Russia has hit cities across Ukraine with a sustained barrage of missiles, causing a nine-story residential building in the central city of Dnipro to partially collapse.
Ukrainian officials said at least 12 people were killed and 64 injured in the attack on the industrial city of more than 1 million people.
Dozens of rocket attacks were reported on Saturday in cities across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east, as well as the regions of Odessa in the south and Lviv in the far west.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said 28 residential buildings in the Kiev region were damaged, but there were no casualties.
Germany’s Energy Minister Galushchenko said electricity infrastructure was damaged in six provinces, triggering new blackouts.
Russia began targeting Ukraine’s electricity infrastructure in the fall after driving invading forces from large parts of the country’s eastern and southern regions, resulting in continued power and heating outages.
In his evening address to the nation, Zelenskyy urged Kiev’s western financiers to ramp up arms stockpiles, saying: “We must do everything we can to stop ‘Russism’ in the same way the free world once suppressed Nazism. stopped.”
“I want to be heard by those people – not just political leaders – who still doubt whether it is worth giving Ukraine the weapons that will help us defeat the terrorist state this year,” Zelensky said.
Andriy Yermak, Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, wrote on Twitter: “Dnipro. A housing hit. The Russians continue to fight civilians and take away the life and future of the Ukrainian people.”
“Russia is a terrorist state,” Yermak added.
Ukrainian officials on Saturday said fighting for the eastern town of Soledar continued, contradicting Russian claims that their forces had taken it in recent days.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, urged Ukraine’s allies to deepen sanctions against Russia and provide more modern NATO-grade weapons.
“Each barrage of missiles further depletes Russian supplies. However, they are still able to produce new ones. We can and must kill their missile and drone industry with a massive sanctions action!” Kuleba tweeted.
Ukraine’s air command said 25 of the 38 Russian missiles fired on Saturday were intercepted.
Ukraine’s air defense systems have intercepted most incoming Russian missiles and kamikaze drones in recent months, including during mass barrages that saw 80 or more missiles fired in a single day.
But Ukraine has been pleading with the US and European nations for modern air defense as stocks of Soviet-era S300 and Buk surface-to-air missiles are rapidly running out.
Kiev recently received some Nasam systems from the US and Norway, as well as an Iris-T unit from Germany. The US announced late last year that it would provide Patriot longer-range systems capable of intercepting ballistic missiles, a capability Ukraine currently lacks.
In a phone call to Zelenskyy on Saturday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reiterated his country’s pledge early this year to supply Ukraine with Challenger 2 tanks.
Officials from Poland and Finland recently announced their intention to supply Ukraine with German-produced Leopard tanks. But Berlin has not yet indicated that it approves such third-party deliveries.