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Barrage of Russian missiles knocks out energy facilities across Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy directly addresses invading Russian forces during televised remarks, March 14, 2022. (Video screenshot)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russia has launched a barrage of missiles at Ukraine, hitting energy infrastructure facilities in scores of regions and plunging the capital and other cities into darkness.

The barrage, which struck targets from east to west, killed at least one person in Kyiv and injured three in the city and three other people elsewhere, Ukrainian government officials said.

The attack was strongly condemned by the United States, while President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned that more attacks may be coming but said Ukraine “will survive everything.”

The office of the president said most of the Russian rockets launched on November 15 hit energy infrastructure facilities in the center and north of the country, adding that the “situation is critical.”

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Zelenskiy’s office, described the situation in the capital as “extremely difficult” and said it had forced Ukrainian national energy company Ukrenerho to impose emergency power outages to balance the power grid and avoid equipment accidents.

Tymoshenko said the barrage was “another planned attack on energy infrastructure facilities,” and he appealed to Ukrainians to hang on.

Ukrenerho chief Volodymyr Kudrytskiy said the situation was the most serious in the history of Ukrenerho, but he said the company was maintaining control over the system.

“Since the beginning of October, this is the sixth massive attack on the country’s energy infrastructure. This time [was] the largest: about a hundred missiles. Every missile flew with the aim of plunging Ukraine into darkness,” he said on Facebook.

He declined to provide details of the destruction but emphasized that the energy companies will restore power supply “as quickly as their strength allows.”

White House national-security adviser Jake Sullivan said the missile strikes appeared to have hit residential buildings the capital and elsewhere in the country.

Sullivan noted that the strikes occurred as world leaders meet at the G20 in Bali “to discuss the issues of significant importance to the lives and livelihoods of people around the world.”

As those discussions take place, “Russia again threatens those lives and destroys Ukraine’s critical infrastructure,” Sullivan said in a statement. “These Russian strikes will serve to only deepen the concerns among the G20 about the destabilizing impact of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war.”

Attacks on critical infrastructure facilities were reported in the Lviv, Volyn, and Rivne regions in western and northwestern Ukraine, the Vinnytsya and Kirovohrad regions in south-central Ukraine, the Zhytomyr region in northern Ukraine, and the Kharkiv and Poltava regions in northeastern Ukraine.

A Ukrainian Air Force spokesman said Russia fired around 100 missiles; Zelenskiy said the Russian attacks hit only 10 targets, while more than 70 missiles and 10 drones were shot down.

“Thank you to all our partners who help defend our skies,” he said in his nightly video address, noting the role of sophisticated NASAMS air-defense systems.

Reports that two stray Russian missiles landed in Poland, killing two people, sent shock waves throughout countries in NATO.

A senior U.S. intelligence official quoted by AP said two blasts in a village in eastern Poland near the border were due to Russian missiles crossing into the NATO member, which called an emergency meeting of its Security Council.

Russia has recently intensified attacks on critical infrastructure facilities, especially energy facilities, leaving people in the cold and dark as winter approaches. According to the authorities, about 40 percent of the energy infrastructure in Ukraine had already been “seriously damaged” by Russian shelling before the fresh strikes on November 15.

The aerial assault came days after Ukraine retook the southern city of Kherson — one of its biggest military successes in the nearly nine-month war.

The city is without power and water, and the head of the UN human rights office’s monitoring mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, decried a “dire humanitarian situation” there.

Speaking from Kyiv on November 15, Bogner said her teams were looking to travel to Kherson to verify allegations of nearly 80 cases of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention.