A fresh barrage of fatal Russian strikes hit cities across Ukraine on Friday, cutting water and electricity in major urban hubs and piling pressure on the grid in sub-zero temperatures.
AFP journalists in Kyiv reported several loud explosions and the mayor said the metro had stopped running to allow residents to take shelter in underground stations.
The strikes killed two people and injured several others – including children – in the southern city of Kryvyi Rig, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown.
Meanwhile Ukrainian shelling in the Russian-controlled eastern Lugansk region left eight people dead and nearly two dozen wounded, the Moscow-appointed head of the region said.
“Another wave of massive Russian attacks on energy infrastructure,” Ukraine’s Energy Minister German Galushchenko said on social media, adding that: “There will be emergency power outages.”
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The onslaught is just the latest of several waves of strikes that began in October after a series of embarrassing battlefield defeats for Russia in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s second largest city Kharkiv, near the border with Russia, was without electricity, its mayor said.
The central cities of Poltava and Kremenchuk also had no power. Air raid sirens were sounding across the entire country while the extent of the damage was being assessed.
Regional officials in Kryvyi Rig said rockets had hit a residential building.
“Two people have died,” governor Valentyn Reznichenko said, adding that “at least five people were injured, including two children. All are in hospital”.
Oleksandr Starukh, the head of the frontline Zaporizhzhia region, which houses Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, said the territory under Ukrainian control has been targeted with more than a dozen Russian missiles.
Water cuts in Kyiv
There were explosions in several central districts of Kyiv, and water supplies were disrupted, mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
He said metro services had been suspended so that stations could be used as bomb shelters.
“Due to damage to energy infrastructure, there are interruptions to water supplies in all areas of the capital,” Klitschko said on social media.
“Metro traffic is temporarily stopped on all lines.”
Earlier, Russian shelling in the southern city of Kherson recently recaptured by Ukraine cut power.
Kherson has been subjected to persistent Russian shelling since Moscow’s forces retreated in November.
The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that a Ukrainian Red Cross volunteer had been killed by the strikes in Kherson and urged that humanitarian “personnel and property” be spared.
Moscow has said the strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure are a response to an explosion on the Kerch bridge connecting the Russian mainland to the Crimean peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.
The Kremlin has also said Kyiv was ultimately responsible for the humanitarian impact of the strikes for refusing to capitulate to Russian negotiation terms.
The wave of attacks has spurred urgent pleas from Kyiv for greater air defence capabilities from Western allies.
And Ukrainian defence officials have credited newly supplied systems for downing Russian missiles and drones.
Defence officials said this week Ukraine forces had shot down a swarm of more than a dozen Iranian-made attack drones launched at Kyiv.
Separately on Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he will visit Belarus next week for talks with his counterpart and ally Alexander Lukashenko.
Minsk said the pair will hold one-on-one talks as well as wider negotiations with their ministers on “Belarusian-Russian integration”.
Originally published as Russia fires ‘massive’ missile barrage at Ukraine