Rescuers work at a site of a residential house damaged during a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine December 29, 2022.
Russia has just launched more than 120 missiles from both the air and the sea in its latest – and potentially largest – attack on Ukraine, according to Kyiv.
Mykhailo Podolyak, presidential adviser to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said the attack was focused on the general population and civilian infrastructure on Thursday.
Explosions have been heard right across the country, from Kharkiv in the east, Odesa in the south, and Lviv and Zhytomyr in the west. The strikes have led to at least three people being hospitalised in the capital of Kyiv so far, according to officials.
The Ukrainian Air Force said Russia’s attack was coming from “various directions with air and sea-based cruise missiles”, while some Kamikaze drones have been deployed as well.
Ukrainians across the country have been encouraged to seek shelter, although the country’s air defences have reportedly kicked into action.
The attacks come days after Ukraine’s foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Associated Press Kyiv wants a “peace” summit within two months at the UN with secretary-general António Guterres as mediator.
Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Winter has slowed down the frontline fighting, due to the harsh conditions, so Moscow appears to be focusing its efforts on depleting the quality of life for the Ukrainians away from the battlefield.
Approximately 90% of Lviv was without power on Thursday, and more attacks are expected to hit Kyiv’s water and electricity supply.
Elsewhere, power has been switched off on purpose to reduce the risk of damage in the event of an air raid.
While Moscow has denied deliberately going for the power structures, president Vladimir Putin has recently admitted that the critical energy facilities within Ukraine have been hit through Russian attacks.
Does this mean Russia now has the upper hand?
No – according to the head of the Ukrainian military intelligence agency, Kyrylo Budanov, “ the situation is stuck” on both sides, even as Russia bombards its European neighbour.
As the UK’s Ministry of Defence noted, Russia has struggled to cope with attacks on its own facilities.
“Russia has long given a very high priority to maintaining advanced ground based air defences, but it is increasingly clear that it is struggling to counter air threats deep inside Russia,” it said in its Thursday update on Twitter.
UK intelligence officials also said that the key equipment used to deter such attacks is being used to protect field headquarters near the frontline of battle instead.
“We can’t defeat them in all directions comprehensively. Neither can they.”
Ukraine has previously expressed fears that Russia could push another offensive from Belarus. While Putin did visit Belarus for the first time in more than three years this month, Budanov dismissed this possibility as a distraction technique from Moscow.
Fighting has instead centred around the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in recent weeks, which is in the eastern Dontesk area.
Could peace talks be on the horizon?
Ukraine and Russia have separately suggested that they would be willing to go back to the negotiation table – but their demands are very different.
Ukraine is only willing to have a “peace” summit overseen by the UN by the end of February if Russia faces a war-crimes tribunal first.
Meanwhile, Russia wants Kyiv to accept Moscow’s demands – and concede all four of the annexed Ukrainian regions it now claims as its own.
However, Putin has repeatedly hinted he has no intention of giving up – especially as he has invested so much in the war.
“They are both in it for the long haul. Putin still feels he can win this. He still has more men and more money, although you wonder what his tipping point will be,” Karin von Hippel, director general of the Royal United Services Institute told the New York Times.