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Ukraine war latest: Russia's largest air attack on Ukraine kills 30, injures over 160

by Daria Shulzhenko and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 29, 2023 11:44 PM 7 min read
First responders work around the destroyed shopping mall that was hit by Russia's massive strike on Dnipro on Dec. 29, 2023. Russia's air attack killed at least six and injured 30 people in Dnipro, according to the local authorities. The strikes on Dnipro were part of Russia's largest air attack against Ukraine that targeted multiple cities across the country with 158 missiles and drones. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Key developments on Dec. 29:

  • Russia's mass missile and drone attack targets multiple Ukrainian regions, killing 30
  • Zelensky visits Ukrainian positions in Donetsk Oblast's Avdiivka amid heavy fighting
  • Russian missile likely entered Polish airspace during mass attack on Ukraine; Duda holds emergency meeting
  • US ambassador says Ukraine needs funding; UK announces new air defense aid package after massive Russian attack.

Russia unleashed its largest air attack on Ukraine on Dec. 29, targeting multiple Ukrainian regions with 158 missiles and drones.

The attack killed 30 people and injured over 160 as of 7:30 p.m., according to Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko. The number of victims might increase as rescue operations continued as of 8 p.m. Casualties were previously reported in Kyiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Lviv, Kharkiv, and Zaporizhzhia.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was "the most massive attack." Air Force also said it was "the largest air attack."

Ukraine downed 114 of 158 Russian missiles and drones, according to the Air Force. Among the downed targets were 27 Russian Shahed attack drones and 87 cruise missiles.

In total, Russia launched 36 drones, at least 90 Kh-101/Kh-555/Kh-55 cruise missiles, eight Kh-22/Kh-32 cruise missiles, 14 S-300/S-400/Iskander ballistic missiles, as well as five Kinzhal ballistic missiles, four anti-radar missiles, and one Kh-59 cruise missile.

"Russia was fighting with almost everything it has in its arsenal," Zelensky wrote on Telegram in the morning following the attack.

Air Force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat said on air that an attack of this scale "has not been seen for a long time."

Zelensky said the attack destroyed or damaged over 100 private houses, along with 45 multi-story buildings, schools, two churches, hospitals, maternity wards, and numerous commercial and warehouse premises across Ukraine. "Targets are already familiar for Russia," he said.

Graph by Nizar Al-Rifai

In Kyiv, nine people were killed, and 30 others were injured as of 6:30 p.m., according to the Kyiv City Military Administration. Several apartment buildings, warehouses, an office center, a residential house, and a metro station were damaged in different neighborhoods of the capital.

In Dnipro, six civilians are confirmed to have been killed, and at least 30 were injured as of around 4:30 p.m., Governor Serhii Lysak reported. A shopping center and a maternity hospital were hit in the attack there.

"At the time of the missile attack on the maternity ward in Dnipro, there were 12 women in labor. Additionally, there were four newborns," Lysak wrote on Telegram. No casualties were reported among them.

In Odesa, four people were killed, and 27 were injured, Governor Oleh Kiper said on air. The attack damaged 21 residential buildings, Kiper said.

"Due to human casualties caused by the Russian missile attack, mourning will be declared tomorrow in Odesa and oblast," he wrote on Telegram in the evening.

Eight people are known to have been killed in Zaporizhzhia as of 5:30 p.m., the regional governor Yurii Malashko reported. Two hours before this statement, he said 13 were injured.

Kharkiv was hit by 20 strikes, killing three people and injuring at least 13, Governor Oleh Syniehubov said.

One person was killed, and 30 people were injured in Lviv Oblast in western Ukraine, where residential buildings and two schools were damaged.

In his evening address, Zelensky said that Ukraine's air defense forces "have done a lot today, considering that Russian terrorists deliberately tried to bypass our defenses."

"We will continue to strengthen our air defense and work toward pushing the war back to where it came from — home to Russia."

Russia launches largest air attack on Ukraine since start of full-scale war
Local authorities have reported civilian casualties in Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipro, Kharkiv, and Odesa after Russia unleashed a barrage of attack drones and missiles overnight, targeting regions across Ukraine on Dec. 29.

Zelensky in Avdiivka

On Dec. 29, Zelensky visited the positions of Ukraine's 110th Separate Mechanized Brigade in embattled Avdiivka amid Russian attempts to encircle the eastern town just kilometers from occupied Donetsk.

Russia intensified its attacks against Avdiivka in early October, suffering heavy losses there as Ukrainian forces continued to defend the now-destroyed town, largely preventing Russia from securing significant gains.

During Zelensky's trip, the brigade's commander briefed him on the operational situation on the battlefield and the status of defensive actions.

"According to the commander, the Russian invaders do not spare people, but our defenders hold their positions and even capture enemy soldiers," the Presidential Office wrote.

The president also discussed with the soldiers their most pressing needs, which included replenishing personnel and electronic warfare equipment. "At the same time, the fighters noted that the supply of drones has improved significantly recently," reads the report.

Zelensky also presented soldiers with state awards and thanked them for their service.

"Thank you to everyone on the front lines for your service throughout this year. The entire country says thanks to warriors like you—those who defend our state despite everything. To those who consistently deliver combat results every day, we express our gratitude," he wrote on Telegram.

During his trip, Zelensky also visited a military hospital in Donetsk Oblast, which receives wounded soldiers "from stabilization points of operational-tactical groups 'Lyman' and 'Soledar.'"

"Engaging with our soldiers and honoring them with awards is very important to me," he wrote on Telegram.

"Big thank you to our military medics. Every act of assistance now is a manifestation of our collective strength. Thank you for healing, saving lives, and bringing our heroes back to life."

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Russian missile likely entered Polish airspace

A Russian missile likely entered Polish airspace amid Russia's mass attack against Ukraine in the early morning of Dec. 29, Wieslaw Kukula, chief of the general staff of the Polish armed forces, said.

"Everything indicates that a Russian missile has entered Polish airspace," Kukula told reporters, as cited by the Polish media outlet RMF24. "We have national and allied radar confirmation of this."

"We have sent groups to verify the confirmed missile flight path to see if there was any technical error," Kukula added.

It was reported earlier in the day that Polish President Andrzej Duda has convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council after the Polish army's Operational Command said that an unidentified object had entered Poland's airspace.

According to Polish media outlet RMF24, witnesses saw the object "moving at great speed" above the village of Dolhobyczow in Lublin Voivodeship, which is less than 5 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

General Maciej Klisz, operational commander of the Polish military, said the missile likely spent less than three minutes in the country's airspace and then went back over Ukraine.

"The entire flight path over Polish territory was being monitored," Klisz said at the press conference, as cited by Reuters. "At the moment, the scenario that I am recommending is that the missile left Poland's airspace."

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Kuleba: ‘Europe doesn’t know how to fight wars’
Sitting down with the Kyiv Independent for an interview in Kyiv, Ukraine’s top diplomat is sharply dressed and in a good mood. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is among the last Ukrainian top officials who still prefers a suit to a military-style garb. He’s happy with the work his ministry has

Aid for Ukraine

Following the Russian morning mass attack, U.K. Defense Minister Grant Shapps announced that his country would send Ukraine "hundreds of air defense missiles" to restock air defense systems provided by London earlier.

"Putin is testing Ukraine's defenses and the West's resolve, hoping that he can clutch victory from the jaws of defeat. But he is wrong. Ukraine's degradation of the Russian Black Sea Fleet has proven it is still in this fight to win," Shapps said on X.

"And today's air defense package sends an undeniable message, in the face of Russian barbarity, that the U.K. remains absolutely committed to supporting Ukraine."

Earlier in the day, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink said in a social media post that "Ukraine needs funding now to continue to fight for freedom."

"This is what Ukrainians see on their phones this morning: and as a result, millions of men, women, and children are in bomb shelters as Russia fires missiles across the country," Brink captioned an image that showed a phone screenshot of air raid alert notifications.

The U.S. Congress has been unable to pass a $61 billion funding package for Ukraine amid months of infighting, leading to huge uncertainty over Ukraine's ability to finance its defense in 2024.

In his latest address, Zelensky also said that it is "crucial for the world to react to this latest act of terror."

"Many leaders today have already declared their support for Ukraine and Ukrainians, and I am grateful to each one. Especially to those who have assisted our country with air defense."

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