Russia unleashed a wave of nighttime drone and missile attacks across 10 of Ukraine’s 24 regions, Ukrainian authorities said Friday, as they prepare for another winter of infrastructure bombardment by the Kremlin’s forces. Ukraine’s air force said it intercepted 24 of 38 Shahed drones and one Kh-59 cruise missile launched by Russia.
The attacks caused fires in homes and public buildings, especially in the southern Kherson region, which Moscow has increasingly targeted in recent weeks, emergency services said. Authorities reported that two people were injured.
“We understand that as winter approaches, Russian terrorists will attempt to cause more harm,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Telegram after the attacks, employing his usual choice of words for the enemy’s forces.
Last winter, Russia took aim at Ukraine’s power grid in an effort to deny civilians light and heating and chip away at the country’s appetite for war. Ukrainian officials accused the Kremlin of weaponizing winter.
The Russian strikes are inflicting “unimaginable levels of suffering” on Ukrainian civilians, according to Ramesh Rajasingham, co-ordination director in the United Nations humanitarian office.
Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, said Russia had expanded the number of drones it uses in its routine nighttime attacks as winter approaches.
“The battle for the sky is what awaits us,” Yermak said on Telegram.
Winter likely to complicate battlefield tactics
Laser-guided munitions designed to take out drones are expected to be part of a $425 million US package of new U.S. military aid to Ukraine, according to U.S. officials.
The coming wet, muddy and cold weather will likely frustrate both sides’ efforts to advance on the battlefield, compelling a change in military tempo.
But there have been some calls, including from U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, for votes to proceed even if the war does not end, as evidence of democratic health.
“We are not closing this page. The president of Ukraine is considering and weighing the different pros and cons,” said Dmytro Kuleba, adding that elections would bring unprecedented challenges.
Ukraine was scheduled to hold a parliamentary election in October and a presidential vote in March 2024.
Kuleba made his comment during an online appearance at the World Policy Conference in the United Arab Emirates when asked whether Ukraine would hold a presidential election in spring.
He pointed to problems of security risks and how to ensure votes for hundreds of thousands of soldiers, millions of Ukrainians abroad and those living under Russian occupation.
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