Kyiv, Ukraine — Russia fired dozens of rockets at Ukraine’s energy infrastructure on Friday morning, knocking out heating systems in cities across the country as temperatures plummeted well below freezing and prompting the national utility to impose sweeping emergency power outages.
Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the supreme commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, said Russia fired 76 missiles at critical infrastructure targets across Ukraine. Air defenses managed to shoot down 60 of the missiles, he said in a statement.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Deputy Chief of Staff Kyrylo Tymoshenko said emergency power outages were being introduced “across the country” to ration energy while crews scramble to repair the damage. “We ask for your understanding for the power outages and temporary interruptions in water and heat supplies,” he said in a statement.
Ukrenergo, the national energy company, said more than 50 percent of electricity consumption could not be met after the strikes.
It was not clear how many of the rockets had reached their intended target, as large explosions were reported from cities across the country, including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odessa. Early reports indicated at least two people had been killed.
Mister. Ihnat said Russia launched a variety of missiles across the country to evade air defenses — using less accurate munitions and drones to weaken Ukraine’s air defenses so Moscow’s more powerful precision missiles would hit their targets.
Russia has been bombing Ukraine’s power grid, heating, water and natural gas infrastructure with missile and drone strikes since October, in what military analysts say is a strategy to demoralize Ukrainians by plunging the country into darkness and cold as winter sets in.
“Energy facilities have already been damaged in both the east and south of the country,” Energy Minister Herman Galushchenko said in a statement on Friday.
Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said there had been blasts and ongoing attacks in at least three districts of the capital and urged residents to stay in shelters. The mayor wrote in the messaging app Telegram that subway operations had been temporarily suspended on all lines, and the water supply had been interrupted throughout the city due to damage to the infrastructure.
Multiple explosions were heard in the center of the city, suggesting the capital’s anti-aircraft missiles were firing at targets in the sky.
In the central city of Kremenchuk, which lies south of Kyiv and sits on the banks of the Dnipro River, the mayor said more than 200,000 customers were out of heat as temperatures dipped below 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Be sure to close all windows and take all possible measures to conserve heat in the premises,” Mayor Vitalii Maletsky said in a statement.
Around a million people in the Kirovohrad region west of the Dnieper are “completely without electricity,” said the head of the regional military administration, Andriy Raikovitch.
In Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine, the head of the regional military administration said 10 rockets hit the city, damaging critical infrastructure. There were no immediate reports of casualties, but local officials said there was no electricity in the city of Kharkiv.
In downtown Kryvyi Rih, rockets damaged infrastructure and hit an apartment building, local officials said. Valentyn Reznichenko, the head of the local regional military administration, said in a statement that two people died and at least five people were injured, including two children.