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Ukraine war latest: Russia destroys 'almost all' energy infrastructure in Kharkiv, mayor says

by The Kyiv Independent news desk April 2, 2024 12:31 AM 6 min read
A view of the city of Kharkiv during the blackout on March 25, 2024. (Yan Dobronosov/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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Key developments on April 1:

  • Mayor: Russia destroys 'almost all' energy infrastructure in Kharkiv
  • Authorities: Russia uses 5 Zircon hypersonic missiles against Kyiv in 2024
  • ISW: Russia may focus its potential offensive only in one operational direction
  • Poll: Most Ukrainians say they understand motivation of draft evaders.

Russian attacks destroyed "almost all" of energy infrastructure in Kharkiv, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said in an interview with Liga media outlet published on April 1.

Kharkiv has been at the forefront of Russian attacks since the outbreak of the full-scale invasion and saw an escalation in strikes in recent weeks.

The attacks destroyed a thermal power plant and all the electrical substations in Ukraine's second-biggest city, Terekhov said earlier.

When asked about the reasons for the intensified strikes, the mayor answered he did not know what Russia's plan was.

"The private (energy infrastructure) is also destroyed. Russia wants to intimidate us, but this is impossible," Terekhov said.

The current situation for the energy industry in the city is "very difficult," according to the mayor. The humanitarian assistance centers, also known as "Points of Invincibility," work in Kharkiv around the clock.

"We have been through more rough times, and we will survive these times too," Terekhov said.

On March 29, the state-owned energy company Centrenergo reported that Russian troops had destroyed the Zmiiv thermal power plant in Kharkiv Oblast during a recent large-scale attack.

In March, Russian attacks damaged or completely destroyed 80% of the thermal generating capacity of Ukraine's largest private energy company DTEK, the company's Executive Director Dmytro Sakharuk said on March 30.

Among Moscow's targets in March were Kaniv Hydroelectric Power Plant in Cherkasy Oblast, Dnister Hydroelectric Power Plant in Chernivtsi Oblast and Zaporizhzhia's Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant.

The Hydroelectric Power Station-2 (HPS-2), one of the two stations of the latter, is in critical condition following the attack. The dam itself suffered damage as well, but officials said that there was no risk of a breach.

Authorities: Russia uses 5 Zircon hypersonic missiles against Kyiv in 2024

Russia has launched five 3M22 Zircon hypersonic cruise missiles against Kyiv within the first three months of the year, the city's military administration reported on April 1.

The statement came a week after claims that Russian troops had used Zircon ballistic missiles in a March 25 attack on Kyiv, injuring at least two people. The researchers began to examine the debris to determine what type of missile was launched.

Ukrainian forces downed more than 180 missiles and drones targeted at Ukraine's capital in 2024, according to authorities. Apart from Zircon missiles, these include one Kalibr cruise missile, three Kh-69 cruise missiles, six Iskander-M ballistic missiles, 11 Kh-47M2 Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles, 48 Shahed-type drones, and 113 Kh-101 missiles.

Russia reportedly attacked Ukraine with a 3M22 Zircon hypersonic cruise missile for the first time since the start of the full-scale invasion on Feb. 7, killing at least five people and injuring over 50.

Illia Yevlash, an Air Force spokesperson, said that Ukraine could down Zircon missiles by using air defense systems like SAMP/T or Patriot. Kyiv urged Western allies to send more such weapons to defend the entire territory of the country.

Moscow earlier said the Zircon hypersonic missile entered the arsenal of the Russian military in early 2023, claiming that it has a range of 600–1,500 kilometers, can travel at nine times the speed of sound, and has a warhead weighing about 300-400 kilograms.

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Ukraine's Armed Forces shot down more than 2,000 cruise and ballistic Russian missiles, the Defense Ministry reported.

What we know about hypersonic Zircon missiles – Russia’s latest threat
While Russian missile strikes on Kyiv have become horrifyingly routine during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the attack that occurred on March 25 was a rare event. Air raid sirens that normally give people more than enough time to grab a coat and get to the nearest shelter before missiles

ISW: Russia may focus its potential offensive only in one operational direction

Russia may focus its potential late spring or summer offensive against Ukraine in the western part of Donetsk Oblast, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote in their April 1 report.

The Russian military command may consider the area near Avdiivka, a key front-line city in Donetsk Oblast captured by Russia in February, as a priority, the ISW said. Russia's willingness to commit a battalion of tanks to an attack in the area is one of the indications of such plans, the report said.

Referring to an unnamed Ukrainian service member, the ISW said that on March 30, Ukraine's Armed Forces appeared to repel the first Russia's battalion-sized mechanized assault since Moscow began a new campaign to seize Avdiivka in late October 2023.

Russian troops may have used 36 tanks and 12 infantry fighting vehicles near the village of Tonenke, which the ISW and the U.K. Defense Ministry consider likely to have been captured by Russian troops.

The Ukrainian military did not confirm ISW's claim.

The ISW suggested that Ukrainian troops had to expend a "significant amount of material" to repel this assault, but the "ability to skillfully defend against a large-scale Russian assault in a particularly critical part of the front despite challenges suggests that Ukrainian forces can achieve significant battlefield effects if they are properly equipped."

Commander-in-Chief of Ukraine's Armed Forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said that a Russian attack on Kharkiv, which saw an escalation in strikes in recent weeks, cannot be ruled out.

The contact line near another hotspot, the village of Robotyne in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, was "in flux," but the situation was "not critical" despite Russian troops' assaults in the area, according to the Ukrainian military.

The ISW said that despite warnings about the accumulation of Russian forces in other parts of the front, Russia may focus on one sector.

"ISW continues to assess that Russian forces will likely only be able to launch a concerted large-scale offensive operation in one operational direction at a time due to Russia's own manpower and planning limitations," the report said.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said in late March that the situation on the battlefield has been stabilized compared to earlier months, but he did not rule out that a major Russian offensive may come at the end of May or in June.

Poll: Most Ukrainians say they understand motivation of draft evaders

Most Ukrainians say they understand the motivation of those who try to avoid mobilization, according to a poll by Ukraine's Institute of Social and Political Psychology published on April 1.

Ukraine aims to ramp up mobilization in 2024 and a draft law on mobilization, which is currently being discussed and amended in parliament, proposes to lower the enlistment age and introduce basic military training for adults.

The poll showed that 53.9% of respondents agreed with the statement that "those who avoid mobilization can be understood – no one wants to die."

Another 17% disagreed, while 29% of respondents said it was difficult to answer. Among respondents in central regions of Ukraine, the number of those who said they could not answer rose to 35.5%.

The highest figure of those who disagreed with the statement was among respondents in the west of Ukraine, at 22.6%.

At the same time, almost 43% of respondents said they were ashamed of men who evade mobilization.

This number rose to 50% among respondents living in the south of Ukraine, where much of the front line is located. This region also had the highest number of respondents who said they understand the motivations of those who want to evade mobilization, at 70.9%.

The survey was conducted via face-to-face interviews between March 1 and March 15, and had 2,000 respondents, who were adults living across Ukraine, other than in areas under Russian occupation.

President Volodymyr Zelensky initially said in December 2023 that the army required the mobilization of 450,000-500,000 additional conscripts, but Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi said on March 29 that this number has been "significantly reduced."

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