Power stations and other critical infrastructure was damaged after Russia launched its biggest missile strike in weeks on targets across Ukraine.
Russian forces fired 69 missiles at energy facilities and Ukrainian forces shot down 54, Ukrainian military chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi said. Local officials said attacks killed at least two people around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
The strikes also wounded at least six people across the country, although the toll of the attacks was growing as officials assessed the day’s events. Russia dispatched explosive drones to selected regions overnight before broadening the barrage with air and sea-based missiles, the Ukrainian air force said.
Air raid sirens sounded across the country on Thursday (29 December) and the military activated air-defence systems in Kyiv, the regional administration said. It was the latest attack on Ukrainian power and water supplies.
In Kyiv, air defence systems were activated to fend off the ongoing missile attack, according to the regional administration. Explosions were heard in the city.
Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov said numerous explosions took place in Ukraine’s second-largest city. Explosions were also heard in the city of Lviv near the border with Poland, according to mayor Andriy Sadovyi.
Ukrainian authorities in several regions said some incoming Russian missiles were intercepted. The governor of southern Ukraine’s Mykolaiv province, Vitaliy Kim, said five missiles were shot down over the Black Sea.
Did the missile strikes cause damage in Kyiv?
The Ukrainian military’s command north said two were downed over the Sumy region, located on the border with Russia in the country’s northeast. Fragments from downed Russian missiles damaged two private buildings in the Darnytskyi district of Kyiv, the city administration said.
An industrial facility and a playground in neighbourhoods across the Dnieper River also were damaged, city officials said. No casualties were reported. Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko warned on Thursday that there could be power cuts in the capital, asking people to stockpile water and to charge their electronic devices.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned of power outages in the capital, asking people to stockpile water and to charge their electronic devices.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the attacks “senseless barbarism”. “There can be no ‘neutrality’ in the face of such mass war crimes. Pretending to be ‘neutral’ equals taking Russia’s side,” Mr Kuleba tweeted.
Power switched off to minimize damage to infrastructure
The widespread attack was the latest in a series of Russian strikes targeting vital infrastructure across Ukraine. Moscow has launched such attacks on weekly basis since October, causing widespread blackouts and cutting water supplies.
After earlier attacks, the Ukrainian military reported shooting down incoming Russian missiles and explosive drones, but some still reached their targets, increasing the suffering of the population amid freezing temperatures. As the latest wave of Russian strikes began, authorities in the Dnipro, Odesa and Kryvyi Rih regions said they switched off electricity to minimise the damage to critical infrastructure facilities if they were hit.
Earlier this month, the US agreed to give a Patriot missile battery to Ukraine to boost the country’s defence. The US and other allies also pledged to provide energy-related equipment to help Ukraine withstand the attacks on its infrastructure.
Mr Podolyak said that Russia was aiming to “destroy critical infrastructure and kill civilians en masse”. “We’re waiting for further proposals from ‘peacekeepers’ about ‘peaceful settlement,’ ‘security guarantees for RF’ and undesirability of provocations,” he wrote on Twitter, a sarcastic reference to statements from some in the West who urged Ukraine to seek a political settlement of the conflict.
Lviv left mostly without power
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said a number of energy facilities were damaged during what he said was the 10th such large-scale attack on his country. “Russia is trying to deprive Ukrainians of light before the New Year,” Mr Shmyhal wrote in a Telegram post. He said that emergency blackouts may be necessary “in some areas”.
About 90% of Lviv was without electricity, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi wrote on Telegram. Trams and trolley buses were not working, and residents might experience water interruptions, he said.
Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine in February of this year. The latest barrage of missle strikes comes after Russian shelling in Kherson killed at least seven people on Christmas Eve, with 58 injured and at least 16 were seriously injured.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky noted the destruction came as Ukrainians were beginning Christmas celebrations which for many Orthodox Christians will culminate in a traditional celebration on 7 January.