Kyiv authorities said Ukraine's capital withstood "one of the biggest rocket attacks” since Russian forces invaded the country nearly 10 months ago, reporting that air defenses shot down nearly all that entered the city’s airspace. The Kyiv City Administration said 37 of about 40 missiles were intercepted. One person was injured. The estimates came as Russian forces launched at least 60 missile strikes across Ukraine on Friday, officials said. Explosions were reported in at least four cities. At least two people were killed when a residential building was hit in Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, while electricity and water services were interrupted in Kyiv and Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, the AP reports. Thousands rushed to subway stations to seek shelter deep underground.
Air raid alarms sounded across the country, warning of a new barrage of the Russian strikes that have occurred intermittently since mid-October. Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Inhat said Russian forces had fired cruise missiles from positions in the Black Sea, and used bomber aircraft as part of an effort to "massively distract the attention of the anti-aircraft defense, keeping it in tension." A day earlier, Russia's Foreign Ministry warned that if the United States delivers sophisticated Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine, such systems and any crews that accompany them would also be a legitimate target for the Russian military. Washington rejected that threat.
Analysts have said Russian strikes targeting energy infrastructure have been part of a new strategy to try to freeze Ukrainians into submission after recent battlefield losses by Russian forces. Officials and experts say that has only strengthened the resolve of Ukrainians to face up to Russia’s invasion, while Moscow tries to buy time for a possible offensive in coming months after the current battlefield stalemate. Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Russia to start withdrawing troops before Christmas as the first step toward a peace deal. The Kremlin said no proposals for a "Christmas ceasefire" had been received and the topic "is not on the agenda." (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)