The Kremlin launched another wave of missile attacks against Ukrainian civilian targets on Monday. The weapons targeted the power grid and knocked entire city districts offline, as Ukrainian officials across the country reported multiple shoot-downs of incoming weapons.
Russian Tu-95 and Tu-160 bombers flying over the Caspian Sea launched “around 50” cruise missiles, a Ukrainian Defense Ministry statement said. The incoming wave of ground-skimming weapons triggered air raid alarms across the country and in the capital Kyiv, at the height of morning rush hour.
Local media reported at least ten explosions in the greater Kyiv area between 8:00-8:15 a.m. It was not immediately clear if or how many of the blasts were incoming missiles, and how many were weapons intercepted and destroyed by air defenses.
The densest strikes apparently targeted power grid infrastructure in Kyiv’s northern districts, cutting off power to some regions. According to social media reports, at least ten Russian weapons struck in and around the city.
The pro-Russia Readovka information platform claimed power was taken out in Kyiv’s northern districts, as well as in the outlying bedroom communities Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel, Stoyanka and Vorzel. Water supply was halted at locations across the city, although the central and southern districts of the capital appeared not to have been hit by missiles.
Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said emergency response crews were working to repair the damage. About 350,000 apartments, or roughly one out of four residences in the city, lost power, he said. Oleksiy Kuleba, head of the Kyiv region defense command, said repair crews were working to restore power but Kyivites should prepare for “long periods without electricity.”
Bridget Brink, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, less than an hour after the strikes was one of the first Western officials to comment on the attacks, tweeting in the Ukrainian language: “Like millions of Ukrainians, our team @USEmbassyKyiv is in air raid shelters, because Russia is continuing its heartless and barbaric attacks on the people of Ukraine, with the intention of leaving the country in cold and hunger.”
At least two cruise missiles were shot down over Kyiv, air defense command officials said. A Kyiv Post reporter in a northern district of the city observed Ukrainian air defense weapons in action.
Two Russian missiles struck a “site of critical infrastructure” in the eastern city Kharkiv, mayor Igor Terekhiv said in a statement. Local media published images of smoke rising near the city’s TETS-5 power station. Multiple sources said the city’s underground metro system shut down, forcing hundreds of commuters to walk to exits through train tunnels.
In the southern Zaporizhzhia region, according to social media video, at least one missile hit a power substation linking a Dnipro River hydroelectric dam to the grid, touching off a fire. “The city was experiencing problems with power supplies,” Anatoly Kurtev, a spokesman for the Zaporizhzhia city council said in a statement.
Power reportedly was interrupted at some locations and some stretches of rail lines were shut down. Ukraine’s national railroad company Ukrzalisnytsia reported delays and that it was deploying diesel-powered locomotives to move electricity-powered trains halted after power loss. Eighty percent of trains were running on time nationwide but one train, running between Uzhhorod and Kyiv, would be late by more than an hour, the statement said.
Missile strikes targeting the power grid were also reported in the central Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsia, Volyn and Khmelnytsky regions. In Cherkasy, breaks in electricity supplies were reported. Social media video showed smoke rising from the vicinity of the Khmelnytsky hydroelectric station.
Oleh Synyehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional defense command, said that in contrast with long-range cruise missile strikes elsewhere in Ukraine, the eastern city of Kharkiv was the target of shorter-range S-300 missiles from launch sites in Russia’s neighboring Belgorod Oblast.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry claimed it shot down 44 cruise missiles in the morning attacks, a record number for a single day. There was no outside confirmation of the total, but other sources nationwide confirmed shoot-downs at multiple locations.
A statement from the Volyn Regional Administration said local air defenses shot down three missiles fired from Belarusian territory. Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovy said that local air defenses shot down at least three incoming missiles despite thick fog. In the southern Mykolaiv region, Governor Vitaly Kim said local air defense units knocked down at least two missiles. In Vinnytsia, according to Serhiy Borzov, regional administration head, a shot-down missile struck civilian property, causing damage but no injuries. A statement from the Khmelnytsky regional administration also reported multiple shoot-downs of missiles.
RF units launched a follow-up wave of less than five missiles at 8:10 a.m. with a probable flight time of one hour, Ukrainian social media and official sites said. Explosions were reported near the cities Dnipro and Pavlohrad, in the center of the country shortly before 10:00 a.m. All-clear announcements were in effect in most cities minutes later.
The morning strikes came after a five-day hiatus in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s declared campaign to attack Ukraine’s power grid with the goal of plunging millions of civilians into darkness and forcing the Ukrainian government to the negotiating table. Kyiv officials have defied Moscow and vowed to fight on.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a national address recorded the evening prior to the strikes, said regarding the Kremlin’s strategy of attacking civilian infrastructure to browbeat his country into submission, “What can you say? These people are really just ill.”
Ukraine on Saturday, Oct. 29 launched a spectacular raid near their Crimean base Sevastopol. According to reports they used remote-controlled motorboats loaded with explosives to damage a Russian navy frigate and a minesweeper, at the least. Ukrainian officials later said the objective was to put warships carrying cruise missiles used by the Kremlin to bombard Ukrainian targets out of action. Moscow called the Ukrainian naval strike “a terrorist attack.”