Russia hits infrastructure targets across Ukraine, targets power and water

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A local resident takes pictures of a building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Mykolaiv, Ukraine October 18, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Russian missiles crashed into infrastructure targets across Ukraine on Tuesday morning as Moscow stepped up what looked like a deliberate campaign to destroy electricity and water facilities before winter.

The major of Zhytomyr, a city of 263,000 people, said the attacks had knocked out the power and water supply, and two explosions rocked an energy facility in the southeastern city of Dnipro, a city of nearly 1 million, causing serious damage, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a Ukrainian presidential aide.

In the southern Ukrainian port of Mykolaiv, a missile slammed into an apartment building killing at least one man, a Reuters witness said, and blasts were heard and smoke seen rising in Kyiv, the capital.

There were also reports of power facilities being targeted in the city of Kharkiv, a city with a pre-war population of 1.43 million people, close to the Russian border.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia of terrorising and killing civilians with the air attacks, which came a day after drone strikes on Kyiv and other cities killed at least four people.

“Ukraine is under fire by the occupiers. They continue to do what they do best – terrorise and kill civilians,” Zelenskiy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

“The terrorist state will not change anything for itself with such actions. It will only confirm its destructive and murderous essence, for which it will certainly be held to account.”

There was no immediate word on how many people had been killed in the strikes.

Russia earlier this month named General Sergei Suvorikin as overall commander of what Moscow calls its “special operation” in Ukraine. Suvorikin served in Syria and Chechnya where Russian forces pounded cities in a scorched earth policy against its foes.

Nicknamed “General Armageddon” by the Russian media because of his alleged toughness, his appointment was followed by the biggest wave of missile strikes against Ukraine since Moscow invaded on Feb. 24.

Russia carried out its latest strikes on Tuesday after the United States warned it would hold Moscow accountable for any war crimes.

Moscow denies targeting civilians. Its defence ministry has said it is carrying out attacks on military targets and energy infrastructure across Ukraine using high-precision weapons.

In the port city of Mykolaiv, a Reuters witness said they had heard three explosions in the early hours of Tuesday.

A missile had completely destroyed one wing of a building in the downtown area, leaving a massive crater, they said. A fire crew was seen pulling the dead body of a man from the rubble.

“In Mykolaiv, the enemy destroyed a residential building with S-300 missiles. A person died. There was also a strike at the flower market, the chestnut park. I wonder what the Russian terrorists were fighting against at these absolutely peaceful facilities?” Zelenskiy said.

The Russian strikes followed advances by Ukrainian forces in the east and south and after an Oct. 8 blast on a bridge linking mainland Russia to Crimea – the peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

“Right now, there is a new Russian drone attack,” Zelenskiy, said in a Monday evening video address. “There are (drones) that have been shot down.”

The Interfax Ukraine news agency said Telegram users had reported blasts in the town of Fastiv just outside Kyiv, as well as in the southern port of Odesa.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that the White House “strongly condemns Russia’s missile strikes” and said the attack “continues to demonstrate Putin’s brutality”.

Russian President Valdimir Putin sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what he called a “special operation” to root out what it calls dangerous nationalists.

Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance, with the help of arms supplied by the United States and its allies, who have also imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw.

Mentioning a $725 million military aid package announced for Ukraine last Friday, Jean-Pierre said the United States would stand with the people of Ukraine “for as long as it takes”.

“We will continue to impose costs on Russia, hold them accountable for its war crimes,” she said.

A pregnant woman was among four people killed in an attack on a Kyiv residential building, mayor Vitali Klitschko said. Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi said there had been deaths in other cities but did not provide a full toll.

Black smoke poured out of the windows of the Kyiv apartment building and emergency service workers toiled to douse flames.

“I have never been so afraid … It is murder, it is simply murder,” said Vitalii Dushevskiy, 29, a food delivery courier who rents an apartment in the building.

Russia denies targeting civilians. Its defence ministry said it had carried out a “massive” attack on military targets and energy infrastructure across Ukraine using high-precision weapons.

‘SUICIDE DRONES’

Ukraine said the attacks were carried out by Iran-made “suicide drones”, which fly to their target and detonate. The United States, Britain and France agreed that Iran supplying drones to Russia would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six powers.

Iran on Monday stuck to its denial that it is supplying the drones to Russia, while the Kremlin has not commented.

The White House accused Iran of lying when it says Iranian drones were not being used by Russia in Ukraine.

Asked for comment, the Iranian mission to the United Nations repeated a statement issued by the government on Friday that said it supports upholding the U.N. Charter and the U.N. attempts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine.

Several EU foreign ministers on Monday called for sanctions against Iran over the transfer of drones to Russia.

Ukraine’s military said it had destroyed 37 Russian drones since Sunday evening, or around 85% of those used in attacks. Reuters was not able to independently verify that tally.

FIERY CRASH

In Russia itself, a Russian fighter plane crashed into a residential building in the southern city of Yeysk, engulfing apartments in flames and killing up to 13 people, the Interfax news agency reported.

The Su34 fighter-bomber crashed during a training flight after one of its engines burst into flames, Tass reported, adding that the pilots ejected.

Russia’s state Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal case. Yeysk is separated from occupied Russian territory in southern Ukraine by a narrow stretch of the Sea of Azov.

Russia and Ukraine on Monday, meanwhile, carried out one of the biggest prisoner swaps of the war, exchanging a total of 218 detainees, including 108 Ukrainian women, officials from both sides said.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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