Russia has unleashed a widespread barrage of missile and drone strikes across Ukraine over the past week, targeting civilian infrastructure and ratcheting up tensions in the year-long conflict. The attacks come as both sides dig in for a brutal winter war.
Over 33 Russian Drones Intercepted in Mass Overnight Strike
On January 17, Ukraine’s air force reported shooting down 22 out of 33 Russian drones sent to attack the port city of Odesa overnight (Reuters). The remaining drones damaged infrastructure but did not hit their intended target. Odesa, a crucial Black Sea port, has been repeatedly struck by Russian missiles and explosives-laden drones in recent months.
This drone attack came on the heels of a widespread Russian missile barrage across Ukraine on January 13. Over 20 missiles and armed drones slammed into energy infrastructure and civilian areas in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro, and other cities. The blitz knocked out power stations and left over a dozen injured.
Officials report intermittent electricity and heating outages from the battered infrastructure, leaving Ukrainians to weather the winter cold and dark. Russia has consistently aimed attacks at Ukraine’s energy grids since October, plunging millions into blackouts.
At Least 17 Injured as Missiles Rain Down on Kharkiv
On January 17, Russian missiles struck apartment buildings and infrastructure sites in Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, injuring at least 17 civilians (AP News). This comes just days after a New Year’s missile attack damaged an Odesa apartment block and forced hundreds to evacuate.
Rescue crews in Kharkiv combed through rubble looking for any additional casualties. The regional governor reported strikes on “critical infrastructure” that knocked out power and water in some areas. Missile attacks also hit industrial and energy sites around Kharkiv over the weekend, temporarily cutting electricity.
This follows a pattern of Russian forces targeting essential services, hoping to further immiserate Ukrainians this winter. Kharkiv faced near-constant bombardment earlier in the war before Ukrainian forces pushed Russia’s stalling offensive back towards the border.
Russia Claims French Mercenaries Targeted in Kharkiv Strike
In a controversial statement, Russia’s defense ministry announced that the weekend attack on Kharkiv specifically targeted Western mercenaries aiding Ukraine’s forces (France24).
French officials angrily denied the claims, stating that there is no evidence any French citizens were hit in the strikes on apartment buildings and power infrastructure. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack “Russian terror without borders” in a tweet, accusing Russia of intentionally striking civilians.
If true, it would fit a pattern of Russian forces ruthlessly targeting foreign fighters aiding Ukraine. Wagner Group mercenaries murdered captive volunteer Yevhen Nyshchuk in a graphic propaganda video last week, sparking international condemnation. Both sides continue funneling mercenaries and weapons into the grinding conflict.
The Path Ahead: A “Long, Hard” Winter War
With failure plaguing Russia’s military ambitions, experts see no quick end to the conflict. Superior Western arms and shifting strategies have hamstrung Russia’s offenses, while Ukraine’s military lacks the strength for major counter-offensives to retake lost territory.
Both sides seem resigned to a drawn-out winter war, with Russia continuing its strategy of infrastructure attacks to freeze and demoralize Ukraine’s population, while Ukraine’s forces endure punishing conditions to hold the line. Each missile and drone barrage notches tensions higher, with civilians paying the price.
All indications point towards an intensified Russian bombing campaign in the coming months to break Ukraine’s will to fight on. But after nearly a year of resilience under fire, Ukraine shows no signs of backing down.
As spring approaches, bringing the possibility of new offensives, the world watches and waits for a shift in the grinding struggle. Both sides are gearing up for assaults to seize the advantage when the time comes. For now, the days grow darker and colder, with no end to the crisis in sight.
Timeline of Missile and Drone Attacks
|Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro
|Widespread Russian missile barrage across Ukraine, targeting infrastructure
|Russian missiles damage apartment buildings
|Strikes hit industrial and energy sites
|Apartment buildings struck, at least 17 injured
|33 Russian drones intercepted, 22 shot down
|Russia claims strike targeted French mercenaries
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