KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Emergency crews pulled the body of a toddler from the rubble in a pre-dawn search Saturday for survivors of a Russian missile strike that tore through an apartment building in the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih.
The missile was one of what Ukrainian authorities said were 16 that eluded air defenses among the 76 missiles fired Friday in the latest Russian attack targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure, part of Moscow’s strategy to leave Ukrainian civilians and soldiers in the dark and cold this winter.
Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko of the Dnipropetrovsk region, where Kryvyi Rih is located, wrote on the Telegram social media app that “rescuers retrieved the body of a 1-1/2-year-old boy from under the rubble of a house destroyed by a Russian rocket.” In all, four people were killed in the strike, and 13 injured — four of them children — authorities said.
Reznichenko said the pounding from Russian forces continued overnight, damaging power lines and houses in the cities and towns of Nikopol, Marhanets and Chervonohryhorivka, which are across the Dnieper River from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
By Saturday morning, Ukraine’s military leadership said Russian forces had fired more than a score of further missiles since the barrage a day earlier. It did not say how many of those might have been stopped by the air defenses.
Friday’s onslaught, which pummeled many parts of central, eastern and southern Ukraine, constituted one of the biggest assaults on the capital, Kyiv, since Russia began the war by attacking Ukraine on Feb. 24. Kyiv came under fire from about 40 missiles on Friday, authorities said, nearly all intercepted by air defenses.
In Kherson, where Ukraine regained control last month in a significant setback for Russia, a 36-year-old man was killed and a 70-year-old woman was wounded in a Russian attack on Saturday, said regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevych.
Yet again, Ukrainian utility crews have had to scramble to patch up damaged power and water systems as Russia targets vital services for civilians as winter’s hardships set in.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported Saturday that two-thirds of homes in the country’s capital had been reconnected to electricity and all had regained access to water. The subway system also resumed service, after serving as a shelter the day before.
Half of the Kyiv province, which surrounds but doesn’t include the Ukrainian capital, still lacked electricity a day after Friday’s attack, Regional Gov. Oleksiy Kuleba said, adding that rain and snow, making power lines icy, was complicating efforts to restore power.
The head of Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv province Oleh Syniehubov said Saturday that electricity had been restored to the entire region, including Kharkiv city, the country’s second-largest metropolis. The power had been knocked out on Friday in attacks involving 10 S-300 missiles.
In Kryvyi Rih, 596 miners were stuck underground because of missile strikes, but all were eventually rescued, Mayor Oleksandr Vilkul said late Friday.
In Moscow on Saturday, Russia’s foreign ministry slammed a new package of European Union sanctions approved a day earlier. Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova branded the EU’s ninth batch of sanctions in response to the war “illegitimate unilateral restrictive measures” and lashed out at a ban on broadcasts by four major Russian TV channels as “authoritarian.”
In allowing EU member states to “provide certain exemptions” for Russian food and fertilizer exporters, Zakharova contended that the EU was recognizing that its “restrictive measures have been undermining world food security.” Targets of the latest round of sanctions include divisions of the Russian army and all of Russia’s parliamentary parties. Also included in the package are a ban on the export of aviation engines to Russia and sanctions against the energy and mining sectors
The Kremlin on Saturday confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin huddled a day earlier with armed forces commanders, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, chief of general staff, Valery Gerasimov. He also spoke with commanders from different branches.
Meanwhile, installation of a protective dome has begun over the spent-fuel storage area at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, an official from the Moscow-installed authorities of Ukraine’s southeastern Zaporizhzhia province said on Saturday. Vladimir Rogov said the dome would protect against fragments of shells and improvised explosive devices carried by drones. The Russian-held plant, Europe’s biggest nuclear power station, has been repeatedly shelled; its six reactors have been shut down for months.
The International Atomic Energy Agency recently announced plans to station nuclear safety and security experts at Ukraine’s nuclear power plants to prevent any nuclear accident. The U.N. nuclear watchdog has already deployed a permanent mission to the Zaporizhzhia plant.