruise missiles.

"They used to attack with such intensity once a week, then every 10 days, and then every two weeks," he told Liga.net. "In theory they'll run out."

After Thursday's attacks, the Russian Defense Ministry posted to an official social media channel that its Kalibr missiles "will never run out."

In separate comments to Russian media Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted Moscow would continue to pursue its objectives in Ukraine with "perseverance" and "patience."

"We're in no hurry," said Lavrov.

NPR's Charles Maynes contributed to this report from Moscow.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Julian Hayda