As Moscow persisted in its ruthless bid To leave millions of Ukrainians without electricity, heating and water during the cold winter months, the European Parliament in a symbolic vote on Wednesday designated Russia as a “state sponsor of terrorism”, citing its “cruel and inhumane acts” against ordinary citizens.
In a video address to the UN Security Council, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for a “strong response” to the massacre. “In our midst,” he told the council, which included the Russian ambassador, “you have the representative of a state that offers the world nothing but terror” and which is not allowed to take part “in any kind of vote on its terror.”
“This is a dead end,” Zelensky said at the emergency meeting convened by the United States and Albania to discuss the Russian attacks. “We need your decision.”
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motive “could not be clearer and more cold-blooded. … He has decided that if he cannot conquer Ukraine by force, he will try to freeze the country into submission.
But while the Russian strikes were widely condemned, a number of councilors from Africa, along with India, China, Brazil and others, expressed concern that the almost weekly meetings on the crisis were not achieving much and called for renewed diplomacy to to stop the war.
In addition to what Ukraine’s main power grid operator Ukrenergo said on its Telegram channel were power outages in “all regions” of the country, the Ministry of Energy said strikes had led to temporary closures of all nuclear power plants under Kiev’s control, as well as at “most thermal and hydropower plants.”
Power also went out in most of neighboring Moldova, where the power grid is connected to Ukraine. Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu, post on Twittersaid he had summoned the Russian ambassador for “explanation”.
The Ukrainian air force said it shot down 51 of the 70 missiles launched on Wednesday and also destroyed five self-destructing drones. The military administration of the city of Kiev reported that of the 31 missiles fired at the capital, 22 were intercepted by air defense systems.
Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko also said the city’s water supply would be temporarily cut off and large parts of the city would be without electricity by nightfall. The strikes also left all of Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine, without power, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on his Telegram channel.
“While someone is waiting for the results of the World Cup and the number of goals scored, Ukrainians are waiting for another score – the number of intercepted Russian missiles,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, wrote on Twitter as the bombing was underway.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has maintained that the bombings serve military purposes and will continue until Moscow’s war goals are met.
An early morning rocket attack crushed the maternity ward of a hospital in Vilnyansk, a city in the Zaporizhzhia region, killing a 2-day-old baby boy.
According to the hospital’s medical director, Valeria Kroshena, the missile, which Zelensky said was fired by Russia, hit the hospital at 2 a.m. as a mother slept next to her newborn’s crib.
The strike destroyed the maternity ward on the second floor and the clinic below, causing the building’s brick walls to collapse to the floor. The blast also injured a doctor on duty overnight who is now recovering from severe burns, Kroshena said.
Another doctor who delivered the newborn was off duty and rushed to the hospital as soon as she heard the blast, Kroshena said. The doctor knew that the only patients in the hospital that night were the mother and her baby boy, Kroshena said, and she knew exactly where they were. The mother, who is in her mid-thirties, was not injured. The boy was her fourth baby, Kroshena said. “It’s unthinkable,” she said.
On Wednesday afternoon, rescue workers dug through the remains of the maternity ward with excavators. Some rooms were left partially standing, with pieces of the ceiling collapsed onto hospital beds and a baby cot. Windows of the neighboring building were blown out and shattered by the blast.
The missile was a Russian-made S-300, local officials said.
The attack in Vilnyansk, about 20 miles northeast of the regional capital city of Zaporizhzhia, came less than a week after another rocket hit a residential building in the same city, killing 11 people. Zaporizhzhia is one of four Ukrainian regions that Putin claims have been annexed by Russia – a violation of international law.
Despite Putin’s annexation claims, Russia has not occupied the city of Zaporizhia, nor has it withdrawn from Kherson, the only regional capital it had taken since the full-scale invasion began in February.
Two of those killed in the previous strike in Vilnjansk were also youths aged 10 and 15.
Following the Russian withdrawal from the city of Kherson, attention has shifted to the Zaporizhzhia region as the most likely site for a new Ukrainian counter-offensive, possibly moving south towards the occupied city of Melitopol and the critical Kakhovka hydroelectric power station and dam in the Kherson region.
Wednesday’s vote by the European Parliament, the legislature of the 27-member European Union, reflected the lingering anger in Brussels and across Europe over the Russian invasion and the outbreak of full-scale war on the European continent for the first time in history. 21st century.
Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament, said the European Parliament’s resolution on Wednesday violated international law and that a state cannot be labeled a terrorist.
“Russia has always strongly opposed the concept of ‘state terrorism,'” Kosachev wrote in a statement posted to Telegram, adding: “The collective West is actively trying to introduce the principle of collective responsibility and simply wipe out all ‘offensive’ countries and regimes. because there is an alternative point of view and a different model of behavior.”
In his response to the UN Security Council, Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said Russia’s attacks were intended to “weaken the military capabilities of our opponents” and were carried out with “precision”. He charged that weapons supplied by the West were responsible for much of the damage to residential and other civilian areas and chastised the international community, saying it had not shown the same concern over what he described as Ukrainian war crimes.
The Pentagon said Wednesday it would expedite an additional $400 million in military aid for Ukraine, including additional air defenses to counter Russia’s “unrelenting and relentless” missile and drone attacks against the country’s civilian infrastructure.
The package contains an undetermined amount of ammunition for the two NASAMS surface-to-air systems supplied by Washington, plus 150 heavy machine guns equipped with thermal sights to help Ukrainian forces detect and shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles. More than 200 power generators will also be shipped from US stocks.
Schmidt reported from Vilnjansk. Francesca Ebel in London and Karen DeYoung in Washington contributed to this report.