Russia targeted infrastructure facilities in central and eastern Ukraine on Sunday evening in a response to a dramatic Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkiv province that has reshaped the war and left Moscow reeling. The mayor of Kharkiv city, Ihor Terekhov, said a strike had knocked out power and water to much of the city, in what he described as an act of “revenge” by Russia for Ukraine’s recent battlefield successes. There were reports of blackouts in Dnipro, Poltava and other eastern cities, potentially affecting millions of civilians. “A total blackout in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, a partial one in the Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Sumy regions,” Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said in a statement on social media. “No military facilities,” he added. “The goal is to deprive people of light and heat.” He denounced the “deliberate and cynical missile strikes” against civilian targets as acts of terrorism.
The US ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, has denounced Russia’s strikes on the power and water facilities. “Russia’s apparent response to Ukraine liberating cities and villages in the east: sending missiles to attempt to destroy critical civilian infrastructure,” Brink tweeted.
“We will call it victory,” Zelenskiy, said in a video address on Sunday, referring to a potential Russian retreat. He added that he is confident that Ukrainian forces will liberate all Russian-occupied territories across the country.
A nationalist militant and former FSB officer who helped launch a 2014 war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region compared the collapse of one of the conflict’s principal frontlines to a catastrophic defeat in the Russo-Japanese war which triggered Russia’s 1905 Revolution. Igor Girkin said it was like the 1905 Battle of Mukden, which ended took place two days after the revolution started.
Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron have traded blame during a phone call over safety concerns at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station. “The Russian side drew attention to regular Ukrainian attacks on the plant’s facilities, including radioactive waste storage, which is fraught with catastrophic consequences,” said a statement on the Kremlin’s website. In its statement, the French presidency said the occupation by Russian troops of the plant was what was putting it at risk. Earlier, Ukraine’s nuclear power operator said the last operating reactor at the plant had been shut down and the plant “completely stopped”.
Moscow’s leadership has remained “silent” on the defeats in Ukraine, with neither Putin or the Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, making any comment as of midday on Sunday. Moscow’s almost total silence on the defeat – or any explanation for what has taken place in north-eastern Ukraine – has provoked significant anger among some pro-war commentators and Russian nationalists on social media.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-appointed leader of Chechnya, has criticised the Russian army’s leadership after it appeared to be caught off-guard by Ukraine’s fightback against the Russian invasion in the north-east. In a sign that the Kremlin may face serious fallout over the loss of territory that the Russian occupation administrations had repeatedly stated they planned to keep “forever”, Kadyrov also suggested that Vladimir Putin might not be aware of the real state of affairs.
Russian forces have launched 11 missiles towards the eastern regions of Ukraine, the Ukrainian air force announced in a tweet on Sunday night. The Ukrainian air forces shot down seven cruise missiles in the Dnipropetrovsk region and two more missiles were destroyed in the Poltava region, the UAF said.
Due to shelling of the infrastructure, a number of trains from/to Kharkiv, Sumy, and Poltava are expected to be delayed. However, not a single train today was canceled; traffic continues on the entire railway network.
Two cruise missiles hit critical infrastructure in Kharkiv and firefighters were on scene, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration. Tymoshenko said engineers are working to restore power and electricity should soon be back in vital facilities such as hospitals.