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Ukraine news: Explosions rock multiple cities as Russia launches ‘100 missiles’

Russia has unleashed one of its largest missile attacks on Ukraine since the start of the war, hitting several cities and reportedly wounding civilians.

The country’s presidential office adviser Oleksiv Arestovych wrote on Facebook: “A massive air raid. More than 100 missiles in several waves”.

Three people were said to have been injured in Kyiv, one city alongside Zhytomyr and Odesa, where explosions were heard. Power cuts hit the Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk regions.

Russian forces earlier renewed their attacks on Kherson, battering the strategic city with mortar and artillery attacks.

Ukraine’s armed forces said Russian troops shelled more than 25 settlements around Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, causing civilian casualties and damaging homes.

But a number of Russian forces were also abandoning their positions around Zaporizhzhia, the Ukrainian military’s top command said.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian missile fell into Belarus territory, the Belarus’ state-run news agency says.

The Minsk defence ministry says it is investigating whether its air defence systems shot down the rocket or whether it was a misfire, after the news agency published a photo of what it said were parts of a S-300 missile in a field.

See below how our live coverage unfolded.

Key Points

03:37 , Arpan Rai

Good morning, welcome to our coverage of the Ukraine war on Thursday, 29 December.

No place in Bakhmut ‘not covered with blood

04:01 , Arpan Rai

There is no place in the frontline city of Bakhmut “not covered with blood”, Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

The Ukraine president added that “only a few “ civilians remain in the city, in the eastern province of Donetsk.

“Last year, 70,000 people lived there. Now only a few civilians are left there,” he said in a Telegram post.

“There is no place that is not covered with blood. There is no hour when the terrible roar of artillery does not sound. Still, Bakhmut stands.”

Kherson bombed and shelled in renewed attacks

04:39 , Arpan Rai

Russian forces have intensified mortar and artillery attacks on the city of Kherson in a renewed bid to retake the city by military force as the critical southern port city.

More than 25 settlements around Kherson and Zaporizhzhia have been shelled, Ukraine’s general staff of armed forces said, adding that the relentless attacks have caused civilian casualties along with damage to civilian infrastructure.

Russia rejects Zelensky’s ‘peace formula’ - report

05:05 , Arpan Rai

Russia will not use Volodymyr Zelensky’s ‘peace formula’ as a plank for negotiations on ending the war in Ukraine, Moscow’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said todya.

The top minister from the Putin regime added that he believes Kyiv is still not ready for real peace talks.

He added that Ukraine’s idea of driving Russia out of eastern region and Crimea with western help was “an illusion” despite the ground reports which show a fierce counterattack from Ukrainian soldiers who have been fighting the grinding battle there since the summer now.

Russian troops likely culminating around Bakhmut - US think tank

05:13 , Arpan Rai

Experts monitoring the ongoing fierce fighting in eastern Ukraine’s Bakhmut region are assessing the Russian forces to have reached a crescendo with visible factors like top Ukrainian military officers being able to go to frontline without any difficulty.

Citing the indicators, the US-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War said: “Senior Ukrainian officials are visiting frontline positions unimpeded.”

“Russian airborne forces are reportedly augmenting Wagner” and that the Russian forces are “operating in squad-sized assault groups due to combat losses,” indicating that the fighting is inching towards a stalemate.

“Culminated Russian forces could continue to carry out assaults but would be very unlikely to make operationally significant gains,” the think tank said.

British ex-soldier fighting in Ukraine saved by the body of his friend

05:34 , Arpan Rai

A British ex-soldier has made it back to the UK after surviving a barrage of Russian shelling in Ukraine.

Shareef Amin, 40, nicknamed Rambo, suffered wounds to every limb when he was hit by Putin’s troops in October.

He was buried under the body of a fellow soldier in a trench, but managed to drag himself out before travelling abroad for treatment.

Now he is finally back in the UK after being airlifted out, and is awaiting reconstructive surgery.

British ex-soldier fighting in Ukraine saved by the body of his friend

Air raid sirens go off across Ukraine

06:17 , Arpan Rai

Officials have sounded air raid alerts across every Ukrainian oblast, including occupied Crimea this morning, reported The Kyiv Independent.

People have been asked to immediately take shelter.

Russia deploys more ships in Black Sea

06:24 , Arpan Rai

Russia has sent more ships, including two surface and submarine missile carriers, on combat duty in the Black Sea, the Ukrainian southern operational command said today.

It added that these ships are equipped with 20 Kalibr missiles.

Russia struggling to counter air threats deep inside its territory - MoD

06:47 , Arpan Rai

Russia is facing difficulties in countering air threats deep inside the country and defending strategic air base, the British defence ministry said today, citing the attack on its Engels Air Base which was attacked for the second time in three weeks on Monday.

“Russia has long given a very high priority to maintaining advanced ground based air defences, but it is increasingly clear that it is struggling to counter air threats deep inside Russia,” the ministry said today in its latest intelligence update.

It pointed to Russian media reports blaming the uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the strike on the facility, one of the main operating bases of Russia’s strategic bomber fleet.

“One challenge for Russia is probably the exceptional demand on its fleet of modern, medium-range air defence systems, such as SA-22 Pantsir, which would typically be expected to take a major role in countering UAVs,” the MoD said.

It added: “As well as providing point defence for strategic sites such as Engels, these systems are currently required in large number to protect field headquarters near the front line in Ukraine.”

Several regions of Ukraine hit by missile attacks

07:28 , Holly Bancroft

Several regions of Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, have been hit by multiple missile attacks this morning.

Air raid sirens rang out across the country and in Kyiv the regional administration said that air defence systems have been activated to fend off the continuing attack.

The attack is the latest in a series of Russian strikes targeting vital infrastructure across Ukraine. Moscow has launched these attacks on a weekly basis since October.

‘More than 100 missiles'

08:01 , Holly Bancroft

Ukraine has been rocked by a fresh round of Russian missile strikes this morning as blasts were heard in several cities.

Ukraine’s presidential office adviser Oleksiv Arestovych wrote on Facebook: “A massive air raid. More than 100 missiles in several waves”.

Explosions were heard in Kyiv, Zhytomyr and Odesa, according to local media and Reuters. Power cuts were also announced in the Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk regions.

Authorities said that they had switched off the electricity to minimise the damage to critical infrastructure facilities if they are hit.

Russian missiles hit Kharkiv

08:29 , Holly Bancroft

The mayor of eastern Ukraine‘s Kharkiv reported on Thursday that Russian missiles had struck the city and caused a series of explosions.

Ihor Terekhov said officials were clarifying what had been hit and whether there were any casualties.

A local man packs a hot meal received from volunteers of
A local man packs a hot meal received from volunteers of

Missiles launched from the Black Sea

09:11 , Holly Bancroft

The barage of missiles was likely launched from Russian “ships and planes from the Black Sea”, Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the military administration in the central city of Kryvyi Rih, has said.

He added that power in the city has been switched off as a “precaution”.

Ukraine’s southern command had issued a warning before the attack that Russian forces were preparing to launch up to 20 missiles from positions in the Black Sea.

First pictures from missile strikes in Kyiv

10:02 , Holly Bancroft

The first pictures have come through of the damage done by Russian missile strikes on Kyiv this morning.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
Rescuers work at a site of private houses heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv (via REUTERS)
Rescuers work at a site of private houses heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv (via REUTERS)

More details on the scope of this morning’s attack

10:15 , Holly Bancroft

Ukraine’s air force has said that the Russian attacks had involved sea and air-based cruise missiles fired “from different directions” and was followed by “kamikaze” drones.

Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak has put the number of missiles fired at more than 120. The latest blitz came hard on the heels of the Kremlin’s rejection of a Ukrainian peace plan, insisting that Kyiv must accept Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

“Two private hours in Darnytskyi district were damaged by the fragments of downed missiles,” the Kyiv city military administration said on Telegram.

The mayor of Kyiv said 16 missiles were shot down over the capital. The mayor of Lviv said on Telegram that 90 per cent of his city was without electricity and that electric-powered public transport was not running.

Air defence units shot down 21 missiles in the Odesa region in southwest Ukraine, its governor Makysym Marcheno said.

Two people injured in Russian attack on Kherson

10:29 , Holly Bancroft

The deputy head of the office of the President of Ukraine, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, has said that two people have been injured in an attack on a medical facility in Kherson.

He said on Telegram: “Medical facilities are under fire almost every day. The other day it was a maternity hospital. Today, as a result of Russian shelling of the city, the regional cardiology dispensary was damaged.

“Two people were injured - a security guard and an employee of the boiler house. The roof, windows and facade of one of the buildings were destroyed in the building.”

Ukraine’s military says it has shot down 54 Russian missiles

10:45 , Holly Bancroft

Ukraine‘s military said it had shot down 54 missiles out of 69 launched by Russia in its latest wave of air strikes.

“This morning, the aggressor launched air and sea-based cruise missiles, anti-aircraft guided missiles to the S-300 ADMS at energy infrastructure facilities of our country,” wrote Ukraine‘s top general, Valery Zaluzhny, on Telegram.

Ukraine’s defence ministry issues defiant message after Russian missiles

11:01 , Holly Bancroft

Ukraine’s defence ministry has tweeted a defiant message after Russia sent “more than 100 missiles” into Ukraine this morning.

They said: “Russian terrorists have been saving one of the most massive missile attacks since the beginning of the full-scale invasion for the last days of the year.

“They dream that Ukrainians will celebrate the New Year in the darkness and cold. But they cannot defeat the Ukrainian people.”

Fighting between Russia and Ukraine is at a deadlock - intelligence chief says

11:16 , Holly Bancroft

Fighting between Russian and Ukraine is at a deadlock, Ukraine’s head of military intelligence has said.

Kyrylo Budanov told the BBC that “the situation is just stuck” while Kyiv waits for more advanced weapons from Western allies.

He said that Russia was “now completely at a dead end” and was suffering significant losses. However Ukrainian forces are struggling to move forward, he added.

“We can’t defeat them in all directions comprehensively. Neither can they. We’re very much looking forward to new weapons supplies, and to the arrival of more advanced weapons,” Mr Budanov said.

He dismissed speculation that Russia was planning an advance from Belarus. Recently a train loaded with Russian soldiers stopped near the Belarus-Ukraine border and then returned.

“They did it openly during the day, so that everyone would see it, even if [we] didn’t want to. As of now, I don’t see any signs of preparations for an invasion of Kyiv or northern areas from Belarus.”

Ukraine shoots down 54 of 69 missiles in morning strikes - Ukraine military

11:21 , Matt Mathers

Ukraine shot down 54 out of 69 missiles launched by Russia in its latest wave of air strikes, Ukraine’s military has said.

"This morning, the aggressor launched air and sea-based cruise missiles, anti-aircraft guided missiles to the S-300 ADMS at energy infrastructure facilities of our country," Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top general, wrote on Telegram.

Emergency services work at site hit by a Russian missile (REUTERS)
Emergency services work at site hit by a Russian missile (REUTERS)

Britain’s ambassador to Ukraine: Russia does not want peace

11:40 , Holly Bancroft

Britain’s ambassador to Ukraine has reacted to Russia’s recent missile strikes saying that Moscow “does not want peace with Ukraine”.

In a statement on Twitter, Melinda Simmons said: “Russian missiles launched across Ukraine, including Kyiv and Lviv. Civilians injured. Russia rejects Zelensky peace plan. Russia does not want peace with Ukraine.

“Russia wants the subjugation of Ukraine.”

Ukraine missile lands in Belarus - Belarus state-run news agency claims

12:16 , Matt Mathers

Belarus’ state-run BelTA news agency has claimed that a Ukrainian S-300 missile had fallen onto its territory onThursday during one of Russia’s largest missile attacks against Ukraine since the start of the war.

The Minsk defence ministry was investigating whether Belarus’ air defence systems had shot down the rocket or it was a misfire.

The incident occurred between 10 and 11am (0700-0800 GMT) - around the time Russia was firing scores of missiles towards Ukraine.

BelTA said the missile that landed in Belarus had come from Ukrainian territory. It published a photo of what it said were parts of a S-300 missile lying in an empty agricultural field.

BelTA said there was no information about casualties.

The S-300 is a Soviet-era air defence missile that is used by both Russia and Ukraine. In November, an S-300 believed to have been fired by Ukrainian air defences landed in Poland.

Kyiv has used the system to intercept incoming Russian missiles, while Russia has appeared to use repurposed S-300 missiles to attack ground targets - something that military analysts say could be a sign that its missile stocks are dwindling.

Belarus allowed Moscow to use its territory as a launchpad for the invasion of Ukraine in February, but has insisted that it is not participating in the war, and will not participate.

Italy PM hopes Russia realises ‘enormous error'

12:41 , Matt Mathers

Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni said on Thursday she believed and hoped Russia would realise the "enormous error" it had made in invading Ukraine, and until that time Rome would help Kyiv’s war effort.

"We will defend Ukrainian international rights, sovereignty and freedom," Ms Meloni told reporters at the prime minister’s traditional end-of-year news conference.

Russia says it shot down drone near Engels air base

13:00 , Matt Mathers

A Russian regional governor said on Thursday that air defences had shot down a drone near the Engels air force base, home to long-range strategic bombers.

Russia says Ukraine has already tried to attack the base twice this month, killing at least six Russian servicemen, although it said there was only slight damage to two aircraft.

The base is located near Saratov, 730 km (450 miles) southeast of Moscow and hundreds of kilometres from the frontlines in Ukraine.

"Air defence systems shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle in the Engels region," Saratov Governor Roman Busargin wrote in a message on Telegram on Thursday.

Falling debris damaged residential property but nobody was injured, he said. Reports had circulated on social media of locals reporting an explosion and hearing air raid sirens.

Belarus statement on ‘Ukraine missile’ landing on territory

13:57 , Matt Mathers

Belarus’s ministry of defence has released a statement following reports by state media that a Ukrainian missile landed on its territory.

The ministry said on Thursday it had shot down the missile near the village of Harbacha in the Brest region, some 15 km (9 miles) from the border with Ukraine, at around 10am (0700 GMT).

"Fragments were found in an agricultural field ... During the verification process, it was established that the wreckage belongs to an S-300 anti-aircraft guided missile fired from the territory of Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement.

The incident occurred at the same time Russia was launching its latest wave of missile attacks on cities across Ukraine.

Moscow does not want peace, says UK ambassador

13:18 , Jane Dalton

Russia wants the subjugation of Ukraine and has rejected President Zelensky’s peace plan, Britain’s ambassador to Kyiv says.

Melinda Simmons warned Russia does not want peace, after Moscow launched a fresh round of missile strikes on Ukraine, injuring civilians.

Putin heads commissioning of new warships

13:42 , Jane Dalton

Vladimir Putin has vowed to further strengthen his country’s navy, saying: “We will speed up and increase the volumes of construction of ships of various projects, equip them with the most modern weapons, and conduct the operational and combat training using the experience received during the special military operation.”

Putin oversees commissioning of new Russian navy warships

‘We can stand up to tyranny'

14:13 , Matt Mathers

Ukraine’s fight against Putin’s war shows “we can stand up to tyranny”, James Cleverly has said.

In a post-Christmas message, the UK foreign secretary said 2022 will be remembered for Russia “illegal invasion” of Ukraine.

“The fight against Putin’s war has shown the world that through extreme strength and bravery, we can stand up to tyranny,” he said.

Belarus defence ministry releases statement after ‘Ukraine missile lands on territory'

14:45 , Matt Mathers

Belarus’s ministry of defence has released a statement following a report by state media saying that a Ukrainian missile had landed on its territory.

The Belarus ministry said on Thursday it had shot down the missile near the village of Harbacha in the Brest region, some 15 km (9 miles) from the border with Ukraine, at around 10 aam (0700 GMT).

"Fragments were found in an agricultural field ... During the verification process, it was established that the wreckage belongs to an S-300 anti-aircraft guided missile fired from the territory of Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement.

The incident occurred at the same time Russia was launching its latest wave of missile attacks on cities across Ukraine.

Putin is threatening ‘nuclear blackmail’ in Ukraine – but the world must not give in, historian says

15:10 , Matt Mathers

US academic Timothy Snyder tells Kim Sengupta that Ukrainians are fighting for the democratic world.

Read the full interview here:

‘Putin is threatening nuclear blackmail – but the world must not give in’

Russia must face long-term consequences for Ukraine - UK defence secretary

15:40 , Matt Mathers

Russia must face “long-term consequences” for its actions in Ukraine, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said, as Moscow continued to target Ukraine’s infrastructure in a new wave of missile strikes.

Mr Wallace said the UK was continuing to provide military aid to the government in Kyiv, with another £2.3 billion worth of support due next year to help it acquire the weapons it needs.

Gavin Cordon has the story:

Russia must face long-term consequences for Ukraine, says Wallace

Ukraine slams ‘senseless barbarism' of Thursday missile attacks

16:00 , Matt Mathers

Ukraine has slammed Russia’s “senseless barbarism” after Moscow troops fired scores of missiles into the country in a fresh assault on Thursday.

“Senseless barbarism,” Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.

“These are the only words that come to mind seeing Russia launch another missile barrage at peaceful Ukrainian cities ahead of New Year,” he added.

Ukraine’s military said it had shot down 54 missiles out of 69 launched by Russia. Air raid sirens rang out across Ukraine - for five hours in Kyiv.

Officials had earlier said more than 120 missiles were fired during the assault.

No sign Russia wants peace in Ukraine - Meloni

16:20 , Matt Mathers

There are no particular signs that Russia wants peace in Ukraine, Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni said on Thursday, urging continued international backing for Kyiv.

Meloni said holding firm on support for Ukraine was a key precondition for maintaining a balance of power on the battlefield and hence creating the conditions for peace.

Speaking at an end-of-year news conference, Ms Meloni also said she intends to visit the Ukrainian capital before the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion, which began on 24 February.

Afternoon re-cap

16:40 , Matt Mathers

Russia fired scores of missiles into Ukraine early on Thursday, targetting the capital Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa in the west and other cities in one of its largest aerial bombardments that sent people rushing to shelters and knocked out power.

FIGHTING

* Ukraine’s military said it shot down 54 missiles out of 69 launched by Russia. Moscow fired air and sea-based cruise missiles, anti-aircraft guided missiles and S-300 ADMS at energy infrastructure facilities in eastern, central, western and southern regions. The attacks followed an overnight assault by ‘kamikaze’ drones

* Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said energy facilities were damaged and emergency shutdowns may be implemented to avoid accidents in the networks.

* Houses were hit in Kyiv by the fragments of downed missiles and a business and a playground were also damaged. Three people were injured in the attacks on the city, authorities said. Residential buildings in Zaporizhzia and were also damaged.

* Belarus’ defence ministry said its air defences had downed a Ukrainian S-300 missile in a field, during one of Russia’s largest missile attacks against Ukraine since the start of the war.

DIPLOMACY

* There are no particular signs that Russia wants peace in Ukraine, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said, urging continued international backing for Kyiv.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the country’s parliament to remain united and praised Ukrainians for helping the West "find itself again".

* The Kremlin rejected Zelenskiy’s 10-point peace plan, reiterating that proposals to end the conflict must accept Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions: Luhansk and Donetsk in the east, and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south.

* Russia announced it would ban oil sales to countries that abide by a price cap imposed this month by the West.

QUOTES

"Senseless barbarism. These are the only words that come to mind seeing Russia launch another missile barrage at peaceful Ukrainian cities ahead of New Year," said Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.