Ukraine’s air defenses counter Russian bombardment, but missiles hit energy targets


KYIV, Ukraine — Russia launched another ferocious missile barrage into Ukraine on Friday, hitting critical infrastructure again. At least three people were killed and more than a dozen wounded when a residential building was attacked in Kryvyi Rih, one of the seven towns targeted by the attack.

Damaged cities, including Kharkiv and Sumy in the northeast, Poltava, Dnipro and Kyiv, the capital, reported power outages after the strikes, despite Ukrainian officials saying their beefed-up air defenses had managed to intercept and destroy 60 of 76 missiles fired by the Russians.

The Washington Post was unable to independently verify Ukraine’s claims, but Western supporters of Kyiv have been rushing to send additional air defense systems to the country since Russia began its bombing campaign against the infrastructure in early October.

Ukraine’s air force said in a statement that Friday’s attacks were a “massive” attack against “critical infrastructure and fuel facilities.” The missiles were launched from ships and aircraft in the Caspian, Azov and Black seas, as well as from areas further inland from mainland Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin 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 launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly 10 months ago, seeking to overthrow to his government. Western leaders have said the attacks could be a war crime because they have no military purpose.

Friday’s bombing confirmed that the Kremlin has no intention of budging on its bombing campaign and may follow through on its threats to intensify its attacks in response to recent announcements by the United States and other Western nations of plans to send ever more additional weapons. powerful. to Ukraine and increase the training of the Ukrainian armed forces.

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

Putin is planning a visit next week to Belarus, which has allowed Russian forces to use its territory as a springboard for attacks, and there is growing concern among Ukrainian officials that Russia could attempt another incursion into Ukraine from the north. not necessarily to try again. failed attempt to seize Kyiv, but perhaps to attack from behind Ukrainian forces advancing east into Russian-occupied territory in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The Pentagon has acknowledged Ukraine’s concerns but says it sees no sign that such an attack is imminent.

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

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Despite repeated battlefield setbacks, Russia has been more successful in its bombing campaign, and the destruction of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has brought the country to the brink of a humanitarian and economic crisis by depriving citizens of heating and hot water in winter and cut off the electricity. used to power homes and businesses.

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

Shortly after the sirens sounded, explosions were heard in the capital of Kyiv, in Kharkiv and Sumy in the northeast, Poltava in central Ukraine and many other places. For citizens, in general, it was impossible to tell if the rumbles represented successful attacks or were the sound of air defenses destroying missiles in the air.

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

Some 40 missiles were fired at Kyiv, Klitschko said, of which 37 were shot down. The Post was unable to verify those numbers.

However, Klitschko also said in a television interview that three districts of the city were hit by missiles and that due to the attack “several power supply facilities” had been damaged and Kyiv was experiencing “interruptions in electricity, water and the heating.

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,” said Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region. in a Telegram post. Thirteen people were also injured, including four children, Reznichenko said.

“Everyone is in the hospital,” he said.

Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synyehubov said 10 missiles were fired into the region, cutting off power to more than 1 million people. Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov also described the “colossal destruction” of the city’s infrastructure, saying residents had been left without electricity, heating or water supply.

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Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed on Friday to have destroyed an “artillery and missile weapons depot” in Kharkiv and to have attacked Ukrainian command posts in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, two of the Ukrainian regions Putin claimed to have annexed, in violation of international law.

Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s power operator, said the attacks had “substantially increased” Ukraine’s power deficit, with emergency lockdowns in all regions of Ukraine.

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

The attacks on Friday resonated in Pavlohrad, in southeastern Ukraine, where some residents said they had lost water for the first time since the war began.

Yevgeniy Velichko, 33, carried two five-litre jugs of water around the city after the taps in his house stopped working.

Her neighborhood supermarket had lost power earlier in the day and began turning away customers before closing the doors, prompting a handful of women to stand outside and discuss where they could go to buy groceries.

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

With an automatic water pump turned off a few blocks away due to outages, about 30 residents lined up on Poltavska Street to use a hand pump, carrying large plastic jugs that they would later take home.

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Natalia, 40, a social worker, said she worked from 7:30 am to distribute food, medicine and water to the elderly. One of her clients, a 76-year-old woman with a disability, lives on the fourth floor of her building and cannot go up and down the stairs.

Natalia brought two large aluminum jugs to the pump with her around 3:00 pm She then had to deliver them, before returning to the pump again on Friday to serve her last elderly customer.

Vova Shtonda, 20, accompanied her mother Oksana, 41, and brother Dina, 10, to the hand pump, carrying five plastic bottles in addition to the 10-litre she could fit in her backpack. Her 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 in front of 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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