May 23, 2024

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Russia strikes Ukrainian energy facilities in the largest attack in weeks

Russia strikes Ukrainian energy facilities in the largest attack in weeks

  • The strikes bring back memories of Russian air strikes last winter
  • Power outage in five areas – grid operator
  • Kiev says at least 18 people have been injured

KIEV (Reuters) – Russia launched its biggest missile attack in weeks across Ukraine on Thursday, bombing energy facilities in what officials said was the apparent first attack in a new air campaign against the Ukrainian power grid.

Power outages were reported in five Ukrainian regions in the west, center and east, bringing back memories of multiple air strikes on critical infrastructure last winter that caused massive power outages to millions of Ukrainians during the bitter cold.

Officials said at least 18 people were wounded in the air strikes, including a 9-year-old girl, and a regional governor said two people were killed in separate Russian bombing overnight.

“Winter is coming. Tonight (Russia) renews missile attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure,” MP Andriy Osadchuk wrote on the 10th podium.

Grid operator Ukrainergo said this was the first Russian attack on energy infrastructure in six months, and reported damage to facilities in the western and central regions.

“A partial power outage occurred in the regions of Rivne, Zhytomyr, Kiev, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv,” she said on the Telegram application.

Ukraine has been racing for months to repair infrastructure after attacks last winter that destroyed nearly half of the country’s power system and forced grid operators to impose frequent power outages.

This year, Ukraine has better air defenses provided by the West, but it still faces the enormous challenge of defending against attacks in such a large country.

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Russia, which sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine in February 2022, has focused its air strikes since mid-July on port and grain infrastructure, hampering efforts by Kiev – a major world grain producer – to export food products.

Many of the attacks also killed civilians, although Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians.

Russia did not comment on the new air strikes, which were carried out while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was visiting the United States for talks following the UN General Assembly, during which he sought to bolster support for Ukraine.

Moscow says Ukraine is attacking targets inside Russia while Kiev continues its counterattack, and that Ukrainian drones were destroyed over the annexed Crimean peninsula and the Black Sea overnight.

Damage throughout Ukraine

Valery Zalozhny, Supreme Commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said that Russia fired 43 cruise missiles at targets during the night in several waves, and that Ukrainian air defenses shot down 36 of them.

Reuters witnesses said loud explosions rocked Kiev and the surrounding area at dawn.

City Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that seven people, including a nine-year-old girl, were injured in the capital. He added that the missile debris fell in the city center and damaged an infrastructure facility and several non-residential buildings, leading to a fire.

Interior Minister Ihor Klimenko said a hotel and several shopping stalls were damaged in Cherkassy, ​​central Ukraine, and that seven people were injured.

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Emergency services posted a video on the Telegram app showing rescuers carrying an injured man on a stretcher as a fire broke out.

The Interior Ministry and regional officials reported explosions in the Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Khmelnytsky, Rivne, Vinnitsa, Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions.

Maxim Kozitsky, governor of the Lviv region, said that three Russian missiles hit the city of Drohobych in the west, about 60 kilometers from the Polish border. Kositsky said that an infrastructure facility and warehouses were bombed.

The city’s governor, Oleksandr Prokudin, said that two people were killed in a separate attack during the night in Russian bombing of a residence in the southern city of Kherson.

A Ukrainian intelligence source said that the Ukrainian Security Service and the Navy attacked the Saki air base in Russian-occupied Crimea overnight, causing “severe damage.”

The Russian military said it destroyed 19 Ukrainian drones over the Crimean Peninsula and the Black Sea and three other drones over other parts of Russia. No details were given about casualties or damage.

(Reporting by Olena Harmash) Writing by Tom Balmforth and Timothy Heritage. Edited by Philippa Fletcher

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