Air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine as Russia launched more than 100 missiles on Thursday morning, according to a Ukrainian presidential adviser, and explosions were heard in several cities, including the capital, Kiev.
“A massive airstrike. More than 100 missiles in various waves,” he wrote on Facebook presidential office adviser Oleksi Arestovich, and the head of Ukraine’s Mikolaiv region also reported Russian missiles in the air.
Explosions were heard in Kiev, Yitomir and Odessa, according to a correspondent for Reuters and local media.
In the Odessa and Dnipropetrovsk regions, power cuts were announced to minimize possible damage to energy infrastructure.
The bombing came shortly after the Kremlin rejected a Ukrainian peace plan and insisted that Kiev accept Russia’s annexation of four regions.
Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians, but Ukraine says its daily bombing is destroying cities, towns and the country’s infrastructure, from electricity to medical.
On Wednesday, Russian shelling hit the maternity wing of a hospital in the city of Kherson, though no one was injured, according to Kirilo Tymoshenko, deputy chief of staff to President Volodymyr Zelensky. Staff and patients were moved to a shelter, Tymoshenko said in a post on Telegram.
The recently liberated southern Ukrainian city of Kherson has remained under constant bombardment by Russian forces who had retreated to the eastern bank of the river when the city was retaken in a major victory for Ukraine last month.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. Kiev and its Western allies have denounced Russia’s actions as an imperialist-style land grab. Russian President Vladimir Putin describes it as a “special military operation” to demilitarize his neighbor.
The West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia over the war, which has killed tens of thousands, driven millions from their homes, left cities in ruins and rattled the world economy, sending energy and food prices soaring.
Russian gas exports to Europe via pipelines plummeted in 2022 to post-Soviet lows, as its biggest customer cut imports due to the Ukraine conflict and a major pipeline was damaged by explosions of still unknown cause, according to Gazprom data.GAZP) and Reuters calculations.
There is still no prospect of talks to end the war.
Zelenskiy is pushing forward a 10-point peace plan that calls for Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and withdraw all its troops from the country.
But Moscow rejected it on Wednesday, reiterating that Kiev must accept Russian annexation of the four regions: Luhansk and Donetsk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhia in the south.
There can be no peace plan “that does not take into account the current reality of Russian territory, with the entry of four regions into Russia,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Zelenskiy’s idea of expelling Russia from eastern Ukraine and Crimea with Western help and getting Moscow to pay damages to Kiev is a “delirium,” RIA news agency reported.
Russian news agency TASS quoted Lavrov as saying Russia will continue to increase its fighting force and technological capabilities in Ukraine.
Lavrov said the troops mobilized by Moscow have received “serious training” and that while many are already on the ground, most are not yet on the front lines.
ATTACKS IN KHERSON
On the front lines, Russia bombed more than 25 settlements around Kherson and Zaporizhia, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Wednesday. The Kherson region at the mouth of the Dnieper serves as a gateway to Russia-annexed Crimea.
Heavy fighting continued around the Ukrainian town of Bajmut in eastern Donetsk province and north around the Luhansk towns of Svatove and Kreminna, where Ukrainian forces are trying to break through Russian defensive lines.
The British Ministry of Defence claimed that Russia had likely reinforced the Kreminna section of the front line, as it is logistically important and relatively vulnerable following Ukrainian advances further west.
Kiev-based military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said the city and region of Kharkiv had also come under heavy attacks that damaged a regional gas pipeline.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said in a Telegram message that the city had been attacked twice, “presumably” by Iranian Shahed drones, five of which the eastern Ukrainian air command separately reported that they had been shot down over the city of Dnieper.
Reuters was unable to verify these reports on the battlefield.