Russia Mounts First Large-Scale Air Raids On Ukraine In Nearly 2 Months

Russia launched Friday attacks on the central Ukrainian cities of Dnipro Uman - and other locations, marking the first large-scale missile and aerial raids in almost two months, and resulting in a mounting civilian death toll. 

Ukraine's defense ministry had previously warned the population it believed that major aerial strikes were imminent. The strikes occurred in the early night hours of Friday, with Ukrainian rescue operations ensuing throughout the day.

Image via The Guardian

Some large residential buildings were reportedly struck in the missile barrage, with Ukrainian rescue and health authorities telling international press that 26 people, including five children, were killed.

The attack included over 20 cruise missiles and as well as some 'suicide drones' at a moment Ukraine is preparing for a spring counteroffensive

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford reporting from Kyiv said that the attack, according to the Ukrainian government, was executed by one of "23 cruise missiles and so-called kamikaze drones that Russia fired in the early hours of Friday morning. Some were reportedly launched from as far away as the Caspian Sea," he said.

The attacks show "Russia’s ability to strike targets across this country whenever and wherever it pleases", he said.

A Russian Defense Ministry statement also said it utilized strategic bombers to target Ukrainian army reserve unites, with an aim toward preventing additional troops from reaching the frontlines.

Russia is also denying that it targeted civilians. "Overnight, the Russian Air Force carried out a collective rocket strike using long-range high-precision weapons targeting temporary deployment sites of Ukrainian army reserve units," Russian MoD spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters later in the day.

"The target of the strike was achieved. All designated facilities were struck. The advance of the enemy's reserves into combat zones was thwarted," Konashenkov said.

Ukraine's military meanwhile claimed its anti-air defenses had intercepted many of the inbound missiles. Given the reported rising high death toll, Kiev is likely to press its Western backers even harder at this point for more advanced anti-air systems.

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