UK to send hundreds of air defence missiles to Ukraine as Sunak condemns Putin's revenge attack

29 December 2023, 19:45

Ukraine has been battered in a massive Russian strike
Ukraine has been battered in a massive Russian strike. Picture: Alamy/Social media

By Emma Soteriou

The UK is sending hundreds of air defence missiles to Ukraine after Rishi Sunak condemned Putin's revenge attack.

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Vladimir Putin unleashed a massive air raid on Ukraine, killing 12 people and wounding dozens more after his humiliating loss of a warship.

Kyiv said 158 drones and missiles blasted targets across the country, including a maternity hospital and people's homes.

The military had "never seen so many locations targeted simultaneously" and president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Moscow had deployed "nearly every type of weapon in its arsenal".

Rishi Sunak condemned the attacks, saying: "These widespread attacks on Ukraine's cities show Putin will stop at nothing to achieve his aim of eradicating freedom and democracy. We will not let him win.

"We must continue to stand with Ukraine – for as long as it takes."

The Ministry of Defence announced that hundreds of air defence missiles would be sent to Ukraine "to restock British gifted air defence systems capable of striking down Russian drones and missiles".

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Putin in testing Ukraine’s defences and the West’s resolve - now is the time for the world to come together and redouble our efforts to get Ukraine what they need to win."

It looks like a return to a previously-seen campaign of trying to terrorise Ukrainians into submission after Putin failed to capture the whole country last year - then lost swathes of territory and saw the conflict freeze along a vast frontline.

Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro and Kharkiv were all struck as footage showed strikes against high-rises.

"A maternity ward, educational facilities, a shopping mall, multi-story residential buildings and private homes, a commercial storage, and a parking lot," Mr Zelenskyy said on X.

Read more: Russian navy ship 'destroyed' off Crimea, as Britain claims 20% of Kremlin's Black Sea fleet knocked out

Russia unleashed a massive bombardment, including the capital Kyiv
Russia unleashed a massive bombardment, including the capital Kyiv. Picture: Alamy

"Today, Russia used nearly every type of weapon in its arsenal: Kindzhals, S-300s, cruise missiles, and drones. Strategic bombers launched X-101/X-505 missiles.

"Unfortunately, there have been fatalities and injuries as a result of the strikes. All services are working around the clock and providing the necessary aid.

"My condolences to those who have lost their loved ones. I wish a speedy recovery to those injured.

Read more: Furious Putin 'orders Crimea commanders to the frontline' as punishment for humiliating sinking of Black Sea ship

"We will surely respond to terrorist strikes. And we will continue to fight for the security of our entire country, every city, and every citizen. Russian terror must and will lose."

Ukraine's military chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi said Russia deployed Iranian Shahed suicide drones, which have become notorious since they began being used by Putin's forces.

A tower in Kyiv was blasted in Russian strikes
A tower in Kyiv was blasted in Russian strikes. Picture: Alamy

Russia then followed up with dozens of cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and anti-radar weapons. Ukraine said it shot down 27 of 36 drones and 87 missiles.

Rescue workers deployed as it was feared some people could still be under the rubble of destroyed buildings.

Kharkiv's mayor, Ihor Terekhov, said a hospital was hit in the city. Russia had attempted to seize the city earlier in the war but lost control of the area during last year's stunning counter-offensive.

A wounded Kyiv resident speaks to paramedics
A wounded Kyiv resident speaks to paramedics. Picture: Alamy

The bombardment comes just days after Russia was humiliated with Ukraine's attack on the Novocherkassk landing ship.

The vessel was struck, reportedly with a British Storm Shadow missile fired from a Ukrainian fighter jet, on Tuesday.

It triggered a huge fire ball and was the latest loss to Russia's Black Sea fleet, which saw its flagship, the Moskva, destroyed in the earlier stages of the war.

Grant Shapps, Britain's defence secretary, said the attack showed concerns about a stalemate were "wrong" and Ukraine had now managed to destroy 20% of the Black Sea fleet in the last four months.

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