New Russian Missile Barrage Hits Ukraine
KYIV, Ukraine — Moscow unleashed a new missile bombardment on cities across Ukraine before dawn on Thursday, killing a 79-year-old woman and once again targeting critical infrastructure.
Russian forces, firing from land, sea and air, launched what the Ukrainian air force put at almost three dozen cruise missiles, as well as repurposed missiles designed to attack warships, cripple electrical stations and topple industrial complexes.
With the first anniversary of the invasion nearing, the latest chapter of the Ukrainian war has been characterized by an odd combination of old-school tools and high-tech weaponry. Not long before the missiles arrived, the skies over Ukraine were dotted with balloons that appeared intended in part to confound Ukrainian air defenses.
The use of balloons in warfare has a long history for Moscow, but only in recent weeks have they been seen over Ukraine. Ivan Kyrychevskyi, a Ukrainian defense analyst, said one reason they are making a comeback now may be that Ukraine has made strides countering the threat posed by Russia’s use of Iranian-made drones.
“This tool was used by the grandfathers of these occupiers who are now fighting against us,” he said.
The assault came a day before dozens of officials from Western nations, including Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, were set to arrive in Munich for a three-day annual security conference. Ukraine’s allies were expected to project unity and resolve days ahead of the invasion’s anniversary.
In Moscow on Friday, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin, President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, is scheduled to meet with the Russian leader. Amid speculation that the Kremlin might pressure him to do more for the war effort, Mr. Lukashenko appeared to tread a careful line on Thursday, saying he would continue hosting Russian soldiers in Belarus but would join the war only if his country were to come under attack.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking to the Norwegian Parliament, said that about half of the missiles launched by Russia on Thursday had breached Ukraine’s missile defense system.
One of them struck an industrial complex in the city of Pavlohrad, in central Ukraine, at about 3 a.m., killing the 79-year-old woman and injuring seven people, the regional military administration said. Seven homes were damaged.
Lviv, a city in the west where thousands of displaced people have fled to relative safety, was also struck, officials said. That attack, too, came at around 3 a.m., “when people were sleeping peacefully in their homes,” said the military administrator for the Lviv region, Maksym Kozytsky.
Mr. Kozytsky said that firefighters had battled a fire into the morning before it was extinguished. He said that while no one was hurt, residents in the region should remain in shelters, warning that there was a “real threat.”
Officials said that Russia used two bombers flying over the Caspian Sea, a frigate in the Black Sea, six long-range bombers deployed from an air base in Kursk, Russia, and fighter jets over Melitopol in southern Ukraine to send missiles flying into Ukraine from multiple directions.
The assault included 12 Kh-22 anti-ship missiles launched by Russian bombers. Designed in the 1960s to attack warships at sea, they have been used by Russia to target cities and infrastructure.
“At the moment, we do not have the weapons capable of shooting down this type of missile,” Ukraine’s Air Force Command said in a statement.
On the battlefield, however, Russian forces have paid heavily for the most modest of gains. The Ukrainian military claimed on Thursday that up to 80 percent of some assault units fighting have been killed in Moscow’s campaign to gain ground in eastern Ukraine.
“Evacuation of those killed and wounded, by the hostiles, is limited or not carried out at all,” said Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar.
It was not possible to verify the figures independently.
In Kyiv on Thursday, Israel’s minister of foreign affairs, Eli Cohen, announced during a visit that the Israeli Embassy in the Ukrainian capital was resuming full operations, a symbolic gesture of support for Ukraine. Israel closed the embassy for several weeks after the war began, and it had been operating in a limited capacity since then.
Israel also promised to continue extending humanitarian aid to the country, and Mr. Cohen, the first Israeli minister to visit Ukraine since the war began, spoke of strengthening relations between the two countries. But Israel was not expected to accede to longstanding requests from the Ukrainian leadership for direct military aid.
Israel has maintained a delicate balancing act during the war in an effort to preserve good relations with Mr. Zelensky, whom Mr. Cohen was scheduled to meet on Thursday, without provoking Mr. Putin.
Anatoly Kurmanaev, Michael Crowley and Isabel Kershner contributed reporting.