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A Russian missile attack on Kyiv wounds at least 53 as Ukraine pleads for more European support

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A Russian missile attack on Kyiv wounds at least 53 as Ukraine pleads for more European support
AP
HANNA ARHIROVA and KARL RITTER
December 12, 2023

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A barrage of Russian missiles targeted Kyiv on Wednesday, wounding at least 53 people, officials said, as the Ukrainian president sought more military support in Europe after a trip to Washington secured no new pledges.

Loud explosions rocked Ukraine's capital at 3 a.m. as the city's air defenses were activated for the second time this week. Ukraine’s air force said Russia launched 10 ballistic missiles toward Kyiv and all were intercepted by air defenses, but their debris struck homes and a children's hospital.

The attack underscored the continuing threat to Ukraine from the Kremlin’s missile arsenal in the 21-month war. Russia has been stockpiling its air-launched cruise missiles from its heavy bomber fleet, according to a recent assessment by the U.K. Ministry of Defense.

That may herald another heavy winter bombardment of Ukraine’s power grid. Moscow last year targeted energy infrastructure in an effort to deny Ukrainians heat, light and running water and break their fighting spirit.

As winter sets in and hinders troop movements, allowing little change along the front line, long-range air bombardment plays a growing role.

Ukraine has dwindling supplies of air defense munitions and other ammunition. That prompted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to visit Washington on Tuesday in an effort to persuade lawmakers to approve President Joe Biden's request for $61.4 billion for Ukraine. His trip accomplished no breakthrough.

Zelenskyy said on Telegram that he and Biden agreed to work on increasing the number of air defense systems in Ukraine. “The terrorist state has just demonstrated how crucial this decision is,” Zelenskyy said, referring to the overnight strikes.

On Wednesday, he met in Oslo with Nordic leaders who feel keenly the potential threat from nearby Russia and are among Kyiv's staunchest supporters.

Zelenskyy may also attend a European Union summit on Thursday in Brussels, where the continent’s leaders are expected to discuss their backing for Ukraine. Officials did not confirm such a trip.

“Russia is eager to exploit divisions," the senior leaders from Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden said in a joint statement in Oslo. "We must continue to stand united against Russia’s illegal and immoral war.”

They vowed “comprehensive assistance” for Ukraine. “Now is not the time to tire,” the Nordic leaders said, amid signs of war fatigue among Kyiv's foreign supporters.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said her government will unveil a Ukraine support package of almost 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion) this week. Norway announced it will give additional air defenses to Ukraine, taking them from its own stocks to ensure speedy delivery.

Separately, Latvia and Ukraine announced an agreement on the production of drones, a key part of the war.

In the overnight missile attack, debris from the intercepted weapons fell in Kyiv's eastern Dniprovskyi district, injuring dozens of people, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Kitschko said on Telegram. Twenty people, including two children, were hospitalized, and 33 people received medical treatment on the spot.

An apartment building, a private house and several cars caught fire, while the windows of a children's hospital were shattered, Klitschko said. Falling rocket debris also damaged the water supply system in the district.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, 10 Russian drones were shot down, most of them in the Odesa region, the Ukrainian air force said.

In other developments, a “hacktivist” group called SoIntsepek claimed responsibility for a major cyberattack Tuesday against Ukrainian internet and cell phone provider Kyivstar, which serves more than 24 million mobile customers across the country.

The Google-owned U.S. cybersecurity firm Mandiant said SoIntsepek regularly claims credit for the activity of the Russian hacking team known as Sandworm, part of the GRU military intelligence agency.

“The persona was probably fabricated by the GRU to launder their operations publicly,” Mandiant threat analyst John Hultquist said in an emailed statement, adding that Sandworm is responsible for “most major disruptive cyberattacks we know about.”

A Kyivstar spokeswoman said the company hoped to restore all service by end of Wednesday but the network integrity company Kentik Inc. said only a fraction had been restored by the afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said in a report that Russian forces this year have “continued to use explosive weapons with wide area effects in their attacks on densely populated urban areas of Ukraine ... both in areas close to heavy fighting and in cities far from the contact line.”

The governmental organization added in the report published Wednesday that Ukrainian armed forces, though on a much smaller scale, also shelled populated areas of Ukraine that are occupied by Russia, causing civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure.

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Associated Press writers Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia, and Frank Bajak in Boston contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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