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17 wounded in Russian strikes on Kharkiv

At least 17 people were wounded in Russian strikes on the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv yesterday evening, the regional governor has said.

Governor Oleg Synegubov said that the strikes hit residential buildings in the city centre, injuring at least 17.

“Two women are in a serious condition,” he added in a post on Telegram.

Mr Synegubov said that according to preliminary information, the city was hit by two S-300 missiles.

Kharkiv, just 30 kilometres from the border with Russia in Ukraine’s northeast, has come under frequent bombardment since Moscow decided to invade in February 2022.

After the strikes, the city’s mayor said that some residential buildings were destroyed and that there were no military targets in the area.

There was no immediate comment from Moscow.

A car destroyed in a Russian missile attack on Kharkiv yesterday

Earlier yesterday, authorities urged around 3,000 residents in more than two dozen villages near the frontline in the wider Kharkiv region to evacuate, citing escalating Russian attacks in the area.

Russia meanwhile said it had repelled an attack earlier today on its border city Belgorod, about 80 kilometres from Kharkiv.

“Anti-aircraft defence destroyed seven Ukrainian missiles and four drones over the Belgorod region,” Russia’s Defence Ministry said.

The region’s governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said there were no immediate casualties reported.

Russian forces captured swathes of the Kharkiv region shortly after invading Ukraine in February 2022, and have kept up efforts to wrest the region despite losing ground there.

Ukraine says downed 19 Russian drones overnight

Kyiv said today that Russia had launched 20 Iranian-designed attack drones at targets in southern Ukraine overnight, and that its air defence systems destroyed all but one.

The announcement came after authorities said 20 people had been injured in Russian attacks in the eastern city of Kharkiv and Odesa on the Black Sea.

Ukraine has seen a steep rise in civilian casualties since December, as Moscow intensifies air attacks, reversing a downward trend seen earlier in 2023, the United Nations has warned.

“The enemy struck with 20 Shahed-136/131 attack UAVs from the Primorsko-Akhtarsk region of Russia and with two S-300 anti-aircraft guided missiles from the Belgorod region of Russia from near Kharkiv,” Ukraine’s air force said in a statement on social media.

It said Ukraine had used guided missiles and mobile air defence units in southern regions, including Dnipro.

Workers in Kharkiv clear debris following a Russian missile strike on the city

Ukraine’s 2024 priority is to gain control of the skies – minister

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his country’s priority for 2024 was to gain control over its skies, as Russia’s full-scale assault on the country enters its third year.

“In 2024, of course the priority is to throw Russia from the skies. Because the one who controls the skies will define when and how the war will end,” Mr Kuleba said in an address to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The chief of the European Union’s executive Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has said she was “confident” all 27 member states will find a solution to provide funds to Ukraine, an issue currently in gridlock over Hungary’s resistance.

Ms Von der Leyen spoke to politicians in the EU parliament after EU leaders last month agreed to start accession talks with Ukraine but failed to green-light a financial package worth €50 billion to Kyiv over Hungary’s veto.

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