Russia launches cruise missile barrage on Ukraine after long pause

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Russia fired a barrage of cruise missiles at targets in Ukraine early Friday morning after a nearly 80-day pause, Ukrainian officials said.

The air raid in Kyiv lasted almost two hours but all missiles heading towards the Ukrainian capital were destroyed by air defenses, according to Serhii Popko, head of the Kyiv city military administration.

Some homes were damaged in Kyiv as a result of falling debris from “downed enemy targets,” the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said.

But a missile that hit the city of Pavlohrad in Ukraine’s central Dnipropetrovsk region killed one and injured four others, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.

In the eastern Kharkiv region, one person was killed and several others injured in overnight strikes, Klymenko said. A five-story residential building was damaged in Kupiansk district, while at least seven apartment buildings and more than 20 cars were damaged in the city of Kharkiv.

Russia struck Kharkiv with six S-300 missiles, the head of Kharkiv region’s military administration Oleh Syniehubov wrote on Telegram. The Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office said it had launched an investigation into the strike.

The barrage of 19 missiles across Ukraine was the first such attack in more than two months, as Western intelligence assessments warned Russia is likely to expand its bombardment of civilian infrastructure during the winter.

Of the 19 missiles fired, 14 were destroyed in the Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions, according to Yurii Ihnat, spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force Command.

“After a long pause of 79 days, the enemy resumed attacks with cruise missiles launched by Tu-95MS strategic aircraft. Preliminarily, approximately 10 bomber missile carriers fired cruise missiles of the Kh-101/555/55 type from the Engels city area, Saratov region,” Popko wrote on Telegram Friday.

The latest major cruise missile attack on Ukraine was on September 21, with 43 missiles launched and 36 intercepted, according to data from the Air Force Command’s official Telegram account.

On November 25, Russia launched what Ukrainian officials said was the biggest drone attack since the start of the full-scale invasion, targeting Ukraine with 75 Iranian-made Shahed drones.

And on Wednesday, a further 48 Shaheds were launched, according to the Air Force Command data.

The deputy chief of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Vadym Skibitsky said in November that Russia would likely use a combination of missiles and drones to attack Ukrainian infrastructure this winter.

Last year, with limited Ukrainian air defenses in operation, Russia was able to target Ukraine’s energy grid in an attempt to break Ukrainian resilience with punishing blackouts.

This winter, defense and energy officials say Ukraine is better prepared. But Skibitsky warned Russia’s strikes “will definitely not be such primitive attacks as last year.”

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