A fresh spate of deadly Russian strikes hit cities across Ukraine early Friday, cutting water and power at major urban hubs and increasing pressure on the power grid in sub-zero temperatures.
AFP journalists in Kyiv reported several loud explosions and the mayor said the subway had shut down to allow residents to take shelter in subway stations.
Strikes in the southern city of Kryvyi Rig, hometown of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, killed two people and injured several others, including children.
“Another wave of massive Russian attacks on energy infrastructure,” Energy Minister German Galushchenko said on social media, adding, “There will be emergency power outages.”
The attack is just the latest in a series of strike waves that began in October after a series of embarrassing Russian battlefield defeats in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, near the border with Russia, was without electricity, the mayor said.
The central cities of Poltava and Kremenchuk also had no electricity.
Air raid sirens sounded across the country as the extent of the damage was assessed.
Regional officials in Kryvyi Rig said rockets hit a residential building.
“Two people died,” Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said, adding that “at least five people were injured, including two children. Everyone is in the hospital.”
Oleksandr Starukh, the head of the Zaporizhia frontline region, home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, said the area under Ukrainian control was hit with more than a dozen Russian missiles.
– Water leaks in Kyiv –
There were explosions in several central districts of Kyiv and water supplies were cut off, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
He said subway service was suspended so the stations could be used as bomb shelters.
“Due to damage to the energy infrastructure, there are interruptions in the water supply in all areas of the capital,” Klitschko said on social media.
“The subway service will be temporarily suspended on all lines.”
Earlier, Russian shelling cut power in the southern city of Kherson, recently recaptured from Ukraine.
Kherson has faced sustained Russian shelling since Moscow forces withdrew in November.
The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that a Ukrainian Red Cross volunteer had been killed by the strikes in Kherson and urged that humanitarian “personnel and property” be spared.
Moscow said the strikes in Ukraine’s infrastructure were in response to an explosion on the Kerch Bridge, which connects mainland Russia to the Crimea peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014.
The Kremlin also said Kyiv was ultimately responsible for the humanitarian impact of the strikes because it refused to bow to Russian negotiating terms.
The wave of attacks has spurred Kyiv to urgent requests for greater air defense capabilities from its western allies.
And Ukrainian defense officials have credited newly delivered systems for launching Russian missiles and drones.
Defense officials said this week Ukrainian forces shot down a swarm of more than a dozen Iranian-made attack drones that were launched in Kyiv.
Separately, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Friday that he would visit Belarus next week for talks with his counterpart and ally Alexander Lukashenko.
Minsk said the couple will hold one-on-one talks as well as broader negotiations with their ministers on “Belarusian-Russian integration.”
© Agence France-Presse