Russia launches missile barrage on Ukraine as 1st snow falls

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) – Russian airstrikes are targeting Ukrainian power stations again Thursday as the first snow of the season fell in Kyiv, a harbinger of difficulties to come if Moscow’s missiles continue to take power and gas plants as winter descends.

In contrast, the United Nations announced an expansion of an agreement to ensure the export of wheat and fertilizers from war-torn Ukraine. The deal was due to expire soon, fueling fears of a global food crisis that exports were restricted to one of the world’s largest wheat producers.

As all sides agreed to extend the grain deal, air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine on Thursday. At least seven people were killed and more than a dozen others injured in the drone strikes and missiles, including one that hit a residential building, authorities said.

Kremlin forces have suffered on the ground, the latest loss being the loss of the southern city of Kherson.. Prior to this victory, Russia has resorted more to airstrikes targeting energy infrastructure and other civilian targets in parts of Ukraine it does not hold.

Russia on Tuesday fired a series of more than 100 missiles and drones. that 10 million people in Ukraine – a strike it was described by Ukraine’s energy ministry as the biggest attack on the country’s electricity network in nearly nine months of war.

It also resulted in a missile landing in Poland, killing two people. Authorities were still trying to confirm where the missile came from, and earlier indications pointed to a Ukrainian air defense system designed to counter Russian airstrikes.

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Polish President Andrzej Duda on Thursday visited the site where the missile went down and expressed his understanding of the crisis in Ukraine. “It is a very difficult situation for them and there are big emotions, there is also a lot of pressure,” said Duda.

The renewed outbreak comes as many Ukrainians deal with the discomfort of regular blackouts and heat blackouts.. A light snowfall pelted the capital on Thursday, where the temperature dropped below freezing. Kyiv’s military said its air defenses shot down four cruise missiles and five Iranian-made drones.

In eastern Ukraine, Russia “launched a massive attack on gas production facilities,” said the head of state-owned energy company Naftogaz, Oleksiy Chernikov. He did not explain.

Russian strikes also hit the city center of Dnipro and Ukraine’s southern Odesa region for the first time in weeks and hit infrastructure northeast of Kharkiv near Izium, injuring three workers.

The head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, called the targeted strikes “the irrational tactics of defeated cowards.”

“Ukraine has already faced a very heavy attack by the enemy, which did not lead to the results that the cowardly Russians hoped for,” Yermak wrote on Thursday in Telegram.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video speech that 10 million people in Ukraine were without power on Thursday, especially in the regions of Kyiv, Odesa, Sumy and Vinnytsia. Ukraine had a population of about 40 million before the war.

Zelenskyy previously posted on Telegram a video that he said was one of the explosions in Dnipro. Footage from the vehicle’s dashboard camera showed a fiery explosion covering the rain-soaked road.

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“This is another confirmation from Dnipro about how terrorists want peace,” Zelenskyy wrote, referring to Kremlin forces. “A peaceful city and people’s desire to live a normal life. To go to work, to their affairs. Rocket attack!”

Valentyn Reznichenko, the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, said a huge fire broke out in Dnipro after the protests reached the industrial target. The attack injured 23 people, Reznichenko said.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said the strike in Dnipropetrovsk hit a factory that produces military rocket engines.

In Odesa region, the target base was hit, Gov. Maksym Marchenko said in Telegram, warning about the threat of “a large army of missiles on the entire territory of Ukraine.”

Elsewhere, a Russian strike on a residential building killed seven people overnight in Vilniansk in southern Zaporizhzhia. Rescuers spent Thursday searching for any other victims.

Officials in northeastern Ukraine’s Poltava and Kharkiv and Khmelnytskyi and Rivne in the west urged residents to stay in bomb shelters.

The UN has warned that repeated strikes on Ukraine’s electricity grid are putting nuclear power plants at risk. Reactors require cooling power and other critical safety functionsand their emergency generators can provide temporary backup power.

The Khmelnytskyi nuclear plant was cut off from the electricity grid on Tuesday, forcing it to temporarily rely on diesel generators and shutting down two of its reactors, the International Atomic Energy Agency said. Another factory in Rivne cut off one of its four devices after losing power to Ukraine’s external grid.

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IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said the loss of power at the Khmelnytskyi plant “clearly shows that the situation of nuclear safety and security in Ukraine could suddenly turn bad, increasing the risk of a nuclear emergency.”

Grossi also expressed serious concern about radiation leaks at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Largest in Europe, held by Russian forces for most of the war.

The impact of the war was felt beyond Ukraine, on the food and energy markets of the world. Ukraine and Russia are among the largest grain exporters, and Russia is also an important fertilizer producer.

There have been concerns in recent days about the future of the UN-brokered deal with Turkey that created a safe shipping corridor in the Black Sea to deal with wartime disruptions in grain exports. The deal was due to expire on Saturday, but UN Secretary-General António Guterres said it had been extended for 120 days.

In addition to ensuring a safe route for Ukraine’s exports, Guterres said the United Nations is also “fully committed” to removing barriers that have prevented the export of food and fertilizer from Russia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed the extension, and Zelenskyy called it “an important decision in the global fight against the food crisis.”

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Correspondents Jamey Keaten in Geneva, and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

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Follow AP’s war coverage https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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