Deaths and power outages due to Russian missiles hitting several cities in Ukraine | News of the war between Russia and Ukraine

Russia has unleashed a new salvo of missiles at targets across Ukraine, killing at least 14 people in the east-central city of Dnipro and disrupting energy supplies in the Kyiv and Kharkiv regions, officials said.

The attacks on Saturday destroyed a nine-storey apartment building in Dnipro, reducing an entire section of the building to rubble and sending smoke billowing into the sky. Officials said the dead included a 15-year-old girl.

64 others were injured.

“Tragedy!” said Boris Filatov, the mayor of the city that builds the rockets on the Dnieper River.

“I’ve been to the site…. We’ll walk through the ruins all night.”

Pictures from the scene showed firefighters putting out a fire around the bodies of some cars in Dnipro. Much of the apartment building was lost, while the exterior of the rest of the building was badly damaged.

Trapped residents were indicating their location in the rubble with their cellphone flashlights, according to Ukrainian media reports.

“They keep sending SMS,” Mykhailo Lysenko, deputy mayor of Dnipro, said in a video on social media. “We stop our work from time to time to remain silent and hear people screaming from under the rubble.”

The governor of the region, Valentin Reznichenko, said that seven children were among the wounded, the youngest of whom was three years old.

“The fate of 26 people is still unknown,” he added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was not yet known how many people were under the rubble.

In his evening address, he said: “Unfortunately, the number of dead is increasing every hour.”

The strikes – the largest wave of Russian attacks on Ukraine in two weeks – came as the country was celebrating the traditional New Year.

Besides Dnipro, other cities were hit on Saturday, including Odessa in the south, Kharkiv in the east, Lviv in the west, and the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. Civilian infrastructure, including electricity sites, was again damaged and power outages were reported.

German Energy Minister Galushenko said emergency power cuts were implemented in “most regions” of Ukraine on Saturday because of the strikes.

He warned that the coming days will be “difficult”.

Officials said the Kharkiv region was completely cut off and that power and water outages were also possible in Lviv.

Russia has been targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with missiles and drones since October, causing blackouts and disrupting central heating and running water.

Russia’s top military commander, Valery Zaluzhny, said that Russia fired 33 cruise missiles overall on Saturday, of which 21 were shot down.

UK pledges tanks

Moldova, Ukraine’s southwestern neighbor, said it had found missile debris on its soil after the recent Russian raids.

“Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine is directly affecting Moldova once again,” President Maia Sandu wrote in a tweet posting pictures of the wreckage.

“We strongly condemn today’s intensified attacks.”

In his evening address, Zelensky pleaded with the West to supply him with more weapons to prevent more deaths in what he called “Russian terrorism”.

“What is needed for this? The kind of weapons our partners have that our warriors expect. The whole world knows what and how to stop those who sow death.

Saturday’s attack comes as Western powers consider sending heavy weapons to Kyiv and ahead of a meeting of Ukraine’s allies in Ramstein, Germany, next Friday, where governments will announce their latest pledges of military support.

On Saturday, the United Kingdom became the first Western country to pledge heavy tanks for the war effort, with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying his country would send 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Sunak’s office said the British prime minister believes “a long and steady war only serves Russia’s interests”.

“UK defense and security officials believe there is an open window where Russia is left behind due to resupply problems and low morale,” the statement said. The Prime Minister therefore encourages Allies to deploy their planned support for 2023 as soon as possible for maximum impact.

Saturday’s attacks come as Ukrainian and Russian forces battle for control of Solidar, a small salt-mining town in eastern Ukraine that has for days been the focus of a relentless Russian offensive.

The capture of Soledar, which had a pre-war population of 10,000, could improve the position of the Russian forces and they have been moving towards the main objective since October, the nearby transport junction of Bakhmut.

On Friday, Russia said its forces had taken the town, but Ukraine denied this.

There was no clear sign of Ukraine withdrawing from the town, Al Jazeera correspondent Charles Stratford said, from near Solidar.

“Russia says it has taken full control of Solidar, but smoke from the impact sites, and explosions from almost continuous artillery and heavy machine gun fire suggest otherwise,” he said.

On the streets leading to Solidar, Army medics were waiting at intervals to take the wounded to hospitals away from the front line, Stratford said. Ukrainian armored personnel carriers were seen carrying troops towards the city, while tree lines full of artillery were in defensive positions.

One of the soldiers pleaded for better weapons.

“It will be difficult for us to push them back,” he told Al Jazeera. We will suffer great losses. They move around in such numbers that sometimes our old guns overheat as we try to shoot as many as possible.”

Turkey said on Saturday it was ready to push for a local ceasefire in Ukraine and warned that neither Moscow nor Kyiv had the military means to “win the war”.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s foreign policy adviser Ibrahim Kalin has acknowledged that it seems unlikely that the warring parties will be ready to reach a “comprehensive peace agreement” in the coming months.

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