Russia strikes Ukraine with 40 missiles, drones

Published January 14, 2024
A BUS stops at a place protected with sandbags in Belgorod, the main city in Russia’s south-western region which has come under shelling by Ukraine over the past week.—AFP
A BUS stops at a place protected with sandbags in Belgorod, the main city in Russia’s south-western region which has come under shelling by Ukraine over the past week.—AFP

KYIV: Ukraine suffered a large Russian missile attack in the early hours of Saturday, while its air defences were able to down a far lower proportion of them than usual.

According to Ukraine’s air force, Russia launched 37 missiles and three drones. Eight missiles were downed, it said in a statement on social media. The air force’s spokesperson said earlier this week that Ukraine was now suffering from a deficit of air defence missiles. It was not immediately clear whether this or any other factor was the reason for the low hit rate.

Most of the types of missile used overnight were extremely fast-moving ballistic types, the air force said. These are far harder to shoot down.

“It should be noted that more than 20 of all the listed (weapons) which were not included in the number of the downed, did not reach their targets as a result of active countermeasures by electronic warfare,” the statement said. There were no details on the targets of the strike.

Air defences shot down Russian missiles in at least five regions across Ukraine, according to local officials from those provinces.

The large south-eastern city of Dnipro was struck, the local governor said, also without providing detail as to what was hit. Police in the northern region of Chernihiv posted a picture of a large crater made by a downed missile.

“As a result of being hit by the debris of an enemy missile, several private homes and non-residential buildings were damaged, one buil­ding was practically destroyed,” the police wrote. No people were hurt but a dog was killed, police said.

France’s priority

France’s new foreign minister Stephane Sejourne on Saturday renewed his country’s support to Ukraine, choosing Kyiv for his first official visit abroad, as the war with Russia nears a second anniversary.

Sejourne arrived as Ukraine saw another wave of overnight strikes from Russia, which has intensified its aerial attacks recently. The visit took place as allies struggle to secure funding, with some worrying that Kyiv could be forgotten amid new conflicts, including between Israel and Hamas.

“Despite the multiplying crisis, Ukraine is and will remain France’s priority,” Sejourne, who was due to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky later, said. The freshly-appointed foreign minister explained that “the fundamental principles of international law and the values of Europe, as well as the security interests of the French” were at stake in Ukraine.

Sejourne, 38, who unlike his predecessor Catherine Colonna has no background as a professional diplomat, had already pledged continued support. He also met with Prime Minister Denys Shmygal, Vice Prime Minister Olga Stefanishyna and Parliament Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk.

Shmygal said he was “grateful for (France’s) comprehensive help in the fight against the aggressor and the support on our way to the EU and Nato” on social media. Aid promised to Ukraine between August and October 2023 fell almost 90 per cent from the same period in 2022, reaching its lowest point since the start of the war, according to a Kiel Institute survey from December.

An EU aid package worth 50 billion euros ($55 billion) has been stuck in Brussels, while the US Congress remains divided on sending additional aid to Ukraine.

“Russia hopes Ukraine and its supporters will get tired before it does. We will not falter,” Sejourne added. But Russia, bolstering its arsenal, has geared up for a long war and reoriented its economy. It has in recent weeks intensified its aerial assaults on the war-torn country.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2024

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