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Russia launches major attack across Ukraine targeting critical infrastructure

by Asami Terajima March 24, 2024 10:31 AM 3 min read
This picture shows a cloud of smoke after a night drone strike in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on June 20, 2023, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The photo is used for illustrative purposes. (Photo by Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP via Getty Images)
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Editor's Note: This is a developing story.

Russia launched a major missile and drone attack across Ukraine early on March 24, targeting critical infrastructure and leaving thousands without heating, local governors reported.

Russian forces fired 29 cruise missiles and 28 Shahed drones in a large-scale attack targeting eight regions in the west, center, north, and south of Ukraine, the Air Force said. Of the total air targets fired across Ukraine, 18 cruise missiles and 25 Shahed drones were intercepted by the air defense, according to the report.

No casualties were reported as of 10 a.m. local time.

Russia has recently once again intensified its attacks against Ukraine's critical infrastructure, with the March 22 strike damaging the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant, Ukraine's largest hydroelectric station.

Kyiv was among Russia’s targets. Approximately 10 missiles targeting Kyiv were shot down, according to the Kyiv City Military Administration. Debris of the shot-down missiles fell on two districts, in the eastern and central parts of the capital, without major destruction on residential areas, it added.

Western Lviv Oblast was also struck in the mass strike. Russia attacked an unnamed critical infrastructure site in Lviv Oblast using missiles and drones, causing a fire at the site, regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi reported. He added that firefighters were working at the site, and there was no information on possible casualties as of 7:38 a.m. local time.

The Air Force branch in charge of Western Ukraine reported shooting down eight of the 19 cruise missiles fired, as well as all seven Shahed drones.

Russia once again targeted critical infrastructure during the second air raid alert that went off at around 9:30 a.m., a few hours after the countrywide strike overnight, attacking Lviv Oblast with Kinzhal air-launched missiles, according to Kozytskyi.

There are “two hits” recorded at the critical infrastructure site where the fire had erupted, but the firefighters who had been working after the major strike overnight were evacuated to a safe space on time, he added.

Central-eastern Dnipropetrovsk Oblast also suffered an attack on critical infrastructure.

Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Governor Serhii Lysak reported that the Russian attack drones targeted critical infrastructure in the city of Kryvyi Rih and in the Nikopol district.

In Kryvyi Rih, a city of around 600,000, the attack damaged heating networks and power lines, according to Lysak.

Six hospitals, more than 150 educational institutions, and 3,000 residential buildings home to 76,000 people were left without heating, he added. One of the medical facilities had briefly lost power.

In southern Odesa Oblast, the strike damaged a port infrastructure in the region, according to the Southern Defense Forces. The regional governor has not yet reported the destruction.

Kherson, Mykolaiv, Sumy, and Volyn oblasts were other Ukrainian regions above which air targets were shot down, according to the Air Force.

Russian forces launched the latest mass strike from occupied Crimea and Russia, with cruise missiles being fired from 14 Tu-95 strategic bombers from around Engels in Russia’s Saratov Oblast in the country’s west, it added. The cruise missiles fired at Kyiv were launched from the north, according to local authorities.

Neighboring NATO member Poland said that a missile had once again briefly entered its airspace during the Russian attack.  

One of the Russian cruise missiles targeting western Ukraine flew into Polish airspace for about 39 seconds at 4:23 a.m., Polish Air Force's Operational Command said on X.

"All necessary procedures aimed at ensuring the safety of Polish airspace have been activated, and the Operational Command of the Polish Air Force is monitoring the situation continuously," the Polish Armed Forces said.

Throughout the winter of 2022-2023, Russia launched a series of mass missile and drone strikes against Ukraine's critical infrastructure facilities, killing dozens of civilians and causing rolling blackouts nationwide. That winter, Russia severely hit almost half of the country's energy system.

The winter of 2023-2024 spelled yet another wave of massive strikes, but the resulting energy disruptions have not reached the scale of those in late 2022 and early 2023. Russia's attacks this year have for the most part failed to disrupt en masse the country's power grid.

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