Russia has carried out a wave of missile attacks across Ukrainian cities, killing at least five people and causing new disruptions in power supplies, particularly in Kyiv and Kharkiv regions, officials said.
“Unfortunately, there were hits on energy infrastructure,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Saturday. “In this connection, the most difficult situation is in Kharkiv region and Kyiv region.”
Emergency blackouts were applied in “most regions” of Ukraine on Saturday due to the raids, Energy Minister German Galushchenko said. “Today the enemy attacked the country’s energy generation facilities and power grid again. There are attacks in Kharkiv, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zaporizhia, Vinnytsia and Kyiv regions,” Galushchenko said on Facebook.
“Due to the shelling, emergency blackouts have been introduced in most regions,” the minister said.
In the east-central city of Dnipro, 20 people were rescued from an apartment block where an entire section of the building had been reduced to rubble, sending smoke billowing into the sky, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office said.
“Tragedy. I’ve gone to the site. … We will be going through the rubble all night,” said Borys Filatov, mayor of the rocket-making city on the Dnieper River.
Five people were killed, and at least 60 people, including 12 children, were also wounded in the attack, with more people still trapped under the rubble, the regional governor said.
Pictures showed firefighters putting out a blaze around the carcasses of some cars in Dnipro. A broad chunk of the apartment block was missing. The exterior of the rest of the building was badly damaged. Wounded people were carried away on stretchers.
UK pledges tanks to Ukraine
In his nightly speech, Zelenskyy reiterated that Russian attacks on civilian targets could be stopped only if Ukraine’s Western partners supplied the necessary weapons.
“What’s needed for this? The kind of weapons that our partners have in stockpiles and that our warriors have come to expect. The whole world knows what and how to stop those who are sowing death,” he said.
Saturday’s attack comes as Western powers consider sending battle tanks to Kyiv and ahead of a meeting of Ukraine’s allies in Ramstein in Germany next Friday, where governments will announce their latest pledges of military support.
On Saturday, United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to provide tanks and artillery systems to Kyiv.
The barrage of attacks on Saturday came after a smaller-scale missile attack hit critical infrastructure in the capital Kyiv and the eastern city of Kharkiv.
DTEK, the biggest private electricity company, introduced emergency blackouts in several regions.
The Ukrainian Air Force said it had shot down 25 of 38 Russian missiles of different types.
Missiles struck critical infrastructure facilities in the eastern region of Kharkiv and the western region of Lviv, officials said. Kharkiv region lost power completely, and disruptions to electricity and water supplies in Lviv were also possible, officials said.
Moldova’s interior ministry said missile debris had been found in the north of the country near the Ukraine border following the air raids.
Saturday’s attacks came as Ukrainian and Russian forces battled for control of Soledar, a small salt-mining town in eastern Ukraine that for days has been the focus of a relentless Russian assault.
Ukraine insisted that its forces were battling to hold onto control of Soledar but acknowledged the situation was difficult, that street fighting was raging, and that Russian forces were advancing from various directions.
Russia said on Friday that its forces had taken control of the town with a pre-war population of 10,000, in what would be a minor advance but one holding psychological importance for Russian forces who have suffered months of battlefield setbacks.
Al Jazeera could not immediately verify the situation in Soledar.
Russia has been targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with missiles and drones since October, causing sweeping blackouts and disruptions to central heating and running water.