March 9 (UPI) — Russia showered Ukraine with a wide-ranging barrage of missile attacks overnight, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said early Thursday.
Zelensky said Russian forces fired 81 missiles, mostly targeting infrastructure, in an attack he said was meant to intimidate citizens.
“The occupiers can only terrorize civilians,” Zelensky said. “That’s all they can do. But it won’t help them. They won’t avoid responsibility for everything they have done.”
He said Russian strikes hit Kyiv, Kirovohrad, Dnipro, Odessa, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zhytomyr and Vinnytsia regions. The attacks included critical infrastructure and residential buildings.
Early reports said that at least five people in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv were killed by the Russian bombardment. Officials said at least two people were injured in Kyiv after Russian strikes targeted energy facilities.
Ukrainian officials reported 11 deaths overall from the Russian missile strikes across the country, according to CNN.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest in Europe, fell into danger again after Russian shelling overnight left it disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid. The International Atomic Energy Agency said all of the plant’s auxiliary generators were being used to avert a potential nuclear catastrophe.
“All 20 of the site’s emergency diesel generators were activated,” Rafael Grossi, the director general of IAEA said in a statement Thursday. “The site’s essential power is now being provided by eight of those diesels with the rest now in standby mode. And there is enough diesel on site for 15 days of operation.”
Grossi said it was the first time the plant — controlled by Russia but run by Ukrainian workers — has lost complete power from the Ukrainian grid since November.
“What are we doing? How can we sit here in this room this morning and allow this to happen? This cannot go on,” Grossi said. “I am astonished by the complacency — what are we doing to prevent this happening? Each time we are rolling dice and if we allow this to continue time after time then one day our luck will run out.”
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said about 40% of the city remained without power because of the strikes. Kharkiv also experienced power outages from the attacks but it was not clear how much of the city was without electricity.
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