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Rescuers assess the ruins of a building, damaged by a Russian missile attack in Kyiv region, Ukraine on May 8. (Handout/Ukrainian Emergency Service/AP via CNN Newsource)

Russia pounds Ukraine with biggest airstrikes in weeks

May 8, 2024

By Olga Voitovych and Martin Goillandeau, CNN

(CNN) — Russia carried out a “massive” missile attack on Ukrainian energy infrastructure overnight into Wednesday, according to local authorities, in the biggest aerial onslaught by Russian forces for weeks.

Russia used 76 air attack weapons in the assault, including 55 missiles and 21 drones launched from Russia and Russian controlled areas, according to Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk. At least 59 weapons were destroyed overnight, he added.

The attacks targeted power generation and transmission facilities in Ukraine’s Poltava, Kirovohrad, Zaporizhzhia, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Vinnytsia regions, the country’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko postedon Telegram.

“The enemy wants to deprive us of the ability to generate and transmit electricity in sufficient quantities. Saving electricity is a contribution of each of us to the victory,” Halushchenko said.

At least three people were injured, including a woman and a man with multiple limb injuries and shrapnel wounds taken to the hospital in the Kyiv region, and an 8-year-old child in the Kirovohrad region, local authorities said.

Moscow has stepped up efforts to paralyze Ukraine’s energy system in the past month, as Kyiv’s troops struggle to hold positions on key frontlines particularly in the east.

The five-month wait before US Congress approved $61 billion in military aid to Kyiv may have caused lasting damage that will be felt on the frontlines for months to come.

Russian forces have used the “artillery drought” hampering Ukraine’s defenses since December to push forward on the eastern front near Avdiivka, making the largest advance since the early months of the war, and ahead of an anticipated Russian offensive in late May.

The latest Russian attack hit three thermal power plants run by Ukraine’s biggest power company, DTEK. It was the fifth time its infrastructure was targeted in a month and a half. Ukraine’s state-owned grid operator, Ukrenergo, also reported “damage to generation facilities.”

Two critical energy infrastructure facilities in the Lviv region were attacked, one in the Chervonohrad district and another in the Stryi district, regional military official, Maksym Kozytskyi, said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that “all necessary services are already working to mitigate the consequences of Russian terror.”

“The entire world must understand who is who. The world must not give a chance to new Nazism,” he added in a post on X.

The attacks come as Ukraine marks the Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism in World War II on Wednesday.

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