Major urban centers in Ukraine were targeted on Thursday morning with a massive missile barrage. It was one of the largest bombardments since the conflict began in February.
According to the Ukrainian Air Force, Russian forces launched missiles from multiple positions—from both land and sea.
Cities hit by the missile strikes suffered power outages and damage to infrastructure. First responders conducted search and rescue missions to help injured civilians. The full scale of the damage remains unclear.
The missile strike
According to Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, approximately 120 missiles were launched against urban areas in Ukraine. The Ukrainian military reported that sixty-nine missiles were fired of which fifty-four were intercepted.
The barrage lasted for about five hours. Russian forces launched the missiles from the land and sea. Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the Military Administration in the city of Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, said that missiles had been launched at the city from Russian ships and aircraft positioned in the Black Sea.
Kamikaze drones were also reportedly used. Russian forces use the Iranian-made HESA Shahed 136—designated Geran-2 in Russian service—to attack ground targets at long range. The drones loiter in the sky over targets until instructed to attack.
The barrage was mostly directed at major cities and urban areas, including the capital Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Zhytomyr, and Odesa.
Vitaly Klitschko, Kyiv’s mayor, said that at least four people were taken to hospital after sustaining injuries from the missile strike. One of the casualties was a fourteen-year-old girl. Two homes in the capital were damaged by debris from intercepted missiles.
Четверо постраждалих внаслідок вибухів у столиці госпіталізовані в медзаклади Києва. Одному потерпілому медики надали допомогу на місці.
— Віталій Кличко (@Vitaliy_Klychko) November 23, 2022
The most far-reaching impact of the attacks is on Ukraine’s energy grid. Power cuts were caused across the country by the missile strikes. Ukraine Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko commented that this was due to the damage sustained by power-generating facilities.
About ninety percent of Lviv and forty percent of Kyiv were affected by power outages according to the mayors of the two cities. The Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk regions also experienced power cuts.
Russian forces have intensified attacks against Ukraine’s energy grid since the onset of the colder months. In November, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Kremlin of “energy terrorism.”
Ukrainian air defenses
According to Ukrainian officials and media outlets, damage caused by the incoming missiles was largely minimized by Ukraine’s air defense systems which intercepted a significant number of projectiles.
Vitalii Kim, the governor of Mykolaiv Oblast, said that five missiles were shot down by air defenses in the southern Ukrainian region. Governor Maksym Marchenko also claimed that twenty-one missiles were intercepted over the Odesa region.
The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine wrote on Twitter that all sixteen missiles that were fired at Kyiv were intercepted and shot down. Damage to the capital was caused by debris falling from intercepted missiles, but this was far less extensive than it would have been if the missiles had hit their targets uninterrupted.
Boosting capabilities to counter Russian missile attacks and airstrikes has become a strategic priority for Ukraine. Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden pledged to send Ukraine a Patriot missile system battery to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses.
Today, russia launched 16 missiles at Kyiv. All of them were shot down.
This is a real photo and it is a symbol of the real resistance of the Ukrainian people to russian occupiers.
So it was and always will be.
Until the Victory! pic.twitter.com/FRgWsisOZW
— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) December 29, 2022