KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia pounded Ukraine’s energy facilities Tuesday with its biggest barrage of missiles yet, striking targets from east to west and causing widespread blackouts. A defiant President Volodymr Zelenskyy shook his fist and declared: “We will survive everything.”
Neighboring Moldova was also affected. It reported massive power outages after the strikes knocked out a key power line that supplies the small nation, an official said.
Zelenskyy said Russia fired at least 85 missiles, “most of them at our energy infrastructure,” and shut down power in many cities.
“We’re working, will restore everything. We will survive everything,” the president vowed. His energy minister said it was “the most massive” bombardment of power facilities in the nearly 9-month-old Russian invasion.
The aerial assault, which resulted in at least one death in a residential building in the capital, Kyiv, followed days of euphoria in Ukraine sparked by one of its biggest military successes — the retaking last week of the southern city of Kherson.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not commented on the retreat from Kherson since his troops pulled out in the face of a Ukrainian offensive. But the stunning scale of Tuesday’s strikes spoke volumes and hinted at anger in the Kremlin.
By striking targets in the late afternoon, not long before dusk began to fall, the Russian military forced rescue workers to labor in the dark and gave repair crews scant time to assess the damage by daylight.
At least a dozen regions reported strikes.
Zelenskyy said around 20 more strikes might be on the way. He urged people to stay safe and seek shelter.
“Most of the hits were recorded in the center and in the north of the country. In the capital, the situation is very difficult,” said a senior official, Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
It was difficult elsewhere, too.
As its battlefield losses mount, Russia has in recent months increasingly resorted to targeting Ukraine’s power grid, seemingly hoping to turn the approach of winter into a weapon by leaving people in the cold and dark.
While city after city reported attacks, Tymoshenko appealed to Ukrainians to “hang in there.”
More than a dozen regions reported strikes, among them Lviv in the west, Kharkiv in the northeast and many others in between.
In Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said authorities found a body in one of three residential buildings that were struck in the capital, where emergency blackouts were also announced by power provider DTEK.
Video published by a presidential aide showed a five-story, apparently residential building in Kyiv on fire, with flames licking through apartments. Klitschko said air defense units also shot down some missiles.
Ukraine had seen a period of comparative calm since previous waves of drone and missile attacks several weeks ago.
The strikes came as authorities were already working furiously to get Kherson back on its feet and beginning to investigate alleged Russian abuses there and in the surrounding area.
The southern city is without power and water, and the head of the UN human rights office’s monitoring mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, on Tuesday described a “dire humanitarian situation” there.
Speaking from Kyiv, Bogner said her teams are looking to travel to Kherson to try to verify allegations of nearly 80 cases of forced disappearances and arbitrary detention.
The head of the National Police of Ukraine, Igor Klymenko, said authorities are to start investigating reports from Kherson residents that Russian forces set up at least three alleged torture sites in now-liberated parts of the wider Kherson region and that “our people may have been detained and tortured there.”
The retaking of Kherson dealt another stinging blow to the Kremlin. Zelenskyy likened the recapture to the Allied landings in France on D-Day in World War II, saying both were watershed events on the road to eventual victory.
But large parts of eastern and southern Ukraine remain under Russian control, and fighting continues.
The liberation of Kherson — the only provincial capital that Moscow had seized — sparked days of celebration in Ukraine and allowed families to be reunited for the first time in months. But as winter approaches, the city’s remaining 80,000 residents are without heat, water or electricity, and short on food and medicine.
Zelenskyy warned of possible more grim news ahead.
“Everywhere, when we liberate our land, we see one thing — Russia leaves behind torture chambers and mass burials. … How many mass graves are there in the territory that still remains under the control of Russia?” Zelensky asked.
Joanna Kozlowska in London and Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this story.
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