While Moscow persisted in its relentless bidding To leave millions of Ukrainians without electricity, heating and water during the cold winter months, the European Parliament, in a symbolic vote on Wednesday, designated Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism”, citing its “acts brutal and inhuman” against ordinary citizens.
Ukraine’s Energy Ministry said in a statement that the new airstrikes left the “vast majority of consumers without power”, while the country’s main electricity grid operator, Ukrenergo, posted on its Telegram channel that in ” all regions, emergency blackouts were taking place”.
The Russian strikes also knocked out electricity in most of neighboring Moldova, where the power grid is connected to Ukraine. Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu, post on Twittersaid he summoned the Russian ambassador for “explanations”.
The Energy Ministry said the strikes had led to temporary shutdowns at all nuclear power plants under Kyiv’s control as well as “the majority of thermal and hydropower plants”.
Ukraine’s air force said it shot down 51 of 70 missiles launched on Wednesday and also destroyed five self-destructing drones. The Kyiv City Military Administration reported that out of 31 missiles fired at the capital, 22 were intercepted by air defense systems.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko also said the city’s water supply would be temporarily cut off, and as night fell large parts of the city were without power. The strikes also left all of Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine, without electricity, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on his Telegram channel.
“While someone is waiting for the results of the World Cup and the number of goals scored, the Ukrainians are waiting for another score – the number of intercepted Russian missiles,” Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, wrote on Twitter. while the bombardment was in progress.
International leaders have widely condemned Russian strikes on civilian infrastructure as a possible war crime, although Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has insisted the bombings are for military purposes and will continue. until Moscow’s war aims are achieved.
An early morning missile strike crushed the maternity ward of a hospital in Vilnyansk, a city in the Zaporizhzhia region, killing a 2-day-old baby.
The rocket, which Zelensky said was fired by Russia, hit the hospital at 2 a.m. as a mother slept next to the crib of her newborn baby, according to the hospital’s medical director, Valeria Kroshena.
The strike destroyed the second-floor maternity ward and the clinic below, collapsing the building’s brick walls. The blast also injured a doctor who was on duty overnight and who is now recovering from severe burns, Kroshena said.
The gynecologist asked the hospital staff to help him find his belongings in the rubble: his phone, his papers and the small Ukrainian flag he kept in his office.
Another doctor, who delivered the newborn, was off duty and rushed to the hospital as soon as she heard the explosion, according to Kroshena. The doctor knew that the only patients in the hospital that night were the mother and her infant son, and she knew exactly where they were.
She helped rescuers find the mother and son in the rubble. The mother, in her thirties, was not injured. The boy was her fourth baby, Kroshena said. “It’s unthinkable,” she said.
On Wednesday afternoon, rescuers used diggers to dig out what was left of the maternity ward. Some rooms remained partially standing, with pieces of ceiling collapsed over hospital beds and a cradle. The windows of the neighboring building were blown out and shattered by the explosion.
The missile was a Russian-made S-300, local officials said.
The strike in Vilnyansk, about 20 miles northeast of the regional capital city of Zaporizhzhia, came less than a week after another missile hit a residential building in the same city, killing 11 people. Zaporizhzhia is one of four Ukrainian regions that Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed was annexed by Russia – a violation of international law.
Despite Putin’s annexation claims, Russia did not occupy the city of Zaporizhzhia and also withdrew from the city of Kherson, the only regional capital it had captured since the start of the invasion in large scale in February.
Two of the victims of the previous strike in Vilnyansk were also children, aged 10 and 15.
Natalia Musienko, the mayor of Vilnyansk, said she had noticed an increase in shelling over her city, located more than an hour from the current frontline further south in the Zaporizhzhia region. Prior to November, the city had seen no strikes, but this month was struck on three separate days.
“It’s not going to intimidate us,” Musienko said.
After the Russian withdrawal from the city of Kherson, attention turned to the Zaporizhzhia region as the most likely location for a new Ukrainian counteroffensive, potentially pushing south towards the occupied city of Melitopol and the hydroelectric power station and the critical Kakhovka dam in the Kherson region.
Wednesday’s vote by the European Parliament, the European Union’s 27-member legislative body, reflected continued fury in Brussels and across Europe over Russia’s invasion and the outbreak of war in large scale on the European continent for the first time in the 21st century.
Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, said Wednesday’s European Parliament resolution violated international law and a state could not be called a terrorist.
“Russia has always strongly opposed the concept of ‘state terrorism’,” Kosachev wrote in a statement posted on the Telegram messaging platform. “The collective West is actively trying to introduce the principle of collective responsibility and to punish all ‘bad’ countries and regimes just because there is an alternative point of view and a different model of behavior,” Kosachev added.
He offered no explanation or excuse for Russia’s different pattern of behavior, which includes a pattern of invading neighboring countries and trying to seize their sovereign territory.
As Russia has stepped up its bombing campaign, Kyiv’s Western supporters have pledged to maintain assistance, although they admit there is limited capacity to quickly repair the country’s electricity system.
The Pentagon said Wednesday it would accelerate $400 million more in military aid for Ukraine, including additional air defenses to counter Russia’s “relentless and brutal” missile and drone attacks on the country’s civilian infrastructure.
The package contains an undetermined number of ammunition for the two NASAMS surface-to-air systems provided by Washington, as well as 150 heavy machine guns equipped with thermal sights to help Ukrainian forces spot and shoot down unmanned aircraft. More than 200 generator sets will also be sent from US stocks.
The aid package also includes more small arms ammunition, cartridges and spare parts for the variety of artillery the Ukrainian military operates, and more than 200 vehicles, the defense ministry said.
Stern reported from Kyiv and Schmidt from Vilnyansk, Ukraine. Francesca Ebel in London contributed to this report.
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