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Russia bombards multiple Ukrainian cities including Kyiv, Odesa and Kharkiv

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Russia unleashed a massive missile barrage on Ukraine this morning hitting residential buildings, killing at least six people and leaving a nuclear plant without power, in the largest such attack in three weeks.

Vladimir Putin’s missiles targeted energy infrastructure in the capital Kyiv, the Black Sea port of Odesa and Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv, knocking out power to several areas, regional officials said. The power supply to the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was also lost, officials said.

Other targets hit by pre-dawn strikes stretched from Zhytomyr, Vynnytsia, Rivne and the Lviv region in the west, Dnipro and Poltava in central Ukraine, and the northern city of Chernihiv – as well as in the cities of Dnipro, Lutsk and Rivne. Explosions were also reported in the western regions of Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil.

President Volodymyr Zelensky slammed Moscow for the strikes, which hit 10 of Ukraine’s 27 regions. ‘The enemy fired 81 missiles in an attempt to intimidate Ukrainians again, returning to their miserable tactics. The occupiers can only terrorize civilians,’ Zelensky said in a statement online.

The coordinated attack included six rare Kinzhal hypersonic missiles and eight drones. Kyiv’s commander in chief said 34 cruise missiles, four Shahed suicide drones and eight drones and guided missiles were brought down before reaching their targets, but officials said at least six people were killed by those that did hit.

KYIV: Russia unleashed a massive missile barrage across Ukraine on Thursday hitting residential buildings and killing at least five people in the largest such attack in three weeks, officials said. Pictured: Emergency workers at the site of a Russian missile, March 9

KYIV: Russia unleashed a massive missile barrage across Ukraine on Thursday hitting residential buildings and killing at least five people in the largest such attack in three weeks, officials said. Pictured: Emergency workers at the site of a Russian missile, March 9

KHARKIV: Three Russian rockets are seen soaring through the sky that were launched against Ukraine from Russia's Belgorod region are seen at dawn on Thursday, March 9

KHARKIV: Three Russian rockets are seen soaring through the sky that were launched against Ukraine from Russia’s Belgorod region are seen at dawn on Thursday, March 9

LVIV: The aftermath of a Russian missile strike is seen in the western city on Thursday morning

LVIV: The aftermath of a Russian missile strike is seen in the western city on Thursday morning

Pictured: A map showing locations struck by Russian missiles on Thursday morning

Pictured: A map showing locations struck by Russian missiles on Thursday morning

Air raid sirens wailed for seven hours through the night across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, where explosions occurred in two western areas of the city.

It was the first big volley of missile strikes since mid-February, ending the longest period of comparative calm since Moscow began a campaign to attack Ukraine’s civil infrastructure in October. 

The barrages later became less frequent, with analysts speculating Russia may have been running low on ammunition. The last massive barrage took place on Feb. 16. 

Five people were killed in the Lviv region after a missile struck a residential area, Gov. Maksym Kozytskyi said. Three buildings were destroyed by fire after the strike and rescue workers were combing through rubble looking for more possible victims.

Footage from the area, some 440 miles from any military battlefield in the east of Ukraine, showed a flattened house and badly damaged buildings nearby.

‘At this moment, it is known about four dead. These are four adults. Two men and two women,’ Kozytski wrote on Telegram messenger, saying a missile had hit their home in the Zolochiv district west of the city of Lviv. A fifth death was later confirmed.

A sixth person was killed and two others wounded in multiple strikes in the Dnipropetrovsk region that targeted its energy infrastructure and industrial facilities, Gov. Serhii Lysak said. 

A ’34-year-old man died as a result of the shelling. A 28-year-old woman and a 19-year-old boy were injured. They were hospitalised,’ the governor wrote.

Zelensky said the regions of Kyiv, Kirovohrad, Dnipro, Odesa, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsia were targeted. 

‘Unfortunately, there are injured and dead. My condolences to the families,’ he  said. ‘All services are working. The energy system is being restored. Restrictions were imposed in all regions.’

As the missiles flew in, defence systems were activated across the country.

‘Last night, the enemy launched a massive missile attack on the critical infrastructure of Ukraine. It launched 81 missiles from different bases,’ Ukraine’s commander in chief Valery Zaluzhny said in a statement on social media.

‘Ukraine destroyed 34 cruise missiles,’ he said, listing the missiles used. He said 28 Kh-101/555 missiles, 20 Kalibr missiles, six Kh-22s and six rare Kinzhal hypersonic missiles were launched, along with drones, including the Iranian-made Shahed.

‘This was a major attack and for the first time with so many different types of missiles… The enemy launched six Kinzhals,’ air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said. ‘It was like never before.’ Ukraine is unable to intercept Putin’s Kinzhal missiles.

Russia, which launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine just over a year ago, stepped up air strikes last October, and has frequently knocked out power to millions of people since then in an attempt to grind Ukraine’s resistance down.

The capital’s administration said Kyiv was attacked with both missiles and exploding drones and that many were intercepted but that its energy infrastructure was hit. 

The capital’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said explosions were registered in the southwestern part of the city and rescue services were on their way. Ukraine’s military administration said 40 percent of Kyiv’s residents were left without power. 

He said two people were wounded in the Sviatoshynskyi district, on the west side of the city, and cars were ablaze there, the mayor added. Video footage showed two parked cars burning near a tower block before being extinguished by firefighters.

Reuters correspondents stationed in Kyiv heard a fresh series of explosions around 7am local time (0500 GMT). The alarm in Kyiv was lifted just before 8am, with the air raid sirens falling silent after some seven hours.

The missile barrage struck as Russia pushed its advance in Ukraine’s eastern stronghold of Bakhmut, where a grinding fight between the two sides has gone on for six months and reduced the city to a smouldering wasteland.

It also came hours after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Kyiv for talks with Zelensky on extending an agreement that allows Ukraine to ship grain from its Black Sea ports. The deal also permits Russia to export food and fertilisers.

In eastern Ukraine, 15 missiles struck Kharkiv and the outlying northeastern region, hitting residential buildings, according to Kharkiv Gov. Oleh Syniehubov. He said the 15 missiles were S-300 ballistic missile, which Ukraine cannot intercept.

He promised to reveal more details about the scale of the damage or any casualties in Ukraine’s second-largest city. ‘Objects of critical infrastructure is again in the crosshairs of the occupants,’ he said in a Telegram post. ‘The enemy made about 15 strikes on the city and region. Information on casualties is being clarified.’

According to Ukrainian news outlet Obozrevatel.ua, two people were injured by a missile strike in Kharkiv which landed near their house.

The city’s Mayor Ihor Terekhov reported on Telegram that there were ‘problems with electricity’ in some parts of the city. He later said the city was without power, water and heating after the missile barrage.

KYIV: Smoke rises into the sky after a Russian missile strike on Ukraine's capital, amid Russia's on-going attack on Ukraine, March 9

KYIV: Smoke rises into the sky after a Russian missile strike on Ukraine’s capital, amid Russia’s on-going attack on Ukraine, March 9

LVIV: Rescuers work through the rubble at the  site of residential buildings destroyed by a Russian missile strike on Thursday morning, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine

LVIV: Rescuers work through the rubble at the  site of residential buildings destroyed by a Russian missile strike on Thursday morning, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine

ZAPORIZHZHIA: The Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, seen on March 3, was left without power after Russia's Thursday pre-dawn strikes targeting infrastructure

ZAPORIZHZHIA: The Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, seen on March 3, was left without power after Russia’s Thursday pre-dawn strikes targeting infrastructure

KYIV: Smoke rises over Ukraine's capital on Thursday morning after Russian strikes

KYIV: Smoke rises over Ukraine’s capital on Thursday morning after Russian strikes

KYIV: Smoke is seen rising into the sky over Ukraine after Russian missile strikes today

KYIV: Smoke is seen rising into the sky over Ukraine after Russian missile strikes today

KYIV: Emergency workers extinguish fire in vehicles at the site of a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, March 9,

KYIV: Emergency workers extinguish fire in vehicles at the site of a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, March 9,

KYIV: Emergency workers extinguish fire in vehicles at the site of a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, March 9

KYIV: Emergency workers extinguish fire in vehicles at the site of a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, March 9

LVIV: Rescuers carry a body of a killed person a site of residential buildings destroyed by a Russian missile strike on Thursday morning in Ukraine

LVIV: Rescuers carry a body of a killed person a site of residential buildings destroyed by a Russian missile strike on Thursday morning in Ukraine

LVIV: Rescuers pour through the rubble of a residential building destroyed by Russian missiles

LVIV: Rescuers pour through the rubble of a residential building destroyed by Russian missiles

The governor of Odesa region, Maksym Marchenko, said a mass missile attack had hit an energy facility in the port city, triggering power cuts.

‘As a result of a mass missile strike, an energy infrastructure site was hit in the region as well as residences,’ Marchenko said on Telegram. 

He said anti-aircraft units had downed some missiles and new attacks could follow.

‘Fortunately, there are no casualties. Electricity restrictions are in effect.’

Another strike was reported in the central city of Dnipro and in the western towns of Lutsk and Rivne, far from the front lines in the year-old war. 

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which is occupied by Russian forces, lost power as a result of the missile attacks, according to nuclear state operator Energoatom.

It was the sixth time the plant was in a state of blackout since it was taken over by Russia months ago, forcing it to rely on 18 diesel generators that can run the station for 10 days, Energoatom said. 

Nuclear plants need constant power to run cooling systems and avoid a meltdown.

‘The countdown has begun,’ Energoatom said.

Russia-installed officials in the occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region said the halt in electricity supplies to the nuclear plant was ‘a provocation’.

But Andriy Yermak, the chief of the Ukrainian presidential staff, wrote on the Telegram messaging app: ‘The terrorists are doing everything they can to leave us without power… They are continuing their terror against peaceful people.’

Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko condemned the missile strikes as ‘another barbaric massive attack on the energy infrastructure of Ukraine,’ saying in a Facebook post that facilities in Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk and Zhytomyr regions had been targeted.

Ukrainian Railways reported power outages in certain areas, with 15 trains delayed up to an hour.

Preventive emergency power cuts were applied in Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk and Odesa regions, supplier DTEK said. 

Klitschko said 40 percent of consumers in Kyiv were without heating because of the emergency power cuts. Water supplies were uninterrupted, he said.

More explosions were reported in the northern city of Chernihiv and the western Lviv region, as well as in the cities of Dnipro, Lutsk and Rivne. Ukrainian media also report explosions in the western regions of Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil.

Russia has been hitting Ukraine with these massive missile attacks since last October. Initially, the barrages targeting the country’s energy infrastructure took place weekly, plunging the entire cities into darkness, but became more spread out in time, with commentators speculating that Moscow may be saving up ammunition.

The last massive barrage took place on February 16.

KYIV: People react at the site of a Russian missile strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine

KYIV: People react at the site of a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine

KYIV: Civilians take shelter inside a metro station during Thursday morning's missile attacks

KYIV: Civilians take shelter inside a metro station during Thursday morning’s missile attacks

KYIV: The facade of a building is seen near to the site of one of the explosions. Many buildings were damaged by the Russian missile strikes on Thursday morning

KYIV: The facade of a building is seen near to the site of one of the explosions. Many buildings were damaged by the Russian missile strikes on Thursday morning

KYIV: Rescue workers extinguish fires on Thursday morning after Russian missile strikes

KYIV: Rescue workers extinguish fires on Thursday morning after Russian missile strikes

Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said his city was hit in the early hours of Thursday

 Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said his city was hit in the early hours of Thursday

The wave of strikes comes after Russia reported making gains in the battle for the industrial city of Bakhmut, which has been the focus of months of fierce combat.

Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which has spearheaded the attack on Bakhmut, claimed on Wednesday to have captured the eastern part of the city.

‘What we see is that Russia is throwing more troops, more forces and what Russia lacks in quality they try to make up in quantity,’ NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Stockholm on the sidelines of an EU defence ministers meeting on Wednesday.

‘We cannot rule out that Bakhmut may eventually fall in the coming days,’ the head of the US-led military alliance said, adding that ‘this does not necessarily reflect any turning point of the war’.

Ukrainian officials have warned that the fall of Bakhmut could lead to further Russian advances in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Maliar said on Wednesday that the resistance in Bakhmut should be considered a ‘victory’.

‘This is victory – the fact that our soldiers have been destroying the most powerful and professional ‘Wagner’ units there for several months in a row.

‘The enemy has superior forces in terms of manpower and weapons, but in these conditions, our fighters bravely confront the enemy almost on an equal basis,’ she said.

Zelensky also on Wednesday hosted UN chief Antonio Guterres in Kyiv, who was on his third visit to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion. Guterres stressed the need to extend a deal that has allowed Ukraine to export its grain but is due to expire.

A Ukrainian tank towards fires towards Russian positions at the frontline near Bakhmut, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 8

A Ukrainian tank towards fires towards Russian positions at the frontline near Bakhmut, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 8

Ukrainian servicemen drive down a road nearby Bakhmut frontline in Chasiv Yar as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Donbas Oblast, Ukraine, March 8

Ukrainian servicemen drive down a road nearby Bakhmut frontline in Chasiv Yar as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Donbas Oblast, Ukraine, March 8

Ukrainian servicemen fire with a 105mm howitzer towards Russian positions near the city of Bakhmut, on March 8

Ukrainian servicemen fire with a 105mm howitzer towards Russian positions near the city of Bakhmut, on March 8

‘I want to underscore the critical importance of the rollover of the Black Sea Grain Initiative on 18 March,’ Guterres said.

At their meeting in Stockholm, the EU defence ministers also discussed a plan to rush one billion euros’ worth of ammunition to Ukraine as pressure mounts on Kyiv’s allies to bolster supplies to the war effort.

Ukraine’s Western backers warn that Kyiv is facing a critical shortage of 155-millimetre howitzer shells as it fires thousands each day in its fight against the grinding Russian offensive.

‘The current rate of consumption compared to the current rate of production of ammunition is not sustainable, and therefore we need to ramp up production,’ Stoltenberg said.

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