Putin unleashes 90 rockets and 60 drones on Ukraine hitting country’s largest hydroelectric power station, houses and a bus in huge new blitz

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Written By Maya Cantina
  •  It appeared to be the biggest strike of the war against Ukraine’s energy network

Russia punished Ukraine overnight with a fresh round of air attacks which saw some 90 missiles and 60 drones strike key energy infrastructure, blacking out second city Kharkiv and damaging several facilities, officials reported.

It appeared to be the biggest strike of the war against Ukraine’s energy network, with the internet down and domestic and industrial electricity supplies hit nationwide.

Dramatic footage shows the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant – Ukraine’s largest – erupting in flames following a strike there which also hit a bus, causing several civilian casualties.

The dam – part of the hydro facility which supplies electricity to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant – apparently remained intact but the turbine chamber and sluice equipment were damaged.

‘The fire at the station continues,’ said the Ukrhydroenergo power company. ‘Emergency services and energy workers are working on the spot, overcoming the consequences of numerous airstrikes.’

Residents in second city Kharkiv suffered water and power outages overnight and the city’s Transport Engineering Plant, a vital facility that produces and repairs tanks, was also hit in some of the strongest bombardments of the war so far. 

Russian Telegram channel War Gonzo branded it ‘judgement night and morning’ – and the brutal strikes followed closely after Putin’s victory in the Russian presidential election which he sees as a mandate for continuing his invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier this week he had vowed vengeance for what he saw as Ukrainian strikes on civilians in Russia’s Belgorod region.

He said: ‘We can respond in the same way. [We can hit] civilian infrastructure and all other objects of this kind that the enemy attacks.’

Putin’s missiles and jets struck Ukraine in the biggest attack to date on its energy infrastructure

In this photo provided by Petro Andryuschenko, the adviser of the head of Mariupol city's administration, burning trolleybus is seen on the damp of hydroelectric power station after Russian attacks in Dnipro, Ukraine, Friday, March 22, 2024

In this photo provided by Petro Andryuschenko, the adviser of the head of Mariupol city’s administration, burning trolleybus is seen on the damp of hydroelectric power station after Russian attacks in Dnipro, Ukraine, Friday, March 22, 2024

Damage at the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant is pictured

Damage at the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant is pictured 

The dam - part of the hydro facility - apparently remained intact but the turbine chamber and sluice equipment was damaged

The dam – part of the hydro facility – apparently remained intact but the turbine chamber and sluice equipment was damaged

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Shocking footage shows the devastation at the Dnipro HPP

The dam remained intact but suffered considerable damage

The dam remained intact but suffered considerable damage

Ukraine's energy minister, Herman Halushchenko, said it was the largest attack on Ukraine's energy infrastructure in the recent past

Ukraine’s energy minister, Herman Halushchenko, said it was the largest attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in the recent past

‘The world sees the targets of Russian terrorists as clearly as possible: power plants and energy supply lines, a hydroelectric dam, ordinary residential buildings, even a trolleybus. Russia is fighting against the ordinary life of people,’ President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday on the Telegram messaging app. 

For the second day in succession, NATO war planes in Poland were scrambled due to ‘the activity of Russian long-range aviation’, monitoring the Russian aircraft’s flight path to ensure they did not threaten alliance territory. 

Thirteen Tu-95MS aircraft – part of Putin’s nuclear armoury but using conventional missiles – struck at various targets across Ukraine.

With air defences overwhelmed by these planes and missiles, Russia also attacked with kamikaze drones.

Explosions were recorded in Kanatovo, near Kirovograd, a reserve air base of the Ukrainian Air Force, as well as Kremenchuk, Burshtyn, Khmelnitsky Odesa, Zhytomyr, and Vinnytsia.

A large local hydroelectric power station was completely out of order in Ladyzhyn, Vinnytsia region, according to mayor Serhiy Borzov. 

Ukraine’s energy minister, Herman Halushchenko, said it was the largest attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in the recent past.

‘The goal is not just to damage, but to try again, like last year, to cause a large-scale failure of the country’s energy system,’ he wrote on Facebook.

Local officials in Zaporizhzhia reported there were 12 missile strikes there which destroyed seven houses and damaged around 35.

Russian war correspondent Roman Alekhin said of strikes on power facilities: ‘This is a warning for the future.’ 

About 15 blasts were heard in Kharkiv early this morning, mayor Ihor Terekhov said, adding that said some of the city’s water pumps had stopped because of the attacks.

In central Ukraine, Kryvyi Rih mayor Oleksandr Vilkul said blasts were heard in the city, but provided no details.

Citizens across Ukraine were forced to shelter from the attacks with thousands piling into Kyiv’s metro system. 

The number of casualties has not yet been established.  

It comes as a contingent of Ukrainian pilots completed a British flight training programme as part of efforts to bolster Ukraine’s air force.

Kharkiv CHPP-5, one of Ukraine's energy plants, struck in 22 March 2024 Russian attack

Kharkiv CHPP-5, one of Ukraine’s energy plants, struck in 22 March 2024 Russian attack

Grainy footage showed the Dnipro power plant being hit

Grainy footage showed the Dnipro power plant being hit

Picture shows people hiding inside Kyiv metro stations in the early hours of 22 March 2024

Picture shows people hiding inside Kyiv metro stations in the early hours of 22 March 2024

Multiple cities were targeted in a coordinated assault by kamikaze drones and missiles

Multiple cities were targeted in a coordinated assault by kamikaze drones and missiles

Citizens across Ukraine were forced to shelter from the attacks with thousands piling into Kyiv's metro system.

Citizens across Ukraine were forced to shelter from the attacks with thousands piling into Kyiv’s metro system.

Ukrainian fast jet pilots at the High-G training and test facility at RAF Cranwell

Ukrainian fast jet pilots at the High-G training and test facility at RAF Cranwell 

Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Knighton, the chief of the air staff, said ‘Ukraine must prevail, your victory is our victory’, as he paid tribute to the skills and motivation of the 10 young pilots at a ceremony on Thursday.

The 10 pilots received basic flying, ground school and language training in the UK and they will now move to advanced flying training provided by the French Air Force before learning to fly F-16 fighter jets, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said. 

Sir Richard told the pilots at a UK air base: ‘From our own history in the United Kingdom, we understand perhaps more than most how powerful the few can be against the many,’ referencing the heroic efforts of the RAF against the German Luftwaffe in World War II.

He told them: ‘It’s never been more important for us to stand shoulder to shoulder to counter the aggression of those who seek to undermine our freedoms, our liberty, our stability and the security of the international system, standing up against those who think that might-is-right and they can do as they wish.

‘We cannot and will not allow that.’

Sir Richard added: ‘Your conflict is our conflict. Ukraine must prevail, your victory is our victory.’

He said: ‘It’s been an honour for us to host you and train you here in the UK.

‘The bond between us – our United Kingdom and Ukraine – is strong and I hope that it will go from strength to strength for as long as it takes.’

The MoD said the training is a key UK contribution to the Air Capability Coalition, co-led by the United States, Denmark and the Netherlands, which is helping build an air force of modern fighter jets to form the cornerstone of Ukraine’s armed forces.

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