Russia has hit Ukrainian energy facilities in one of its biggest attacks in recent weeks

  • 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 launched its largest-ever missile strike across Ukraine on Thursday, hitting energy facilities in what officials said was the first salvo of a new air campaign against Ukraine’s 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 outages for millions of Ukrainians during the bitter cold.

Officials said airstrikes wounded at least 18 people, including a 9-year-old girl, 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.

“Partial blackouts occurred in Rivne, Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk and Karkiv regions,” it said on Telegram Messenger.

Ukraine has been racing to repair infrastructure for months, after attacks last winter damaged nearly half of the country’s energy system and forced grid operators to impose regular rolling blackouts.

This year, Ukraine has better, Western-supplied air defenses, but still faces a major challenge in defending against attacks in a large country.

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.

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Although Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians, several attacks have also killed civilians.

Russia did not comment on the new airstrikes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited the United States for talks following the UN General Assembly.

Moscow says Ukraine has been attacking targets inside Russia, Kiev is pressing with a counterattack, and Ukrainian drones were destroyed overnight over the annexed Crimean peninsula and the Black Sea.

Damage across Ukraine

Valery Zalushny, the chief of staff of Ukraine’s armed forces, said Russia fired 43 cruise missiles at the targets overnight in several waves, 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, including a nine-year-old girl, were injured in the capital. Missile debris fell into the city center damaging infrastructure and several non-residential buildings, causing fires, he said.

Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said a hotel and several shopping kiosks were damaged and seven people were injured in Cherkasy, central Ukraine.

Emergency services posted a video on Telegram showing rescue workers carrying an injured man on a stretcher.

The Interior Ministry and regional authorities said the blasts occurred in Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Khmelnytskyi, Rivne, Vinnytsia, Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions.

Three Russian missiles hit the town of Drohobych, about 60 km (37 miles) from the Polish border, Lviv regional governor Maksim Kozytsky said. Kositsky said infrastructure facilities and warehouses were affected.

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In a separate overnight attack, Russian shelling on a shelter in the southern city of Kherson killed two people, Governor Oleksandr Prokudin said.

Ukraine’s SBU security service and navy attacked the Saky airbase in Russian-occupied Crimea overnight, causing “serious damage,” a Ukrainian intelligence source said.

The Russian military said it shot down 19 Ukrainian drones over Crimea and the Black Sea, and three more in other parts of Russia. There were no reports of casualties or damage.

Reported by Olena Harmash; Written by Tom Balmforth and Timothy Heritage; Editing by Philippa Fletcher

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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