San Francisco Chronicle
Russian missile assaults kill 11 across Ukraine
KYIV, Ukraine — Russia fired more missiles and self-exploding drones at nearly a dozen Ukrainian provinces early Thursday, causing the first warrelated death in Kyiv this year and killing at least 11 people overall, according to Ukrainian authorities.
The attacks adhered to Russia’s recent pattern of striking power plants and other critical infrastructure about every two weeks. However, the latest onslaught came after Germany and the United States upped the ante in Russia’s 11-month war by promising Wednesday to send high-tech battle tanks to Ukraine and green-lighting other allies to do the same.
The spokesperson for Ukraine’s State Emergency Service, Oleksandr Khorunzhyi, said that in addition to the dead at least 11 people were wounded.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said one person was killed during the attacks, the city’s first such death since New Year’s Eve. Two others were injured, he said. The head of the Kyiv city administration, Serhii Popko, said Ukrainian air defenses shot down 15 cruise missiles heading to the area.
The regional prosecutor’s office in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia province said three people were killed and seven injured in a strike on an energy facility. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, said Thursday’s volley involved a total of 55 missiles, of which 47 were intercepted.
Self-exploding drones swept in overnight before the missile strikes. As air raid sirens echoed across the country, civilians, some tugging pet dogs on leashes, poured into subway stations, underground parking lots and basements to seek shelter.
It was the first such barrage of Russian firepower across the country since Jan. 14.
Russia has carried out massive strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities since early October, part of a strategy to try to hamper Ukrainian forces and to keep civilians in the cold and dark this winter before what many experts predict could be a springtime offensive as more conscripts reach the battlefields.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko acknowledged that some sites were hit, resulting in emergency power outages.
The attacks came a day after Germany said it would supply 14 high-tech Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine and authorize other European countries to send up to 88 more. The U.S. said it planned to ship 31 Abrams M1 tanks to Ukrainian forces.
Along with Germany and the U.S., Britain, Poland, the Netherlands and Sweden are among the nations that have sent or announced plans to supply hundreds of tanks and heavy armored vehicles to fortify Ukraine as it enters a new phase of the war and tries to break through entrenched Russian lines.
Gian Gentile, a U.S. Army veteran and senior historian with the Rand think tank, said the M1 Abrams and the Leopards would give Ukraine a “mechanized armored punching force.”