Russian strikes kill 12 in Ukraine

Russian strikes battered cities across Ukraine early Friday, killing at least 12 people in a barrage of missiles and drones that hit as Kyiv prepares an expected counteroffensive.

The deadly attack included a strike on a residential building and came days after the leaders of Ukraine and China spoke by phone, with Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly advocating peace negotiations.

"Missile strikes killing innocent Ukrainians in their sleep, including a 2-years-old child, is Russia's response to all peace initiatives," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.

While Russia regularly bombed Ukrainian cities and infrastructure over the winter, the massive strikes had tailed off in recent months.

Kyiv, which was among the cities targeted Friday, had not been hit by missiles in more than 50 days.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the latest barrage and vowed a response to "Russian terror".

Most fighting is now taking place in the east for control of the industrial Donbas region, particularly the city of Bakhmut, which has been almost completely destroyed.

Interior Ministry Igor Klymenko said strikes on the town of Uman south of the captial Kyiv lead to "a total of ten victims," while the mayor of the central city of Dnipro Borys Filatov earlier reported that two people had been killed.

Ukraine said it had downed 21 of 23 Russian missiles and two attack drones overnight.

Ukraine's air defence system has been bolstered in recent months by the delivery of Western equipment crucial to the country's war effort.

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