Ukraine air defenses counter Russian barrage but missiles hit energy targets


KYIV, Ukraine — Russia launched another ferocious barrage of missiles at Ukraine on Friday, once again pummeling critical infrastructure. At least three people were killed and more than a dozen injured when a residential building was hit in Kryvyi Rih, one of seven cities targeted in the attack.

Damaged cities, including Kharkiv and Sumy in the northeast, Poltava, Dnipro, and Kyiv, the capital, reported power outages following the strikes, even though Ukrainian officials said that their bolstered air defenses had succeeded in intercepting and destroying 60 of 76 missiles fired by the Russians.

It was not possible for The Washington Post to independently verify the Ukrainian claims, but Kyiv’s Western supporters have been rushing to send additio0nal air defense systems to the country since Russia began its bombing campaign against infrastructure in early October.

Ukraine’s Air Force said in a statement that Friday’s strikes were a “massive” attack on “critical infrastructure facilities and fuel.” The missiles were launched from ships and aircraft in the Caspian, Azov and Black Seas, as well from areas further inside Russia mainland Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has openly acknowledged Russia’s efforts to destroy Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, accusing Kyiv and the West of provoking the attacks, though it was Russia that initiated a full scale invasion of Ukraine nearly 10 months ago, seeking to topple its government. Western leaders have said the attacks could be a war crime because they have no military purpose.

Friday’s barrage confirmed that the Kremlin has no intention of relenting in its bombing campaign and indeed may make good on threats to step up its strikes in response to recent announcements by the U.S. and other Western nations of plans to send additional, increasingly high-powered weapons to Ukraine, and to increase training for the Ukrainian military.

The European Union on Friday said that it had reached agreement on a ninth package of sanctions, as part of the continuing Western effort to punish Russia for the war by isolating its economy.

Putin is planning to visit Belarus, which has allowed Russian forces to use its territory as a springboard for attacks and there is rising concern that Russian may attempt another incursion into Ukraine from the north — not necessarily to retry its failed attempt to seize Kyiv, but perhaps to hit from behind at Ukrainian forces pushing east into Russian-occupied territory in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The Pentagon has acknowledged Ukraine’s concerns, but says it sees no signs that such an attack is imminent.

Leonid Pasechnik, the Russian proxy leader in occupied Luhansk, said on Telegram that Ukrainian artillery fire had killed eight people injured 23 in the village of Lantratovka and the town of Stakhanov early Friday.

Russia is destroying Ukraine’s economy, raising costs for U.S. and allies

Despite repeated setbacks on the battlefield, Russia has had greater success in its bombing campaign, and the severe destruction of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has pushed the country to the brink of humanitarian and economic crises, by depriving citizens of heat and hot water in winter, and cutting off electricity used to power homes and businesses.

Air raid sirens sounded out across Ukraine at around 8 a.m. It was the ninth heavy missile attack since Russia began targeting Ukraine’s energy systems on Oct. 10, officials at Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s primary power operator, said in a statement.

Soon after the sirens went off, explosions could be heard in the capital Kyiv, in Kharkiv and Sumy in the northeast, Poltava in central Ukraine, and numerous other locations. For citizens it was generally impossible to know if the booms represented successful strikes, or were the sound of air defenses destroying the missiles in midair.

Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said in a post on Telegram that the capital “withstood one of the biggest missile attacks since the beginning” of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, nearly ten months ago.

About 40 missiles were fired at Kyiv, Klitschko said, of which 37 were shot down. The Post could not verify those numbers

However, Klitschko also said in a television interview that three districts of the city were hit by missiles, and because of the attack, “several energy-providing facilities” had been damaged and Kyiv was experiencing “interruptions with electricity, water and heat.”

In Kryvyi Rih, the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, three people were killed when a Russian missile hit a residential building, “a 64-year-old woman and a young couple,” Valentyn Reznichenko, the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region said in a Telegram post. Thirteen people were also injured, including four children, Reznichenko said.

“Everyone is in the hospital,” he said.

Kharkiv Governor Oleh Syniehubov said that 10 missiles were fired at the region, cutting electricity to more than 1 million people. Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov also described “colossal destruction” to the city’s infrastructure and said residents had lost electricity, heating or water supplies.

‘Wiped out’: War in Ukraine has decimated a once feared Russian brigade

Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed Friday to have destroyed a “missile and artillery arms depot” in Kharkiv, and to have hit Ukrainian command posts in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions — two of the Ukrainian regions that Putin has claimed to have annexed in violation of international law.

Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s energy operator, said that the attacks had “substantially increased” Ukraine’s energy deficit, with emergency shutdowns taking place in all regions of Ukraine.

“The northern, southern and central regions were the biggest impacts,” Ukrenergo said in a statement on Facebook. “Where this is now possible, maintenance crews are already assessing the extent of damage and beginning emergency repair work.”

Friday’s attacks reverberated through Pavlohrad in southeastern Ukraine, where some residents complained about losing water this morning for the first time since the war began.

Yevgeniy Velichko, 33, carried two five-liter jugs of water through the city after his taps stopped running at home.

His neighborhood supermarket had lost power earlier in the day and began turning customers away, before locking its doors and leading a handful of women to stand outside and discuss where they could go for groceries.

“The lack of electricity is manageable — we have candles; we have food,” Velichko said. “But the water is a different case — you have to shower, you have to do laundry, or be able to have tea and drink water.”

With an automatic water pump shut off a few blocks away due to the outages, about 30 residents lined up on Poltavska Street to use a manual pump, carrying large plastic jugs, which they would then lug home.

U.S. planning to give Ukraine smart-bomb kits

Natalia, 40, a social worker, said she had been working since 7:30 a.m. to distribute food, medicine, and water to elderly residents. One of her clients, a 76-year-old woman with a disability, lives on the fourth floor of her building and cannot get up and down the stairs.

Natalia brought two large aluminum jugs with her to the pump at around 3 p.m., which she then had to deliver to one person before returning to the pump again on Friday for her last elderly client.

With his father off fighting in the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut, Vova Shtonda, 20, accompanied his mother Oksana, 41, and his brother Dina, 10, to the manual water pump, carrying five plastic bottles in addition to the 10 liters he could fit in his backpack.

“It’s not as scary as when your city is being bombed,” Shtonda said, craning his neck to see how long the line in front of him was. “I’m concerned, but I’m trying to keep my hopes up.”

Stein reported from Pavlohrad, Ukraine. Emily Rauhala in Brussels and Dan Lamothe in Washington contributed to this report.

Source link

Next Post