Russia pounds Ukrainian energy facilities with missile and drone barrage

Ukrainian officials say the attacks damaged infrastructure in five regions across the country.

Ukrainian servicemen of the 92nd Assault Brigade fire BM-21 'Grad' multiple rocket launcher toward Russian positions, in the Kharkiv region, on May 15, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine
The United States has eased a ban on Ukraine using US-made weapons inside Russian territory to help it defend its northeastern Kharkiv region from attack [File: Roman Pilipey/ AFP]

Russian forces have launched a barrage of missiles and drones across Ukraine that damaged energy infrastructure in five regions, according to Ukrainian officials.

Ukraine’s national grid operator Ukrenergo said on Saturday the attacks struck facilities in the eastern Donetsk, southeastern Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions, as well as the Kirovohrad and Ivano-Frankivsk region in the centre and west of the country, respectively.

“Today morning the Russians launched another strike on Ukrainian energy facilities. Since March it is already the sixth massive, complex, missile and drone attack against the civilian energy infrastructure,” Ukrenergo said.

Ukrainian air defence shot down 35 of 53 Russian missiles and 46 of 47 Russian drones, the air force commander said.

The defence ministry of Russia, which launched a full-scale invasion of neighbouring Ukraine in February 2022, said later on Saturday that its forced that Russia had launched retaliatory strikes with high-precision weapons on Ukraine’s energy facilities operating for its military industrial complex, as well as depots with weapons supplied from Western countries.

Since March, Russia has stepped up its bombardments of the Ukrainian power infrastructure, knocking out the bulk of the thermal and hydropower generation, causing blackouts, and pushing electricity imports to record highs.

DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private energy-generating company, said its two thermal power plants had been hit and equipment “seriously damaged”.

Regional officials reported that firefighters were extinguishing fires on several sites following the strikes. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

US eases rules on use of weapons

The latest missile and drone assault came a day after the US announced the easing of a ban on Ukraine using its weapons inside Russian territory to help the country defend its northeastern Kharkiv region from attacks.

The move came as France and other European countries also indicated that Ukraine would be allowed to use their weapons on military targets inside Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been urging his country’s allies to allow it to use their longer-range weaponry to hit targets on Russian soil amid a surge in attacks this month, particularly on Kharkiv.

Local officials in Kharkiv said early on Friday that a Russian attack at approximately midnight (21:00 GMT) had killed at least three people and wounded 16 after a missile hit an apartment block in the city, Ukraine’s second largest.

Last week, officials said 19 people were killed after a Russian attack on a hardware superstore.

Source: News Agencies