Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is decrying the Russian military’s “pathetic tactics” Thursday after Putin’s forces launched what Zelenskyy described as a “mass missile attack across the country” targeting the capital Kyiv and 10 other areas.
The attacks – which hit residential buildings and infrastructure, including knocking power out at the troubled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant – have so far left at least six dead, reports say.
“The enemy launched 81 rockets, trying to intimidate Ukrainians again, returning to their pathetic tactics,” Zelenskyy wrote on Facebook, describing the barrage as a “rough night.”
“Occupiers can only terrorize civilians,” Zelenskyy added. “That’s all they are capable of. But it won’t help them. Responsibility for everything committed will not pass them.”
A Ukrainian military official said 34 Russian rockets and four of eight exploding drones were intercepted, according to The Associated Press.
Russia’s defense ministry said the missiles were launched in retaliation for an incident near the Ukraine-Russia border last week, in which Moscow alleged Ukrainian saboteurs crossed into the Bryansk region and started opening fire on villagers, killing two civilians.
“They saw a civilian vehicle with civilians, with children in it, and they fired on them,” Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted by the AP as saying, although Ukraine has denied responsibility.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Thursday the overnight missile attacks had “no military objective” for Putin and were “just Russian barbarism.”
“The day will come when Putin and his associates are held accountable by a Special Tribunal,” Kuleba tweeted.
The AP reports that the strikes caused severe damage at three Ukrainian power stations, knocked out heating for half of Kyiv’s population and left Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, without running water and other needs.
The attacks also severed power at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine, leading International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi to warn the IAEA’s board of governors that “one day our luck will run out.”
“Yet again Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is running on emergency diesels – the last line of defense. This is the sixth time – let me say it again sixth time – that ZNPP has lost all off-site power and has had to operate in this emergency mode,” Grossi said Thursday.
“Let me remind you — this is the largest nuclear power station in Europe. What are we doing? How can we sit here in this room this morning and allow this to happen?” he added. “This cannot go on… We are the IAEA, we are meant to care about nuclear safety.”
“Each time we are rolling a dice,” Grossi said. “And if we allow this to continue time after time then one day our luck will run out.