Russian missiles strike Ukrainian power plants in new blow to infrastructure

KYIV — Russia hammered Ukraine’s electrical grid with nearly two dozen missiles overnight Saturday, officials said, in the latest assault on the country’s energy system. The missiles struck four thermal power plants belonging to the country’s largest private energy company, officials said.

It was the fourth “large-scale attack” on DTEK’s power plants in a little over a month as Russia “seeks to cripple supplies of energy to millions of ordinary Ukrainian homes and businesses,” the company tweeted. The extent of the damage was still being assessed, DTEK said.

DTEK did not say where the plants were located, but Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko wrote on Telegram that energy facilities came under assault in the southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region and the western Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions. One energy worker was wounded, Galushchenko and DTEK both said.

The attacks were “an attempt to destroy the lives of millions of people who rely on electricity to do things we take for granted: drink clean water, refrigerate food, reach apartments, talk to family members or light a child’s bedroom,” DTEK CEO Maxim Timchenko tweeted.

Moscow’s forces fired 34 air-, land- and sea-based missiles at Ukrainian targets overnight, the Ukrainian air force wrote on Telegram. Thirteen evaded Ukraine’s air defenses, including all four Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles that Russia launched, the air force said.

Russia has been able to significantly ramp up its missile and drone attacks across Ukraine — killing and wounding a large number of civilians, in addition to damaging infrastructure — as Ukrainian air defenses run low on ammunition.

President Biden this week signed a foreign aid package, which includes $61 billion for Ukraine, after the bill was blocked in Congress for months by hard-line Republicans. However, Ukrainian officials say they need additional air defense weapons — in particular, multiple Patriot antiaircraft systems, which can intercept ballistic missiles.

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeated his appeal to Ukraine’s allies to supply his country with the needed air defenses and weapons.

“This night, 34 Russian missiles targeted Ukraine. We managed to intercept a portion of them. However, the world has all of the resources to assist us in intercepting every missile and drone fired by Russian terrorists,” he tweeted. “… What Ukraine needs is air defense systems, a sufficient quantity and quality of weapons to ensure our frontline actions, as well as prompt delivery and steadfast action.”

In the Lviv region, Russian missiles struck “critical energy infrastructure in the Stryi and Chervonohrad districts,” Maksym Kozytskyy, head of the regional military administration, wrote on Telegram. “There is destruction.”

No one was injured in the attacks there and there were no power outages, Kozytskyy said. However, the regional energy system was experiencing difficulties maintaining “the balance of production and consumption,” he said.

“To avoid having to apply hourly shutdowns, please do not turn on energy-intensive electrical appliances” between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., he added. They include “air conditioner, electric kettle, vacuum cleaner, boiler, heater, iron, washing machine, microwave oven, electric oven.”

In the Dnipropetrovsk region, the attacks damaged energy facilities in the Dnipro and Kryvorizka districts, resulting in “interruptions in the water supply,” Serhiy Lysak, head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration, wrote on Telegram.

Missiles also struck the grounds near a medical complex and a psychiatric hospital in the eastern city of Kharkiv, said Oleh Synyehubov, head of the regional military administration.

Sixty patients and five employees were in the psychiatric hospital building at the time of the strike, Synyehubov said, adding that one patient was injured and treated on the spot.

More than 1,000 patients and staff were at the medical complex, Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov wrote on social media.

“Fortunately, the rockets hit the ground and not the buildings of the medical facility — otherwise it is difficult to imagine the number of dead and injured,” he wrote on Telegram.

Saturday’s attacks came in waves, with air raid alerts sounding out twice in the capital, Kyiv, the second taking place at close to 4 a.m. and lasting more than two hours.

“This night was restless for all of Ukraine,” Svitlana Onyshchuk, head of the Ivano-Frankivsk regional military administration, wrote on Telegram. “The enemy again struck a massive blow against peaceful cities.”

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