KYIV, Ukraine — Russia targeted Ukraine’s already battered infrastructure with drones, rockets and cruise missiles on Friday, raining fire on cities around the country one day after President Volodymyr Zelensky wrapped up a two-day push in Europe for more, faster support from Kyiv’s allies.
On the ground, Russia has been increasing the pace of its winter offensive, with forces supported by fighter jets attacking across the eastern front, according to Ukraine’s military. Military analysts have said that Russia has made small tactical gains over the past week — often at great cost — but as of Friday morning there was no evidence of a major breakthrough despite the heavy fighting.
The Ukrainian Air Force described Friday’s assault as a “massive attack” and said that it had involved 71 cruise missiles and seven Iranian-made drones. Ukraine said in a statement that it had shot down 61 of the cruise missiles and five of the drones.
Since October, Russia has launched more than a dozen major strikes on Ukraine’s energy facilities, as well as many smaller attacks, in a campaign to impair the power supply and leave civilians without power, heat and light during the winter.
The full extent of the damage of the strikes on Friday was not immediately clear, but energy infrastructure was hit in six regions of the country, according to Ukraine’s energy minister, Herman Galushchenko.
“Emergency shutdowns have been introduced in many regions,” he said in a statement, adding that energy workers were racing to restore supply. The state-owned power utility, Ukrenergo, confirmed damage to several high-voltage infrastructure sites in the eastern, western and southern regions of Ukraine.
Over Kyiv, the capital, Ukrainian fighter jets raced across the sky to intercept inbound missiles, and air defense systems thundered. Ten missiles were shot down over the city, and power transmission lines were damaged, according to the mayor, Vitali Klitschko. He said engineers were working to restore the lines.
During the first wave of air attacks, around 4 a.m., Ukraine shot down five of seven drones launched from the eastern coast of the Sea of Azov and five of six Kalibr sea-based cruise missiles fired from a the Black Sea, the country’s Air Force said.
Russia also launched a large attack of nearly three dozen S-300 anti-aircraft missiles from Belgorod in Russia and the occupied city of Tokmak in southern Ukraine, toward targets in Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine’s air defense system cannot shoot down the anti-aircraft missiles, the Air Force said.
In southern Ukraine, Anatolii Kurtiev, the secretary of the Zaporizhzhia City Council, said that at least 17 missile strikes had been reported in less than an hour. It was the highest rate of missile attacks the city has encountered since the start of the full-scale invasion nearly a year ago, he said. The extent of the damage and number of casualties were not yet known, he said early Friday in a statement.
Four missiles were also shot down around the southern city of Kryvyi Rih, including three within the city limits, the local authorities said.
In the northeastern city of Kharkiv, at least 10 explosions were reported overnight, Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the regional administration, said in a statement. They appeared to be aimed at critical infrastructure, but the scale of the damage was not immediately clear.
Mr. Zelensky this week made a whirlwind European visit — only his second trip outside the country since the war began — pleading in London, Paris and Brussels for more and heavier weapons to fend off Russia’s new offensive.