According to reports on March 9, Ukraine authorities announced that Russia had initiated a large-scale series of air strikes on Ukraine, resulting in numerous casualties and widespread power outages throughout the country. The attack also interrupted the power supply of Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant and coincided with the ongoing battle for Bakhmut in the eastern region of Ukraine.
Several cities across Ukraine were targeted in the attack, including Kharkiv in the north, Odesa in the south, and Zhytomyr in the west. Buildings and infrastructure in Kharkiv and Odesa were struck by the missiles, leading to power outages in various areas. Reports also indicated that the capital city of Kyiv was attacked during the same wave of strikes.
According to Ukraine, Russia fired 81 missiles, making it the largest attack in several weeks. The Ukrainian military reported that they were able to successfully intercept and shoot down 34 of the cruise missiles and four out of the eight Iranian-manufactured Shahed drones that were launched.
The recent missile attacks by Russia on Ukraine are the most severe since the end of January when a series of strikes killed 11 people and caused extensive damage to numerous buildings in various regions of Ukraine.
The recent strikes resulted in the loss of power at the largest nuclear plant in Europe and claimed the lives of at least nine people.
According to Energoatom, the operator of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the recent missile attacks by Russia caused the power line between the plant and the Ukrainian power system to be severed, resulting in a power outage at the plant. This was the sixth time that the plant has been disconnected from the electricity grid since it was captured by Russian forces last year.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is currently operating on diesel generators, according to reports. Energoatom further mentioned that the facility’s energy needs could be fulfilled by these diesel generators for ten days. Additionally, he warned that a catastrophic incident with global radiation consequences could occur if the external power supply of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is not restored within the next 10 days.
According to the officials in charge of the plant, a power outage was caused by a short-circuit on the power lines, and in response, diesel generators were activated. They did not provide any further information regarding the incident but assured that there was sufficient fuel to keep the generators running. The officials also stated that all safety and security measures at the plant were being properly maintained.
On March 4, 2022, Moscow’s military forces took control of the plant shortly after invading Ukraine. The largest nuclear facility in Europe, Zaporizhzhia, has been the focus of accusations from both Moscow and Kyiv, each accusing the other of shelling in the area.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a United Nations agency responsible for promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy, sent observers to the plant in September and is attempting to negotiate establishing a demilitarised zone around the facility.
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, characterized the situation as a challenging night describing Russia’s activities as “wretched tactics.” He said the energy systems were being repaired and all essential services were operational after a significant rocket attack struck essential infrastructure and residential buildings. Emergency services in Kyiv are responding to the explosions in the western and southern parts of the city, as reported by the mayor Vitaly Klitschko.
Vitaly Klitschko reported that vehicles were on fire in the courtyard of a residential building and advised residents to remain in shelters. He also stated that a significant portion of the city was without power, with four out of every ten people experiencing an outage.