Russian missiles rained over Ukrainian cities on Thursday, hitting buildings and infrastructure and knocking out the power supply to Europe's largest nuclear plant.
Besides Kharkiv in the north and Odesa in South, Russian rockets also hit Zhytomyr in the West, causing blackouts in several areas. Attacks were also reported from the capital Kyiv, leaving 15% of the city without electricity.
Air raid sirens sounded over Kyiv for seven hours. Though Ukrainian air defences managed to shot down drones and all types of cruise missiles, a hypersonic missile struck its target. "Unfortunately, a missile of the Kinzhal type hit an infrastructure object," Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv region's military administration told Reuters.
According to Ukrainian state power company Energoatom, the damage to Ukrainian infrastructure affected the power supply to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, forcing it to depend on back-up generators. The power plant came under Russian control a year ago. "The last link between the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and the Ukrainian power system was cut off," Reuters quoted a statement by Energoatom.
It added that the fifth and sixth reactors have been shut down, and electric power needed for the plant's functioning is being supplied by 18 diesel generators, which have enough fuel for 10 days.
An energy facility in the port city of Odesa was also affected in the mass missile attack resulting in power cuts. Governor Maksym Marchenko said residential areas were also hit, but no casualties were reported.
As many as 15 rockets struck Kharkiv city besides Vynnytsia and Rivne in the west, and Dnipro and Poltava in the centre.
Meanwhile, the head of Russia's Wagner mercenary group has said on Wednesday that they have taken the full control of the eastern part of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. This comes as NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg's warning that Bakhmut may fall into Russian hands in the coming days following months of intense fighting. "What we see is that Russia is throwing more troops, more forces and what Russia lacks in quality, they try to make up in quantity," Stoltenberg told reporters in Stockholm on the sidelines of a meeting of EU defence ministers.
"They have suffered big losses, but at the same time, we cannot rule out that Bakhmut may eventually fall in the coming days." However, Stoltenberg insisted that this does not, however, reflect any turning point of the war.