Russian missiles rained on battered energy facilities across Ukraine Thursday, as Moscow intensified fighting in the east and warned of further attacks on critical infrastructure.
Explosions were reported in cities including the capital Kyiv, the southern port of Odesa, the central city of Dnipro and the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia, killing at least four people and injuring more than two dozen others.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted video, apparently shot from a dashboard camera, showing a huge blast in Dnipro that sent flames and black smoke shooting into the sky.
“Here is another confirmation from Dnipro how terrorists want peace,” he wrote in the caption. “Morning. A peaceful city and people wanting to live a normal life, go to work. A missile strike! The terrorist state actually wants to bring Ukrainians only more pain and suffering.”
At least 15 people were injured in Dnipro, three were hurt in Kharkiv and at least one was injured in Odesa, officials said.
State energy company Naftogaz said gas production facilities in eastern Ukraine had been damaged or destroyed. Other sites struck included the huge Pivdenmash defense plant in Dnipro.
Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, said a large fire erupted in Dnipro after the strikes on the city hit an industrial target. The attack injured at least 23 people, Reznichenko said.
Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed its strikes in Dnipropetrovsk hit a factory that produces military rocket engines.
In the Odesa region, an infrastructure target was hit, Gov. Maksym Marchenko said on Telegram, warning about the threat of a “massive missile barrage on the entire territory of Ukraine.”
Elsewhere, a Russian strike that hit a residential building killed at least four people overnight in Vilnia in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia.
Officials also reported heavy fighting in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which Russia claims to have annexed along with the southern Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.
Russia forces in the Donbas region have been bolstered by troops who had fled Kherson last week. It was the only regional capital Moscow had captured since its Feb. 24 invasion, and the pullback was the third major retreat of the war.
Thursday’s salvo appeared to be on a lesser scale than the nationwide barrage of more than 100 missiles and drones that knocked out power to 10 million Ukrainians earlier this week.
Tuesday’s strikes were described by Ukraine’s energy minister as the heaviest bombardment of civilian infrastructure of the nine-month war.
It also resulted in a missile landing in Poland and killing two people, marking the war’s first deadly foray into NATO territory.
Authorities are still trying to determine where the missile came from, with early indications pointing to a Ukrainian air defense system meant to counter the Russian bombardment.
Zelensky challenged this view in a rare public disagreement with his Western allies.
Polish President Andrzej Duda, who visited the blast site Thursday, said the missile appeared to be a Soviet-made S-300 rocket most likely fired accidentally “by Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense,” not by Russia. Russia and Ukraine both use the missile.
An adviser to Duda said Ukraine was likely to get access to the site of the blast that it has requested.
President Biden disputed Zelensky’s assertion that the missile was not Ukrainian, telling reporters at the White House Thursday: “That’s not the evidence.”
Moscow had denied responsibility for the deadly strike, with Russia’s Foreign Ministry saying that accusations of Russian involvement were “part of a systematic anti-Russian campaign by the West.”
Thursday’s bombings in Ukraine come as millions of people are struggling with regular blackouts and heating outages ahead of winter. In the capital, light snow dusted the streets as temperatures slipped below freezing.
Kyiv’s military administration said air defenses shot down at least two cruise missiles and five Iranian-made exploding drones.
The head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, called the strikes on energy targets “naive tactics of cowardly losers” in a Telegram post on Thursday.
“Ukraine has already withstood extremely difficult strikes by the enemy, which did not lead to results the Russian cowards hoped for,” Yermak wrote.
With post wires