Russia again pounded Ukraine’s battered power grid with multiple strikes on Wednesday, with a succession of regions reporting power outages — from the east to the west — and authorities in the capital, Kyiv, saying three people were killed in a strike that hit a two-story building.
The renewed barrage piled further hardship on a country already labouring from repeated strikes on its power grid, with Russia seemingly intent on turning the onset of winter into a weapon, by pounding Ukraine’s key infrastructure from the air.
The thunderous echoes of what sounded like repeated blasts rattled across the capital after air raid sirens sounded in the city and elsewhere across Ukraine. Mayor Vitali Klitschko posted on Telegram that “one of the capital’s infrastructure facilities has been hit.” The city administration said one person was wounded.
Klitschko said there were more explosions in other districts but didn’t give further details, and said that “some neighborhoods of Kyiv” lack power. Kyiv regional governor Oleksii Kuleba said strikes were reported in the area around the capital, and residential areas and critical infrastructure facilities were hit.
In the western city of Lviv, the mayor also urged people to take shelter — seemingly pointing to strikes there, too. In a Telegram message, the mayor said the whole city had lost power.
There was no further information on what and how many targets had been hit.
Russia has been repeatedly pounding Ukraine’s war-time capital and power facilities across the country in recent weeks, causing widespread blackouts.
The latest explosions came hours after Ukrainian authorities said an overnight rocket attack destroyed a hospital maternity ward in southern Ukraine, killing a 2-day-old baby.
Following the overnight strike in Vilniansk, close to the city of Zaporizhzhia, the baby’s mother and a doctor were pulled alive from the rubble.
The region’s governor said the rockets were Russian. The strike adds to the gruesome toll suffered by hospitals and other medical facilities — and their patients and staff — in the Russian invasion that will enter its tenth month this week.
They have been in the firing line from the outset, including a March 9 airstrike that destroyed a maternity hospital in the now-occupied port city of Mariupol.
“At night, Russian monsters launched huge rockets at the small maternity ward of the hospital in Vilniansk. Grief overwhelms our hearts — a baby was killed who had just seen the light of day. Rescuers are working at the site,” said the regional governor, Oleksandr Starukh, writing on the Telegram messaging app.
First lady Olena Zelenska wrote on Twitter that a 2-day-old boy died in the strike and expressed her condolences. “Horrible pain. We will never forget and never forgive,” she said.
Photos posted by the governor showed thick smoke rising above mounds of rubble, being combed by emergency workers against the backdrop of a dark night sky.
The State Emergency Service said the two-story building was destroyed.
Vilniansk is in the Ukrainian-held north of the Zaporizhzhia region, and is about 500 kilometers (300 miles) southeast of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.
Medical workers’ efforts have been complicated by the succession of Russian attacks in recent weeks on Ukraine’s infrastructure that officials say have caused huge damage to the power grid.
The situation is even worse in the southern city of Kherson, from which Russia retreated nearly two weeks ago after months of occupation — cutting power and water lines.
Many doctors in the city are working in the dark, unable to use elevators to transport patients to surgery and operating with headlamps, cell phones and flashlights. In some hospitals, key equipment no longer works.
“Breathing machines don’t work, X-ray machines don’t work … There is only one portable ultrasound machine and we carry it constantly,” said Volodymyr Malishchuk, the head of surgery at a children’s hospital in the city.
On Tuesday, after strikes on Kherson seriously wounded 13-year-old Artur Voblikov, a team of health staff carefully maneuvered the sedated boy up six flights of a narrow staircase to an operating room to amputate his left arm.
Malischchuk said that three children wounded by Russian strikes have come to the hospital this week, half as many as had previously been admitted in all of the nine months since the invasion began. Picking up a piece of shrapnel that was found in a 14-year-old boy’s stomach, he said children are arriving with severe head injuries and ruptured internal organs.
Artur’s mother, Natalia Voblikova, sat in the dark hospital with her daughter, waiting for his surgery to end.
“You can’t even call (Russians) animals, because animals take care of their own,” said Voblikova wiping tears from her eyes. “But the children … Why kill children?”
In the northeastern city of Kupiansk, two civilians were killed and two more were wounded by Russian shelling on Wednesday morning, a regional official said.
A nine-story residential building and a clinic were damaged, and a 55-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man died, Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov said on Telegram.
Kupiansk was an early prize of Ukraine’s lightning offensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region in September and, like other recaptured settlements, has seen repeated shelling by Russian forces which many Ukrainian officials describe as retaliation.
In Strasbourg, France, the European Parliament overwhelmingly backed a resolution labeling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism for its invasion of and actions in Ukraine. The nonbinding but symbolically significant resolution passed in a 494-58 vote with 48 abstentions.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the vote. “Russia must be isolated at all levels and be held accountable in order to end its longstanding policy of terrorism in Ukraine and across the globe,” he wrote on Twitter.
After Wednesday’s explosions in Kyiv, senior Zelenskyy aide Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram: “The terrorists immediately confirm that they are terrorists – they launch rockets. Naive losers.”