The Russians used a mix of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and drones, Zelensky said. Unlike a year ago, Ukraine’s improved, Western-provided air-defense systems, which now include the Patriot system, contained the damage, shooting down most the 110 missiles, the president added. Last year, millions of Ukrainians experienced outages when Russia repeatedly pounded the power grid.
About 18 bombers launched missiles, Ukraine’s Air Force said. Military head Gen. Valery Zaluzhny said 87 missiles and 27 strike drones were shot down out of 158 total.
The attacks — intended to exhaust Ukraine’s beefed-up air defense, according to officials — hit sites across the country, from Lviv in western Ukraine to Odessa in the south to the capital of Kyiv to Kharkiv and Dnipro in the east. Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told Ukrainian media there had never been so many targets at one time.
“This time we saw a large amount of rockets,” Ihnat said. “The screen was practically red — the monitors. They were spreading out over the whole of Ukraine. They flew with detours. Some rockets were flying in circles and would then fly on to their target.”
At least 12 people across the country were killed in the attacks with more than 75 injured. Affected buildings included a shopping mall in central Dnipro as well as a nearby maternity ward. A factory in central Kyiv was targeted, and Mayor Vitaliy Klitchsko said Friday morning that people were believed to still be trapped under the rubble. Thirteen apartment buildings and three schools in Lviv were damaged, local authorities said.
In Lviv region, a critical infrastructure facility was hit, the president’s office said, declining to say which one. Four regions experienced power outages as a result of the strikes.
“The people are shocked, such a misfortune during such a festive season,” said Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi, adding that some children would not be able to return to school after the holidays.
Ihnat, the air force spokesman, said that it was unclear what exactly the Russians were targeting, as some missiles were intercepted by Ukrainian air defense, and damage was caused by falling fragments.
“When they hit their targets, we know for 100 percent that this was their target,” Ihnat said. “When certain objects get hit, you can conclude that they were trying to aim for it. But there are also things like debris. If a flying rocket is hit, this is a large mass of metal, burning rocket fuel and so forth. And the explosives can also still be undetonated. So when the debris of this rocket falls down, it can still have serious consequences on the ground. The work of air defense, even when it’s successful, can still have serious consequences.”