Russia launches ‘large-scale’ attack on Ukraine's energy sector, causing at least 3 deaths, widespread outages

Russia attacked electrical power facilities in much of Ukraine, including the country’s largest hydroelectric plant, causing widespread outages and killing at least three people, officials said Friday.

Energy Minister German Galushchenko said the nighttime drone and rocket attacks were “the largest attack on the Ukrainian energy sector in recent times. The goal is not just to damage, but to try again, like last year, to cause a large-scale disruption of the country’s energy system.”

The attacks caused a fire at the Dnipro Hydroelectric Station, which supplies electricity to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power installation.

The main 750-kilovolt power line to the plant was cut off, International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi said early Friday. A lower-power backup line was working, he said.

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The plant is occupied by Russian troops, and fighting around the plant has been a constant concern because of the potential for a nuclear accident.

The dam at the hydroelectric station was not in danger of breaching, the country’s hydroelectric authority said. A dam breach could not only disrupt supplies to the nuclear plant but would potentially cause severe flooding similar to what occurred last year when a major dam at Kakhovka further down the Dnieper collapsed.

Local residents react to Russia’s recent attack on an electrical power facility in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on Friday, March 22, 2024. The strike caused a widespread outage and resulted in at least three deaths. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)

One person was killed and at least eight injured in the Russian attack, said Zaporizhzhia regional governor Ivan Fedorov.

Attacks on energy facilities in the Kharkiv region caused blackouts, and other attacks were reported in areas of western Ukraine far from the front lines. Two people died in the Khmelnytskyi region, according to the Internal Affairs Ministry.

“The world sees the targets of Russian terrorists as clearly as possible: power plants and energy supply lines, a hydroelectric dam, ordinary residential buildings, even a trolleybus. Russia is fighting against the ordinary life of people,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Friday on the Telegram messaging app.

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Russian officials said Friday that one person died and at least three were injured in Ukrainian shelling of areas near the border.

The governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said a woman was killed when a shell hit nearby while she was walking her dogs and that two others were injured. The town of Tetkino in the Kursk region was shelled, injuring one person, said Gov. Roman Starovoit.

Both regions have been subject to shelling and drone attacks in recent weeks and officials have said that attempts by Ukrainian fighters to cross into Russian territory have been repelled.

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