Russia steps up attacks in Ukraine with broad bombardments

Two Ukrainian soldiers walk down a dirt path.
Ukrainian soldiers head to their positions near Bakhmut, Ukraine, on Thursday.
(Libkos via Associated Press)

Russia unleashed strategic bombers, killer drones and rockets in a barrage of attacks on Ukrainian targets early Friday, as a military push by Moscow that Kyiv says has been brewing for days appeared to pick up pace ahead of the anniversary of the Russian invasion.

The Kremlin’s forces focused their bombardments on Ukraine’s industrial east, especially Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, the Ukrainian military said. Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces there since 2014.

But the barrage went further, taking aim at the capital, Kyiv. It also struck critical infrastructure in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, in the northeast. Seven people were wounded there, two of them seriously, regional Gov. Oleh Sinegubov said.


Air-raid sirens went off across much of the country.

The bombardments could be an effort by Russia to soften up Ukraine’s defenses ahead of a ground assault, which Kyiv believes Moscow is planning in the east. There has been little change in battlefield positions for weeks.

Kyiv officials had anticipated a new Moscow thrust, especially in the east, as the Kremlin strives to secure areas it has illegally annexed and where it claims its rule is welcomed.

Biden is right to assure Ukraine that the U.S. will stand with it for “as long as it takes,” and if it’s possible to expedite military assistance he should do so. That doesn’t mean the U.S. and its allies shouldn’t be cognizant of the possibility that Putin might overreact.

High-voltage infrastructure facilities were hit in the eastern, western and southern regions, Ukraine’s energy company, Ukrenergo, said, resulting in power outages in some areas.

It was the 14th round of massive strikes on the country’s power supply, the company said, as Moscow seeks to demoralize Ukrainians by leaving them without heat and water in the bitter winter.

Zaporizhzhia City Council Secretary Anatolii Kurtiev said the city had been hit 17 times in one hour, which he said made it the most intense period of attacks since the beginning of the full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022.

The Ukrainian air force said Russia launched up to 35 S-300 antiaircraft guided missiles on Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia provinces. Those missiles cannot be destroyed in midair by air defenses but they have a relatively short range, so Moscow has used them for attacks not far from Russian-controlled territory.


Khmelnytskyi province in western Ukraine was also attacked with Shahed drones, according to regional Gov. Serhii Hamalii.

Russia has in the past used Iranian-made Shahed drones to strike at key Ukrainian infrastructure and sow fear among civilians, according to Western analysts. They are known as suicide drones because they nosedive into targets and explode on impact like missiles.

The onslaught lent a sense of urgency to Ukraine’s pleas for more Western military support. The need prompted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to make a rare — and daring — two-day trip abroad this week to press allies to grant Kyiv more aid.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a European Union leaders’ summit, hoping for assurances that his country can one day join the bloc.

Due to the threat of a missile attack, emergency power outages were enacted in Kyiv city and the Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions, according to private energy operator DTEK.

The head of Kyiv city administration, Serhii Popko, said that “there is a great threat of a missile attack” as Tu-95 strategic bombers, which can carry cruise missiles, are in the air. The head of Kryvyi Rih city administration confirmed that Russia had launched missiles and urged people to proceed to shelters.

Moscow’s ambitions have narrowed since it launched its full-scale invasion, when Kyiv and the installation of a puppet government were among its targets, and it is now focusing its efforts on gaining full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, collectively known as the Donbas.


Numerous battlefield setbacks, including yielding eastern areas it had initially captured, have posed mounting challenges for Russia.