Day 309 of the Invasion of Ukraine: More than 100 Russian Missiles hit Ukrainian cities
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Explosions rock Ukrainian cities, Russia fires waves of more than 100 missiles
Air raid sirens sounded in Ukraine as Russia - according to an adviser to the Ukrainian president - fired more than 100 missiles on Thursday morning. Explosions were heard in several cities, including the capital Kyiv.
"Massed air strike. More than 100 missiles in several waves," wrote on Facebook the advisor to the president's office Oleksii Arestovych. The head of Ukraine's Mykolaiv region also reported Russian missiles in the air. Later, Mykhailo Podolyak, also from Volodymyr Zelensky's team, wrote about 120 missiles "from the evil Russian world."
Explosions were heard in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Zhytomyr, Odesa, Ivanovo-Frankivsk and Lviv, according to a Reuters correspondent and local media reports. There may be power outages in Kyiv, the mayor announced. Power outages were announced in Odesa and Dnipropetrovsk regions in order to minimize potential damage to the energy infrastructure. There were strikes in Poltava, Odesa and Zhytomyr regions.
In Kharkiv, the subway has been shut down and Ukrainian Railways has reported halted trains as the power grid has been left without electricity.
The blitz, from which strikes are still ongoing, came after the Kremlin rejected the Ukrainian peace plan, insisting that Kyiv first accept the annexation of four regions by Russia. Moscow has repeatedly denied attacking civilians, but Ukraine says its daily bombardment is destroying cities and the country's infrastructure, from energy to medicine.
On Wednesday, Russian shelling hit the maternity ward of a hospital in the city of Kherson, although no one was injured, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy chief of staff to President Volodymyr Zelensky. Staff and patients have been moved to a shelter, Tymoshenko wrote in a Telegram post.
"It was scary... the explosions started suddenly, the window handle broke off... oh, my hands are still shaking," said Olha Prisidko, a soon-to-be-mother. "When we got to the basement, the shelling was not over. Not even for a minute," Reuters quoted her as saying.
Ukraine's recently liberated southern city of Kherson remains under constant bombardment by Russian forces, who withdrew to the east bank of the river when the city was retaken in a major victory for Ukraine last month. Hundreds of residents leave because shells fall indiscriminately and sow terror.
On the front, Russia has shelled more than 25 settlements around Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced on Wednesday. Heavy fighting continues around the Ukrainian-held town of Bakhmut in Donetsk region and to the north, around the towns of Svatove and Kremina in Luhansk region, where Ukrainian forces are trying to break through Russian defense lines.
Britain's Ministry of Defense has said that Russia is likely to have reinforced the Kremina section of the front line because it is logistically important and relatively vulnerable after the Ukrainian offensive.
Lavrov: Kyiv is not yet ready for real negotiations
Russia will not use Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's "peace formula" as a basis for negotiations and believes that Kyiv is not yet ready for real negotiations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, quoted by RIA Novosti. Lavrov also said that Kyiv's idea of expelling Russia from eastern Ukraine and Crimea with the help of the West was an "illusion".
Zelensky has proposed a 10-point peace plan that calls for Moscow to fully respect Ukraine's territorial integrity and withdraw all its troops.
However, the Kremlin insists that Kyiv accept the annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
Zelensky: Ukraine is the leader of the free world
Ukraine has become "one of the leaders of the free world," said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
"We helped the West find itself again and feel how much it prevails. No one there is afraid of Russia anymore," he told the parliament, AA reported.
He called for reforms in existing international organizations that "should guarantee peace but are unable to do so", for the creation of a tribunal for Russia and for new security guarantees for Ukraine.
Zelensky said Ukraine was close to the victory it had dreamed of for generations, despite Russian strikes on its energy infrastructure, and noted that the Ukrainian army had regained control of more than 1,800 towns and villages.
He stated that the number of Starlink satellites operating in the interests of Ukraine will soon reach 30,000.
Zelensky said the main goal is to restore Ukraine's territorial integrity and release all prisoners of war, noting that 1,456 prisoners have returned since the start of the war.
He declared that the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine would be "the biggest economic project in Europe". The entire territory must be restored, and priority will be given to companies that worked in Ukraine during the war.
Another goal is the repatriation of refugees, he added.
He also indirectly warned that the crackdown on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church would continue because of its ties to Russia.
Lavrov: Russia will not allow supplies of Western weapons
Russia aims to cut off the supply of Western weapons to Kyiv, the Russian foreign minister said in a televised address.
Sergey Lavrov added that Moscow is monitoring increased supplies of modern military equipment from the West.
According to him, Russian military strategists plan to prevent these supplies from reaching the Ukrainian army.
This is expected to include new attacks on railways, bridges and tunnels.
The attacks against the energy infrastructure in Ukraine have already produced good results, added the Russian first diplomat.
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