Russia Launches Major Aerial Attack on Ukraine, Declares War

Injured man examines his wrecked car outside a residential building in central Kharkiv | Jan 2 2024 AFP

One week after Vladimir Putin's reelection, Russia launched a massive airstrike against Ukraine, officially declaring the conflict a war for the first time. The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitri Peskov, outlined this new stance in an article and press briefing, stating that the conflict escalated to a war when Western countries sided with Ukraine. Despite not yet controlling the territories annexed in 2022, Russia's rhetoric now refers to them as "occupied areas," signaling a significant shift in their approach.

This change allows Russia to take more drastic measures, such as further mobilizing reservists. While there hasn't been a formal declaration of war, Putin's recent actions, including a major missile and drone attack, indicate a shift towards more aggressive tactics. The attack targeted Ukraine's energy infrastructure, leaving 1.2 million people without power.

The Russian military used a variety of weapons, including drones and missiles, in the attack. Despite some successful defenses by Ukraine, the scale and intensity of the assault were unprecedented. The most affected region was Kharkiv, where 700,000 people were left without power.

The attack comes amid tensions over Western delays in providing military aid to Ukraine. President Zelenski called for more Western support, especially in the form of air defenses, to protect against future attacks. The situation remains precarious, with analysts warning of potential breaches in Ukrainian defenses without additional ammunition.

The conflict has also led to diplomatic tensions, with the US reportedly asking Ukraine to halt drone attacks on Russian refineries. This request is fueled by fears of escalating Russian retaliation and the risk of a direct confrontation with the West.

Overall, the situation in Ukraine remains volatile, with the recent attack highlighting the ongoing conflict's devastating impact on civilians and infrastructure. 

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