(Kyiv) Ukraine has denounced “massive” strikes by dozens of Russian missiles which targeted the country’s energy infrastructure on Thursday morning, leading to further massive power cuts on the eve of the New Year holidays.
Also, in a first since the start of the Russian invasion more than 10 months ago, Belarus, Moscow’s closest ally and rear base of the forces that invaded Ukraine, said it had shot down over its territory. an S300 air defense missile from “Ukrainian territory”.
Authorities have released images of fragments that fell in a field in the Brest region near the village of Gorbakha, in the south-west of the country. They also summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to demand a “thorough” investigation and to “punish those responsible”.
In Ukraine, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Valery Zaluzhny, indicated that 54 of the 69 Russian missiles launched against Ukraine had been shot down on Thursday, “protecting key elements of our economic infrastructure”, according to Defense Minister Oleksiï Reznikov.
The Air Force reported 11 Iranian-made Shahed explosive drones destroyed.
But the shots that hit their targets caused further damage to an electricity network already badly damaged by nearly three months of such bombardments.
Power cuts multiplied in the country on Thursday, while millions of Ukrainian civilians have already been living for weeks with heavily rationed electricity, water and heating problems in the middle of winter.
In the Kharkiv region (east), “a 50-year-old man” was killed and a person hospitalized following Russian fire, according to Governor Oleg Synegoubov.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba denounced “senseless barbarity” strikes launched against “peaceful Ukrainian cities just before the New Year”.
On Twitter, the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell blasted an attack which “indiscriminately destroys infrastructure and medical facilities, deliberately targets and kills civilians”.
“We must hold on”
After a series of military setbacks on the ground in late summer and fall, the Kremlin changed tack and in October began regularly hitting Ukraine’s transformers and power plants.
On Thursday, Lviv, the big city in western Ukraine, was 90% without electricity. In the region of the same name, 282 localities were also without power.
“We have to hold on, it’s war, we have to survive this and win,” Iryna Ivaneyko, driver of a Lviv tram, told AFP, stopped for lack of power.
In Kyiv, at midday, 40% of the inhabitants were without electricity due to strikes on infrastructure outside the city.
According to a military official, the anti-aircraft defense was nevertheless able to shoot down all of the 16 missiles that targeted the capital. But debris fell on homes and a playground, injuring three, including a 14-year-old girl, according to municipal authorities.
In the Bortnychi district, half a dozen houses suffered damage, according to an AFP journalist. In one street lay heaps of cables, planks and bricks.
Tetiana Denysenko, 62, rushed to the neighborhood when told the house where her daughter and granddaughter live had been badly damaged.
“My eldest daughter was taken away by ambulance. We are in the process of operating on it, ”sobs this lady. “But thank God the children are alive! Thank God my granddaughter only has a leg injury…” she adds.
In Odessa, a major port in the Southwest, 21 missiles were shot down by Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense, according to Governor Maksym Marchenko. But others have hit their target, so there are power cuts there too.
Russian President Vladimir Putin justified in early December this tactic of massive strikes affecting millions of civilians, justifying them by Ukrainian attacks against Russian infrastructure.
He also always presents his invasion of Ukraine, which has lasted for more than 10 months, at the cost of heavy losses, as “a necessity”, assuring that the West was using Ukraine as a bridgehead. to threaten Russia.
Again on Wednesday, the head of Russian diplomacy Sergei Lavrov considered that the war in Ukraine had been “prepared by the West”.
On the ground, the fighting continues to rage, with a particularly bloody battle for Bakhmout, a city in the east that Russia has been trying to conquer for months, and Kreminna, which Ukrainian forces are trying to retake.
Kherson, a major southern city from which Russian forces fled on November 11, is now the target of almost daily Russian strikes.
In Russia, anti-aircraft defense shot down a drone on Thursday in the region of the key military base of Engels, located 500 kilometers from the Ukrainian border and already hit on Monday by a deadly drone attack attributed to Ukraine.