Russian airstrikes targeted cities throughout Ukraine early Friday, killing at least 12 people in a barrage of missiles and drones launched as Kiev plans a counteroffensive.
The tragic incident included a hit on a residential building and occurred only days after Ukrainian and Chinese leaders spoke by phone, with Chinese President Xi Jinping allegedly encouraging peace talks.
“Missile strikes killing innocent Ukrainians in their sleep, including a 2-years-old child, is Russia’s response to all peace initiatives,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted
While Russia bombed Ukrainian cities and infrastructure on a regular basis over the winter, the massive strikes had tapered off in recent months.
Kyiv, one of the cities targeted on Friday, has not been hit by a missile in almost 50 days.
Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, blasted the new barrage and promised retaliation for “Russian terror.”
The majority of the battle is currently taking place in the east for control of the industrial Donbas region, including Bakhmut, which has been nearly completely destroyed.
Interior Minister Igor Klymenko stated strikes on the village of Uman, south of Kyiv, resulted in “a total of ten victims,” while the mayor of the central city of Dnipro, Borys Filatov, had earlier reported two deaths.
Ukraine claimed to have shot down 21 of 23 Russian missiles as well as two attack drones overnight.
Ukraine’s air defense system has been strengthened in recent months with the arrival of critical Western technology to the country’s war effort.
In particular, in April, Kyiv got advanced American Patriot systems.
While it has not been subjected to missile attacks since early March, the capital was the target of an attack last week by 12 Iranian-made drones, eight of which were shot down with no casualties.
A video published by Ukrainian media showed a wrecked apartment complex with rubble strewn around it in Uman, a central city of 80,000 people.
“An enemy missile hit a residential building. Information about the victims is being clarified,” Zoya Vovk, spokesperson for the regional police, said on Telegram.
According to regional governor Igor Taburets, two cruise missiles struck Uman, one striking a residential building and the other a warehouse.
Moscow has been looking for partners to oppose the West as its campaign in Ukraine produces massive destruction and misery but falls well short of President Vladimir Putin’s goal of seizing control of the country.
Ukraine claims it has been planning a counteroffensive for months in order to drive Russian forces out of land they now control in the east and south.
The nearly one-hour chat between Xi and President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday, during which Xi allegedly advocated for peace talks, was met by Russian claims that Ukraine was obstructing efforts to cease the violence.
Beijing claims to be impartial in the Ukraine war, and Xi has never criticised Russia’s incursion, but Western nations have intensified pressure on the Chinese leader to intervene and mediate.
The Kremlin said on Thursday that any initiative to end the Ukrainian conflict on Moscow’s terms was welcomed.
“We are ready to welcome anything that can bring forward the end of the conflict in Ukraine and the achievement of Russia’s goals,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.