Strikes plunge Ukraine into darkness; Missiles enter Poland

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Russia on Tuesday bombarded Ukraine’s power plants with its biggest barrage of missiles yet, hitting targets across the country and causing widespread power outages, and a US official said missiles had entered NATO member Poland, where two people were killed.

A defiant Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy shook his fist and declared, “We will survive anything.”

Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller did not immediately confirm the information provided by a senior US intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the situation. But Mueller said top executives 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 Przewodów, a Polish village near the border with Ukraine.

Neighboring Moldova was also affected. It reported massive power outages after the strikes knocked out a key power line that supplies the small nation, an official said.

Zelenskyi said Russia fired at least 85 missiles, “most of them at our energy infrastructure,” and shut off power in many cities.

“We are working, we will restore everything. We will survive anything,” the President vowed. His energy minister said the attack was “the most massive” bombardment of power plants during the nearly nine-month-old Russian invasion, hitting both power generation and transmission systems.

Minister Herman Halushenko described the rocket attacks as “another attempt at terrorist revenge” following military and diplomatic setbacks for the Kremlin. He accused Russia of “trying to cause maximum damage to our energy system on the eve of winter.”

The airstrike, which left at least one dead at an apartment building in the capital Kyiv, followed days of euphoria in Ukraine sparked by one of its greatest military successes – last week’s recapture of the southern city of Kherson.

The power grid has been hit by previous attacks that destroyed an estimated 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 spoke volumes and hinted at anger in the Kremlin.

By hitting targets in the late afternoon, just before dusk, the Russian military forced rescuers to work in the dark, giving repair crews little time to assess the damage in daylight.

More than a dozen regions — including Lviv to the west, Kharkiv to the northeast, and others in between — reported attacks or attempts by their air defenses to launch missiles. At least a dozen regions reported power outages, affecting cities of millions. Almost half of the Kyiv region lost power, authorities said. The Ukrainian Railways announced nationwide train delays.

Zelenskyy warned that more strikes were possible and urged people to stay safe and seek shelter.

“Most hits were registered in the center and 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 70 missiles were launched. A spokesman for Ukraine’s Air Force said Russia deployed X-101 and X-555 cruise missiles.

As city after city reported attacks, Tymoshenko urged Ukrainians to “hold on.”

With battlefield casualties mounting, Russia has increasingly drawn to Ukraine’s power grid in what appears to be hopes of weaponizing the approaching winter by leaving the people in the cold and darkness.

In Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said authorities had found a body in one of three apartment buildings hit in the capital, where electricity supplier DTEK had also announced emergency power outages.

Video released by a presidential aide showed a five-story apartment building in Kyiv burning, with flames leaking through apartments. Klitschko said air defense units also shot down some missiles.

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra went to an air raid shelter in Kyiv after meeting his Ukrainian counterpart and described the bombing from his safe location as “an enormous motivation to continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine”.

“There can only be one answer, and that is: keep going. Keep supporting Ukraine, keep supplying arms, keep working on accountability, keep working on humanitarian aid,” he said.

Ukraine had experienced a period of comparative calm since earlier waves of drone and missile attacks a few weeks ago.

The strikes came just as the authorities were already working flat out to get Kherson back on its feet and began investigating alleged Russian incursions in and around Kherson.

The southern city is without electricity and water, and the head of the UN Human Rights Office’s monitoring mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, lamented an “imminent humanitarian situation” there on Tuesday.

Speaking from Kyiv, Bogner said her teams plan to travel to Kherson to try and investigate allegations of nearly 80 cases of enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention.

The head of Ukraine’s National Police, Igor Klymenko, said authorities should begin investigating reports from Kherson residents that Russian forces have set up at least three suspected torture sites in now-liberated parts of the wider Kherson region and that “our people who may have done so were imprisoned there and tortured.”

The recapture of Kherson dealt another heavy blow to the Kremlin. Zelenskyy compared the reconquest to the Allied landings in France on D-Day in World War II, saying both were turning points on the road to ultimate victory.

But large parts of eastern and southern Ukraine remain under Russian control and fighting continues.

Zelenskyj warned of possible darker news.

“Everywhere when we liberate our country we see one thing – Russia leaves behind torture chambers and mass burials. … How many mass graves are there in the area that is still under Russian control?” Zelenskyy asked.

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Associated Press writers Joanna Kozlowska in London, Jamey Keaten in Geneva, Mike Corder in The Hague, Hanna Arhirova in Kherson, Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia, and James LaPorta in Wilmington, North Carolina contributed to this story.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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