KYIV, Jan. 14 (Reuters) – Russian missile strikes hit critical infrastructure in Kiev and the eastern city of Kharkiv on Saturday morning, and a utility imposed emergency power cuts in the capital and two other regions.
Reuters journalists heard a series of explosions in Kiev before the air raid siren sounded, which is highly unusual. No one was injured, but rocket debris set fire to one spot and damaged homes outside the capital, officials said.
“Explosions in (Eastern) Dniprovskiy District. All agencies arrive on scene. Stay in your hiding places!” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Russia, which invaded last February, has been pounding Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with missiles and drones since October.
“An infrastructure facility has been hit. No critical damage or fire. All emergency services are on scene. No one is injured,” Kyiv’s military government said in a statement.
Ukrenergo, which manages the power grid, said its workers were rushing to repair the damage and the network was struggling with a power shortage caused by previous attacks, even though it was -2 degrees Celsius (28 Fahrenheit) in Kiev, only slightly cold.
DTEK, the largest private electricity company, has introduced emergency power outages in Kyiv, Kyiv region and Odessa region.
Kiev’s mayor said debris from a rocket came down on a non-residential area in western Kiev’s Holosiivskiy district, sparking a fire but not injuring anyone.
Housing infrastructure was also affected in the village of Kopyliv in the region just outside the capital. The windows and roofs of 18 private houses were shattered or damaged by the blast, said Oleksiy Kuleba, the regional governor.
Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said Russia’s missiles were likely fired along a high, looped ballistic trajectory from the north, which would explain why the air raid siren did not go off.
Ukraine is unable to identify and shoot down ballistic missiles, he told the Ukrainska Pravda online outlet.
ROCKETS HIT KHARKIV
In northeastern Ukraine, Kharkiv regional governor Oleg Synehubov said two S-300 missiles struck the town near the Russian border early Saturday.
The attacks hit critical energy infrastructure and industrial facilities in the region’s Kharkiv and Chuhuev districts, he said.
“Our emergency services and energy workers are working to liquidate the impact and stabilize the situation with energy supplies,” he said.
The governor of the central Cherkasy region warned that a massive Russian missile attack could follow later on Saturday, while the governor of Mykolaiv in the south said 17 Russian Tupolev fighter jets had taken off from their air bases.
But after their statements, air raid sirens were lifted in Kiev and other regions, suggesting that the immediate threat had passed.
Saturday’s attacks came as Ukrainian and Russian forces battled for control of Soledar, a small salt mining town in eastern Ukraine that was the center of a relentless Russian attack for days.
Russia said on Friday that its forces had taken control of Soledar, in what would be a rare success for Moscow after months of battlefield reversals, but Kiev said its troops were still fighting in the city.
Reuters could not immediately verify the situation in Soledar.
Written by Tom Balmforth Edited by Angus MacSwan, Mark Heinrich and Frances Kerry
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