More than eighty Russian missiles and a lesser number of exploding drones have struck residential structures and vital infrastructure throughout Ukraine, killing six people and leaving hundreds of thousands without heat or electricity.
Europe's largest nuclear plant was jeopardized by the largest such attack in three weeks, which knocked it off the electrical grid for hours before reconnecting it. The latest threat to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility has again raised the spectre of a nuclear catastrophe, as atomic reactors require continual power to run cooling systems to prevent meltdowns.
Throughout the night, air raid sirens blared as the assaults targeted a vast section of Ukraine, including the far-flung western region. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that the attack when many people were sleeping was another attempt by Moscow "to intimidate Ukrainians."
The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the strikes were a reprisal for a recent incursion by Ukrainian saboteurs into the Bryansk region of western Russia. It claimed to have struck all of its planned objectives, destroying drone bases, interfering with railways, and causing damage to weaponry manufacturing and repair facilities.
Ukraine refuted the charge of incursion and cautioned that Moscow could exploit the allegations as justification for intensifying its attacks.
Over half of the households in Kyiv were without heat, as were many in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, where water was also stopped on a day when outdoor temperatures were anticipated to drop below freezing, according to local authorities.
In the northeastern Ukrainian region of Zhytomyr, approximately 150,000 families have lost power. Due to damaged electricity lines, emergency blackouts occurred in the southern port of Odesa.
"Occupiers can do nothing but terrorize civilians. That is their only option. Yet it will not aid them. They won't dodge responsibility for all they've done," Zelenskyy added, referring to the strikes that destroyed infrastructure and residential structures in ten regions.
Moscow stated that hypersonic Kinzhal (Russian for "dagger") missiles were used in the attack on Thursday. That was the first time Ukrainian officials encountered so many weapons that could not be shot down.
Pavel Felgenhauer, a defence and military specialist in Moscow, told Al Jazeera that the Russian attacks were deliberately aimed at Ukraine's power grid infrastructure.
Felgenhauer stated, "They were referred to as retaliatory attacks, but it's more or less the same thing that's been going on for months during this winter: Russia has been attacking the Ukrainian power grid system in the hopes that it will fail and the loss of power will convince Ukrainian leadership and people to agree to a ceasefire that will end these attacks."
"These attacks are breathtaking. Although hypersonic missiles were employed, the strategic objective was not attained. Despite all the strikes, Ukraine's electrical grid continues to operate more or less commonly, and Kyiv does not appear eager to accept Russian requirements for a truce.
Viktor Bukhta, a 57-year-old resident of Kyiv's Sviatoshynskyi area, where officials reported that three persons were injured, stated that a missile fell nearby in the early morning.
"We entered the backyard. "There were injuries," he stated. Then the automobiles took fire. We attempted to put them out using automobile fire extinguishers. And I received a minor burn."
Nuclear plant hazards
The head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog said he was "amazed" by the complacency of members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which he leads, over the hazards posed by the Zaporizhzhia reactor.
"What steps are we taking to prevent this? We are members of the IAEA. According to a statement released by the organization, Director-General Rafael Grossi informed the agency's board of directors on Thursday that they should worry about nuclear safety.
"Every time, we roll the dice," he remarked. And if we allow this to happen repeatedly, our good fortune will eventually run out.
The organization has deployed experts to all four nuclear power plants in Ukraine to limit the danger of accidents. According to a tweet by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, the attack had "no military objective, just Russian barbarism."
Police cordoned off the roads leading to a plant in the Holosiivskyi area of Kyiv emitting smoke.
Governor Maksym Kozytskyi reported that three men and two women were killed when a missile targeted a residential neighbourhood in the western district of Lviv. He stated that three buildings were destroyed by fire, and rescue crews were searching through the rubble for additional victims.
Governor Serhii Lysak reported that a sixth person was killed and two others were injured due to numerous attacks in the Dnipropetrovsk area that targeted its energy infrastructure and industrial sectors.
In addition to the missile barrage, Russian shelling killed six additional civilians from Wednesday to Thursday, according to Ukrainian officials, including three at a bus stop in Kherson.