Ukraine air defenses counter Russian barrage, but missiles hit energy targets

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Kyiv, Ukraine – Russia launched another missile strike on Ukraine on Friday, again destroying critical infrastructure. At least three people were killed and more than a dozen injured in an explosion at a residential building in Kryvyi Rih, one of the seven cities targeted by the attack.

Affected cities, including Kharkiv and Sumy in the northeast, Poltava, Dnipro and the capital Kyiv, reported power outages after the strikes, but Ukrainian authorities said air defenses managed to intercept and destroy 60 of the 76 rockets fired by air defense forces. Russians.

The Washington Post could not independently verify Ukraine’s claims, but Kiev’s Western supporters have been rushing to send additional air defense systems to the country since Russia began a campaign of infrastructure bombing in early October.

The Ukrainian 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 as from areas far beyond the borders of mainland Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly acknowledged Russia’s attempts to destroy Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, accusing Kiev and the West of provoking the attacks, but it was Russia that launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine 10 months ago to topple its government. Western leaders have said the attacks could be a war crime because they had no military purpose.

Friday’s barrage confirmed that the Kremlin has no intention of abandoning its bombing campaign and that it may face threats to increase strikes in response to recent announcements by the United States and other Western nations of plans to send additional, increasingly powerful weapons. Ukraine and increasing the training of Ukrainian troops.

The European Union on Thursday adopted a ninth package of sanctions as part of a Western effort to punish Russia for the war by isolating its economy. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference: “We have acted with unprecedented unity and speed.” “We have legendary sanctions.”

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Putin plans to visit Belarus next week, which has allowed Russian forces to use its territory as a springboard for attacks. Ukrainian officials are increasingly concerned that Russia may try to invade Ukraine again from the north. The attempt to capture Kiev has failed, but it is possible to strike back at Ukrainian forces pushing east into the Russian-occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The Pentagon acknowledged Ukraine’s concerns, but said it saw no signs that such an attack was imminent.

Leonid Pasechnik, a loyalist leader of Russia in occupied Luhansk, said on his Telegram page that eight people were killed and 23 wounded in the village of Lantratovka and the town of Stakhanov in the early hours of Friday morning.

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Despite repeated failures on the battlefield, Russia has made great strides in its bombing campaign, while the destruction of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has pushed the country to the brink of a humanitarian and economic crisis, depriving citizens of heat and hot water in the winter and blacking out electricity. Used for electricity in homes and businesses.

According to the official representatives of the company “Ukrenergo”, the main energy operator of Ukraine, at 8 o’clock in the morning, air sirens sounded across Ukraine. It was the ninth major missile attack since Russia began targeting Ukraine’s energy systems on October 10.

Shortly after the sirens sounded, explosions were heard in the capital Kyiv, Kharkiv and Sumy in the northeast, Poltava in central Ukraine and many other places. It was impossible for civilians to know whether the boom signaled successful strikes or the sound of air defenses destroying missiles in mid-air.

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Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said in a Telegram message that the capital had withstood one of the biggest missile attacks since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began nearly a decade ago.

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

However, Klitschko said in a television interview that three districts of the city were hit by rockets and that the attack damaged “several energy supply facilities” and that Kyiv “is experiencing interruptions in electricity, water and heat.”

In Kryvyi Rih, the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a Russian missile hit a residential building, killing three people, Governor of Dnepropetrovsk Region Valentin Reznichenko said. In a Telegram post. Also, 13 people, including four children, were injured, Reznichenko said.

“Everyone’s in the hospital,” he said.

Kharkiv governor Oleh Sinyehubov said that 10 rockets were fired into the region, and more than 1 million people lost electricity. Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov also said that the city’s infrastructure had suffered “enormous destruction” and that residents were without electricity, heat or water.

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Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed on Friday that it had destroyed a “missile and artillery cache” in Kharkiv and struck Ukrainian command posts in Ukraine’s Kherson and Zaporozhye regions – two regions that Putin claims to have annexed. international law.

Ukraine’s energy operator Ukrenergo said the attacks had “significantly increased” Ukraine’s energy deficit, with emergency blackouts across Ukraine.

In a statement on Facebook, Ukrenergo said: “Northern, southern and central regions were the most affected. “Where this is now possible, maintenance crews are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning emergency repairs.”

Friday’s attacks echoed in Pavlohrad, southeastern Ukraine, where some residents said they were without water for the first time since the war began.

33-year-old Evgeny Velichko carried two five-liter jugs of water across the city after the taps in his house stopped working.

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Her neighborhood supermarket turned away customers before locking its doors in the morning after the power went out, leaving a handful of women standing outside debating where to go to buy groceries.

“The lack of electricity can be regulated. We have candles. We have food,” Velichko said. “But water is a different situation. You have to take a shower, you have to do laundry, or you can drink tea and water.’

As an automatic water pump was shut down several blocks away due to outages, about 30 residents lined Poltavska Street to use a hand pump, carrying large plastic jugs and then carrying them home.

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Natalya, 40, a social worker, said she has been handing out food, medicine and water to the elderly since 7:30 a.m. One of his clients, a 76-year-old disabled woman, lives on the 4th floor of her building and cannot climb stairs.

Natalya brought two large aluminum jugs with her to the pump at 3:00 p.m. Then they had to be delivered, and on Friday the last old man returned to the pump.

20-year-old Vova Shtonda took her mother, 41-year-old Oksana, and her 10-year-old brother, Dina, to the water pump by hand, carrying five plastic bottles in addition to the 10-liter ones that fit in the backpack. His father is fighting in the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut.

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

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

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