In a stark escalation of hostilities, Russia initiated its most extensive missile and drone attack on several Ukrainian cities, marking a distressing surge in the ongoing conflict.
Russia launched 122 missiles and 36 drones against Ukrainian targets, killing at least 27 civilians and wounding 144 across the country in what an Air Force official said was the biggest aerial barrage of the 22-month war.
The Ukrainian air force intercepted 87 of the missiles and 27 of the Shahed-type drones overnight, Ukraine’s military chief Valery Zaluzhnyi said.
Ukraine’s air defense successfully intercepted over 100 targets, Rubryka reports, citing Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Initially, the Russian forces attacked Ukraine with Shahed drones from the north and southeast. Drones were moving in the western direction, with 36 drone launches recorded. Ukrainian air defense successfully downed 27 attack drones.
Around 3:00 a.m., the Russians deployed strategic aviation, consisting of 18 Tu-95MS bombers.
At 6:00 a.m., they reached launch positions and launched at least 90 air-launched cruise missiles, including Kh-101, Kh-555, and Kh-55.
From the Kursk Oblast, Tu-22M3 bombers released eight Kh-22/Kh-32 cruise missiles toward the northern and central regions at 5:00 a.m.
Simultaneously, Russians targeted Kharkiv with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.
In total, the Russians launched at least 14 ballistic trajectory missiles — S-300/S-400/Iskander-M — from the occupied Crimea, Kursk, and Belgorod Oblasts of Russia.
At 6:30 a.m., five MiG-31K jets from the Astrakhan Oblast released five Kh-47M2 “Kinzhal” missiles.
Additionally, tactical aviation Su-35 jets launched four anti-radar missiles, one Kh-31P and one Kh-59.
As reported by Zaluzhnyi, the Russians launched a total of 158 missiles of various types and strike drones overnight.
Ukrainian air defense successfully downed 27 Shahed drones and 87 cruise missiles — Kh-101/Kh-555/Kh-55.Source: rubryka.com
The barrage of airstrikes targeted various key locations across Ukraine, including the capital city of Kyiv, alongside cities in the eastern, southern, and western regions. Russian forces reportedly launched an array of weaponry, including Kinzhal (Dagger) ballistic missiles, renowned for their challenging interception.
Tragically, civilian casualties surged as a result of the assault. In Zaporizhzhia, situated in southern Ukraine, and Dnipro, in the eastern region, seven and six people lost their lives respectively. The strikes caused significant damage to a shopping center in Dnipro and inflicted harm on a maternity hospital. The devastation extended to Kyiv, where four individuals lost their lives, and another 17 were injured, as missiles struck the capital, breaching its defenses and resulting in a warehouse being razed to the ground.
Lieutenant-General Mykola Oleschuk, head of Ukraine’s air force, categorized Friday’s offensive as the most substantial aerial attack witnessed since the inception of Russia’s full-scale invasion. The assault primarily targeted military installations, indicating a strategic escalation of the conflict.
According to the Ukrainian Air Force, the previous biggest assault was in November 2022 when Russia launched 96 missiles against Ukraine. This year, the biggest was 81 missiles on March 9, Air Force records show.
This offensive arrives amid a challenging phase for Ukraine, as its efforts for a significant counteroffensive earlier this year stalled, leaving the land war in a deadlock. Furthermore, the country’s Western allies’ support faces obstacles, with aid requests and support packages encountering blockades in both the US Congress and the European Union.
Despite Ukrainian and Western officials’ efforts to mitigate the assaults through air defense systems, the scale and diversity of Russia’s missile deployment pose significant challenges to these defense mechanisms. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized the severity of the assault, highlighting the utilization of various missiles and drones that overwhelmed existing defense systems.
Notably, Poland’s military reported a suspected Russian missile briefly entering its airspace, underscoring the widespread impact and potential spillover of the conflict beyond Ukrainian borders.
The grave escalation of hostilities underscores the urgent need for heightened international support to contain the crisis. Ukraine’s appeal for increased assistance and reinforcement of its defense capabilities has become more imperative than ever, as the conflict’s toll on civilian lives and infrastructure continues to mount, signaling an escalating humanitarian crisis in the region.