KYIV, Ukraine — Russia launched a “massive rocket attack” on critical infrastructure and residential buildings in 10 regions of Ukraine, the country’s president said on Thursday, as authorities came down short in the biggest such nighttime attack in three weeks. At least six deaths were reported.
Volodymyr Zelensky described the barrage as an attempt by Moscow to “intimidate Ukrainians again”.
“The occupiers can only terrorize civilians. That’s all they can do,” Zelensky said in an online statement.
The war largely led to a stalemate on the battlefield during the winter. The Kremlin’s military began targeting Ukraine’s electricity supply last October in an apparent attempt to demoralize the civilian population. The barrage subsequently became less frequent, with analysts estimating that Russia may be running low on ammunition. The last heavy barrage took place on 16 February.
The latest attack left nearly half of consumers in Kiev without heating, with temperatures around 9 degrees Celsius (48 Fahrenheit) amid a spring thaw.
In southern Ukraine, the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which is occupied by the Russian military, lost power as a result of missile attacks, according to nuclear state operator Energoatom.
Energoatom said it was the sixth time the plant has been in blackout since it was taken over by Russia months ago, forcing it to rely on 18 diesel generators that power the station for 10 days. Could Nuclear plants require constant power to run cooling systems and avoid meltdowns.
“The countdown has begun,” said Energoatom.
Air raid sirens rang out throughout Ukraine throughout the night, including in the capital Kiev, where explosions rocked two western neighborhoods of the city. Defense systems were activated across the country.
In total, Russia launched 81 missiles and eight explosive Martyr drones, according to Valery Zaluzny, chief commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He said 34 cruise missiles and four drones were intercepted.
Viktor Bukhta, a 57-year-old resident of a damaged residential building in Kiev’s Svyatoshinsky district, where officials said three people were injured and apartment windows were shattered, said a missile hit nearby at around 6.45 p.m.
“We went to the yard. People were injured, they helped, first aid kits were handed out from the cars,” he told The Associated Press. “Then the cars caught fire. We tried to put them out with fire extinguishers. And I got a little burnt.”
Kiev’s city administration said the capital was attacked with both missiles and drones that exploded. Many were intercepted but its power structure was affected.
Smoke could be seen billowing from a factory in Kiev’s Holosivsky district and police have closed all roads leading to it.
The alarm in Kiev was lifted shortly before 8 a.m., and the air raid sirens fell silent after some seven hours.
Private power operator DTEK said three of its power stations were hit. There were no casualties, but the company said equipment was severely damaged.
Mayor Ihor Terekhov told Ukraine’s public broadcaster that Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, was left without running water and heating after 15 missiles hit the area.
Terekhov said the power outage also disrupted mobile communications and public transport in the city, as all trams and trolleybuses came to a halt.
Lviv Gov. Maxim Kojitsky said five people were killed in a missile attack on a residential area in the Lviv region. He said three buildings were destroyed by the fire and rescuers were searching through the rubble for more possible victims.
Governor Serhiy Lysak said a sixth person was killed and two others wounded in the Dnipropetrovsk region in a series of attacks that targeted its energy infrastructure and industrial facilities.
In the south, Odessa Governor Maxim Marchenko said residential buildings were affected and several power lines were damaged in attacks in his area. He said six missiles and a drone were shot down.
Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko condemned the missile strikes as “another barbaric large-scale attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure”, saying in a Facebook post that Kiev, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk and Zhytomyr The facilities were targeted in the areas.
Ukrainian Railways reported power cuts in some areas, with 15 trains running late.
Supplier DTEK said preventive emergency power cuts had been implemented in the Kiev, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk and Odessa regions. Klitschko said that 40% of consumers in Kiev were without heating due to emergency power cuts. He said that the water supply is disrupted.
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