Ukraine: Russian missile barrage penetrates Ukrainian cities

KYIV: Russia launched a massive assault of missiles and drones on residential buildings and critical infrastructure across Ukraine on Thursday, killing six people, leaving hundreds of thousands without heat or electricity, and knocking nuclear plants off the power grid Shut down for hours. It was the biggest such attack in three weeks.
Air raid sirens rang out throughout the night, as attacks targeted a wide swath of the country, including western Ukraine, which is far from the front lines. President Volodymyr Zelensky Said the barrage was an attempt by Moscow to “scare the Ukrainian people again” while many were sleeping.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the attacks were in retaliation for a recent invasion of western Russia’s Bryansk region by what Moscow claimed to be Ukrainian destroyers. Ukraine denied the claim and warned that Moscow could use the allegations to justify its attacks.
The war largely led to a stalemate on the battlefield during the winter. The Kremlin’s forces began targeting Ukraine’s electricity supply last October in an apparent attempt to disarm the civilian population and force Kiev into peace talks on Moscow’s terms.
Subsequent attacks became less frequent, with analysts speculating that Russia may be running low on ammunition. The last major bombardment took place on 16 February.
In total, Russia launched 81 missiles and eight Iranian-made Shaheed drones on Thursday, according to Valery Zaluzny, chief commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He said 34 missiles and four drones were intercepted.
The weapons included six hypersonic Kinzhal cruise missiles, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuri Ihnat Said.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the barrage targeted military and industrial targets in Ukraine as well as energy facilities supplying them.
Nearly half of homes in the capital city of Kiev were without heat, according to local officials, as was Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, where water was also cut on a day less expected to be cold.
About 150,000 homes were left without power in the northwestern Zhytomyr region of Ukraine. Damaged power lines caused an emergency blackout in the southern port of Odessa.
Victor BukhtaThe 57-year-old resident of Kiev’s Svetoshinsky district, where officials said three people were injured, said a missile fell nearby in the early morning.
“We went to the yard. People got injured,” he said. “Then the cars caught fire. We tried to extinguish them with the car’s fire extinguisher. And I got a little burnt.
As a result of the attack, the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by the Russian military, had to switch to diesel generators, according to nuclear state operator Energoatom. Hours later, Ukraine’s power grid operator Ukrainergo said the plant had been reconnected to the grid.
It is the sixth time Europe’s largest nuclear plant has been blackout since it was taken over by Russia months ago. Nuclear plants require a constant supply of electricity to run cooling systems and avoid meltdowns.
Diesel generators can power the station for up to 10 days, but frequent shutdowns raise fears of a catastrophe in Zaporizhzhya.
The head of the UN nuclear watchdog said he was “appalled by the complacency” of members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the organization he leads.
“What are we doing to prevent this from happening? We are the IAEA, we are made to take care of nuclear security,” the organization’s director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, told its board of directors at a meeting on Thursday, according to a statement. told.
“Every time we’re rolling a dice,” he said. “And if we allow this to continue time after time, our luck will one day run out.”
The agency has placed teams of experts at all four of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants to reduce the risk of serious accidents.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was scathing about the attack, tweeting: “No military objective, just Russian barbarism.”
Kiev’s city administration said the capital was attacked with both missiles and drones that exploded. Many were intercepted, but its energy 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.
Three men and two women were killed after a missile hit a residential area in the western region of Lviv. 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 a series of attacks in the Dnipropetrovsk region that targeted its energy infrastructure and industrial facilities.
In addition to the barrage of missiles, Russian shelling killed six other civilians from Wednesday to Thursday, Ukrainian officials said, including three people at a bus stop in Kherson.
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