Russia unleashes missiles but Ukraine says most were shot down

Russia unleashes missiles but Ukraine says most were shot down
A damaged building and a car are seen after a Russian strike in the village of Novosofiivka in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on Monday December 5 2022 (Zaporizhzhia region military administration/AP)

Russia has unleashed a “massive missile attack” across Ukraine, hitting homes and buildings, killing civilians and disrupting power and water supplies.

Ukraine’s air force said it shot down more than 60 of the 70 missiles fired.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, drove a car across a bridge linking his country to Crimea following its repair from a truck bombing in October which embarrassed Moscow.

Russia responded to the bridge attack by firing waves of missiles at Ukrainian infrastructure targets in the weeks that followed, and Monday’s onslaught was the latest round of retaliatory strikes.

Russia is seeking to disable Ukraine’s energy supplies and infrastructure as winter approaches — part of a new strategy in its nine-month war.

The onslaught of attacks also came hours after Russian media reported two explosions at air bases inside Russia.

The Russian defence ministry said it shot down Ukrainian drones which carried out the attack – and that three Russian servicemen were killed by debris.

Four other Russian servicemen were wounded by fragments of the drones intercepted at the bases in the Saratov and Ryazan regions, the defence ministry said in Moscow.

The ministry said two Russian aircraft were slightly damaged by drone fragments.

Authorities in the Saratov region along the Volga River said they were checking reports about an explosion in the area of the Engels air base, which houses Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

Regional media reported sounds of a powerful explosion near the Engels base, and some residents were quoted as saying they saw a flash of light coming from the area.

Ukraine has not commented on the possible cause of the blasts at the bases.

But, defiant as ever, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised his military forces and the technicians who snapped into action to repair the damage caused by Russia’s missiles.

“Air defence shot down most of the missiles,” he said in brief comments on social media.

“Power engineers have already started to restore electricity. Our people never give up.”

Ukraine’s air force said early indications showed Russian forces fired 38 cruise missiles from carriers in the Caspian Sea and from the southern Russian region of Rostov.

Another 22 Kalibr cruise missiles were fired from its Black Sea fleet, and long-range bombers, fighter jets and guided missiles were also involved, it said.

A Ukrainian serviceman flies a drone during an operation against Russian positions at an undisclosed location in the Donetsk region (Roman Chop/AP)

“In total, more than 60 invaders’ missiles were shot down!” the air force said on its Telegram channel.

Ukraine’s electricity provider, Ukrenergo, lashed out at Russia over “the eighth massive missile attack by a terrorist country”, saying its facilities had been hit, triggering blackouts.

It urged residents to stay in shelters as its crews tried to repair the damage.

In the capital of Kyiv, scores of people quickly filled the central Zoloti Vorota metro station after the warnings and many checked their phones for updates.

There were no immediate signs of whether the city or the surrounding region was hit.

Air raid sirens sounded across the country.

Ukrainian media reported explosions in several parts of the country south of Kyiv, including Cherkasy, Kryvyi Rih and Odesa.

Officials said water, electricity and central heating was cut to many parts of Odesa.

(PA Graphics)

“The enemy is again attacking the territory of Ukraine with missiles!” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, wrote on Telegram.

Mr Tymoshenko said two people were killed and three others hurt — including a 22-month-old child — in the village of Novosofiyivka in the southern Zaporizhzhya region.

In neighbouring Moldova, the interior ministry said on its Facebook page border patrol officers found a rocket in an orchard near the northern city of Briceni near Ukraine.

Emergency services, including a bomb squad, were sent to the scene.

Controls in the vicinity have also been tightened, the ministry said.

It was not immediately clear when the rocket may have landed or who fired it.

Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita stopped short of saying when the missile might have fallen but said “a new wave of missile attacks is taking place in Ukraine, which has direct consequences for our country”. She said Moldova could suffer further power outages in the new Russian strikes.

Mr Putin’s drive across the bridge over the Kerch Strait was an important sign Russia was able to recover from setbacks and repair the span quickly after the October 8 truck bomb which severed a key link from Crimea to the mainland.

People rest in a subway station being used as a bomb shelter during a rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday December 5 2022 (Andrew Kravchenko/AP)

He also spoke to workers and discussed the repairs with a senior government official responsible for the project.

Mr Putin had inaugurated the bridge in a highly symbolic move after the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Mr Zelensky’s office said three rocket strikes hit his hometown of Kryvyi Rih in south-central Ukraine, killing a factory worker and injuring three others.

In the north-eastern region of Kharkiv, a person was killed in strikes by S-300 missiles on civilian infrastructure in the town of Kupyansk, it said.

The war, which began with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, has displaced millions from their homes, killed and injured tens of thousands of people and shaken the world economy — notably through the fallout on the prices and availability of food, fertiliser and fuel, which are key exports from Ukraine and Russia.

Western countries on Monday imposed a 60-US-dollar-per-barrel (£49.24) price cap and a ban on some types of Russian oil, part of new measures aimed at stepping up pressure on Moscow over the war.

The move has prompted a rejection from the Kremlin and also criticism from Mr Zelensky — whose government wants the cap to be half as high.

Russian deputy prime minister Alexander Novak, who is in charge of energy issues, warned in televised comments on Sunday Russia will not sell its oil to countries trying to apply the cap.

“We will only sell oil and oil products to the countries that will work with us on market terms, even if we have to reduce output to some extent,” Mr Novak said hours before the price cap took effect.

The 27-country European bloc also imposed an embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea.

Russia, the world’s number two oil producer, relies on oil and gas to underpin its economy, which has already come under sweeping international sanctions over the war.

In recent weeks, Russia has been pounding Ukrainian infrastructure — including power plants — with military strikes and keeping an offensive going in the east, notably in and around the town of Bakhmut.

Russian forces have also been digging in near the southern city of Kherson, which was recaptured by Ukrainian forces last month after an eight-month occupation.

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