KYIV, Nov 17 (Reuters) – Russia pounded Ukrainian energy facilities and a huge rocket booster factory on Thursday in a new wave of missile strikes that Ukrainian officials denounced as terrorism.
Explosions echoed though cities including the southern port of Odesa, the capital Kyiv, the central city of Dnipro and the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia where officials said two people were killed.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said targets in the second wave of heavy missile strikes this week included the huge Pivdenmash defence plant in Dnipro. He gave no details of any damage but state energy company Naftogaz said gas production facilities in east Ukraine had been damaged or destroyed.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy posted video footage, apparently shot from a car cam, showing a driver’s journey through Dnipro being interrupted by a huge blast ahead that sent flames and black smoke pouring into the sky.
“No matter what the terrorists want, no matter what they try to achieve, we must get through this winter and be even stronger in the spring than we are now, even more ready for the liberation of our entire territory than we are now,” he said.
At least 15 people were wounded in Dnipro, three were hurt in the northeastern city of Kharkiv and at least one was injured in Odesa, local officials said. Ukrainian officials also reported fierce fighting in parts of eastern Ukraine.
The mayor of Melitopol in southeastern Ukraine said the city had no heating. Other areas were already subject to rolling blackouts to save energy after damage from air strikes on Tuesday.
The executive director of Ukraine’s largest private energy provider, DTEK, said long-term outages could last for days in some regions.
“Unfortunately, there may be very few hours during which there will be electricity,” Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted Dmytro Sakharchuk as saying. “It’s two or three hours a day.”
Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February, has stepped up attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities in recent weeks. Moscow dismisses charges of terrorism, saying its military actions are intended to eliminate dangerous nationalists and protect Russian speakers.
Ukraine says its air defences have knocked out many of the missiles and drones fired in the last few weeks. Kyiv city officials said four missiles and five Iranian-made Shahed drones were destroyed near the city on Thursday.
The latest attacks prompted Ukrainian officials to make new calls for its international allies to send more air defence systems. They also said Ukraine would stand firm.
“The enemy thinks he will weaken our defence with energy strikes and be able to stab us in the back. This is a naive tactic by cowardly losers that we are ready for,” Andriy Yermak, the head of Zelenskiy’s staff, wrote on Telegram. “They will not succeed. We will crush them.”