Russia launched a major missile attack on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on December 13, just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy returned from a historic visit to Washington D.C. where he addressed the US Congress and met with President Biden.
Over 50 Injured as Missiles Strike Residential Areas
The attack involved over 20 missiles fired from Russian bombers and ships in the Black Sea. At least 10 missiles struck Kyiv, targeting mainly residential areas and critical infrastructure like power plants.
Over 50 people have been reported injured so far, including a 19-year old woman who is in critical condition. A children’s hospital was also damaged along with other civilian buildings. Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko stated that the strikes appeared designed to inflict maximum civilian casualties.
This was the largest attack on Kyiv since early November and follows a similar barrage of missiles last week. It signals a dangerous escalatory pattern as winter sets in and Ukraine’s infrastructure remains strained from previous strikes.
Zelenskyy Vows Defiance After Returning from Triumphant US Visit
Mere hours before the missiles struck Kyiv, President Zelenskyy had delivered what many called a “Churchillian” speech to a joint session of Congress, thanking the United States for its steadfast support and urging even more robust military assistance to repel Russian aggression.
Zelenskyy secured commitments from President Biden for an advanced Patriot missile defense system along with other weaponry worth over $1 billion. His bold in-person visit was symbolic of Ukraine’s defiance even as Russia steps up its brutality.
Immediately after the missiles slammed into Kyiv, Zelenskyy took to social media declaring: “We will renew everything and overcome everything.” Biden also quickly condemned Russia’s “barbaric” attacks.
|Injuries from 12/13 Missile Attack on Kyiv
|19-year old woman in critical condition
|Children’s hospital damaged
|Strikes targeted residential areas
Attacks Part of Wider Russian Strategy to Freeze Ukrainians into Submission
Analysts see the latest missile barrage as part of a cynical Russian attempt to freeze Ukrainians into submission by going after critical energy infrastructure as winter arrives.
Over just the past two months, Russian strikes have damaged an estimated third of Ukraine’s power system. But each time, Ukrainian crews have managed to restore large parts of the grid.
To adapt, Russia now appears focused on targeting not just power plants but also transformer stations, transmission lines, and district heating systems. The goal is to trigger cascading failures and maximize disruption.
Millions remain without reliable energy, even with temporary repairs. Temperatures in Kyiv reached 23°F (-5°C) before the latest strikes, with much colder weather forecast. Tragically, Russian President Vladimir Putin seems willing to force Ukrainian civilians to face bone-chilling cold and darkness in order to advance his imperial ambitions.
Patriot Missiles to Bolster Ukraine’s Defenses, But Years Too Late
The advanced Patriot missile defense batteries pledged by the US after Zelenskyy’s visit will significantly boost Ukraine’s ability to shoot down incoming Russian missiles and drones.
However, delivery of the first Patriot unit will take several months, and Ukrainian crews require extensive training that could delay operational readiness until late 2023.
Ukraine pleaded with Western allies for modern air defenses when Russia first invaded back in February, but were refused due to hesitancy about provoking Putin. Even the recent Patriot missile commitment came reluctantly after months of Ukrainian officials warning that Russia was systematically devastating cities.
While the Patriot systems will help, Ukraine urges the West to do more to help protect civilians as Russia’s campaign of terror escalates going into winter.
Grim Milestone as War Deaths Surpass 100,000
Russia’s grinding war in Ukraine has now claimed over 100,000 lives when counting Ukrainian military and civilian casualties according to estimates.
The actual figure could be even higher given challenges confirming deaths in Russian-occupied areas.
Most civilian casualties result from remorseless Russian attacks on residential buildings, hospitals, schools shelters and other sites with no military purpose. Russian atrocities are also taking a psychological toll with Ukrainians reporting symptoms of trauma.
As the war drags on, the mounting bloodshed risks fading from the world’s attention. But Ukrainian resilience remains strong in the face of Russia’s brutality. With fierce defenders and ongoing aid, Ukraine aims to push Russian forces out completely.
What’s Next in the War?
Russia will likely continue sporadic missile attacks on Ukrainian cities to terrorize civilians, disrupt infrastructure, and sap Ukrainian morale heading into winter.
Ukraine aims to consolidate gains from its southern counteroffensive and continue pressing Russia’s weakened positions through the winter, aided by advanced Western weapons.
The West has proven its willingness to support Ukraine through what could be a long conflict, but faces growing economic headwinds that could test its solidarity.
Putin remains defiant, but faces discontent at home from war losses even as he relies on scorched earth tactics. His nuclear threats look increasingly like bluffs, but the risk of escalation remains if he gets cornered.
With fierce resistance, the resilient people of Ukraine are determined to defend their homeland no matter the cost. The West must continue standing united with them in the face of appalling Russian aggression that flouts the international order. Together, Ukraine can repel Putin’s imperialist assault and achieve a just peace for its courageous citizens.
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