Ukraine war latest: Russia launches mass missile strike against Ukraine, debris falls in Belarus

Key developments on Dec. 29

Russia unleashed a mass missile strike targeting 10 Ukrainian regions, wounding at least five civilians and hitting nearly a dozen critical infrastructure sites across the country, the State Emergency Service spokesman said at a briefing on Dec. 29.

Of 69 missiles fired by Russia, Ukraine's Air Force shot down 54, Chief Commander Valerii Zaluzhnyi reported on Telegram.

Later in the day, Russia launched more missiles at Ukraine's northeast and south, with at least two civilians killed and one wounded during a renewed attack on Kharkiv Oblast.

Despite the "excellent work" of the air defense, "some damage" was inflicted on Ukraine's power generation facilities and energy grid, Ukraine's Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said in a Facebook post.

While Russia failed to "extinguish" Ukraine's energy system, there is "significant damage," and the power situation is difficult in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Kherson oblasts, the state grid operator Ukrenergo's CEO Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said on national television.

The mass strike hit 28 sites, of which 10 were critical infrastructure facilities, and the rest were residential buildings, Ukraine's State Emergency Service spokesman Oleksandr Khorunzhiy said at a briefing.

Russia's eighth mass attack involved air and sea-based cruise missiles and anti-aircraft-guided missiles from the S-300 missile system launched from various directions, according to emerging reports.

The U.S. condemned Russia’s Dec. 29 attack, calling it a “barbaric war," the New York Times reported.

Dec. 29 mass strike

The Dec. 29 mass strike is the latest in a series of Russia's months-long bombardment campaign to take out Ukraine's energy grid.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia's deadly attack is "senseless barbarism," attacking "peaceful Ukrainian cities ahead of New Year."

Kuleba said that countries "pretending to be 'neutral'" in the conflict without taking Kyiv's side is equivalent to supporting Moscow.

"There can be no 'neutrality' in the face of such mass war crimes," the minister said in a Twitter post.

The deadly attack was reported in the northeastern Kharkiv Oblast.

Governor Oleh Syniehubov said that two men were killed in the region during Russia's renewed missile strike after 2 p.m., and one was hospitalized in "moderate condition."

Earlier in the morning, there were "four hits" in undisclosed infrastructure sites in Ukraine's second-largest city of Kharkiv, Syniehubov said. There were no casualties in Kharkiv, but some 1,000 households in the city remain without heating, he added.

Kyiv was also among the urban areas attacked, but all 16 missiles were shot down by the Air Force, according to the Kyiv City Military Administration.

However, the debris of the shot-down missiles hit four districts across the capital, damaging residential buildings and wounding three civilians, including a 14-year-old girl, head of the military administration Serhiy Popko said in a Telegram post.

Immediately after the mass strike, 90% of Lviv was cut off from electricity, and 40% of Kyiv residents had no power, the city mayors said.

Earlier on Dec. 27, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said there would be no emergency blackouts in Ukraine during the New Year holiday season if Russia does not launch another energy-targeted attack.

Minsk summons Kyiv ambassador over 'Ukrainian S-300 missile'

The Belarus Defense Ministry claimed that its forces shot down a Ukrainian air defense missile that entered its airspace during Russia's renewed mass strike across Ukraine on Dec. 29.

Minsk's state-run news agency BelTA claimed that Belarusian forces "destroyed" a "Ukrainian S-300 missile" as soon as it crossed the state border at around 10 a.m. local time.

The projectile fell in a field in Brest Oblast in southern Belarus, and there were no casualties, BeITA said.

Ukraine neither denied nor admitted to its involvement in the incident, adding that it could be Russia's "deliberate provocation."

Ukraine's Defense Ministry said Russia may have purposefully planned its missile trajectory so that Ukraine's air defense missile would enter Belarus' airspace as it tries to shoot down a Russian missile.

"The Ukrainian side is aware of the Kremlin's desperate and stubborn aspirations to drag Belarus into its aggressive war against Ukraine," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry added that Ukraine has the "unconditional right" to defend itself against Russia's "massive missile attack."

Amid Minsk's calls for investigation, Kyiv said that it is ready to begin the procedure but only if it is organized by third countries not connected to Russia.

Shortly after the incident, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry summoned Ukraine's Ambassador to Belarus, the ministry spokesman said at a press briefing.

Minsk is Moscow's closest international ally in the region.

Belarus has allowed Russian troops to use its territory as a launchpad to attack Ukraine since Feb. 24. The West has warned Minsk against helping to kill civilians in Ukraine.