Kyiv: On Thursday Russia crushed Ukrainian energy facilities and a huge rocket booster factory again but in a new wave of missile strikes that Ukrainian officials denounced as terrorism.
Sounds of missile explosions were heard in several parts of the country, including the southern port of Odesa, the capital of Kyiv, the central city of Dnipro, and the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia where officials said two people were killed. Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said targets included the huge Pivdenmash defense plant in Dnipro though he gave no details of any damage, and state energy company Naftogaz said gas production facilities in east Ukraine had been damaged or destroyed in a massive missile strike.
President Volodymyr Zelensky posted video footage, apparently shot from a car cam, showing a driver’s journey through Dnipro being interrupted by a huge explosion ahead that sent flames and black smoke pouring into the sky. “Morning. A peaceful city and the desire of people to live a normal life. Go to work, on business. Missile strike! The terrorist state wants to bring Ukrainians only as much pain and suffering as possible,” Zelenskiy wrote below the footage on the Telegram messaging app.
He later said: “No matter what the terrorists want, no matter what they try to achieve, we must get through this winter and be even stronger in the spring than we are now, even more, ready for the liberation of our entire territory than we are now.”
At least 15 people were wounded in Dnipro, three were hurt in the northeastern city of Kharkiv and at least one was injured in Odesa, local officials said. Ukrainian officials also reported fierce battling in parts of eastern Ukraine. The mayor of Melitopol said some parts of his southeastern city had no heating. Some other areas of Ukraine were already subject to rolling blackouts to save energy.
Russia has stepped up attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities in recent weeks in some of the heaviest missile strikes since invading Ukraine in February. Moscow dismisses charges of terrorism, saying its military action in Ukraine is intended to eliminate dangerous nationalists and protect Russian speakers. Ukraine has said that its air defenses have taken out many of the missiles and drones fired in the last few weeks. Kyiv city officials said four missiles and five Iranian-made Shahed drones were destroyed near the city on Thursday.
The most recent attacks prompted Ukrainian officials to make new calls for its international allies to send more air defense systems. They also said Ukraine would stand firm.
“The enemy thinks he will weaken our defense with energy strikes and be able to stab us in the back. This is a naive tactic by cowardly losers that we are ready for,” Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelenskiy’s chief, wrote on Telegram. “They will not succeed. We will crush them.”