Russia launches fresh missile barrage across Ukraine – but Kyiv fights back with drones

The airstrikes by Moscow are the fourth large-scale aerial assault targeting Ukraine’s power system in recent weeks

Chris Stevenson
Sunday 28 April 2024 14:49 BST
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Russian Army bombs on Ukraine after Kyiv strikes down Russian KA-32 helicopter

Russian missiles have pounded power facilities across Ukraine – with Kyiv saying it had launched its own major long-range drone attack into Russia.

The airstrikes by Moscow, carried out with ballistic missiles and cruise missiles fired by Russian strategic bombers based in the Arctic Circle, are the fourth large-scale aerial assault targeting the power system since the last week of March.

“The enemy again massively shelled Ukrainian energy facilities,” said DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private electricity company, adding that four of its six thermal power plants had suffered damage overnight.

Rescuers battled to put out fires at several energy facilities in the western regions of Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk, which border NATO members Poland and Romania, officials said.

After strikes on energy facilities in the central Dnipropetrovsk region, water supplies were disrupted in president Volodymyr Zelensky's hometown of Kryvyi Rih, officials said.

Ukrainian air defences brought down 21 of the 34 incoming missiles, the commander of the air force said in a statement. None of the facilities hit was identified by name, a security measure intended to prevent Russia quickly assessing the impact of its strikes.

Elsewhere, in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, which has been heavily bombed in recent weeks, a missile struck a hospital holding 60 patients overnight, injuring a woman and damaging the building, nearby water pipes and power lines, the regional governor said.

For their part, Ukraine attacked the Ilsky and Slavyansk oil refineries in Russia’s Krasnodar region overnight, a Ukrainian intelligence source told Reuters. The drone strike conducted by the SBU security service caused fires at the facilities, the source said. Russia’s Kushchevsk military airfield was also attacked in the southern region, the source added.

The Slavyansk oil refinery was forced to suspend some operations after being damaged in the attack, Russian state news agency TASS cited an executive overseeing the plant as saying.

Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal, left, meets Australian defence minister Richard Marles
Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal, left, meets Australian defence minister Richard Marles (Reuters)

Ukraine has sought to fight back against the aerial onslaught from Russia in recent months using its long-range drones. Kyiv says it is striking at infrastructure to try and disrupt the Russian economy – hence the oil facilities, with Russia being one of the world's biggest exporters – and military airfields.

Earlier this month Russia destroyed one of Ukraine's largest power plants and damaged others in a massive missile and drone attack in its push to target Ukraine's energy facilities. Ukraine has repeatedly appealed to its Western allies for more air defence resources to ward off such attacks. Mr Zelensky issued a new appeal for air defences and weapons deliveries after the latest Russian strikes.

Mr Zelensky said Ukraine needed sufficient quantities of air defence and other weapons to protect its cities and prevail on the front line. “Terror should always lose, and anyone who helps us stand against Russian terror is a true defender of life,” he said.

Earlier this week, the US passed a major military aid package for Ukraine worth $60bn, finally overcoming political infighting in Congress that had delayed the process for months. All the while, Ukraine has seen its weapon and air defence stocks become depleted.

On Friday, the Pentagon said it would rush Patriot air defence missiles to Ukraine as part of its new military aid package. The US defence secretary Lloyd Austin told a news conference that the US was committing to its largest security assistance package to date and would “move immediately” to get the supplies to Ukraine.

“Understand what’s at stake for Ukraine, for Europe, and for the United States,” he said. “If Putin prevails in Ukraine, Europe would face a security threat it hasn’t seen in a lifetime. Russia will not stop in Ukraine.

“It’s going to take some time to get it in there and distribute. The Ukrainians were able to hold; with this capability, they can do a lot better.”

Australian defence minister Richard Marles, who visited Lviv on Saturday, also announced a $100m military aid package including short-range air defence and drones, with air-to-ground precision munitions coming separately.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report

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