KYIV, Ukraine – Russia unleashed a new wave of missile strikes on energy infrastructure across Ukraine on Friday, causing power outages, restricting water supplies and prompting new calls by Kyiv for Western arms.
At least 17 missiles hit the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia in an hour in the heaviest attack since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year, local officials said.
National grid operator Ukrenergo said drone and missile strikes on power stations and transmission facilities overnight and during the Friday morning rush hour damaged energy facilities in eastern, southern and western Ukraine.
There was no immediate word of any deaths but Oleh Synehubov, governor of the Kharkiv region in northwestern Ukraine, said seven people had been wounded.
“Kharkiv is still under enemy missile strikes. Recently one more explosion was heard. We have hits on energy generating infrastructure,” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
The new Russian attacks followed a rare trip abroad this week by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that included talks with European Union leaders in Brussels aimed at securing more weapons for Ukraine including fighter jets.
“Russia has been striking at Ukrainian cities all night & morning,” presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter. “Enough talk & political hesitation. Only fast key decisions: long-range missiles, fighter jets, operational supplies logistics for Ukraine.”
Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, said two Russian Kalibr missiles launched from the Black Sea had flown through the airspace of Moldova and NATO member Romania before entering Ukraine.
Reuters could not verify the statement, but Moldova later confirmed its airspace had been violated by a Russian missile. Russia did not immediately comment and Romania’s defense ministry said it could not confirm the report.
The Ukrainska Pravda media outlet quoted the air force spokesperson as saying Ukraine could have shot down the missiles but did not do so because it did not want to endanger civilians in foreign countries.
Power system damaged
Russia has carried out repeated waves of attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities in recent months, at times leaving millions of people without light, heating or water supplies during the cold winter.
At least three explosions shook Kyiv and the surrounding region, with officials saying air defense systems were in operation in the capital and in other parts of the country.
Missile debris damaged a private house, two cars and electricity networks in the Holosiivskiy district of the capital, city authorities said.
Kyiv’s mayor urged residents to remain in shelters as the air alert continued, over three hours after it began.
The mayor of eastern Ukraine’s largest city, Kharkiv, confirmed an infrastructure facility there had been hit and warned of possible power outages as a result. About 150,000 people in Kharkiv were left without electricity, officials said.
Critical infrastructure was also hit Khmelnitskyi in western Ukraine and the Dnipropetrovsk region in the centre of the country, regional officials said.
Air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat told Ukrainian television that Ukrainian air defenses had shot down five of seven drones and five out of six Kalibr missiles launched at Ukraine.
The air force also said 35 S-300 missiles were launched in the Kharkiv and Zaporizhizhia regions. Ukraine’s air defenses are unable to shoot down these type of missiles.
Officials also said they ordered emergency shutdowns of electricity across the country following the attacks on infrastructure. – Rappler.com
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