Ukraine war news: Russia unleashes deadly missile barrage as power at Zaporizhia nuclear plant is briefly cut

Dnipro, Ukraine — Russia launched its most punishing assault on Ukraine on Thursday in nearly a month. Missiles and explosive drones rained down on cities, from the capital Kiev to the vital southern port of Odessa, and the far-western city of Lviv.

At least nine people were killed, according to Ukrainian officials, and millions more were plunged into the cold and darkness as the attacks ravaged power infrastructure—including a strike that Ukrainian officials briefly called critical. Where was the deduction? Re-supply of electricity to Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plantEurope’s largest nuclear power facility.

Ukrainians trying to avoid attacks in war-torn Nikopol
A view of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant from Nikopol, Ukraine on March 3, 2023 as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues.

Mustafa Ciftci/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Ukraine’s nuclear power operator Energoatom said, “The last power line between the authorized Zaporizhzhia NPP [Nuclear Power Plant] And the Ukrainian power system was cut off as a result of the rocket attacks.” The company said it was the sixth time the massive facility had been cut off from the country’s power grid since it was captured by Russian troops last year.

Russia accused the Ukrainian military of causing the outage, as it has in all previous instances.

Ukrainian grid operator Ukrainergo said a few hours later that power had been restored to Zaporizhia.

The plant relies on diesel generators to keep its critical cooling systems running whenever the power supply is cut, but they can only operate for about 10 days, according to Energoatom.

“The countdown has begun. If during this time it is impossible to renew the station’s external power supply, an accident with radiation consequences for the whole world may occur,” Energoatom warned on Thursday when the supply The line was severed.

Rafael Grossi, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, IAEA, issued a new appeal for a demilitarized safe zone around the Russian-held plant, saying he was “surprised” by the fact that such a sensitive facility still existed. . being put at risk by war.

Grossi told the agency’s board of governors in Austria, according to a statement, “Every time we are rolling a dice. And if we allow this to continue time after time then one day our luck will turn.” “It is the sixth time – let me say it again – the sixth time, that the ZNPP has lost all off-site power and had to operate in this emergency mode. Let me remind you, this is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant station. What are we doing? How can we sit here in this room this morning and let this happen? This cannot go on. I am decently shocked.”

In January IAEA announced There are plans to establish a “constant presence” at all Ukrainian nuclear power plants “to help prevent a nuclear accident”, but ongoing fighting around Zaporizhia has made this impossible at that facility.

Consequences of falling rocket debris in a residential area in Kiev
Police inspect damage caused by a Russian missile attack in a residential district in Kiev, Ukraine, on March 9, 2023.

Vladislav Musienko/Suspilne Ukraine/JSC “UA:PBC”/Global Images Ukraine/Getty

In the shell-shocked central city of Dnipro, residents’ fears were more immediate after overnight missile attacks, and some struggled to understand why their town was the target of Vladimir Putin’s attack.

Igor Yezhov, 60, called the Russian attackers “wild people – just barbarians”, adding “it doesn’t make sense to me how this could happen in the 21st century.”

All winter the Kremlin has mercilessly targeted Ukraine’s power and civilian infrastructure with missiles and drones, but it is the eastern mining town of Bakhmut where the ground war remains most intense.

head of Russian mercenary group Wagner linked to the Kremlin claims its fighters have captured major urban areas after seven months of street fighting in the city.

Russian mercenaries on the “lie” lured them to Ukraine


Moscow is threw wave after wave of fightersIn the Battle of Bakhmut many of them, including Wagner’s group, were desperate to claim the entire city, which would be its first major territorial gain in half a year.

In the battered town of Chasiv Yar, just a few miles west of Bakhmut in the Ukrainian-occupied zone, CBS News met Baida, a soldier who had just returned from the front line. At the age of 55, he said that he had never expected to be a soldier before Russia invaded his country, and admitted that the fighting was “really tough”.

He spoke to us in front of the armored vehicle he had driven into combat, which he credited on several occasions with saving his life and that of his fellow soldiers.

“This vehicle is very robust, it survives anti-tank landmines, keeps personnel safe, survives rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles,” he said. “I can show examples of when we came under fire and it stood strong, maintaining 120[mm] Mortar. It maneuvers well, performs well in mud and fords, it’s stable.”

Ukrainian soldiers credit the “Baida” armored personnel carrier with saving their lives on several occasions while taking part in the Battle of Bakhmut, speaking with CBS News in the nearby town of Chasiv Yar, Ukraine in early March 2023. ,

Agnes Reau/CBS News

But Baida, a callsign, knows that nothing can protect him or his fellow soldiers every time.

“Yesterday one of our men died, the driver of the same vehicle,” he said. “It is like that. We’re expecting everything to go well… there are losses, but we can’t win without it.”

Those losses were acutely felt at the funeral of 29-year-old doctor Yama Rikhalitska, who died while treating wounded soldiers at a field hospital outside Bakhmut.

“Oh Yana,” said her mother crying out in pain as she said her last goodbye, “my baby, my little one.”

As Ukrainians continue to pay the ultimate price in this war now in its second year, there is a grim acknowledgment that the brutal conflict is showing no signs of abating, let alone ending.

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