Russia fired almost 50 Shahed drones at targets in Ukraine and shelled a train station where more than 100 civilians were gathered to catch a train to Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said Wednesday. The barrages killed at least five people and knocked out power in most of the southern city of Kherson.
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Kyiv on December 26, 2023. © Genya Savilov, AFP
The aerial barrage came a day after Ukrainian warplanes damaged a Russian ship moored in the Black Sea off Crimea as both sides' soldiers struggle to make much progress along the front line of the 22-month war.
Overnight, the Kremlin’s forces launched an artillery and drone bombardment of the Kherson region just as some 140 civilians were waiting for a train at the region’s capital city of the same name, according to Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko. The shelling killed one policeman and injured two other police officers, as well as two civilians.
More than 100 people who were waiting for the train at the time of the attack arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday morning, national rail operator Ukrzaliznytsia said.
The attack on the Kherson region and its capital hit residential areas and a mall as well as striking the power grid, leaving around 70% of households in Kherson city without electricity during the winter cold, regional Gov. Oleksandr Prokudin said.
It was not immediately possible to estimate when power might be restored, he said.
Targeting energy infrastructure was also a Russian tactic last winter, when it tried to break Ukrainians’ spirit by denying them heating and running water.
In Odesa, another major city in southern Ukraine, the drone assault killed two people and wounded three, including a 17-year-old man, regional Gov. Oleh Kiper said.
Ukraine’s air force said it intercepted 32 out of the 46 drones that Russia fired overnight.
A Western military assessment, meanwhile, reckoned that Russia’s capture this week of a city in eastern Ukraine would not provide it with a springboard for major battlefield gains.
Ukrainian commander-in-chief Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi said Tuesday that his troops had retreated to the northern outskirts of the city of Marinka, which sits about 20 kilometers (12 miles) west of Donetsk, the largest city in Russian-held territory.
Zaluzhnyi said his troops had held Marinka for almost two years but Russians “were destroying it street by street, house by house.”
The Institute for the Study of War, a think tank, said “Russian forces are highly unlikely to make rapid operational advances from Marinka.”
But it noted that “localized Russian offensive operations are still placing pressure on Ukrainian forces in many places along the front in eastern Ukraine.”