Russia has unleashed a large wave of missile and drone attacks across Ukraine, killing at least 4 civilians and injuring dozens more in an escalation of aerial attacks as the war nears its one year anniversary.
Over 50 Missiles Strike in Early Morning Attack
According to Ukraine’s military officials, Russia launched over 50 cruise missiles aimed at critical infrastructure in regions across the country in early morning strikes beginning around 7 AM local time.   The barrage is considered one of Russia’s largest aerial offensives in weeks as it continues a strategy of attempting to leave Ukrainians without heat and power during the winter months.
At least 4 civilians were killed and 45 others injured in the missile strikes, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service reported.  Among the wounded were at least 5 children according to Governor Oleksiy Kuleba.  The actual death toll is predicted to rise as emergency crews continue work at blast sites.
Missiles struck in the capital city of Kyiv and the surrounding region, as well as in Dnipro, Odesa, Kharkiv and other areas in eastern and southern Ukraine.  Ukrainian officials stated that air defenses intercepted 21 out of 28 Iranian-made Shahed drones, but that several missiles and drones still managed to strike critical energy facilities and civilian areas. 
|Energy, transportation, civilian areas
|Energy, civilian areas
|Energy, civilian areas
|Energy, civilian areas
The barrage comes as Russian troops continue offensive operations along the frontlines in eastern Ukraine and as the Kremlin attempts to adapt its strategy ahead of Ukraine’s counteroffensives anticipated in the spring.
Ukraine Vows Defiance Despite Infrastructure Damage
In an address to the nation following the strikes, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated resolutely that Ukraine “will survive everything” despite Russia’s attempts to leave the country without power.  He added that Russia “will not achieve anything with such strikes” besides further uniting the resilience and defiance of the Ukrainian people.
According to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the president’s office, around a third of homes in Kyiv were left without power due to infrastructure damage from the strikes.  Despite cold winter temperatures, he stated that energy workers were working urgently to restore services.
The strikes appear aimed at exacerbating Ukraine’s winter energy troubles amidst failing Russian ground offensives. However, infrastructure repairs have been underway for weeks in anticipation of such attacks.  Ukraine is likely to continue receiving increased Western military and energy assistance as it prepares counteroffensive measures expected in coming months.
Russia Continues Winter Offensive Strategy
According to military analysts, the widespread missile barrage shows an evolution in tactics as Russia faces setbacks on the battlefield. While Russia previously focused strikes on military targets, it has increasingly turned firepower on civilian infrastructure. 
The lower intensity shelling seen over recent weeks is likely to give way to renewed aerial bombardments across Ukraine as winter progresses.  With their ground forces depleted, strikes aimed at critical infrastructure are one of Russia’s only remaining pressure points.
However, the attacks also serve a symbolic purpose for Russian President Putin, allowing him to show force and attempt to undermine morale ahead of Ukraine’s planned spring counteroffensives.  Continued Western aid will remain crucial for Ukraine’s ability to repel Russian aerial attacks and launch effective countermeasures.
As Russia continues its strategy of infrastructure strikes, the evacuation of civilians from frontline areas is likely to ramp up. Hundreds were evacuated from Kherson over the weekend in the first major organized population movement from the retaken southern city.  More temporary displacements of civilians are probable in the near future.
Missile attacks and desperate attempts to turn the tide are expected from Russia leading up to the February 24 one-year mark of its invasion. However, Ukraine has shown fortitude and adaptation in meeting each of Russia’s escalatory actions thus far. Though the road ahead promises difficulties, Ukraine maintains fierce resolve to push Russian forces out completely in the long-term. Discussions by Western allies to supply battle tanks and extended range missiles could heavily aid these efforts.  With bolstered defenses and resolving to match Russia’s escalations, Ukraine stands poised to continue resisting the brutal invasion as the new year unfolds. The country’s cry for freedom and sovereignty continues to ring out clearly to the world.
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