Russia unleashed a barrage of missiles overnight — “a” that targeted “critical infrastructure,” Ukraine’s air force said in a statement Saturday. Ukrainian officials confirmed at least half a dozen regions were targeted, including the capital city, Kyiv.
The air force said it downed 18 out of 33 cruise missiles launched from air and sea.
“Several rockets” targeting the capital were shot down on Saturday morning, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging service. Similar reports were made by the governors of six western and central provinces, as well as the southern Odesa region on the Black Sea.
The attack is part of Russia’s latest strategy. Over the past two weeks, Moscow has increased its attacks on key civilian infrastructure across Ukraine, as the country braces for a cold winter. About 40% of the country’s electric power system has been severely damaged, officials said. Zelenskyy said earlier in the week that 30% of Ukraine’s power stations have been destroyed since Oct. 10.
On Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people in central and western Ukraine woke up to power outages. The western city of Khmelnytskyi, which straddles the Bug river and was home to some 275,000 people before the war, was left with no electricity Saturday, shortly after local media reported several loud explosions.
The city council urged local residents to store water, “in case it’s also gone within an hour,” in a social media post on Saturday.
The mayor of Lutsk, a city of 215,000 in Ukraine’s far west, made a similar appeal on Telegram on Saturday. Power in Lutsk had been partially knocked out after Russian missiles slammed into local energy facilities, he said.
The central city of Uman, a key pilgrimage center for Hasidic Jews which counted some 100,000 residents before the war, was also plunged into darkness after a rocket hit a nearby power station, regional authorities said on Telegram.
In the capital and four surrounding regions, including Cherkasy, rolling blackouts came into effect on Saturday morning in response to the reduced power supplies. The state energy company Ukrenergo continued to urge all Ukrainians to conserve energy.
Earlier this week, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on consumers to curb their power use between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. daily, and avoid using energy-guzzling appliances such as electric heaters.