Russian missile strikes target power supply in Ukraine’s Kharkiv

Attacks follow largest raids on Kyiv in weeks, as Zelenskyy pleads with West for air defence systems.

Firefighters work at a site of a printing house hit by a Russian missile strike during an earlier attack on Kharkiv, Ukraine, on March 20, 2024 [Sofiia Gatilova/Reuters]Published On 22 Mar 202422 Mar 2024

Russian missiles have struck Ukraine’s Kharkiv, knocking out part of the city’s power supply a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an urgent appeal to the West to deliver air defence systems.

Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on Friday morning that 15 blasts had been heard, with missiles causing partial blackouts and disabling the city’s water pumps. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

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Kharkiv lies just 30km (19 miles) from the border with Russia in Ukraine’s northeast and has come under frequent bombardment since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022.

Ukrainian officials said Russian missiles had also hit Kryvyi Rih, which is Zelenskyy’s hometown, and Vinnytsia, both in central Ukraine, damaging a “critical infrastructure object” in the latter city.

Ukraine’s state hydropower company said on Friday that a Russian strike hit Ukraine’s largest dam, the DniproHES in Zaporizhzhia in the south of the country, but that there was no risk of a breach.

“There is currently a fire at the station. Emergency services and energy workers are working on the spot, dealing with the consequences of numerous air strikes,” the utility said.

The administration of Zaporizhzhia reported eight missile attacks in the city and said some residents had been wounded.

The attacks follow closely on the heels of Russia’s strikes on Kyiv the previous day, the largest attack on the Ukrainian capital in weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin promised retribution for strikes and incursions into Russia’s border regions.

In Belgorod, a Russian region along the border with Ukraine, one woman was killed and several others were wounded in a Ukrainian attack on Friday, the regional governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said. The Russian Ministry of Defence said it had downed eight rockets fired on Belgorod on Friday from Ukraine with Vampire rocket launchers.

Following the assault on Ukraine’s capital, which Russia’s defence ministry said had been delivered with long-range high-precision weapons, Zelenskyy called on the West to deliver air defence systems.

Addressing the 27 leaders of the European Union via videolink, as they met in Brussels for a two-day summit, he told them the shortfall in ammunition facing his troops was “humiliating” for Europe.

“Europe can provide more – and it is crucial to prove it now,” he said, also calling for additional air defence systems following the massive strike on Kyiv.

EU leaders on Thursday agreed to push ahead with a plan to use the profits from frozen Russian central bank assets to arm outgunned Ukraine, days after Putin tightened his iron grip over his country by winning a new six-year term in presidential elections.

The proposal, at the heart of talks between bloc leaders, could unlock some three billion euros ($3.3bn) a year for Ukraine once it is given a final green light.

“I’m glad that leaders endorsed our proposal to use the extraordinary revenues from immobilised Russian assets. This will provide funding for military equipment to Ukraine,” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told reporters.

The push by the EU to find more funds for Ukraine comes as a $60bn support package from the United States, Ukraine’s other main backer, remains blocked in Congress.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies