Russia launched a major missile barrage on Ukraine early Thursday morning, striking dozens of residential buildings, leaving at least six people dead, and compromising a major nuclear plant, Ukrainian officials said.
The attack included more than 80 missiles and eight drones to strike targets across Ukraine, including the capital city of Kyiv. It was the largest of the attacks in recent weeks.
Ukraine’s Chief Commander of the Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi said about three dozen missiles had been intercepted and half of the drones were shot down.
“Last night, Russia attacked Ukraine with 81 missiles and 8 Shahed drones. [Thirty-four] cruise missiles and 4 drones were shot down by Ukraine’s air defense. 8 [Russian] missiles missed their targets,” the Ukrainian Defense Department said.
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As a result of the attack, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, previously conquered by Russian troops, lost power, according to nuclear state operator Energoatom.
According to Energoatom, the nuclear plant relies on 18 diesel generators, which can run the station for 10 days. This is the sixth time the plant has suffered a blackout after it became occupied by Russian troops months ago.
The Zaporizhzhya plant has been subject to international concern as a potential explosion or meltdown could result in unprecedented destruction to the surrounding areas.
“The countdown has begun,” Energoatom said.
Lviv Gov. Maksym Kozytskyi said five people were killed in the Lviv region and three buildings were destroyed. The number of fatalities could climb as rescue workers are continuing to comb through the rubble, he said.
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Dnipropetrovsk Gov. Serhii Lysak said a sixth person was killed and two others were wounded in multiple strikes across the region.
Odesa Gov. Maksym Marchenko also said residential buildings were hit and several power lines were damaged. In addition, at least six missiles and one drone were shot down.
Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said 15 missiles struck residential buildings. There were no casualties.
Three power stations owned by private electricity operator DTEK were also reportedly struck during the attack. There were no casualties but the equipment was severely damaged, the company said.
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Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said three people were wounded in the city’s Sviatoshynskyi district and infrastructure and vehicles in the city were also destroyed.
“We woke up from the explosion, it was very loud and we saw the cars burning,” said Maryna Kuryluk, a 49-year-old resident.
An alarm remained in Kyiv overnight and into the early morning hours. It was lifted just before 8 am
Russia’s missile barrage came as its forces advanced into Ukraine’s Bakhmut, where the two sides have fought for six months. Much of the city has been destroyed or reduced to ashes.
The attack also came after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Kyiv for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on keeping Ukrainian shipping ports open to ship grain from its Black Sea ports.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko condemned the missile strikes as “another barbaric massive attack on the energy infrastructure of Ukraine,” mentioning on social media that facilities in Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhya, Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk and Zhytomyr regions had been targeted.
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Russia has been hitting Ukraine with these massive missile attacks since last October.
The last massive barrage took place on Feb. 16.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.