STOCK PHOTO: SERHII NAIEV, COMMANDER OF THE JOINT FORCES OF THE ARMED FORCES OF UKRAINE, ON TELEGRAM
Kyiv, Ukraine: In a stark start to the new year, Russia unleashed a record drone assault on Ukraine, launching 90 Shahed-type drones in the early hours of January 1st. This unprecedented attack marks a significant escalation in the ongoing war, raising concerns about the potential for further civilian casualties and broader conflict.
The Ukrainian Air Force confirmed the attack, stating that while 87 drones were successfully shot down, three managed to breach defenses, one tragically striking a residential building in the southern port city of Odesa. Debris from the downed drone claimed the life of a 15-year-old boy and injured seven others, highlighting the devastating human cost of the conflict.
This latest attack comes on the heels of a brutal December, marked by heavy aerial bombardments and shelling on both sides. Just days before the new year, Russia launched an 18-hour aerial assault, the war's largest to date, claiming the lives of at least 49 civilians.
Meanwhile, Ukraine was accused of shelling the Russian border city of Belgorod. which Moscow claimed killed 24 people and injured 108 more.
This attack on Sunday is the deadliest on Russian soil since Moscow began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago.Authorities in Belgorod reported that 25 people had died in the attack on Saturday, five of them were children.
“They want to intimidate us and create uncertainty within our country,” Putin said. “We will intensify strikes. Not a single crime against our civilian population will go unpunished.”
According to a Ukrainian security source cited by the BBC, the civilian casualties in Saturday's drone attack were caused by falling pieces of Ukrainian drones that were shot down by Russian air defense, not by the drone itself.
The Shahed drones, reportedly supplied by Iran, are relatively cheap and expendable, allowing for mass attacks despite high interception rates.
World leaders condemned the attack, with the UN Secretary-General calling for an immediate end to the hostilities and urging both sides to respect the sanctity of civilian life.
“Today, this Russian missile attack is not the end of the year, no matter how much the terrorists want it. It's the outcome of Russia's fate, Ukrainian President Volodymyr zelenskyy stated
“The terrorist state will not be forgiven. And those who give orders for such strikes, and those who carry them out, will not receive a pardon. To put it mildly.”
Whether this marks a temporary escalation or a harbinger of a new phase in the war remains to be seen.
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