San Francisco Chronicle

Russia fires scores of missiles while ramping up winter offensive

- By Marc Santora

KYIV, Ukraine — Russia targeted Ukraine’s already battered infrastruc­ture with drones, rockets and cruise missiles Friday, raining fire on cities around the country as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrapped up a push in Europe for more, faster support from Kyiv’s allies.

Russia has been ramping up the pace of its winter offensive, Ukrainian officials say, pouring troops and equipment into eastern Ukraine to try to swallow up new territory as the anniversar­y of the war approaches and Kyiv waits for more powerful weapons from the West.

Military analysts have said that Russia has made small tactical gains over the past week — often at great cost — but as of Friday morning there was no evidence of a major breakthrou­gh despite the heavy fighting.

The Ukrainian air force described Friday’s assault as a “massive attack” and said that it had involved 71 cruise missiles and seven Iranian-made drones. Ukraine said in a statement that it had shot down 61 of the cruise missiles and five of the drones.

Ukrainian officials maintained that two of the Russian missiles had crossed the airspace of Romania, a NATO country, even as Bucharest rejected the claim. Zelenskyy, who repeated the assertion, condemned the attacks and used the episode as an opportunit­y to rally his country’s allies.

“Their targets were civilians, civilian infrastruc­ture,” Zelenskyy, who was traveling back to Ukraine after a stop in Poland, said in a video statement. He added: “This is terror that can and must be stopped — stopped by the world.”

The full extent of the damage of the strikes Friday was not immediatel­y clear, but energy infrastruc­ture was hit in six regions of the country, according to Ukraine’s energy minister, Herman Galushchen­ko.

Over Kyiv, the capital, Ukrainian fighter jets raced across the sky to intercept inbound missiles, and air defense systems thundered. Ten missiles were shot down over the city, according to the mayor, Vitali Klitschko.

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