Civilians shelter in a metro station during an air raid alert in Kyiv
Kyiv (Ukraine) (AFP) - A fresh barrage of deadly Russian strikes hit Ukraine on Friday, cutting water and electricity in major cities and piling pressure on the grid in sub-zero temperatures.
AFP journalists in Kyiv reported loud explosions and the mayor said the metro had stopped running to allow residents to take shelter as water supplies were disrupted.
The strikes killed two people and injured several others – including children – in the southern city of Kryvyi Rig, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s hometown.
“Another wave of massive Russian attacks on energy infrastructure,” Energy Minister German Galushchenko said on social media. “There will be emergency power outages,” he added.
The onslaught is just the latest of several waves of strikes that began in October after a series of embarrassing battlefield defeats for Russia in Ukraine.
Monuments across Ukraine have been surrounded by sand bags to protect them from Russian attacks
Ukraine’s second largest city Kharkiv, near the border with Russia, was without electricity, its mayor said.
The central cities of Poltava and Kremenchuk were also without power.
Air raid sirens wailed across the entire country as the extent of the damage was being assessed.
Regional officials in Kryvyi Rig said rockets had hit a residential building.
- Kyiv water cuts -
“Two people died,” governor Valentyn Reznichenko said. “At least five people were injured, including two children. All are in hospital,” he added.
War in Ukraine
Oleksandr Starukh, head of the frontline Zaporizhzhia region, which houses Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, said more than a dozen Russian missiles had targeted territory under Ukrainian control.
“Due to damage to energy infrastructure, there are interruptions to water supplies in all areas of the capital,” said Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko on social media.
“Metro traffic is temporarily stopped on all lines,” he added, so that stations could be used as bomb shelters.
Temperatures in the Ukrainian capital on Friday hovered between minus one and three degrees Celsius (30 to 37 degrees Fahrenheit).
Fresh Russian shelling in the southern city of Kherson, recently recaptured by Ukraine, killed one person and wounded three more.
Kherson has been subjected to persistent Russian shelling since Moscow’s forces retreated in November and power was cut in the city on Thursday.
The UN humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, Denise Brown, said a woman working as a paramedic for the Ukrainian Red Cross was killed by Thursday’s strikes in Kherson.
Fighting between Russian forces and Kyiv damaged a hospital in a recently recaptured village near Kupiansk in the Kharkiv region
“This deeply tragic event is yet another reminder of the horrific consequences of this war for civilians and the extraordinary risks front-line humanitarian workers take,” she said.
In the Russian-controlled region of Lugansk in eastern Ukraine, Moscow-installed officials said shelling from Kyiv’s forces had killed eight and wounded 23.
- Putin to visit Belarus -
“The enemy is conducting barbaric shelling of cities and districts of the republic,” the Russian-installed leader of Lugansk Leonid Pasechnik said on social media.
Moscow has said the strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure are a response to an explosion on the Kerch bridge connecting the Russian mainland to the Crimean peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.
The Kremlin has also said Kyiv was ultimately responsible for the humanitarian impact of the strikes for refusing to capitulate to Russian negotiation terms.
The wave of attacks has spurred urgent pleas from Kyiv for greater air defence capabilities from Western allies.
Ukrainian defence officials have credited newly supplied systems for downing Russian missiles and drones.
Defence officials said this week that Ukraine had shot down a swarm of more than a dozen Iranian-made attack drones launched at Kyiv.
Separately on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he will visit Belarus next week for talks with his counterpart and ally Alexander Lukashenko.
Minsk said the pair will hold one-on-one talks as well as wider negotiations with their ministers on “Belarusian-Russian integration”.