At least nine people have been killed in a new wave of strikes across Ukraine in which Russia has used powerful weapons, including rare hypersonic missiles.
Russia has reportedly not fired Kinzhal supersonic missiles – which can evade air defenses – since the first months of the conflict.
The latest bombing was the heaviest to hit Ukraine in weeks.
It cut power to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant – the largest in Europe – although it was later restored.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Thursday that “high-precision long-range air, sea and ground weapons, including the Kinzhal hypersonic missile system, have hit key elements of Ukraine’s military infrastructure.”
This was the largest day of Russian strikes on Ukraine since the end of January.
The Ukrainian military claimed to have successfully shot down 34 cruise missiles and four Iranian-made Shahed drones.
But it also said it was unable to intercept the six Kinzhal ballistic missiles — nor was it capable of destroying older weapons, such as the Kh-22 anti-ship missiles and S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.
“This was a major attack, for the first time, using different types of missiles,” a Ukrainian Air Force spokesman was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying. “It was like never before.”
President Vladimir Putin has highlighted Russia’s investment in hypersonic ballistic missiles, which can travel at more than five times the speed of sound.
The attacks hit cities from Kharkiv in the north to Odessa in the south and Zhytomyr in the west, with power outages reported in several areas.
Nuclear operator Energoatom said the strike at the Zaporizhzhia plant severed the link between the facility and Ukraine’s energy system.
For the sixth time since Russia seized it a year ago, the facility was running with diesel generators until it was reconnected later on Thursday.
He called on the IAEA’s director general to commit to protecting the integrity of the plant, saying he was “astonished by the indolence” surrounding the successive strikes since the invasion began.
And Rafael Grossi said, “Every time we roll a die. And if we allow this to continue over and over again, one day our luck will run out.”
In the capital, Kiev, emergency services attended the scene of the explosions in the western and southern districts of the capital, where Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the explosions occurred.
Its governor, Maxim Marchenko, said a missile had also hit a power facility in the port city of Odessa, causing a power outage. Residential areas were also hit, but no injuries were reported.
Elsewhere, the Ukrainian army said it had repulsed intensified Russian attacks on the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut despite Russian forces claiming to have taken control of the eastern half of it.
Moscow has been trying to control Bakhmut for months, as both sides suffered heavy losses in a fierce war of attrition.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said, “The enemy continued its attacks and showed no sign of slowing down in storming the city of Bakhmut.” “Our defenders repulsed the attacks on Bakhmut and the neighboring communities.”
Western officials say between 20,000 and 30,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in the battle for the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut since it began last summer. The numbers cannot be independently verified.
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