Thursday, 23 March, 2023

Russia carries out ‘massive’ air strikes in Ukraine

Russia carries out ‘massive’ air strikes in Ukraine

KYIV: Ukraine said Russia launched massive missile and drone attacks Friday, a day after President Volodymyr Zelensky lobbied for long-range weapons before EU leaders, reports AFP.

Ukraine's war-time leader travelled to London, Paris and Brussels this week in only his second trip abroad since Moscow invaded just under a year ago.

He warned that Ukraine needs artillery, munitions, modern tanks, long-range missiles and fighter jets faster than Russia can prepare what he said would be a dangerous new offensive.

Early Friday, Ukraine's army said Russia unleashed a barrage of missiles and drones on the country.

The enemy struck cities and critical infrastructure facilities, the air force said, adding that seven Iranian-made explosive drones were launched from the Sea of Azov and six Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea. The air force said it had shot down five drones and five Kalibr missiles.

Russia also carried out a massive attack with up to 35 anti-aircraft guided missiles targeting the Kharkiv region in the east and the southern Zaporizhzhia region, it said.

For several months, Russia has been systematically targeting Ukraine's energy infrastructure, leading to power shortages that left millions in the cold and dark in the middle of winter.

Ukraine's energy operator Ukrenergo, said several high voltage facilities were affected in the east, west and south of Ukraine, leading to power outages in some areas.

Russia also targeted power plants and transmission system facilities, Ukrenergo said, adding that emergency power cuts have been put into place.

In Kharkiv, critical and infrastructure facilities were targeted resulting in fires that were quickly put out, governor Oleg Sinegubov said.

He said nobody was wounded but some parts of the city were without power.

Energy and industrial infrastructure suffered damage in Zaporizhzhia, leaving sections of the city without electricity, local official Anatoly Kurtev said.

Kurtev said 17 strikes were recorded over the course of an hour, the largest number since the invasion.

Russia last targeted Ukraine with a mass strike in late January, days after Western allies agreed to deliver heavy tanks to Kyiv after long deliberations.

Friday's wave of attacks follows Zelensky's visit to Europe, where he urged allies to supply Ukraine with long-range missiles and fighter jets as Kyiv braces for a renewed Russian offensive in the east.

Zelensky said he saw positive signals, concerning the respective weapons from EU leaders and expressed hope those murmurs would become a concrete voice.

But some EU leaders were warier, fearing it could drag the West closer to direct conflict with Russia.

French President Emmanuel Macron warned that even if fighter jets were to be sent to Kyiv, it would not be in the coming weeks.

I'm not ruling anything out... but that doesn't correspond to today's requirements, Macron said Friday.

Polish Premier Mateusz Morawiecki said his country will not be the first to hand over fighters but would welcome others leading the way, while Britain said it would consider it as a long-term solution.

NATO, the EU and the United States have been the main backers of Ukraine since President Vladimir Putin's Russia unleashed its invasion on February 24 last year.

The situation, however, is becoming more pressing on the ground in eastern Ukraine, where months-long fighting for control of Bakhmut, a key town in the eastern Donbas region, has left many casualties on both sides.

Moscow said Russian forces were advancing on Bakhmut and Vugledar -- two key centres of fighting in the eastern Donetsk region of Ukraine, now the flashpoint of the war.