A missile attack seriously damaged a key energy facility near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, the country’s grid operator has said, as the Russian military strove to cut power in far-flung populated areas while also defending against Ukrainian counterattacks in occupied regions.
Kyiv’s regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said on Saturday that the attack on the unidentified facility did not kill or wound anyone.
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Electricity transmission company Ukrenergo said repair crews were working to restore electricity service but warned residents about further possible outages.
After an explosion last week damaged the bridge that links Russia to the occupied Crimean Peninsula, the Kremlin launched what is believed to be its largest coordinated missile attacks in Ukraine since the initial invasion of the country in late February.
This week’s wide-ranging retaliatory attacks killed dozens of people
The attacks hit residential buildings, as well as civil infrastructure – such as power stations in Kyiv, Lviv in western Ukraine, and other cities that had seen comparatively few raids in recent months.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, on Saturday urged Kyiv area residents and people in three neighbouring regions to reduce their energy consumption during evening hours of peak demand.
Regions of southern Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin designated as Russian territory last month remained a focus of fighting on Saturday.
Ukrainian forces pressed on with a campaign to recapture the mostly Russian-occupied Kherson region.
Kirill Stremousov, a deputy head of the administration Moscow installed in the region, reminded residents they could evacuate to Crimea and cities in southwestern Russia as Ukrainian forces try to advance towards the regional capital.
After the region’s worried, Kremlin-backed leaders asked civilians Thursday to evacuate to ensure their safety and to give Russian troops more manoeuvrability, Moscow offered free accommodations to residents who agreed to leave.
Ukrainian troops attempted to advance south along the banks of the Dnieper River but did not gain any ground, according to Stremousov.
“The defense lines worked, and the situation has remained under the full control of the Russian army,” he wrote on his messaging app channel.
Major General Igor Konashenkov, the Russian Ministry of Defence’s spokesman, said the military destroyed five crossings on the Inhulets River, another route Ukraine’s fighters could take to progress towards the Kherson region.
Konashenkov claimed Russian troops also blocked Ukrainian attempts to make inroads in breaching Russian defences near Lyman, a town in the annexed Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine that the Ukrainians retook two weeks ago in a significant defeat for the Kremlin.
In the Zaporizhia region that borders Kherson, Governor Oleksandr Starukh said the Russian military carried out raids with drones and S-300 missiles.
Some experts said the Russian military’s use of the long-range missiles may reflect shortages of dedicated precision weapons for hitting ground targets.
To the north and east of Kherson, Russian shelling killed two civilians in the Dnipropetrovsk region, Governor Valentyn Resnichenko said.
He said the shelling of the city of Nikopol, which is located across the Dnieper river from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, damaged a dozen residential buildings, several stores and a transportation facility.
Russian fuel depot catches fire
In the Russian region of Belgorod, which borders Ukraine, a fuel depot caught fire after shelling on Saturday, the regional governor said, without specifying the origin of the shelling.
“We have another shelling. One of the shells hit an oil depot in the Belgorod district. Emergency services are already battling the fire. There is no danger of [the fire] spreading,” Vyacheslav Gladkov said on social media, posting a picture of flames and black smoke rising into the air.
The local emergency service said one of 10 tanks with residual diesel fuel had been set alight, the TASS news agency reported. Gladkov said later that the fire had been put out.
Gladkov said a customs checkpoint had also been shelled for several days in a row, and that 14 shells had landed there on Saturday, but caused no injuries.