KYIV: Russia pounded energy facilities across Ukraine with dozens of missiles on Friday, knocking out electricity in some areas and forcing Kyiv to introduce emergency power cuts across the whole country.
The latest in a series of big waves of missile strikes since October hammered critical infrastructure and drove people into air-raid shelters as residential areas also came under fire.
Two people were killed in the central city of Kryvyi Rih, and a third died in the southern Kherson region after an apartment block was hit by Russian shelling that caused a fire, regional authorities said.
The central city of Poltava and parts of Kyiv were among areas where power was knocked out, and critical infrastructure was hit in the eastern region of Kharkiv, the Black Sea region of Odesa and in Vinnytsia in west central Ukraine.
Three loud blasts rocked Kyiv, Reuters witnesses said, and Ukraine’s railway operator said a number of railway lines were left without power.
“They want to destroy us, and make us slaves. But we will not surrender. We will endure,” said Lidiya Vasilieva, 53, as she headed for shelter at a Kyiv railway station.
“I want the war over and soon. But I am ready to wait as long as needed,” she said.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said emergency power shutdowns had been introduced across the country to enable repairs after damage to energy facilities in several regions which he did not identify.
About 2-1/2 hours after the initial air alert, Kyiv’s regional authorities urged residents not to leave shelters.
“The attack is continuing. Stay in shelters and safe places,” regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said.
Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February, has been attacking Ukrainian energy infrastructure since October, causing repeated power outages across the country at the start of winter.
Moscow says the attacks on basic infrastructure are militarily legitimate. Ukraine says attacks intended to cause civilian misery are a war crime.
“Massive shelling, explosions. The goal of the Russian Federation is for Ukrainians to be constantly under pressure, to go down into bomb shelters almost every day, to feel discomfort due to power outages or water interruptions,” economy minister Yulia Svyrydenko wrote on Facebook.
“But Ukraine’s position is unchanged: let it be without light, but #withoutyou. We will endure. We will win. We will rebuild.”