Russia launches barrage of missiles on Ukrainian cities

Ukrainian officials say latest attacks hit ‘critical infrastructure’, causing power shortages.

The Ukrainian army said more than 50 missiles targeted the country starting at 7am [File: Vadym Sarakhan/EPA]

Russia fired a barrage of missiles across Ukraine, hitting infrastructure and triggering more electricity blackouts in several cities, officials have said.

In Kyiv, the attacks caused partial power and water shortages, Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett reported from the capital, saying it was “the third Monday in October that there have been a series of such strikes here”.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the missile hits had left 80 percent of consumers without water supply. “Engineers are also working to restore power to 350,000 homes in Kyiv that were left without electricity.”

In Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv, officials said the attacks caused disruption in the metro system while in Zaporizhzhia, further south, power shortages were also reported.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the head of the office of the Ukrainian presidency, said in a post on the Telegram messaging app that Russia had launched more than 50 cruise missiles, with a total of 44 being shot down.

The account could not be independently verified, and there was no immediate comment by Russia.

The attacks came after Moscow on Saturday accused Ukrainian forces of launching 16 drones against its Black Sea Fleet in the bay of Sevastopol, off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Russian authorities said it was a “terrorist attack” carried out with the support of the British navy – a claim denied by the United Kingdom. Ukraine has neither denied nor confirmed that it had launched the drone attack.

On Monday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the Russian missiles had hit “critical infrastructure”.

“Instead of fighting on the battlefield, Russia fights civilians,” he added. “Don’t justify these attacks by calling them a ‘response’. Russia does this because it still has the missiles and the will to kill Ukrainians.”

Following the fleet attack, Russia pulled out of a key grain deal agreed in July to allow ships to transit through the Black Sea. Russia and Ukraine are among the world’s biggest food exporters, and a Russian blockade of Ukrainian grain shipments since the start of the war in late February caused a global food crisis earlier this year.

US President Joe Biden on Saturday called Russia’s move “purely outrageous”, and said it would worsen starvation. Russia’s ambassador to Washington hit back, saying the US response was “outrageous”.

Meanwhile, 12 vessels embarked from Ukrainian ports on Monday under July’s Black Sea Grain Initiative, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said.

Russia has launched waves of conventional missile and drone attacks targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure since October 10. The escalation followed a series of Russian battlefield defeats in September and an explosion on the Kerch Bridge, which links Crimea to Russia.

The battlefield reversals in Ukraine’s south and northeast prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to call for partial mobilisation of its military and reshuffle its leadership.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies