WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Residents of Kyiv, Ukraine, rushed to shelters as air raid sirens rang across the city.
- Russia relentlessly carried out aerial attacks across the city, destroying residential buildings and critical infrastructure.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the heroism of their air defense troops for holding on.
Scenes in Kyiv were reminiscent of the first days of the war as Russia relentlessly carried out aerial attacks across the city early on Friday, prompting air raid sirens and evacuations to shelters.
Kyiv’s Telegram channel issued an air raid alert shortly after 2:00 a.m. to urge residents to rush to shelters.
Kyiv Gov. Olekskiy Kuleba confirmed on Telegram that a drone attack was underway.
About 20 km (12 miles) south of Kyiv, a Reuters witness reported hearing several explosions and the sound of anti-aircraft fire.
On Thursday night’s video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared that air commands across Ukraine repelled 54 Russian missiles and 11 drones on Thursday.
Zelenskyy confirmed power outages in most regions, including Kyiv, Odesa, Kherson, and the area around Lviv.
“But this is nothing compared with what could have happened if it were not for our heroic anti-aircraft troops and air defence,” the Ukrainian leader declared.
The defense ministry reported that the most recent attacks destroyed over 18 residential buildings and 10 critical infrastructure installations. On Thursday, footage from Reuters showed first responders searching through the wreckage of residences. Over 120 missiles were fired on Thursday according to officials.
The recent air strikes from Russia mostly targeted energy infrastructure, causing millions to lose electricity and heating during the winter season.
Ukraine has been making significant strides in taking back territories, but they still need additional help with air defense to help fend off the attacks. Last week, the United States responded with almost $2 billion in additional military aid, including the advanced Patriot Air Defense System.
Russia has denied that it targets civilians, but Ukraine points to its daily attacks against cities, towns, hospitals, and important infrastructure.
Russia’s invasion started on Feb. 24 as part of what President Vladimir Putin calls a “special military operation” against security threats. Moscow’s actions have been denounced by Ukraine and its Western allies, which have imposed sanctions in response.
The frontline towns of Bakhmut and Soledar in Donetsk province still face intense fighting, as well as Luhansk in the east, and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south. The four regions are not fully controlled by Russian forces, despite Kremlin’s claims that they have been making progress in “demilitarizing” Ukraine.
Zelenskyy noted on Thursday night that Russia “has not abandoned the insane idea of capturing the Donetsk region.”
Russia-backed separatists seized part of the Donbas region in 2014, the same year that Russia claimed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, but Ukraine’s troops are still holding on in Donetsk.