Russia launched a new barrage of missiles towards Ukraine on Monday as it accused Kiev of attacking military airfields deep within its territory.
Russian forces fired dozens of rockets into Ukraine on Monday, cutting off water and electricity supplies in some areas and killing at least one person in the Ukrainian town of Kryvyi Rih and at least two people in Zaporizhzhia, local authorities said.
Debris from a rocket also passed the Ukrainian border and hit a town in Moldova.
The Ukrainian Air Force said more than 60 Russian missiles were intercepted. Still, some achieved their goals and the shelling cut off access to water and electricity in Kryvyi Rih and in the southern city of Odessa, following recent shortages across the country due to Russian attacks on critical infrastructure.
Russia’s defense ministry said Ukraine used drones to attack two Russian military airfields on Monday morning, adding that its air defenses intercepted the attacks “in the Saratov and Ryazan regions,” according to a statement from Russia’s official news agency RIA Novosti.
“On the morning of December 5, in order to disable Russian long-range aircraft, the (Kiev) regime attempted an attack with Soviet-made unmanned jet aircraft. [drones] at the military airfields of Diaghilevo in the Ryazan region and Engels in the Saratov region,” it said in the statement.
“The air defense of the Russian Aerospace Forces intercepted these Ukrainian drones flying at low altitude,” it said, adding that the destroyed drones “slightly damaged” two aircraft.
Three people were killed and six injured in the explosion of a fuel truck at the Russian airport near the city of Ryazan, Russian state media reported. The explosion occurred in an aircraft parking lot near the airport, emergency services reported to state news agency TASS on Monday.
The aftermath of the explosion at the airport appears to have been captured by Israeli satellite imagery company ImageSat International (ISI), which showed “burn marks and objects” near “a Tu-22M aircraft likely damaged,” it told CNN.
The second drone flew to the Western Russian city of Engels, where an airbase of the same name is located.
CCTV footage geolocated by CNN appears to show an explosion lighting up the sky in Engels about 500 miles southeast of Moscow at around 6 a.m. Monday morning. The footage, which was shared on social media, was shot about 6km away from Engels-2 airfield, a strategic bomber base.
Saratov region governor Roman Busargin assured residents on Telegram that no civilian infrastructure had been damaged, but said that “information about incidents at military facilities is monitored by law enforcement agencies.”
He acknowledged that information about “a loud bang and an outburst in early morning English” spread on social networks and the media.
Pro-Russian bloggers have said the incidents were likely an act of sabotage from Ukraine, which has not confirmed it attacked either airport.
The Ukrainian Air Force said on Telegram that Russia launched 70 missiles on Monday. While it said a “massive attack on critical infrastructure” had been repelled, with most of the missiles intercepted, some caused significant damage.
The port city of Odessa appears to be one of the hardest hit regions. Water supply company Infoksvodokanal said that in Odessa “all pumping stations and reserve pipes are without power – so consumers have no water.”
“Part of the city is without electricity, some boiler houses and pumping stations are shut down,” said Oleksandr Vilkul, a military official in Kryvyi Rih.
In the capital Kyiv, about 40% of people in the capital are without power after a power plant was hit on Monday, according to military official Oleksii Kuleba.
Power cuts were also reported in the western Ukrainian region of Prykarpattia as a result of Moscow’s shelling campaign.
The state energy company Ukrenergo had cut electricity capacity in the Prykarpattia area by a third, said Svitlana Onyshchuk, a regional official.
The head of a major energy distributor said the overall situation was difficult but under control. “Almost all regions of Ukraine are subject to emergency power outages. Power engineers have started repairing the damage, work will continue overnight. We will try to return to the planned outage as soon as possible to stop emergency outages,” Dmytro Sakharuk, CEO of DTEK, said on Telegram.
“The most complicated situation is in the Kiev region, the city of Kiev, the city of Odessa and the northern regions of the country. This is due to both the damage and the number of consumers,” he added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked “air defense forces, our energy technicians and our people” in a statement on Monday, adding that energy technicians have already started restoring electricity.
He later added that repair work continued “in the central regions of Ukraine, Odessa, Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv.”
“In order to stabilize the power grid, it was necessary to switch to emergency shutdowns in many regions,” he said.
There has been much speculation about Russia’s stockpile of missiles – with the last such wave of missile strikes on Ukraine occurring on November 23.
In the wake of Monday’s attacks on Ukraine, the country’s Defense Intelligence Service (DI) said Moscow still has enough missiles to inflict heavy damage on Ukraine’s infrastructure – despite stocks potentially falling to “critical levels”. “.
The shelling throughout the day was “another terrorist attack on peaceful civilian infrastructure, mainly energy infrastructure,” DI spokesman Andrii Yusov said.
“As for precision weapons in Russia, stockpiles of missiles have fallen to critical levels according to many indicators,” Yusov said on Ukrainian television on Monday.
Further south, and away from the front lines, a missile was identified in a town called Briceni in Moldova, about three kilometers (nearly two miles) from the Ukrainian border.
It is not immediately clear from the images what kind of missile it is. CNN is working to confirm the missile type.
The Moldovan Interior Ministry added in their statement: “The area where the missile was discovered has been isolated by police patrols and border police. The specialized services of the Ministry of the Interior are on site.
Moldovan residents suffered massive blackouts after the Kremlin attacked critical infrastructure in November. At the time, Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Andrei Spinu warned that risks of power cuts remain high in the face of the grueling Russian invasion of Ukraine.