Servicemen of pro-Russian troops board an infantry fighting vehicle in the town of Popasna in the Luhansk region, Ukraine, June 2, 2022.
Alexander Ermoshenko | Reuters
Russia pounded Ukraine’s energy facilities on Tuesday with its biggest missile barrage yet, hitting targets across the country and causing widespread blackouts. A senior US intelligence official said missiles passed through NATO member Poland, where two people were killed.
A second person told The Associated Press that apparently Russian missiles hit a site in Poland about 15 miles from the Ukrainian border.
If confirmed, the strike would mark the first time in the war that Russian weapons have fallen on a NATO country.
The Russian Defense Ministry denied being behind “any strikes on targets near the Ukrainian-Polish border” and said in a statement that photos of alleged damage “have nothing to do” with Russian weapons.
A NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the alliance was reviewing reports of a strike in Poland. The United States National Security Council said it was also verifying the information.
Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller did not immediately confirm the information from the US intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation. 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 Przewodów, a Polish village near the border with Ukraine.
The dam too neighboring Moldova affected. It reported massive power outages after strikes knocked out a key power line that supplies power to the tiny nation, an official said.
The missile strikes plunged much of Ukraine into darkness and aroused the defiance of President Volodymr Zelenskyy, who shook his fist and declared: “We will survive anything.
In his overnight address, the Ukrainian leader called the reported strikes in Poland a “very significant escalation” which provided proof that “terror is not limited by the borders of our states”.
“We have to put the terrorist in his place. The longer Russia feels unpunished, the more threats there will be for anyone within range of Russian missiles,” Zelenskyy said.
Russia fired at least 85 missiles, most aimed at the country’s electrical installations, and occluded many cities, he said.
Ukraine’s energy minister says 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. Zelenskyy said 10 million Ukrainians are without electricity.
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.
National Security Office chief Jacek Siewiersk (left) and Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller make a statement after a National Security Office crisis meeting, in Warsaw, November 15, 2022 .
Janek Skarzynski | AFP | Getty Images
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 neck and neck” 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.
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 on Tuesday a “disastrous humanitarian situation” there.
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 Kherson residents that Russian forces had set up at least three suspected torture sites in now liberated parts of the wider region. from Cherson.
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 Russian control? Zelensky asked.