Russia hits Ukraine facilities in ‘retaliation’ strikes

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says about 20 substations and electricity stations were hit.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says about 20 substations and electricity stations were hit. Photo:AAP

Russia says a massive attack on Ukraine using land, sea and air-launched missiles and drones, is part of a series of retaliatory strikes to punish Ukraine for attacking border regions.

The attack hit a vast dam over the Dnipro river, killed at least five people and left more than a million others without power, forcing Ukraine to seek emergency electricity supplies from Poland, Romania and Slovakia, officials in Kyiv said.

The strikes, which Ukraine said caused blackouts in seven regions, revived memories of the winter of 2022-23 when Russia regularly bombed Ukraine’s power grid.

The Russian defence ministry said the air strike was carried out in retaliation for Ukrainian shelling and cross-border raids last week as Russians took part in a stage-managed election that handed President Vladimir Putin a fifth term.

“The world sees the targets of Russian terrorists as clearly as possible: power plants and energy supply lines, a hydroelectric dam, ordinary residential buildings, even a trolleybus,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

Condemning the attack, Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko said: “The goal is not just to damage but to try again, like last year, to cause a large-scale failure of the country’s energy system.”

Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians although the war that began with its full-scale invasion in February 2022 has killed thousands of people, uprooted millions and destroyed towns and cities.

Russia says Ukrainian power facilities are legitimate targets and that such attacks are aimed at weakening Ukraine’s military.

Russia’s defence ministry said its forces had successfully struck a number of power grid objects, railway nodes, military factories, ammunition depots and concentrations of Ukrainian troops and foreign mercenaries.

“As a result of the strike, the work of industrial enterprises producing and repairing weapons, military equipment and ammunition was disrupted,” it said.

“In addition, foreign military equipment and lethal weaponry delivered to Ukraine from NATO countries was destroyed, the transfer of enemy reserves to the front line was disrupted, and Ukrainian army units and mercenaries were hit.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a Russian publication on Friday that Russia saw itself as in a “state of war” because of NATO’s intervention on Ukraine’s side.

The comment marked a rhetorical break from the “special military operation” language that Russian officials have used throughout the invasion, in an apparent move to prepare Russians for a longer and harder struggle.

European Union Council President Charles Michel said Russia’s comments about war with Europe showed the importance of the EU building its own defence industry.

Two people were killed in the western Khmelnytskyi region and three in Zaporizhzhia in the southeast, including at least one at the dam, the local administration and general prosecutor’s office said.

More than 30 people were reported injured.

Ukraine’s largest dam, the DniproHES in the city of Zaporizhzhia, was hit eight times, an official from the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office said.

The state hydropower company said there was no risk of a breach. T

The company’s director, Ihor Syrota, said both its power blocks and the dam itself had been damaged.

One of the blocks sustained two direct strikes, he said.

A state ecological inspectorate said that oil had leaked into the Dnipro river which the dam straddles.

A picture showed what appeared to be oil slicks forming on the river by the dam.

“The wide impact of today’s attacks on critical civilian infrastructure is deepening the already dire humanitarian situation for millions of people in Ukraine,” the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, Denise Brown, said in a statement.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said about 20 substations and electricity stations had been hit in addition to the dam.

About 1.2 million people in at least four regions were left without power due to the attacks, presidential aide Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram.

Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Ivan Havryliuk said in televised comments on Friday that Russia had an ammunition advantage over Ukraine of seven to one.

“I think that in a month or two this difference will be significantly reduced, and there will not be such a large ratio in favour of the Russian Federation,” he said amid hopes of new arms from its allies.


Topics: Russia, war
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