Ukraine condemns Russian missile attacks on civilians, defends Bakhmut

  • Ukraine says Russian missile strikes have killed nine people
  • Moscow deploys hypersonic Kinzhal missiles
  • Kiev said 10 areas affected, America called the attacks devastating

KYIV, Ukraine, March 10 (Reuters) – Russia’s first missile attack on Ukrainian cities in weeks was met with indignation and disgust when it targeted civilians in Kiev, while Ukrainian forces defending the eastern city of Bakhmut tried to thwart Russian efforts to continue .

The Ukrainian army said on Friday that its troops had repelled 102 attacks over the past 24 hours in Bakhmut, which has been a major objective for Russian forces since August.

A pre-dawn missile barrage on Thursday killed at least nine civilians and cut power to several cities, but there was relief that the threat of a catastrophic meltdown at the Zaporizhia nuclear plant was averted after a temporary disconnection from the Ukrainian Power was restored. Net.

Ukraine said its air defenses shot down several drones and missiles, but Russia also fired six Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missiles, which they had no way of intercepting.

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Moscow confirmed that it had used Kinzhal-Russian for Dagger-missiles in Thursday’s attack.

The massive strikes on targets far from the front were the first such wave since mid-February, breaking a lull in an air campaign against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure that Russia began five months ago.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, “The occupiers can only terrorize civilians. That’s all they can do.” “But it won’t help them. It won’t absolve them of responsibility for what they’ve done.”

Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians. Its defense ministry said it launched a “massive retaliatory strike” last week in retaliation for the cross-border attack, and claimed it had destroyed a drone base, disrupted railways and destroyed weapons manufacturing and repair facilities. damaged the facilities.

Moscow says such attacks are aimed at reducing Ukraine’s fighting ability. Kiev says the airstrikes have no military purpose and are intended to harm and intimidate civilians, a war crime.

Ukrainian officials said missiles killed villagers in the western Lviv region, and close to the border line in the central Dnipro region, while Russian artillery killed at least three people in the northeastern city of Kharkiv.

In Kiev, a woman stood outside her ransacked apartment, venting her anger with Russia after the attack.

“How could they do this? How is that possible? They are not human,” 58-year-old Lyudmila said after a night in which sirens wailed for seven hours.

Ukraine’s military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said the failure of Russian intelligence to identify military targets has triggered “Plan B – demoralizing the population”.

‘Clash of Empires’

Expressing a willingness to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin over a call for peace, Pope Francis said in an interview published Friday that the war in Ukraine was motivated by “imperialist interests, not only of the Russian Empire, but of empires elsewhere.” Was.

The White House said the missile barrage was “devastating” to see and that Washington would continue to provide air defense capabilities to Ukraine.

The missile attacks briefly knocked out power at Europe’s largest Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, disconnecting it from the grid and forcing it on emergency diesel power to prevent a meltdown. It was later reconnected to Ukraine’s energy grid, operator Ukrainergo said.

The plant, which Russia has held since capturing it at the start of the war, is near the front line and both sides have warned in the past about the potential for disaster. Moscow said it was safe.

UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi appealed for a safety zone around the plant.

Grossi told the board of governors of the 35 countries of the IAEA, “Every time we are rolling a dice. And if we allow this to continue over and over again, one day our fortunes will shine.”

Ukraine fights on Bakhmut

On the battlefield, the week has seen a marked change as Ukraine decides to fight in Bakhmut, a town that bore the brunt of the Russian winter offensive in one of the bloodiest battles of the war.

Moscow says Bakhmut is important as a key war objective to secure the surrounding Donbass region. The West says the destroyed city has no value and that the Russian military is sacrificing lives to give Putin its only victory since sending hundreds of thousands of reservists into battle late last year.

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Ukrainian military analyst Zhdanov said the defenders had thwarted Russian attempts to completely encircle Bakhmut from the west. The frontier to the south held out for several days, but the Russians had made some headway in villages to the north.

Moscow, which claims to annex a fifth of Ukraine, says it launched its “special military operation” a year ago to deal with the security threat. Kiev and the West call it an unprovoked war to subjugate an independent state.

Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore; Editing by Stephen Coates

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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