KYIV (Reuters) – A barrage of Russian missiles on Ukraine’s power grid spilled the war into neighboring countries on Tuesday, hitting NATO member Poland and knocking out power to much of Moldova.
The strikes plunged much of Ukraine into darkness and aroused the defiance of President Volodymr Zelenskyy, who clenched his fist and declared: “We will survive everything”.
It was the largest Russian barrage to date, and some of the missiles crossed into Poland, where two people were killed, according to a US official. It was the first time in the war that Russian weapons fell on a NATO country.
Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller did not immediately confirm the information from a senior US intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation. .
A second person confirmed that apparent Russian missiles hit a site in Poland about 15 miles from the Ukrainian border.
But Mueller said senior leaders were holding an emergency meeting due to a “crisis situation”.
Polish media reported that two people died on Tuesday afternoon after a projectile hit an area where grain was drying in Przewodow, a Polish village near the border with Ukraine.
Neighboring Moldova was also affected. It reported massive power outages after strikes knocked out a key power line that supplies power to the tiny nation, an official said.
Zelenskyy said Russia fired at least 85 missiles, most of them targeting the country’s electrical installations, and obscuring many cities.
“We are working, we will restore everything. We will survive everything,” the president promised. Its energy minister said the attack was “the most massive bombardment” of power installations since Russia’s nearly 9-month invasion, hitting both power generation and transmission systems.
The minister, Herman Haluschenko, described the missile strikes as “another attempt at terrorist revenge” after the Kremlin’s military and diplomatic setbacks. He accused Russia of “trying to cause maximum damage to our energy system on the eve of winter”.
The airstrike, which killed at least one residential building in the capital, Kyiv, followed days of euphoria in Ukraine sparked by one of its greatest military successes – last week’s resumption of the southern city of Kherson.
The electricity grid has already been damaged by previous attacks which destroyed around 40% of the country’s energy infrastructure.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not commented on the withdrawal from Kherson since his troops withdrew in the face of a Ukrainian offensive. But the staggering scale of Tuesday’s strikes speaks volumes and hints at the Kremlin’s anger.
Hitting targets in the late afternoon, shortly before dusk began to fall, the Russian military forced rescuers to work in the dark and gave repair crews little time to assess daylight damage.
More than a dozen regions – including Lviv in the west, Kharkiv in the northeast and others in between – reported strikes or efforts by their air defenses to shoot down missiles. At least a dozen regions reported power outages, affecting cities that together have millions of people. Nearly half of the Kyiv region has lost power, authorities said. Ukrainian Railways announced train delays across the country.
Zelenskyy warned that more strikes were possible and urged people to stay safe and seek shelter.
“Most of the beatings were recorded in the center and in the north of the country. In the capital, the situation is very difficult,” said a senior official, Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
He said a total of 15 energy targets were damaged and claimed 70 missiles were shot down. A Ukrainian Air Force spokesman said Russia used X-101 and X-555 cruise missiles.
As town after town reported attacks, Tymoshenko urged Ukrainians to “hang on”.
With its battlefield losses mounting, Russia has increasingly relied on Ukraine’s power grid, apparently hoping to weaponize the approach of winter by leaving people in the cold and dark.
In Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said authorities found a body in one of three residential buildings hit in the capital, where emergency power cuts had also been announced by electricity supplier DTEK.
Video posted by a presidential aide showed an apparently five-storey residential building in Kyiv on fire, with flames licking apartments. Klitschko said air defense units also shot down missiles.
Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra visited a bomb shelter in Kyiv after meeting his Ukrainian counterpart and, from his place of safety, described the bombardment as “a huge motivation to keep sticking together side by side” with Ukraine.
“There can only be one answer, and that’s keep going. Keep supporting Ukraine, keep delivering weapons, keep working on accountability, keep working on humanitarian aid,” he said. he declared.
Ukraine has enjoyed a period of relative calm since previous waves of drone and missile attacks several weeks ago.
The strikes came as authorities were already working hard to get Kherson back on its feet and beginning to investigate allegations of Russian abuses in and around it.
The southern city is without electricity or water, and the head of the monitoring mission of the UN human rights office in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, denounced Tuesday a “disastrous humanitarian situation” in this city.
Speaking from Kyiv, Bogner said his teams were planning to travel to Kherson to try to verify allegations of nearly 80 cases of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions.
Ukraine’s national police chief Igor Klymenko said authorities would begin investigating reports from residents of Kherson that Russian forces set up at least three suspected torture sites in now liberated parts of the city. Greater Kherson region and that “our people might have been detained and tortured there.”
The recapture of Kherson dealt another blow to the Kremlin. Zelenskyy compared the resumption to the Allied landings in France on D-Day in World War II, saying both were watershed events on the road to eventual victory.
But large parts of eastern and southern Ukraine remain under Russian control and fighting continues.
Zelenskyy warned of possible darker news to come.
“Everywhere, when we liberate our land, we see one thing – Russia leaves behind torture chambers and mass burials. … How many mass graves are there in the territory that remains under control of Russia?” Zelensky asked.
Associated Press writers Joanna Kozlowska in London, Jamey Keaten in Geneva, Mike Corder in The Hague, Hanna Arhirova in Kherson and Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia, contributed to this story.

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