Friday, 10 March 2023 06:01

What to know after Day 379 of Russia-Ukraine war

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Russia kills civilians in first huge missile wave for weeks

Russia fired a huge wave of missiles across Ukraine on Thursday as people slept, killing at least nine civilians and knocking out power in an attack Kyiv said included six Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missiles, one of Moscow's most valuable weapons.

The mass strikes on targets far from the front were the first such wave since mid-February and shattered the longest calm since Moscow began an air campaign against Ukraine's civil infrastructure five months ago.

They also briefly forced Europe's biggest nuclear power plant off the grid.

"The occupiers can only terrorise civilians. That's all they can do. But it won't help them. They won't avoid responsibility for everything they have done," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, describing strikes that hit infrastructure and residential buildings in ten regions.

Russia's defence ministry said it had carried out a "massive retaliatory strike" as payback for a cross-border raid last week. It claimed to have hit all its intended targets, destroying drone bases, disrupting railways and damaging facilities that make and repair arms.

Villagers in Zolochiv in Ukraine's western Lviv region carried a body in a black plastic bag over the rubble of a brick house completely destroyed by a missile. They put the body into the back of a white van with another. A dog lay curled up on a carpet in the ruins.

Oksana Ostapenko said the house belonged to her sister Halyna, whose body was still buried under the rubble with two other family members.

"They still haven't found them. We were hoping that they're alive. But they're not alive," she said.

Another civilian was reported killed by the missiles in the central Dnipro region. Three civilians were separately reported killed by artillery in Kherson.

Moscow says such hits are intended to reduce Ukraine's ability to fight. Kyiv says the air strikes have no military purpose and aim to harm and intimidate civilians, a war crime.

In the capital Kyiv, a seven-hour alert through the night was the longest of Russia's five-month air campaign.

"I heard a very loud explosion, very loud. We quickly jumped out of bed and saw one car on fire. Then the other cars caught on fire as well. The glass shattered on the balconies and windows," said Liudmyla, 58, holding a toddler in her arms on a Kyiv street near wrecked cars.

"The child got scared and jumped out of bed," she said. "How can they do this? How is this possible? They are not humans."


Moscow confirmed it had used hypersonic Kinzhal - Russian for dagger - missiles in Thursday's attack. Ukrainian officials said it was the first time they had faced so many of the weapons, which Ukraine has no way to shoot down.

The White House said that the barrage was "devastating" to see and Washington would continue to provide Ukraine with air defence capabilities.

Russia is believed to have just a few dozen Kinzhals, which fly many times faster than the speed of sound and are built to carry nuclear warheads with a range of more than 2,000 km (1,200 miles). In his speeches, President Vladimir Putin regularly touts the Kinzhal as a weapon for which the transatlantic NATO alliance backing Kyiv has no answer.

Ukraine said the attacks had knocked out power in various places including to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, severing it from the grid and forcing it onto emergency diesel power to prevent a meltdown. It was later reconnected to Ukraine's energy grid, operator Ukrenergo said.

The plant, which Russia has held since capturing it early in the war, is near the front line and both sides have warned in the past of a potential for disaster. Moscow said it was safe.

U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi appealed for a protection zone around the plant.

"Each time we are rolling a dice. And if we allow this to continue time after time then one day our luck will run out," Grossi told the IAEA's 35-nation Board of Governors.

Kyiv, the Black Sea port of Odesa and Kharkiv were all hit. Targets stretched from Zhytomyr, Vynnytsia and Rivne in the west to Dnipro and Poltava in central Ukraine, officials said.


On the battlefield, the week has seen an apparent shift as Ukraine has decided to fight on in Bakhmut, a small city that has borne the brunt of a Russian winter offensive in the bloodiest fighting of the war.

Moscow says Bakhmut is important as a step to securing the surrounding Donbas region, a major war aim. The West says the ruined city has little value and Russian forces are sacrificing lives to give Putin his only victory since sending hundreds of thousands of reservists into battle at the end of last year.

Ukraine had appeared likely to withdraw from Bakhmut, but commanders now say they are inflicting enough damage on Russia's assault force to justify staying and fighting on.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia's Wagner private army which has led the fighting in Bakhmut, said on Wednesday his forces controlled all of the city east of a river through it.

Moscow, which claims to have annexed a fifth of Ukraine, says it launched its "special military operation" a year ago to combat a security threat. Kyiv and the West call it an unprovoked war to subdue an independent state.


Kiev’s security chief names ‘dangerous tendency’ among Ukrainians

A growing number of Ukrainians would like to see Kiev launch peace talks with Moscow, the head of the National Security and Defense Council, Aleksey Danilov, admitted on Thursday. The top security official blasted the development as a “very dangerous tendency” when he was live on the Ukrainian talk show ‘Greater Lviv speaks’.

“[One should] bear in mind that those [people advocating talks with Russia] are growing in numbers. It is a very dangerous tendency when even people in western Ukraine are starting to talk about such things,” Danilov said, as cited by RIA news agency. He also pointed out a local politician in the western Lviv region that allegedly called on Kiev to sit down at the negotiating table with Moscow.

Russia has previously repeatedly indicated that it was open to communicating with Ukraine if its leaders accepted Moscow’s conditions and recognized what the Kremlin calls the “reality on the ground.” In autumn 2022, four former Ukrainian regions, including the two Donbass republics, officially joined Russia following referendums. Kiev blasted the vote as a “sham” and insisted all four territories remained part of Ukraine, along with Crimea, which joined Russia back in 2014 following another referendum in the wake of the Maidan coup.

Kiev has refused to enter into any negotiations with Moscow since spring 2022, when initial attempts to resolve the conflict through diplomatic means failed. At the time, Ukraine withdrew from talks with Russia following several rounds of negotiations in Belarus and Türkiye.

In early October 2022, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky ruled out negotiations with his Russian counterpart. Kiev is insisting on a military victory over Moscow. During a G20 summit in November 2022, Zelensky ruled out a potential new ‘Minsk-3’ agreement, referring to previous accords designed to resolve the conflict between Kiev and the two Donbass republics.

The Minsk protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, 2022, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the agreements, which were designed to give Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state.

Former Ukrainian president Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the agreement to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”The idea was confirmed by then-chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and then-president of France Francois Hollande.

** Drone downed in Russian border region – governor

The Russian military has shot down a drone over the Bryansk Region, which borders Ukraine, its governor, Aleksandr Bogomaz, has claimed. There were no casualties or damage on the ground, according to a brief statement posted on social media on Thursday.

The unmanned aircraft was destroyed by Russian air defenses near the village of Navlya, some 45km south of the regional capital city of Bryansk, and was a “plane-type” drone, the governor explained.

In a separate incident, Ukrainian forces shelled the border village of Rakovka, damaging a resident’s home and a household outbuilding, Bogomaz said.

Bryansk Region has suffered from regular Ukrainian attacks, most of which involve cross-border shelling or drones. However, a week ago the region was targeted by a group of gunmen in an incursion.

Russia’s security agency, the FSB, reported that the group killed two civilians and injured two others, including a child, and also robbed locals and planted explosives before retreating.

Russian President Vladimir Putin branded the incursion a terrorist attack and noted that it was just the latest in a series of such plots carried out by Kiev.

** Russia hits key Ukrainian military sites in retaliation to Bryansk terror attacks

Russia delivered a massive retaliatory strike on key Ukrainian military sites with precision weapons, including Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, in response to Kiev’s terror attacks in the Bryansk Region, Defense Ministry Spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov reported on Thursday.

"In response to the terror attacks carried out by the Kiev regime in the Bryansk Region on March 2, the Russian Armed Forces delivered a massive retaliatory strike. Long-range air-, sea-and ground-based high-precision weapons, including Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, hit key Ukrainian military infrastructure sites, enterprises of the military-industrial complex and related energy facilities," the spokesman said.

The goal of the strike was achieved and all the designated targets were struck, the general stressed.



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