On January 7th, 2023, the Russian military launched one of its largest coordinated missile and drone attacks across Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion in February 2022. At least 28 Shahed-136 suicide drones and several Kalibr cruise missiles targeted critical infrastructure in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa and other major cities during Orthodox Christmas celebrations.
The strikes came after months of relative calm and a lack of major attacks on the capital Kyiv. They signify Russia’s strategy shift to paralyze Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and terrorize civilians rather than gain additional territory amid a frozen frontline.
According to Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, the missile strikes resulted in at least 41 deaths and over 100 injured across the country as of January 8th. The indiscriminate bombing during a religious holiday was seen by many as an attempt to demoralize Ukrainians after almost a year of resistance.
Details of Latest Strikes
The Russian onslaught began around 9 PM local time on January 7th. Air raid sirens sounded across most regions of Ukraine.
- In Kyiv, a residential building was struck killing at least 32 people including a 15-year-old girl. Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported that 96 buildings were damaged.
- The central region of Dnipro was attacked by 21 drones overnight, of which 15 were shot down according to local authorities.
- The northeastern city of Kharkiv also faced heavy bombardment but air defenses intercepted several missiles.
- Western areas closer to Europe including Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk faced drone and missile attacks.
- Further east in Zaporizhzhia, 14 missiles were launched resulting in 1 death and over 30 injured. Odesa and Kherson faced similar attacks.
In total, Ukraine’s Air Force reported that air defense forces were able to shoot down 21 out of 28 incoming Shahed drones. But the sustained pressure is putting strain on limited stocks of ammunition.
|32 dead, 96 buildings damaged
|Targeted by 21 drones, at least 6 hit targets
|Heavy missile bombardment, intercepted by defenses
|Lviv & Ivano-Frankivsk
|Drone and missile strikes
|14 missiles launched, 1 dead 30+ injured
|Odesa & Kherson
|Drone and missile strikes
World Leaders Condemn ‘Reprehensible’ Bombing Campaign
The missile strikes across Ukraine as Russians celebrated Orthodox Christmas elicited outrage from many world leaders.
US President Joe Biden called the attacks “reprehensible” and said Russia would be held accountable for “further crimes and atrocities.” Meanwhile French leader Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed support for Ukrainians, condemning Russia’s “cowardice” in striking civilian targets.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave an impassioned speech accusing Russia of “trying to destroy people’s normal lives” and compared Putin to terrorists like ISIS. Videos emerged of angry crowds in Moscow shouting anti-war slogans despite harsh crackdowns, showing growing internal dissent.
The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss potential war crimes charges against Russia. But efforts continue to be blocked by Russia’s permanent membership and veto power.
Overall the latest missile strikes signal no intent from Putin to cease hostilities despite 10 months of heavy losses and global criticism. Instead experts predict the bombing campaign will intensify as Russia aims to paralyze infrastructure and terrorize civilians to force Ukraine into concessions during stalled negotiations.
Ongoing Fight Over Critical Infrastructure
Throughout the invasion, Russia has focused missile strikes on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure like power grids, water systems and transportation links. But a November barrage that left millions without electricity and heating sparked an international outcry.
In response, Western allies provided advanced air defense systems and vital equipment to quickly conduct repairs. Countries like the US and Germany sent sophisticated Patriot missile batteries that recently became operational near key infrastructure sites.
The latest Russian attacks notably targeted energy facilities in Kyiv, Odesa and Dnipro using kamikaze drones and missiles. But local authorities reported electricity was restored within hours while teams continue repairs. Air defenses also displayed improved readiness by intercepting over half of the launched drones.
Thus while the strikes resulted in military and civilian casualties, Ukraine’s infrastructure continues proving resilient thanks to outside aid and round-the-clock maintenance. Looking ahead Russia is expected to continue applying pressure during the winter months when electricity and heating are most crucial.
Effect on War Dynamics in 2023
Military analysts say the latest nationwide attacks reflect Russia’s long-term strategy shift from capturing territory towards attempts to paralyze Ukraine economically and terrorize civilians.
After losing tens of thousands soldiers and significant equipment over 10 months, Russia no longer has capacity for a renewed ground offensive experts assess. The attacks seen in early January will likely set the tempo for 2023 as frozen battle lines solidify.
But damage to civilian grids and buildings is unlikely to break Ukrainians’ will to resist according to observers. Aid from Western allies also continues mitigating infrastructure attacks while stocks last. Still there are concerns prolonged bombing may stall Ukraine’s counteroffensives while testing Europe’s political resolve as energy costs rise.
With peace talks suspended, most assessments see the war extending through 2023 and beyond. Russia’s latest strikes killed civilians but had limited strategic impact. Ukraine also faces challenges launching counterattacks during the winter. Continued Western support and unpredictable dynamics mean the conflict’s outcome remains uncertain entering its second year.
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