Kiev power plant Trypilska
© (Dmitri Tovstonog/Wikimedia Commons)FILE: The Trypilska thermal power plant in the city of Ukrainka in Kyiv Oblast on Nov. 2, 2015.
Russian missiles and drones destroyed a large electricity plant near Kyiv and hit power facilities in several regions on Thursday, officials said, ramping up pressure on the embattled energy system as Ukraine runs low on air defences.

The major attack more than two years since Russia's full-scale invasion completely destroyed the Trypilska coal-powered thermal power plant near the capital, a senior official at the company that runs the facility told Reuters.

Unconfirmed footage shared on social media showed a fire raging at the large Soviet-era facility and black smoke belching out of it.

"We need air defence and other defence support, not eye-closing and long discussions," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on the Telegram messaging app, condemning the attacks as "terror".


Comment: Footage:




Kyiv's appeals for urgent air defence supplies from the West have grown increasingly desperate since Russia renewed its long-range aerial assaults on the Ukrainian energy system last month.

The attacks, which hammered thermal and hydroelectric power plants, have sparked fears about the resilience of an energy system that was hobbled by a Russian air campaign in the war's first winter.

Ukraine's air force commander said air defences took down 18 of the incoming missiles and 39 drones. The attack used 82 missiles and drones in total, the military said.

The destroyed power plant outside Kyiv, a major power supplier for the Kyiv, Cherkasy and Zhytomyr regions, is the third and last facility owned by state-owned energy company Centrenergo.

"Everything is destroyed," Andriy Gota, head of the supervisory board of the company, said when asked about the situation at Centrenergo.

The Ukrenergo grid operator said its substations and power generating facilities had been damaged in attacks on the regions of Odesa, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Lviv and Kyiv.

Ukraine's largest private electricity company DTEK, which lost 80% of its generating capacity during Russia's March 22 and March 29 attacks, said Russia's attacks hit two of its power stations, inflicting serious damage.

The strikes also attacked two underground storage facilities where Ukraine stores natural gas, including some owned by foreign companies, energy company Naftogaz said. The facilities continued to operate, it added.


Comment: One report claimed that gas prices jumped at the news because foreign companies were hoping to use these for their own storage, which are allegedly some of the largest in Europe. This perhaps reflects how out of touch these companies are with the facts on the ground.


"The situation in Ukraine is dire; there is not a moment to lose," said U.S. ambassador Bridget Brink, adding that 10 missiles struck critical infrastructure in the Kharkiv area alone.

The region of Kharkiv, which borders Russia and already has long, rolling blackouts in place, was forced to cut electricity for 200,000 people, presidential aide Oleksiy Kuleba said.

AIR DEFENCE PLEAS

Ukraine has warned it could run out of air defence munitions if Russia keeps up the intensity of its strikes and that it is already having to make difficult decisions about what to defend.

There has been a slowdown in vital Western assistance and a major U.S. aid package has been blocked by Republicans in Congress for many months, Ukraine has said.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russia's overnight attack used six ballistic missiles, which can hit targets within minutes and are much harder to shoot down. Kyiv says that is why it needs U.S.-made Patriot air defences.