Russia has spent a 'substantial portion' of its advanced missiles to destroy Ukraine's energy grid
Russia fired another round of missiles across Ukraine early Thursday, once more aimed primarily at critical civilian infrastructure, two days after launching 96 cruise missiles at Ukraine, it's largest barrage in nine months of war. "Continued strikes at this scale are drawing deeply upon Russia's reserves of conventional cruise missiles, as degrading Ukrainian's national infrastructure has become a key element of Russia's strategic approach to the campaign," Britain's Ministry of Defense said early Thursday.
Russia's military "likely used a substantial portion of its remaining high-precision weapon systems" in Tuesday's coordinated missile strike, the Institute for the Study of War research group assessed.
Ukraine says its air defense systems shot down 75 of Tuesday's missiles and 10 of 11 Iranian-made attack drones. Ukraine also shot down at least two cruise missiles over Kyiv on Thursday. Others got through, killing at least five civilians in Zaporizhzhia province.
NATO, Polish, and U.S. officials said a Soviet-era S-300 rocket that hit Poland on Tuesday, killing two men, was likely a Ukrainian air defense misfire or possibly the remnants of a Ukrainian S-300 after it intercepted its targeted Russian missile. "Let me be clear: This is not Ukraine's fault," NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday. "Russia bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine."
Russia's "relentless and intensifying barrage of missiles" is systematically "destroying Ukraine's critical infrastructure, depriving millions of heat, light, and clean water," The New York Times reports. "With each loss on the battlefield, Moscow has stepped up its campaign the subjugate Ukraine by targeting civilian infrastructure."
Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the head of Ukrenergo, the national electric utility, told the Times on Wednesday that Russia's military is using electrical engineers familiar with Ukraine's Soviet-era energy grid to pick missile targets that will cause the most damage to critical infrastructure.
Through relentless work and shared sacrifice, "Ukraine has managed to find a way so far to weather the relentless assaults," the Times reports. But after Tuesday's attack, about 40 percent of Ukraine's critical energy infrastructure is damaged or destroyed, as are crucial water systems.
"The deliberate targeting of the civilian power grid, causing excessive collateral damage and unnecessary suffering on the civilian population, is a war crime," U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Wednesday. He added that while Russian can make Ukrainians suffer, its shot at conquering Ukraine is now "close to zero."