- The strikes are reminiscent of Russian airstrikes last winter
- Power supply disrupted in five regions – Grid Operator
- Kiev says at least 18 people have been injured
KYIV, Sept 21 (Reuters) – Russia hit energy facilities across Ukraine on Thursday in its biggest missile strike in weeks, firing what Ukrainian officials saw as the first salvo of a new air campaign against the national power grid.
Power outages were reported in five Ukrainian regions in the west, center and east, bringing back memories of several airstrikes on critical infrastructure last winter that caused severe power outages for millions during the bitter cold.
Officials said at least 18 people, including a nine-year-old girl, were wounded in the airstrikes, and a regional governor said Russian shelling killed two people overnight.
“Winter is coming. Tonight (Russia) renews missile attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure,” lawmaker Andrii Osadchuk wrote on Platform X.
Grid operator Ukrenergo said it was the first Russian attack on electricity infrastructure in six months, with damage to facilities in western and central regions.
The attack caused blackouts in Rivne, Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv regions.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that military industrial facilities, radio intelligence installations and centers for training sabotage groups were targeted. It said it hit all its targets.
Ukraine is racing to repair infrastructure after attacks last winter damaged half of its energy system and forced grid operators to impose regular rolling blackouts.
This year, Ukraine has better, Western-provided air defenses, but still A Great challenge Protects against attacks across such a large country.
President Volodymyr Zelensky, visiting the United States following the United Nations General Assembly, condemned what he called “another massive attack.”
Outlining Ukraine’s needs ahead of a meeting with US President Joe Biden, he wrote on the Telegram messaging app: “More air cover. More sanctions. More support for Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines.”
Biden was to announce a new $325 million military aid package to Kyiv, which was expected to include a second tranche of cluster munitions fired by a 155-millimeter howitzer cannon.
Russia, which sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022, has since mid-July focused its airstrikes on port and grain infrastructure, disrupting efforts by Kyiv, a major global grain producer, to export food.
Many of the attacks have also killed civilians, although Moscow denies they were deliberately targeted.
Russia has not commented on the new airstrikes, and says Ukraine is attacking targets inside Russia as Kyiv presses a counteroffensive in the east and south against Russia’s 19-month-old invasion.
Damage across Ukraine
Ukraine said Russia fired 43 cruise missiles at the targets in several waves overnight, and Ukrainian air defenses shot down 36 of them.
Witnesses told Reuters that heavy explosions rocked Kiev and the surrounding area as dawn broke.
Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said seven people were injured in the capital, including a nine-year-old girl. Missile debris fell in the city center and damaged several buildings, and a Pepsi Co Inc plant in the area was damaged, the Defense Ministry said.
The Interior Ministry and regional authorities said the blasts occurred in Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Khmelnytskyi, Rivne, Vinnytsia, Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions.
Lviv regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi said three Russian missiles hit the western city of Drohobych, hitting infrastructure and warehouses.
In a separate overnight attack, Russian shelling on a shelter in the southern city of Kherson killed two people, Governor Oleksandr Prokhudin said.
Ukraine’s military said its forces attacked the Chaky airbase in Russian-occupied Crimea overnight. It gave no details but a Ukrainian intelligence source said the attack caused “serious damage” to equipment at the base.
None of Ukraine’s missiles hit their targets, an adviser to Sergei Aksyonov, the head of Russia-backed Crimea, said.
Additional reporting by Anna Bruchnicka, Tom Balmforth and Timothy Heritage; Editing by Philippa Fletcher, Alex Richardson and Gareth Jones
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