Ukraine bemoans West’s indecision as Russia pummels its power grid

Kremlin says Russia now ‘at war’ in apparent change to invasion rhetoric

Ukraine said western delays and indecision over arms supplies were exposing its people and infrastructure to Russian attack, after Moscow’s military pummelled the Ukrainian energy grid with scores of missiles and explosive drones.

At least five people were killed and 15 injured when Russia fired about 60 “Shahed” attack drones and 90 missiles at towns and cities across Ukraine, badly damaging its biggest hydroelectric power station and plunging more than a million people into blackouts early on Friday.

“The world sees the targets of Russian terrorists as clearly as possible: power plants and energy supply lines, a hydroelectric dam, ordinary residential buildings… Russia is at war with people’s ordinary life,” said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

“There are no delays to Russian missiles, as there are to aid packages for our state. Shaheds are not indecisive, like some politicians are. It is important to understand the cost of delays and postponed decisions,” he added.


“Air defence is needed to protect people, infrastructure, houses and dams. Our partners know exactly what is essential… These solutions are needed.”

A day after advanced, western-supplied air defence systems around Kyiv shot down all 31 missiles fired at the capital city, more than 40 ballistic and cruise missiles evaded weaker defences around cities including Kharkiv, Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia.

Energy minister Herman Halushchenko said it was “the largest attack on the Ukrainian energy sector in recent times. The goal is... to cause a large-scale failure in the country’s energy system”.

About 15 explosions were registered in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, which is just 35km from Russia and extremely vulnerable to ballistic missiles that land less than a minute after being launched from across the border.

“We witnessed an unprecedented missile attack on Kharkiv’s energy infrastructure last night. And to deal with the challenges caused by this enemy shelling, utility and energy workers need time,” said Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov.

He said critical infrastructure had been switched to alternative power sources and water and heat were gradually returning to people’s homes. Help centres were also open around the city to provide warm meals and other essentials, he added.

Ukraine’s largest dam and hydroelectric power station, DniproHES in Zaporizhzhia region, was hit eight times in a salvo that set part of the facility on fire and killed the driver of a bus that was crossing the dam.

Officials said there was no danger of a breach at the dam, but the nearby Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station – the biggest in Europe – lost external power for some time after the missile strike.

Moscow’s defence ministry said it had launched a “retaliatory strike” on legitimate targets in response to Ukrainian artillery and drone attacks on Russian territory and cross-border raids by Russian militants fighting for Kyiv who want to overthrow the Kremlin regime.

Russia has described its full invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation”, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday that “we are in a state of war”.

“As soon as ... the collective West became a participant on the side of Ukraine, it became a war for us,” he said.

After an EU summit in Brussels, German chancellor Olaf Scholz said: “We have massively expanded support for Ukraine ... will buy ammunition and weapons worldwide and also use proceeds from frozen Russian assets. A clear sign that we will continue – for as long as necessary.”

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe