Russia Launches More Deadly Air Strikes On Ukrainian Cities
By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Russia has launched a massive wave of air strikes on Ukraine, authorities reported on March 9, causing casualties and multiple power cuts across the country and temporarily disrupting the main power supply for the nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhya as the battle for Bakhmut in the east raged on.
At least four people were killed in the strikes on the western Lviv region, Governor Maksym Kozytskiy said.
“At this moment, we know about four dead adults: two men and two women. They were at home when the missile hit. The debris is still being sorted. There may be other people under the rubble,” Kozytskiy said, adding that three residential buildings had been destroyed.
One person was killed and two were wounded in the Dnipropetrovsk region, Governor Serhiy Lysak reported.
At least two people were injured in a strike on Kyiv’s Sviatoshyn district, Mayor Vitali Klitschko wrote on Telegram, as air-raid sirens sounded across the capital and electricity and heating supplies were interrupted.
“Sviatoshyn district. All emergency services rushing to the place. Cars are burning in the yard of one of the residential buildings. The air alert continues. Stay in shelters. Two victims in Sviatoshyn district. Medics are providing help on the spot,” Klitschko wrote on Telegram.
Klitschko said the Holosiyivskiy district of the capital was also hit, without providing further details.
The northern city of Zhytomyr was targeted by a swarm of Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones overnight, Mayor Serhiy Sukhomlin said. No casualties were reported, Sukhomlin said, but utilities were interrupted.
“There is no water coming out of the taps, most of the houses in the city have no electricity — all this after the night attack on Zhytomyr by the Shaheds,” said Sukhomlin in a video message.
Russian strikes also targeted the Odesa and Kharkiv regions, local authorities reported, causing power outages and damaging railway infrastructure.
Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that it had hit all intended targets, including drone bases, railways, and facilities that manufacture and repair weapons.
The ministry said it had carried out strikes in retaliation for a cross-border raid into western Russia last week in which Russian officials claim a group of Ukrainian saboteurs crossed the border and fired on civilians in villages. Kyiv has denied the allegations, while suggesting Moscow might be seeking a “false-flag” pretext to stage new attacks on Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an online statement following the strikes that Russia would be held responsible for “terrorizing civilians.”
“The occupiers can only terrorize civilians. That’s all they can do. But it won’t help them. They won’t avoid responsibility for everything they have done,” Zelenskiy said.
The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, was temporarily cut off from the country’s electricity grid by the Russian missile attack.
Electricity needed to keep the plant running was supplied by 18 diesel generators, before Ukraine’s Ukrenerho electrical grid operator announced in the late afternoon that power had been restored.
Enerhoatom, the operator of the nuclear plant, had said earlier that the plant’s fifth and sixth reactors had been shut down.
It marked the first time since November 23 that the plant, which is under Russian control but it is being operated by Ukrainian technicians, had lost all power.
“Each time we are rolling the dice,” said Grossi. “And if we allow this to continue time after time then one day our luck will run out.”
Russian-installed authorities in the Moscow-occupied part of the Zaporizhzhya region said the incident was “a provocation” by Ukraine.
The fresh wave of Russian strikes came as Ukrainian forces were under increasing pressure in Bakhmut, where a fierce battle for the control of the city in the eastern Donetsk city has been going on for months.
Ukrainian defenders repelled more than 110 attacks in the area, the General Staff of the Armed Forces reported in its daily bulletin.
Both sides are believed to have suffered heavy losses in the battle for the city, which had a pre-war population of 70,000, but has now largely been deserted as civilians fled the fighting.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on March 8 that Russian forces, despite incurring serious losses, may still be on the verge of taking Bakhmut.
Military experts say Bakhmut has little strategic value for Russia, which is aiming for a much-needed symbolic victory after suffering several setbacks in the last several months.
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on March 8 that Ukraine’s longtime resistance in Bakhmut should be considered a “victory.”