Russia launches deadly wave of missile attacks on Ukraine cities | Ukraine

Russian cruise missiles have killed at least 12 people in the central Ukrainian cities of Uman and Dnipro, days after Ukraine’s leader, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, begged his allies for more air defence supplies.

The attacks were part of a wave of Russian missile and drone strikes in the early hours of Friday morning, the most intense bombing to hit the country in weeks.

Footage from Uman, where at least 10 people were killed, showed a building in flames and partially reduced to rubble. One missile hit a building in Dnipro, killing a woman and a child, the city’s mayor said.

Most of Russia’s attacks were intercepted, with 21 out of 23 missiles shot down by the Ukrainian military. The missiles that got through were a grim reminder of why the country is so vulnerable when Moscow aims its weapons at civilian targets.

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, tweeted: “Missile strikes killing innocent Ukrainians in their sleep, including a 2-year-old child, is Russia’s response to all peace initiatives.”

Air raid alarms sounded across the country in the early hours of Friday morning, while explosions were heard in Kyiv, and southern Mykolaiv was targeted again.

Ukraine has strengthened air defences over the winter, with help from western allies, after a Russian bombing campaign against power stations and other civilian infrastructure tried to cut off heating and power to major cities.

However, leaked US military documents dated to February this year, warned that by May the country risked running out of missiles and ammunition.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian officials pleaded with Nato allies for more supplies, the Financial Times reported, fearing large-scale Russian bombing campaigns could break through depleted systems.

A large number of military aircraft had set off for Ukraine late on Thursday, and officials in Kyiv said 11 cruise missiles and two drones were shot down over the capital.

The missiles were the first to target Kyiv in 50 days, although Iranian-made drones have targeted the city repeatedly in that time.

The strikes came as Moscow, and the world, wait for Kyiv to launch a spring counter-offensive against Russian forces. On Thursday, Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said that almost all the combat vehicles promised to Ukraine by western allies had been delivered, putting Ukraine in a “strong position” to recover further ground.

Last year brought a string of humiliating military defeats for the invading army, but Russia still occupies nearly a fifth of Ukrainian territory, which Zelenskiy has vowed to retake.

Stoltenberg said the western allies have sent over 1,550 armoured vehicles, 230 tanks and “vast amounts of ammunition” to Ukraine, Reuters reported. They have also trained and equipped about 30,000 troops, the equivalent of more than nine new brigades.

“They will put Ukraine in a strong position to continue to retake occupied territory.” he added.

On Thursday, the Kremlin said it still needed to achieve the “aims” of its invasion, the day after China’s president Xi Jinping spoke to Zelenskiy over the phone for an hour.

Beijing, which has a close strategic partnership with Moscow, has drawn up a peace proposal for Ukraine, but there is no sign either side are ready to stop fighting and come to the negotiating table.

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