KYIV: Russia rained down volleys of missiles across Ukraine on Wednesday, hitting infrastructure in the capital Kyiv and other cities as Moscow pursued its campaign to knock out Ukraine’s power and heat ahead of the looming winter.
Air raid sirens blared in a countrywide alert.
Explosions could be heard on the outskirts of Kyiv, where the mayor said infrastructure had been hit, giving no immediate further details. Blasts were also reported in other cities. Information about casualties was not immediately available.
Since October, Russia has repeatedly targeted electric power and heating infrastructure. Moscow says the aim is to reduce Ukraine’s ability to fight; Kyiv says the intentional strikes on civilian infrastructure constitute
a war crime.
In an overnight video address, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced special “invincibility centres” would be set up around Ukraine to provide electricity, heat, water, internet, mobile phone connections and a pharmacy, free of charge and around the clock.
Russian attacks have knocked out power for long periods for up to 10 million consumers at a time.
Ukraine’s national power grid operator said before Wednesday’s attacks that more blackouts were necessary across the country.
“If massive Russian strikes happen again and it’s clear power will not be restored for hours, the ‘invincibility centres’ will go into action with all key services,” Zelenskiy said.
With the first snow of the winter falling, authorities have warned of power cuts that could affect millions of people.
Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities follow a series of battlefield setbacks that have included a retreat of its forces from the southern city of Kherson to the east bank of the Dnipro River that bisects the country.
A week after the city was retaken by Ukrainian forces, residents in Kherson were tearing down Russian propaganda billboards and replacing them with pro-Ukrainian signs.
“The moment our soldiers entered, these posters were printed and handed over to us.
We found workers to install the posters, and we clean up the advertisement off as quickly as possible,” said Antonina Dobrozhenska, who works at the government’s communications department.
Russia has been striking Ukraine with expensive long-range cruise missiles and with cheap drones.
Britain’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday there had been no public reports of Russia using one-way attack drones since around November 17, which it said was a sign Moscow might be running out of them, and would try to get more. — Reuters