Key developments on Dec. 5
- Zelensky: 4 people killed by Russia’s mass missile strike on Dec. 5
- Ukraine’s Air Force: Over 60 of more than 70 Russian missiles shot down on Dec. 5
- PM: Power facilities in Kyiv, Odesa, and Vinnytsia oblasts hit but repair underway
- Russian Defense Ministry: 3 military personnel killed, 4 wounded by blasts at Russian airbases
- Ukraine’s General Staff: Russian forces “leading offensive” in Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions
President Volodymyr Zelensky praised Ukraine’s air defense for shooting down “most of the missiles” fired by Russia at energy facilities across Ukraine in its recent mass attack on Dec. 5.
Of more than 70 cruise missiles Russia launched at critical infrastructure targets nationwide, Ukraine shot down over 60, Ukraine’s Air Force reported. It added that the missiles were fired from the Caspian and the Black Sea, as well as Russia’s Rostov Oblast.
Despite air defense’s stellar performance, Zelensky said that four people had been killed by the attack. “Unfortunately, we still can’t completely defend our air,” he said in the evening address.
Power facilities in three regions – Kyiv, Odesa, and Vinnytsia oblasts – were hit by Russian missiles, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said. Some regions were forced to enforce emergency blackouts to avoid accidents but repair is already underway, he added.
“Russia has tried again to implement its criminal plan to plunge Ukraine into darkness and cold,” Shmyhal said on Telegram. “Thanks to the heroic armed forces and air defense forces, the enemy once again failed.”
The strikes led to emergency power outages in at least six oblasts, including Odesa, Mykolaiv, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, and Cherkasy.
State-grid operator Ukrenergo said late on Dec. 5 that all regions would undergo emergency blackouts “to maintain a balance between the production and consumption of electricity.”
Neighboring Moldova experienced power supply interruptions once again during the Dec. 5 mass attack, the country’s national energy company Moldelectrica reported. The Moldovan Interior Ministry said part of a missile was also found by a police patrol near a northern village close to the Ukrainian border. The missile’s origin is still unspecified.
Moscow began its campaign targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure on Oct. 10. So far, Russia has launched six large-scale attacks on Ukraine – on Oct. 10, Oct. 17, Oct. 31, Nov. 15, Nov. 23, and Dec. 5. The previous attacks have killed dozens of civilians in total and caused power and water outages throughout the country. Ukraine has grappled with scheduled and emergency power outages to conserve electricity as harsh winter approaches.
Russian airbase blasts
Moscow accused Kyiv of launching drone attacks on two military airbases in Russia's Saratov and Ryazan oblasts – located hundreds of kilometers from the Ukrainian border.
Three Russian military personnel were killed and four others were wounded, state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported, quoting Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
Among the airbases Moscow reported hit was Engels. It is one of the two bomber bases home to Russia’s strategic bomber planes “capable of carrying nuclear bombs and nuclear-armed cruise missiles,” Reuters reported.
Moscow’s reports of the attacks came hours after media reports about explosions at around 6 a.m. at Engels and two bomber planes being damaged emerged online.
While Kyiv has not officially claimed responsibility for the attacks, Ukrainian officials made cheeky comments about the blasts on social media.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the President’s Office, wrote on Twitter: "If something is launched into other countries' airspace, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to (their) departure point."
Ukraine’s Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat also commented on Facebook, welcoming the explosions on the Engels airbase.
Fighting near Bakhmut
On the battlefield, heavy assaults continue in the Donbas. Russian forces are “leading the offensive” operations in Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions in the eastern Donetsk Oblast, trying to improve their tactical positions, Ukraine’s General Staff said in an evening briefing.
Russia has massed its soldiers and equipments in the Bakhmut sector for months amid its desperate attempts to encircle and capture the city. It is located on the main road to Kramatorsk and Sloviansk – key cities in Donetsk Oblast that Moscow aims to capture despite its stalled progress.
While disproportional to its heavy losses, Russia has recently seen minor progress near Bakhmut as the fiercest battle rages on in the east of Ukraine.
Russia is losing from 50 to 100 soldiers each day in the battle of Bakhmut, a Ukrainian military spokesman said on Dec. 4. Moscow has not publicly commented on Ukraine’s estimates.