On Friday, Russian strikes hit cities across Ukraine, killing at least 12 people, including a two-year-old child. The attacks came just as Kyiv was preparing for an expected counteroffensive. One of the targets was a residential building, and the strikes followed a phone conversation between the leaders of Ukraine and China, during which Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly advocated peace negotiations.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba took to Twitter to call out Russia for its actions, stating that the missile strikes were Russia’s response to all peace initiatives. While Russia has been regularly bombing Ukrainian cities and infrastructure, these massive strikes had tailed off in recent months. Kyiv, which was among the cities targeted on Friday, had not been hit by missiles in over 50 days. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attack and vowed a response to “Russian terror”.
Most of the fighting has been taking place in the east for control of the industrial Donbas region, with the city of Bakhmut nearly destroyed. The interior minister reported that strikes on the town of Uman led to ten casualties, while the mayor of the central city of Dnipro reported two people killed.
Ukraine said it had downed 21 of 23 Russian missiles and two attack drones overnight. Ukraine’s air defence system has been bolstered by the delivery of Western equipment crucial to the country’s war effort, including the American Patriot system.
Ukraine has been preparing for months a counteroffensive aimed at repelling Russian forces from the territory they currently hold in the east and south.
The recent phone conversation between Ukraine and China’s leaders, during which Xi reportedly advocated peace negotiations, was met by Russian accusations that Ukraine was undermining efforts to end the fighting. The Kremlin, however, said it welcomed any attempt to end the conflict in Ukraine, on Moscow’s terms.