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Russia-Ukraine war live: Ukraine launches airstrikes on Russia’s Belgorod and Bryansk regions

Russia-Ukraine war live: Ukraine launches airstrikes on Russia’s Belgorod and Bryansk regions

Key events

Ukraine’s Defence Minister Rustem Umerov has spoken with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin by phone regarding Russia’s air attack on Ukraine and the situation on the frontline.

Austin said “I underscored that the support of the US and our coalition of some 50 allies and partners for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression will remain.”

Today, I spoke with my 🇺🇦 counterpart @rustem_umerov to discuss the latest on the ground, including Russia’s brutal air attacks. I underscored that the support of the 🇺🇸 and our coalition of some 50 Allies and partners for 🇺🇦 in its fight against Russian aggression will remain…

— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) December 30, 2023

Ukraine attacks Russia’s Belgorod and Bryansk regions

Russia’s defence ministry said its anti-aircraft units had destroyed 13 Ukrainian rockets over the southern Belgorod region on Friday and the regional governor said one person was killed and four injured in the incidents.

The governor of Bryansk region, also in southern Russia, said six Ukrainian drones had been downed.

Reuters reports that a ministry statement said units in Belgorod region had thwarted “an attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack”, with 13 rockets downed.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Belgorod region, on the Ukrainian border, said a man had been killed when a house was struck.

Four people were being treated for injuries. Ten private homes sustained damage and the water supply in the city of Belgorod had been disrupted, Gladkov said.

The Ukrainian armed forces posted video on Telegram of what it described as the sky above Belgorod, showing at least one building on fire.

In Bryansk region, governor Alexander Bogomaz said six drones were downed in Ukraine’s attack. There had been no casualties, he said.

Opening summary

Welcome to our continuing live coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Here’s an overview of the latest developments.

Ukraine launched air attacks on southern Russia’s Belgorod and Bryansk regions on Friday, with Russian officials saying air defences destroyed almost 20 rockets and drones.

Belgorod’s governor said one person was killed and four injured in the region, while Russia’s defence ministry said its anti-aircraft units had destroyed 13 Ukrainian rockets.

The governor of Bryansk region said six Ukrainian drones had been downed.

On Friday morning, Russia launched a huge wave of missile strikes on Ukrainian cities, including the capital, in what Ukraine’s defence minister called the biggest air attack of the nearly two-year-old war. At least 30 civilians were killed and 160 injured.

More on those stories shortly as well as below, along with a summary of other news.

Search and rescue operations are held at a shopping mall hit by Russian shelling in Dnipro, central Ukraine, on Friday. Photograph: Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images
  • The Ukrainian air force said it shot down 87 cruise missiles and 27 drones of a total 158 aerial “targets” fired by Russia. Kyiv’s defence minister, Rustem Umerov, said it was the “most massive air attack of this war”, which began in February 2022, and involved 18 strategic bombers. The army chief, Gen Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said infrastructure and industrial and military facilities had been targeted.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia launched about 110 missiles in the attack. “Today, Russia used nearly every type of weapon in its arsenal,” the Ukrainian president said on social media. “Russian terror must and will lose.”

  • Poland’s armed forces said an unknown airborne object, which they identified as a Russian missile, entered the country’s airspace from the direction of Ukraine for less than three minutes. “It was monitored by us on radars and left the airspace,” said Poland’s defence chief, Gen Wiesław Kukuła. The object penetrated about 40km (25 miles), Poland said, adding that Nato radar also confirmed the object left Polish airspace. The Russian charge d’affaires, summoned to the Polish foreign ministry, said Warsaw had provided no evidence of a missile entering its airspace.

  • At a hastily convened meeting of the UN security council, most council members – including the US, France and Britain – condemned the attacks. “Tragically, 2023 is ending as it began, with devastating violence against the people of Ukraine,” UN assistant secretary general Khaled Khiari said after briefing the council on the attacks.

  • Britain will send about 200 air-defence missiles to Ukraine after the Russian strikes, the UK defence minister said on Friday. Grant Shapps posted on X (formerly Twitter) that Britain was “moving rapidly to bolster Ukraine’s air defence in the wake of Putin’s murderous airstrikes”. The prime minister, Rishi Sunak, said on social media: “These widespread attacks on Ukraine’s cities show Putin will stop at nothing to achieve his aim of eradicating freedom and democracy.”

  • A Ukrainian strike on a residential building in the Russian city of Belgorod left one person dead, the regional governor said late on Friday. The attack killed one person and wounded four others, Vyacheslav Gladkov said, adding that the city’s water supply system was damaged. The Russian defence ministry said air defence systems destroyed a total of 13 missiles over the region, which borders Ukraine.

  • The US president, Joe Biden, demanded Congress “step up” and overcome divisions on sending aid to Ukraine, saying the massive Russian air attack demonstrated that the Kremlin hoped to “obliterate” the pro-western country. Biden said in a statement: “Unless Congress takes urgent action in the new year, we will not be able to continue sending the weapons and vital air defense systems Ukraine needs to protect its people. Congress must step up and act without any further delay.”

  • Ukrainian officials urged the country’s western allies to provide it with more air defences to protect itself against aerial attacks such as Friday’s. Their appeals have come as signs of war fatigue strain efforts to keep support in place.

  • Russia has suffered huge human and material losses in Ukraine and its army will emerge weakened from the conflict, a senior German military figure said in an interview published on Friday. Christian Freuding, who oversees the German army’s support for Kyiv, said: “The Russian armed forces will emerge from this war weakened, both materially and in terms of personnel.”

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