Russia launches airstrikes across Ukraine, knocking out power days after Kherson retreat

Russia launched an intense wave of airstrikes on cities across Ukraine on Tuesday, forcing widespread blackouts and hitting residential buildings in the capital, Kyiv.

The barrage targeted key cities from Lviv in the west to Kharkiv in the northeast, pounding energy infrastructure and knocking out power to vast areas in one of the largest coordinated attacks of the war.

It came days after the country celebrated retaking the key southern city of Kherson — one of the most dramatic setbacks yet for President Vladimir Putin — and as world leaders including President Joe Biden met at a summit of the Group of 20 nations in Indonesia that has been dominated by Russia’s invasion.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on his Telegram channel that two residential buildings were hit in the city’s Pechersk district, while several missiles were intercepted and shot down. Authorities found a body in one of the buildings, he said.

NBC News has not verified the numbers.

Air raid sirens were heard across the city and the wider Kyiv region, and people were urged to stay in shelters as flames poured out from one of the apartment blocks that were hit.

Other cities reported to be hit included Lviv, Zhytomyr, Khmelnytskyi and Rivne in the west as well as southern Kryvyi Rih, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s native city.

“85 missile strikes were fired at Ukraine, at our cities, mostly at energy infrastructure. It is clear what the enemy wants — he will not achieve it,” Zelenskyy said in a short video posted to Telegram. He warned residents to stay in shelters as more attacks could follow.

A senior Ukrainian official, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, described the situation as “critical” and urged Ukrainians to “hang in there.” Energy providers announced emergency blackouts in the capital and authorities announced similar steps elsewhere, too.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that the strikes should put an end to pressure for peace talks with Russia.

Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said in a statement that the United States “strongly condemns Russia’s latest missile attacks against Ukraine,” adding that they “will serve to only deepen the concerns among the G‑20 about the destabilizing impact of Putin’s war.”

While the retaking of Kherson sparked jubilation in Ukraine, officials have cautioned that the conflict is far from over and that Putin could retaliate for the humiliation of his forces’ retreat in the south.

The Kremlin has yet to comment on the strikes and has consistently denied targeting civilians.

Facing a series of battlefield setbacks, its military has increasingly attacked civilian infrastructure ahead of winter while digging in to new defensive positions.

But on Tuesday Russia pulled back troops and civilian administrators from towns on the eastern bank of the Dnieper River opposite Kherson, according to Reuters, signs that it might be forced to retreat further after withdrawing across the river just last week.

Zelenskyy signaled his forces’ campaign to drive out invading troops would continue unabated, despite suggestions from the U.S. that winter might be a good time to negotiate.

“We will not allow Russia to wait it out, build up its forces, and then start a new series of terror and global destabilization,” Zelenskyy said in an address to the G-20, referring to it as the “G-19” in a jab at Moscow.

Associated Press, Artem Grudinin, Reuters and Mithil Aggarwal contributed.

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