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Two-day-old baby among the dead after Russian rockets rain down on Ukraine

Power grids in Ukraine and Moldova are hit

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Rescuers search the remains of a maternity ward at a hospital destroyed by a Russian missile attack in Vilniansk. Photo: Reuters/Stringer

Rescuers search the remains of a maternity ward at a hospital destroyed by a Russian missile attack in Vilniansk. Photo: Reuters/Stringer

Ukrainian rescuers remove a doctor from the rubble of a hospital maternity ward destroyed by a Russian missile attack in Vilniansk. Photo: State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters

Ukrainian rescuers remove a doctor from the rubble of a hospital maternity ward destroyed by a Russian missile attack in Vilniansk. Photo: State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters

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Rescuers search the remains of a maternity ward at a hospital destroyed by a Russian missile attack in Vilniansk. Photo: Reuters/Stringer

A fresh barrage of deadly Russian missile strikes against Ukraine’s beleaguered power network yesterday left most of the country without electricity, as well as blacking out about half of the neighbouring country of Moldova.

A 17-year-old girl was among three killed and 10 wounded in the strikes, which came as the European Parliament voted to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.

While most of the missiles targeted power grids they also hit a major crossroads in Kyiv – and bodies were seen lying in the light snow in the suburbs of the Ukrainian capital.

Hours earlier, rockets had flattened a maternity ward, killing a two-day-old baby, in Vilniansk, near Zaporizhzhia.

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, said: “Horrible pain. We will never forget and never forgive.”

Her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky, vowed to rebuild his country’s infrastructure and praised the spirit of his people after the attacks. “We’ll renew everything and get through all of this because we are an unbreakable people,” he said.

Putin has been accused of war crimes in trying to destroy Ukraine’s energy network in the hope a long, bitter winter breaks the nation’s morale and forces it into negotiations.

Weeks of relentless pounding of the national grid and other key infrastructure with missiles and drones have put intense pressure on the system. Strikes had already damaged around half of Ukraine’s infrastructure before the latest attack, and the country is facing rolling blackouts.

Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said the latest missiles had hit “one of the capital’s infrastructure facilities”.

The blackouts forced Ukraine’s last three fully functioning nuclear power plants to disconnect from the grid. The state-run nuclear energy firm, Energoatom, said emergency protection was activated at the Rivne, Pivdennoukrainsk and Khmelnytskyi plants.

Moldova also condemned Moscow after the barrage triggered massive blackouts in its own grid, which remains entwined with Ukraine’s network since the Soviet era.

Engineers were attempting to reconnect “more than 50 per cent of the country”, the government said.

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Moscow was also accused of blackmail after the state-run company, Gazprom, threatened to reduce gas flows to Moldova via Ukraine. Gazprom accuses Ukraine of withholding supplies destined for Moldova, which Kyiv denies.

“Gas blackmail is an established Russian practice that the Kremlin continues to use for geopolitical purposes,” German Galushchenko, Ukraine’s energy minister, said.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament voted to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism because of its continued strikes against civilian targets.

The move was largely symbolic – but it drew an angry reaction from the Kremlin. Hours later, the parliament reported that its website had come under cyber attack from pro-Russian hackers.

The United States has authorised another $400m of weapons, munitions and air defence equipment for Ukraine, Antony Blinken, its Secretary of State, said. US president Joe Biden has so far provided $19.7bn in military aid to Ukraine.

“With Russia’s unrelenting attacks on Ukrainian critical energy infrastructure, additional air defence capabilities remain an urgent priority,” the Pentagon said.

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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