KYIV, Ukraine — Russia launched dozens of missiles at Ukrainian energy infrastructure on Friday morning, knocking out heating systems in towns and cities across the country as temperatures dropped well below freezing and prompting the national utility to impose sweeping emergency blackouts.
Russia had launched 76 missiles at critical infrastructure targets across Ukraine and air defenses managed to shoot down 60 of them, the top commander of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said in a statement.
It was the ninth large-scale wave of missiles to be aimed at Ukrainian infrastructure this fall. Most have comprised 70 to 100 missiles. Large explosions were reported in the cities across the country, including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa. Early reports indicated that at least two people had been killed.
“All their targets today are civilian, and these are mainly energy and heat supply facilities,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in his nightly address on Friday. “Probably, as a result of this war, the meaning of the word ‘terror’ for most people in the world will be associated primarily with such crazy actions of Russia.”
Ukrenergo, the national electric utility, said that after the strikes more than 50 percent of electricity consumption needs were unable to be met. Emergency power outages were being introduced “across the country” to ration energy as crews scramble to repair the damage, a senior aide in the president’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said.
Ukraine’s energy minister, Herman Galushchenko, said that as many as nine power-generating facilities had been damaged, the Ukrinform news agency reported. He also said that corresponding stations and substations transmitting electricity had suffered damage.
Since October, Russia has repeatedly bombarded Ukraine’s electrical grid, heating, water and natural gas infrastructure with missile and drone attacks, a strategy intended to demoralize Ukrainians by plunging the country into darkness and cold as winter sets in.
Subway service was temporarily halted on all lines in the capital of Kyiv, and the water supply was interrupted throughout the city because of damage to infrastructure, the mayor, Vitali Klitschko, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Farther south, the mayor of the central city of Kremenchuk south said that heat was out for more than 200,000 customers as temperatures hovered below 14 degrees Fahrenheit. “Be sure to close all windows and take all possible measures to preserve heat in the premises,” the mayor, Vitalii Maletsky, said in a statement.
Roughly one million people in the Kirovohrad region, which is west of the Dnipro, were left “completely without electricity,” the head of the regional military administration, Andriy Raikovych, said.
In Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, 10 missiles had hit the city, damaging critical infrastructure, local official said. There were no immediate reports of casualties, but local officials said there was no electricity in the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest metropolis.
Missiles also damaged infrastructure and hit a residential building in the central city of Kryvyi Rih, Mr. Zelensky’s hometown. In his nightly address, Mr. Zelensky said three people had been killed and at least 10 were injured, including children.