Russia launched a “massive rocket attack” on vital infrastructure and residential buildings in 10 regions of Ukraine, the country’s president said on Thursday, with officials saying at least six were killed in the biggest such nighttime attack in three weeks. Reported deaths.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said the barrage, which came while many people were asleep and power was knocked out in cities across the country, was an attempt by Moscow to “intimidate the Ukrainian people again”.
“The occupiers can only terrorize civilians. That’s all they can do,” Zelensky said in an online statement.
The war largely led to a stalemate on the battlefield during the winter. The Kremlin’s forces began targeting Ukraine’s electricity supply last October in an apparent attempt to disarm the civilian population and force Kiev into peace talks on Moscow’s terms. Subsequent attacks became less frequent, with analysts speculating that Russia may be running low on ammunition. The last major bombardment took place on 16 February.
In total, Russia launched 81 missiles and eight explosive martyr drones on Thursday, according to Valery Zaluzny, chief commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He said 34 cruise missiles and four drones were intercepted.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the strikes were in retaliation for an alleged incursion a week earlier in western Russia’s Bryansk region by what Moscow claimed were Ukrainian destroyers. Ukraine denied the claim and warned that Moscow could use the allegations to justify its own attacks.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday’s “large-scale retaliatory strike” targeted military and industrial targets in Ukraine as well as the energy facilities that supply them.
Private electricity operator DTEK reported that three of its power stations were affected, causing severe damage and preventive emergency power cuts in the Kiev, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk and Odessa regions.
The attacks left almost half of consumers in Kiev without heating, with temperatures around 9 C (48 F). Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, was running without water, heating, trams and trolleybuses after 15 missiles hit the area, mayor Ihor Terekhov told Ukrainian public broadcaster.
About 150,000 homes were left without power in the northwestern Zhytomyr region of Ukraine. Damaged power lines caused an emergency blackout in the southern port of Odessa.
In southern Ukraine, the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, which is occupied by the Russian military, lost power as a result of missile attacks, according to nuclear state operator Energoatom.