More than half of Moldova has been plunged into darkness after an onslaught of Russian missile strikes knocked out Ukraine’s last three fully functioning nuclear plants.
In the latest escalation, the crippling impact of Russia’s attacks crossed into Ukraine’s neighbour, a nation of 2.6 million people, as most of Ukraine was also cut off from the grid.
The deadly onslaught which triggered a nationwide alert came hours after an overnight rocket attack destroyed a hospital maternity ward in southern Ukraine, killing a two-day-old baby.
The baby’s mother and a doctor were pulled alive from the rubble.
Moldova’s president Maia Sandu said in a statement that Russia’s strikes on Ukraine had “left Moldova in the dark”.
The pro-Western leader vowed that the future of Moldova “must remain toward the free world.”
Infrastructure minister Andrei Spuni said more than half the country needed to be reconnected after the “massive blackout”.
Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest countries and has the highest per-capita intake of Ukrainian refugees.
It shares a border with Ukraine, a fellow ex-Soviet state, and is connected to its power grid.
The destroyed two-storey maternity building in Vilnyansk, southern Zaporizhzhia region. Photo: Getty
Meanwhile the European Parliament has overwhelmingly voted to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, arguing its strikes on civilian targets such as energy infrastructure, hospitals and schools violated international law.
The USA has so far refused to list Russia alongside Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism, subject to a defence export ban and financial restrictions.
Russia has been pounding the power grid and other facilities with missiles and exploding drones for weeks.
The new strikes piled further intense stress on an energy system that is being damaged faster than it can be repaired.
Ukrainian officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is hoping that the misery of unheated and unlit homes in the cold and dark of winter will turn public opinion against a continuation of the war.
But they say it’s having the opposite effect, strengthening Ukrainian resolve.
Newborn killed in maternity hospital strike
Earlier a newborn baby was killed in an overnight rocket attack on that struck a hospital maternity ward in southern Ukraine.
The child’s mother and a doctor were pulled alive from the rubble in the city of Vilniansk, Ukrainian authorities said.
The region’s governor said the rockets were Russian.
The strike adds to the gruesome toll suffered by hospitals and other medical facilities as the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its tenth month.
Patients and staff at health facilities have been in the firing line from the outset, including an air strike on March 9 that destroyed a maternity hospital in the now-occupied port city of Mariupol.
Regional governor, Oleksandr Starukh, writing on the Telegram messaging app on Wednesday, said: “At night, Russian monsters launched huge rockets at the small maternity ward of the hospital in Vilniansk.
“Grief overwhelms our hearts — a baby was killed who had just seen the light of day. Rescuers are working at the site.”
Photos he posted show thick smoke rising above mounds of rubble, being combed by emergency workers against the backdrop of a dark night sky.
The state emergency service initially said a baby was killed and that a new mother and a doctor were pulled from the rubble, and that they were the only people in the ward at the time.
The service specified in a follow-up post on Telegram that the rescued woman was the newborn’s mother.