Russia says it thwarted Kyiv drone attack following aerial assault against Ukraine

A view shows a damaged house following what was said to be Ukrainian forces’ shelling in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict, in the settlement of Urazovo in the Belgorod Region, Russia, on December 30, 2023.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

Thirty-two Ukrainian drones were shot down over Russia on December 30, Moscow officials reported, a day after an 18-hour aerial barrage across Ukraine killed at least 32 civilians.

Drones were seen in the skies over Russia’s Moscow, Bryansk, Oryol, and Kursk regions, the country’s Defence Ministry said in a statement. It said that all of the drones had been destroyed by air defences.

Russian drone strikes against Ukraine also continued, with the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reporting that 10 Iranian-made Shahed drones had been shot down across the Kherson, Khmelnytskyi, and Mykolaiv regions on December 30.

Cities across western Russia have come under regular attack from drones since May, with Russian officials blaming Kyiv. Ukrainian officials never acknowledge responsibility for attacks on Russian territory or the Crimean peninsula. However, larger aerial strikes against Russia have previously followed heavy assaults on Ukrainian cities.

On December 29, Moscow’s forces launched 122 missiles and dozens of drones across Ukraine, an onslaught described by one air force official as the biggest aerial barrage of the war.

As well as the 32 deaths, at least 144 people were wounded and an unknown number were buried under rubble in the assault, which damaged a maternity hospital, apartment blocks, and schools.

Shelling continued through the day across eastern and southern Ukraine and in Russia’s border regions. One man was killed by a missile in a private home in Russia’s Belgorod region late on December 29 evening, regional head Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on social media. A further four people were injured, including a 10-year-old child, he said.

Western officials and analysts recently warned that Russia limited its cruise missile strikes for months in an apparent effort to build up stockpiles for massive strikes during the winter, hoping to break the Ukrainians’ spirit.

Fighting along the front line is largely bogged down by winter weather after Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive failed to make a significant breakthrough along the roughly 1,000-kilometer line of contact.

Russia’s ongoing aerial attacks have also sparked concern for Ukraine’s neighbours.

Poland’s defence forces said on December 29 that an unknown object had entered the country’s airspace before vanishing off radars, and that all indications pointed to it being a Russian missile.

Speaking to Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti on December 29, Russia’s Charge d’Affaires in Poland, Andrei Ordash, said that Moscow would not comment on the event until Warsaw had given the Kremlin evidence of an airspace violation.

“Until concrete evidence is presented, we will not give any explanations, because these accusations are unsubstantiated,” he said.

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