Russia’s intense missile, drone attacks on Ukraine sharply increase civilian deaths

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Russia’s intense missile and drone attacks across Ukraine in recent weeks sharply increased civilian casualties in December with over 100 killed and nearly 500 injured, the United Nations said in a new report Tuesday.

The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said there was a 26.5 percent increase in civilian casualties last month – from 468 in November to 592 in December. With some reports still pending verification, it said, the increase was likely higher.

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Danielle Bell who heads the UN’s monitoring mission. said: “Civilian casualties had been steadily decreasing in 2023 but the wave of attacks in late December and early January violently interrupted that trend.”

The UN mission said it is verifying reports the recent intense Russian missile and drone attacks that began hitting populated areas across Ukraine on December 29 and continued into early January killed 86 civilians and injured 416 others.

“These attacks sow death and destruction on Ukraine’s civilians who have endured profound losses from Russia’s full-scale invasion for almost two years now,” Bell said.

The UN monitoring mission said the highest number of casualties occurred during attacks on December 29 and January 2 amid plummeting winter temperatures.

On January 4, it said, Russian missiles struck the small town of Pokrovsk and nearby village of Rivne close to the front lines, burying two families – six adults and five children – in the rubble of their homes. Some bodies have still not been found, it said.

In another attack on January 6, the blast wave from a Russian missile strike in Novomoskovsk injured 31 civilians including eight passengers on a minibus that was destroyed during the morning commute, the UN said.

The confirmed number of civilians killed since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022 is more than 10,200, including 575 children, and the number of injured is over 19,300, the UN humanitarian office’s operations director, Edem Wosornu, told the UN Security Council last Wednesday.

Neither Moscow nor Kyiv gives timely data on military losses, and each is at pains to amplify the other side’s casualties as the nearly two-year war grinds on with no sign of peace talks to end the conflict.

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