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Ukraine war

Russia hits vast dam in war’s largest strike on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, Kyiv says

Russia hits vast dam in war’s largest strike on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, Kyiv says
A man walks past the scene of a missile strike near a residential building in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, 22 March 2024, amid the Russian invasion. According to the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Russia has launched strikes on over 151 targets, 92 of which were destroyed. Several people were killed and at least ten were injured in Zaporizhzhia, as per the State Military Administration statement. EPA-EFE/KATERYNA KLOCHKO 47550

KYIV, March 22 (Reuters) - Russia launched the largest missile and drone attack on Ukrainian energy infrastructure of the war to date on Friday, hitting the country's largest dam and causing blackouts in several regions, Kyiv said.

Russia fired 88 missiles and 63 Shahed drones, of which only 37 and 55 were shot down respectively, the Ukrainian air force said, a worse ratio than usual that may reflect the widespread use of hypersonic and ballistic missiles that are harder to down.

The DniproHES dam, in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia, suffered strikes to its hydraulic structures and to the dam itself, state hydropower company Ukrhydroenergo said, adding 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 airstrikes,” it said.

The salvo was the largest attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, said Energy Minister German Galushchenko.

“The goal is not just to damage, but to try again, like last year, to cause a large-scale failure of the country’s energy system,” he wrote on Facebook.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who has been urging Western allies to supply more air defences in recent days, condemned the attack and said there was work under way to repair power supply in nine regions.

“Russia is at war against people’s ordinary lives. My condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed in this terror,” he wrote.

“The world sees the targets of Russian terrorists as clearly as possible: power plants and energy supply lines, a hydroelectric dam, ordinary residential buildings, even a trolleybus,” he said.

Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians, though the war that began with its full-scale invasion in February 2022 has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, the uprooting of millions and the destruction of Ukrainian towns and cities.

Moscow says attacks on Ukraine’s power infrastructure are legitimate strikes aimed at weakening the enemy’s military.

At least two people were killed and 14 wounded in across the country, Ukraine’s interior minister said on Friday. Another three people were missing.

Zaporizhzhia governor Ivan Fedorov said separately on Ukrainian television that a third person had been killed in his region.

The mayor of the eastern city of Kharkiv, Ihor Terekhov, said traffic lights in Ukraine’s second-largest city had stopped working as a result of strikes on power facilities.

Ukraine’s largest private energy company DTEK said Russia had launched a mass attack on energy facilities and hit some of the company’s thermal power plants, public broadcaster Suspilne reported.

The company warned of power outages in the south-eastern region of Dnipropetrovsk, it said.

(Reporting by Max Hunder; additional reporting by Yuliia Dysa, Dan Peleschuk and Olzhas Auyezov in Almaty; Editing by Tom Balmforth and Alex Richardson)

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