Russia has launched a massive missile attack across Ukraine – targeting the capital Kiev, the second largest city of Kharkiv and the Black Sea port of Odessa – killing at least six people.
The northern city of Chernihiv and the western Lviv region, as well as the cities of Dnieper, Lutsk and Rivne, also came under fire, and Ukrainian The media reported explosions in the western regions of Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil.
Thursday’s attack – which targeted the country’s energy infrastructure but also residential areas – was the first such attack for three weeks.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said 10 regions had been affected and described the barrage that was being unleashed by Moscow as an attempt “to re-intimidate Ukrainians”.
Ukraine War – Latest: Nuclear Plant Loses Power
Ukraine’s military said Russia 81 missiles and eight drones were fired during the attack.
Defense systems were activated and 34 cruise missiles and four drones were destroyed.
The air raids caused widespread power outages and air raid sirens sounded. Many areas were also left without water.
In Kiev, the seven-hour air raid warning through the night was the longest the Russian air campaign had ever had since it began in October.
The country’s Energy Minister Herman Hlushchenko condemned the missile attacks as “another barbaric major attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure”.
Andrey Yermak, chief of staff to the Ukrainian president, wrote on the Telegram messaging app: “Terrorists are doing everything to leave us without power … They continue their terror against peaceful people.”
Five people were killed in a missile attack on a residential area in the Lviv region.
He said three buildings were destroyed by fire after the strike and rescue workers were combing through the rubble in search of more possible victims.
A sixth person was killed in several airstrikes in the Dnipropetrovsk region that targeted its energy infrastructure and industrial facilities, said its governor, Serhiy Lysak.
‘They’re scaring the kids’
Officials said the capital was attacked with both missiles and exploding drones and many were intercepted but its energy infrastructure was damaged.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said explosions were reported in the city’s Holosivsky district and emergency services responded.
“I heard a loud bang, very loud,” said 58-year-old Lyudmila. “We quickly got out of bed and saw a car on fire. Then other cars caught fire as well. The glass on the balcony and windows were shattered.” ” A child in her arms.
“It’s so scary. Very scary. The kid got scared and jumped out of bed. How could they do that? How is that possible? They’re not human, I don’t know what to say to them. They’re scaring the kids.” Are. “
Kharkiv Governor Oleh Sinihubov said in a Telegram post that “vital infrastructure facilities are again the target of occupiers.”
The city’s mayor, Ihor Terekhov, reported “electricity problems” in some parts.
Energy facilities and residential buildings in the southern Odessa region have also been affected, according to its governor, Maxim Marchenko.
“The second wave is expected now, so I ask residents of the area to stay in shelters!” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Supplier DTEK said preventive emergency power cuts had been implemented in the Kiev, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk and Odessa regions.
Ukrainian Railways also reported power outages in some areas.
Russia said its campaign of targeting Ukraine’s infrastructure was aimed at reducing its fighting capability. Ukraine said the airstrikes had no military purpose and were aimed at harming and intimidating civilians – a war crime.
Nuclear plant for diesel power
The power supply to the Russian-controlled Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant was also shut off during the offensive.
It has since been reconnected to the grid, Ukrainian grid operator Ukrainergo confirmed.
Ukraine’s state nuclear power company Energoatom said earlier that the fifth and sixth reactors had been shut down and the power needed to keep the plant functioning was being supplied by 18 diesel generators, which had enough fuel for 10 days.
Nuclear plants require constant power to run cooling systems and avoid meltdowns.
IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi told Sky News “a nuclear accident” would affect both Russia and Ukraine, and perhaps even more. He explained: “The world has seen how these things can cross borders and reach Europe and maybe beyond.”
Mr Grossi said he had seen the plant affected by the shelling, describing a “huge hole in the ceiling of the hall containing fresh nuclear fuel”.
He said the diesel generators at the plant were the last line of defense and asked: “Do we want to rely on the last line of defense? No, we certainly don’t.”
Mr Grossi reiterated his call for a safety zone to be established around the plant.
The risk of unintentional strike or loss of power means that the situation remains unacceptably dangerous
The loss of power at the Zaporizhzhya power plant caused by these latest missile strikes is yet another reminder if we need to of the continued risk of a serious nuclear accident due to the conflict in Ukraine.
The reactors at the plant were shut down last September at the instigation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to reduce the risk of a nuclear disaster if the plant was hit by missiles or lightning to prevent a nuclear fuel meltdown. Was lost ,
Although they are closed, the reactors and nuclear fuel stored at the site still need to be cooled by pumping water around them, eliminating the risk of a Chernobyl or Fukushima-type accident.
This is why the loss of power connection to the plant from the rest of the Ukrainian electrical grid is a concern.
But it is an issue that is being managed by the Ukrainian plant operator and a team of three IAEA engineers stationed at the plant.
The grid connection has been severed in recent weeks due to repeated shelling. Backup diesel generators in the plant automatically switch to pumping cooling water.
Nine mobile generators and fuel have also been moved to the site as an additional safety measure.
Concerns were raised last month about the water level in the plant’s cooling reservoir, which was dropping because of issues at a dam above the Dnieper River. Levels are back to normal now.
The site is highly unlikely to have been intentionally targeted by either party. The Russian military currently occupies the site along with its operators and the IAEA.
However, the risk of an unintentional strike or loss of power, fuel supplies or water for Zaporizhia means that the situation remains unacceptably dangerous according to the IAEA.
The Zaporizhzhya plant was captured by Russian forces at the start of their invasion of Ukraine and remains under their control.
It is strategically important to both sides of the Ukraine–Russia conflict but its ongoing standoff has led to growing concerns about nuclear security.
The battle for Bakhmut continues
Ukraine’s army responded with a fierce attack by Russian troops, launched a missile attack Eastern mining town of Bakhmut,
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Facebook, “The enemy continued its attacks and showed no signs of storming the town of Bakhmut.”
“Our defenders repelled attacks on Bakhmut and surrounding communities.”
President Zelensky said in a video address late on Wednesday that the battle for Bakhmut and the surrounding Donbass region was “our first priority”.
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Russia’s Wagner mercenary group claimed control of the eastern side of Bakhmut.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the group’s leader and founder, wrote on Telegram, “Everything east of the Bakhmutka River is completely under Wagner’s control.”
Control of Bakhmut would give Russia a stepping stone to advance on two big cities long coveted in the Donetsk region: Kramatorsk and Slavyansk.
Russia has said that it has captured about 20% of Ukraine’s territory.
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