On Friday, Russia fired more than 70 missiles at Ukraine in one of its biggest attacks since the war began. Ukrainian officials said that the power went out in the second-biggest city and that Kyiv had to order emergency blackouts all over the country.
They said that three people died when a shell hit an apartment building in the centre of Kryvyi Rih, and another person died when shelling hit Kherson in the south. Officials who were put in place by Russia in occupied eastern Ukraine said that Ukrainian shelling had killed 12 people.
In a video message sent out in the evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia still had enough missiles for a few more big attacks, and he asked again for western allies to send Kyiv more and better air defence systems.
Zelensky said that Ukraine had enough strength to get back on its feet. He said, “No matter what the rocket worshippers in Moscow are counting on, it won’t change the balance of power in this war.”
On Thursday, Kyiv warned that Moscow was planning a new all-out offensive for early next year, about a year after its invasion on February 24. During that invasion, missiles and artillery destroyed large parts of Ukraine, but Russian forces didn’t take much of it.
Since early October, when Russia lost several battles, it has been raining missiles on Ukrainian energy infrastructure almost every week. However, Friday’s attack seemed to do more damage than many others because snow and ice are now everywhere.
After making some repairs, the grid operator in Ukraine, Ukrenergo, was able to end the state of emergency that had forced it to turn off the power. But Ukrenergo also said that it would take longer than in the past to fix equipment and get electricity back on.
Ukraine’s air force said that Russia flew warplanes near Ukraine to try to confuse its air defences. Its army chief said that 60 of 76 Russian missiles had been shot down, but Energy Minister German Galushchenko said that at least nine power plants had been hit.9
Moscow says that the attacks are meant to make Ukraine’s military unable to do its job. They are called “war crimes” by Ukrainians.
“They want to kill us and make us work for them. We won’t give up, though. We will endure, “Lidiya Vasilieva, who is 53 years old, said this as she went to find shelter at a train station in Kyiv, the capital.
Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said late Friday that only a third of the city’s people had both heat and water, and only 40% had electricity. He also said that the metro, which is an important way to get around, was still closed.
Zelensky told Ukrainians to be patient and asked regional leaders to come up with more creative ways to get energy to areas in need.
The northeastern city of Kharkiv, which is Ukraine’s second-biggest, was also hit hard and lost power, heat, and running water. Regional governor Oleh Synehubov told Interfax Ukraine later on Friday that 55% of the city’s power was back on and that 85% of the power was back on in the surrounding area.
Liudmyla Kovylko, who was cooking at a place that gave out emergency food, said that life must go on. “The power went out and we heard explosions. People have to eat. We’re using a wood stove to cook.”
Around a fifth of Ukraine is occupied by Russian forces, in the south and east. Many soldiers on both sides have been killed or hurt in brutal fighting, but neither side gives detailed reports of their own military casualties.
Officials who were put in place by Russia said that the latest shelling by the Ukrainians had killed civilians in two places.
Emergency services told Russia’s TASS news agency that 11 people were killed, 20 were hurt, and another 20 were missing in the village of Lantrativka near the Russian border in the Russian-held Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine.
Leonid Pasechnik, who was put in charge of the area by Russia, called the attack “barbaric.”
Reuters couldn’t check the latest reports from the battlefield right away.
Mykhailo Shamanov, a spokesman for the military in Kyiv, said that Ukraine had shot down 37 of the 40 missiles that were fired at the Kyiv area. He called Friday’s missile barrage one of Russia’s biggest.
“The goal of the Russian Federation is to keep Ukrainians under pressure all the time,” Yulia Svyrydenko, the minister of the economy, said in a post on social media.
GRID GETS SOME REPAIRS
After past attacks, the country has been able to get most of its power and water back on, but it’s getting harder and harder to do so.
Small and medium-sized businesses in Ukraine have brought in about half a million power generators, but Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the country needs thousands more that are bigger and stronger to get through the winter.
With no peace talks in sight, Ukrainian defence officials said Thursday that Russia would start a new all-out offensive early next year. This could include a second attempt to take Kyiv, which they tried and failed to do earlier this year.
In interviews with The Economist, Zelensky, General Valery Zaluzhniy, and General Oleksandr Syrskiy said that a new attack could happen as soon as January.
They said the push could start in the east of Donbas, in the south, or in Belarus, which is close by.
A video from the Russian Ministry of Defense showed Russian and Belarusian troops practising in Belarus with tanks, machine guns, and drones. They also crossed a river. John Kirby, a spokesman for the White House in Washington, said that there were no signs that Belarus would move against Ukraine soon.