Russian drone attacks injure 28 in Kharkiv

The Ukrainian Air Force claims to have shot down 21 drones in the latest attack

The damaged Kharkiv Palace Hotel in downtown Kharkiv after Russian air strikes. EPA
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Russia launched fresh drone attacks on Ukraine, officials said, after two days of aerial assaults from both sides.

High-precision missiles struck “decision-making centres and military installations” in the north-eastern city of Kharkiv, the Russian Defence Ministry said. On Sunday, Ukrainian officials said that civilian buildings were also hit.

Kyiv said that it had destroyed 21 of 49 Iranian-made Shahed drones, which Russia used in its attack overnight.

These had been targeted at “the front line of defence, as well as at civilian, military and infrastructure facilities in the front-line territories”, the Ukrainian Air Force said on Sunday.

Six guided missiles had also been launched at the north-eastern city of Kharkiv.

Oleg Sinegubov, the head of Kharkiv's military administration, said there had been 28 civilians wounded in the attack on the city, including two teenagers and a foreign citizen, according to AFP.

Residential buildings, offices and cafes were hit in the latest overnight attacks. Kharkiv mayor Igor Terekhov said: “On the eve of the New Year, Russians want to intimidate our city, but we are not scared.”

Russia and Ukraine both carried out air strikes this weekend, after Russia launched a series of strikes across Ukraine on Friday, killing at least 39 and wounding dozens.

Schools, a maternity hospital, shopping centres and flats were among the buildings hit in Friday's barrage, one of the most violent since the start of the war.

Britain announced it would send hundreds more air-defence missiles to Kyiv, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stating that the UK would continue to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes”.

Ukraine retaliated with an attack on the Russian city of Belgorod, a city 30km from the Ukrainian border, on Saturday. At least 24 people were killed and over a hundred wounded, according to Russia’s Emergency Ministries.

Moscow said Saturday's attack included the use of cluster munitions and told an emergency meeting at the UN Security Council that Kyiv had targeted a sports centre, an ice rink and a university.

Ukraine's allies blamed civilian deaths on Russian President Vladimir Putin following the Russian invasion of the country about two years ago.

“If Russia wants someone to blame for the deaths of Russians in this war, it should start with President Putin,” said British envoy to the UN Thomas Phipps.

President Vladimir Putin avoided mentioning the conflict in Ukraine in his New Year’s Eve address while promising that Russia would “never back down”.

“We have repeatedly proved that we are able to solve the most difficult tasks and will never retreat, because there is no force that can separate us,” Mr Putin said, praising his military personnel.

Ukraine is urging Western allies to maintain military support.

“Next year will be a time of many decisions – global decisions. And Ukraine needs to be able to influence them to be able to achieve its goals,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his evening address on Saturday.

“We will fight for our influence, for justice for Ukraine, and I am grateful to all the leaders who help, who have been with us since February 24th and will be with us in 2024.”

January 1 has been declared a day of mourning in the capital Kyiv.

Updated: December 31, 2023, 1:39 PM