Russia is bombing Ukrainian infrastructure in ‘biggest strikes’ since invasion

Explosions from the latest major barrage of Russian airstrikes knocked out utilities in Kiev and numerous other Ukrainian cities on Friday, prompting officials to push for more Western air defense systems to protect critical infrastructure.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said that “due to strikes at power stations in various regions of Ukraine, emergency power cuts are being imposed across the country”, adding that the situation also had cuts in water and heating caused. necessities.

Mykhailo Shymanov, a spokesman for Kiev’s military-civilian administration, said on state television that the barrage amounted to one of the “biggest attacks since the beginning of the full-scale war” launched by Russia in February.

Moscow’s months-long campaign of missiles and kamikaze drones targeted energy infrastructure in an attempt to test Kiev’s resolve in the cold winter months after Ukrainian forces overran Russian forces in the eastern and southern occupied territories this fall. had pushed back.

General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said in a statement that “this morning the enemy launched 76 missiles against critical infrastructure facilities of Ukraine from the Caspian and Black Seas: among them there were 72 cruise missiles and four guided air-to-surface missiles” , adding that 60 missiles were shot down.

More than 40 missiles were discovered near Kiev, 37 of which were shot down by Ukraine’s largely Soviet-era air defense systems, Shymanov said.

Members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Force speak as someone holds the remains of a missile reportedly shot down after a Russian strike in Kiev © Felipe Dana/AP

Ukrenergo, the state energy company, declared a “system emergency” and nationwide “blackout”, citing a 50 percent blackout in the country’s electricity system.

Vitaly Klitschko, the mayor of Kiev, said explosions had occurred in at least three districts of the capital.

“Due to damage to the energy infrastructure, there are interruptions in water supply in all parts of the capital,” Klitschko said in a Telegram post. Power and heating also went out in parts of Kiev.

Explosions were also reported in many other areas, including the central town of Kryviy Rih, Zelenskyy’s hometown, where two people were killed and five injured in an attack on a residential building.

Kharkiv, the largest city in eastern Ukraine that has been regularly targeted since the beginning of the Russian invasion, has lost power completely due to strikes. Attacks on the Black Sea port region of Odessa also caused major utility disruptions for the second time in a week.

Denouncing the attacks on critical infrastructure as ‘war crimes’, Ukraine’s Western financiers have pledged to boost air defense shipments as the Russian strikes threaten to rapidly deplete Kiev’s arsenal. But officials in Zelensky’s government have repeatedly expressed frustration that such supplies are taking too long to be delivered.

Kyiv was most eager for the US to supply its longer-range Patriot system. US officials in Washington said a decision on whether to approve delivery of the system is expected soon.

The US last month pledged $53 million in funding to help Ukraine repair its electricity infrastructure and the State Department said Friday that the first shipments had arrived in the country, including equipment needed to make emergency repairs. Additional tranches of aid will arrive in the coming weeks, officials added.

In a message on Twitter Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser in Zelensky’s government, lashed out at Russia for carrying out “another massive attack on cities, energy, residential buildings. Two questions: 1. Is anyone else willing to propose a “peaceful settlement” to allow Putin to save face? 2. Should we further slow down the missile defense handover process to ‘avoid escalation’?”

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, echoed Podolyak in arguing that the latest attacks only strengthened the west’s case for boosting arms stockpiles.

“For every Russian missile or drone aimed at Ukraine and Ukrainians, a howitzer should be delivered to Ukraine, a tank for Ukraine, an armored vehicle for Ukraine,” he said on Twitter. “This would effectively end Russian terror against Ukraine and restore peace and security in Europe and beyond.”