Air raid sirens blared across the whole territory of Ukraine at 8 a.m. local time Friday. Three explosions were heard in the city of Kyiv alone, one of which was close to the home of VOA's reporter Anna Chernikova, who reports from Kyiv that the explosion was very powerful, and her apartment building was shaking.
Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, reports the capital is currently experiencing water supply and electricity supply troubles caused by the attacks. All the rescue services are currently working on the accident scenes. Metro stations in Kyiv are currently working as bomb shelters, the metro is not operating.
Other explosions were reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Poltava, Zhytomyr, Dnipropetrovsk, Vinnytsia, Donetsk, and some western regions. The cities of Kharkiv, Poltava, Kremenchuk, as well as the entire Kirovohrad region, are currently experiencing a complete electricity blackout.
Local authorities confirm 15 hits in the city of Zaporizhzhia. The consequences are to be clarified.
Local authorities of the city of Kryvyi Rih, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's hometown, reported the strikes in the residential building. The rescue operation is ongoing. Two people were reported dead, eight were injured, including three children. The final numbers are to be confirmed.
Local authorities of the Kharkiv region confirm that at least 10 missiles were launched targeting energy infrastructure in the region.
Ukrainian Air Force Command reported that Russia has launched more than 70 missiles at Ukraine targeting critical energy infrastructure. About 60 of those missiles were destroyed by air defense. Thirty-seven of 40 missiles were shot down by Ukrainian air defense over Kyiv alone. Ten missiles were destroyed in the air over the Dnipropetrovsk region.
Moscow says attacks on basic infrastructure are militarily legitimate. Ukraine says the attacks intended to cause civilian misery are a war crime.
"The goal of the Russian Federation is for Ukrainians to be constantly under pressure, to go down into bomb shelters almost every day, to feel discomfort due to power outages or water interruptions," Ukraine Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko wrote on Facebook.
“But Ukraine’s position is unchanged: let it be without light, but #withoutyou. We will endure. We will win. We will rebuild."
Britain’s Defense Ministry said Friday Russia’s construction of “extensive defensive positions along the front line” is antiquated and “largely unchanged” since World War II. The ministry said the construction will likely be “vulnerable to modern, precision indirect strikes.”
The U.K. ministry said the construction is another example of “Russia’s reversion to positional warfare that has been largely abandoned by most modern Western militaries in recent decades.”
On Thursday, Russia’s foreign ministry warned the U.S. that if it ships sophisticated Patriot air defense missiles to Ukraine, Moscow would consider it a “provocative move” that could prompt a response from the Kremlin.
Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that U.S. provision of the Patriot missiles for use in combating Russian airstrikes would represent an escalation in the U.S. role in helping the Kyiv government fend off Russia’s 10-month war and “could entail possible consequences.”
She did not spell out what Moscow’s response might be but said the United States should “draw the right conclusions” from Russia’s warnings that equipment supplied by the U.S. is a legitimate target for Russian attacks. With its arms shipments to Ukraine, she said the U.S. already had "effectively become a party" to the war.
U.S. officials this week confirmed to reporters plans to send the Patriot missile system to Ukraine, which President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has long said Ukraine needs to defend itself against an onslaught of Russian airstrikes targeting vital infrastructure, including power and water facilities. However, no official announcement has been made.
White House and Pentagon leaders have consistently said that providing Ukraine with additional air defenses is a priority, but had balked at sending the Patriot missiles. However, with the continued bombardment of Ukraine’s infrastructure, U.S. officials decided that deployment of the air defense missiles was necessary.
U.S. officials also said Thursday they would expand military combat training for Ukrainian forces during the winter months, with the new instruction to occur at the Grafenwoehr training area in Germany.
The U.S. has already trained about 3,100 Ukrainian troops on how to use and maintain various weapons and other equipment, including howitzers, armored vehicles and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, known as HIMARS.
U.S. senior military leaders for months have discussed expanding such training, citing the need to improve the ability of Ukraine's company- and battalion-sized units to move and coordinate attacks against Russian forces.
In the latest Russian shelling Thursday, two people were killed in Kherson and the southern Ukrainian city was left completely without power. Russia-installed officials reported Ukrainian attacks in the eastern city of Donetsk.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, posted on Telegram that the Russian strikes hit the regional administration building in Kherson.
In Donetsk, Russia-appointed mayor Alexei Kulemzin said overnight shelling amounted to some of the biggest attacks there in years.
Russia-backed separatists have controlled parts of the Donetsk region since 2014, and in September the area was part of an annexation announced by Russia but rejected by the international community.
In Geneva, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Tuerk told a meeting of the Human Rights Council that Russia’s war on Ukraine continues to be marked by gross violations of international human rights law.
Tuerk, who ended a visit to Ukraine last week, said 18 million people in Ukraine need humanitarian aid and that additional Russian airstrikes “could lead to a further serious deterioration in the humanitarian situation and spark more displacement.”
He said Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure, including energy facilities, are exposing millions of Ukrainian civilians to “extreme hardship during the winter months.”
“My deepest wish is for an end to this senseless war,” Tuerk said. (KB/VOA)