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Ukraine hails air defences after heavy Russian missile strikes

Russia rained long-range missiles on Ukraine on Monday, killing two people, destroying homes in the southeast and causing power outages, but Kyiv said its air defences had limited the damage. Air raid sirens blared across the country and men, women and children huddled in the capital’s cavernous metro system to take cover during the latest wave of missile strikes.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said energy facilities had been hit in the regions of Kyiv, Vinnytsia in west-central Ukraine and Odesa in the south, but that Ukraine’s energy system was still functioning.

The air force said that over 60 of the more than 70 missiles fired at Ukraine had been shot down.

“Our guys are awesome,” Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential staff, wrote on Telegram.

Kyiv, a city of about 3 million people, appeared to have escaped serious damage although the Kyiv region’s governor said 40 percent of the residents in the area had been left without power after unspecified infrastructure was hit.

After an hours-long air raid alert ended, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told fellow Ukrainians that air defences had “shot down most of the missiles.” Kyiv officials estimate that nine out of 10 missiles fired at the capital had been shot down.

Moscow has been targeting Ukraine’s power grid in intense waves of attacks since October, and state energy company Ukrenergo, which operates the national power grid, said more infrastructure had been hit on Monday. Russians also targeted residential areas in some Ukrainian towns and cities.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential office, said missiles had crashed into buildings in Zaporizhzhia in the southeast, destroying several houses and killing two people. Three people were wounded, including a small child, he said.

Water supply in the Odesa region had been stopped as all pumping stations and reserve lines had lost power.

The new attacks had been predicted for days. They finally came with the temperature in Kyiv plummeting to minus 5 degrees Celsius. Residents had just been told that emergency blackouts were over after earlier damage was repaired.

Military intelligence official Andriy Yusov said the attacks had mainly hit “civilian infrastructure, primarily energy infrastructure.”

Disruptions to the electricity supply in neighbouring Moldova were reported by the Moldelectrica electricity company. It later said that no consumers had lost power and that the risk of new shutdowns had passed.

Moldovan police found fragments of a missile that came down in a region of northern Moldova near the border with Ukraine, state information portal Prima Sursa quoted the police as saying.

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