Ukraine Situation Report | 10 March 2023
A barrage of Russian strikes have targeted much of Ukraine in recent days, leading to power cuts as critical infrastructure has been severely impacted. Multiple casualties have also been reported, with at least nine deaths confirmed across Ukraine on Thursday, as attacks struck cities from Kharkiv in the north, to Odesa in the south, and Zhytomyr in the west. Attacks on the capital Kyiv have also been reported and Ukrainian officials claim that within a single 24-hour period, a total of 81 missiles were fired – marking the biggest day of air strikes launched by Russian forces since late January, when 11 fatalities were reported amid strikes in several regions.
Ukraine’s military claims to have successfully shot down at least 34 cruise missiles, along with four out of eight Russian drones detected. In Kyiv, the emergency services were called to the scenes of explosions in western and southern districts of the capital, and much of the city was left without electricity. Authorities estimated that at least 40 percent of the city’s population had experienced power cuts as a result of Thursday’s bombardment. Meanwhile, for the sixth time since the Russian invasion of Ukraine was launched, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was reported to have lost power amid the strikes on Thursday. The facility was forced to rely on backup diesel generators again, after nuclear energy operator Energoatom confirmed a strike at the plant had meant that the ‘last link’ connecting the facility to the Ukrainian power grid had been cut off. The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, has reiterated calls for improved commitment to protecting the safety of the site, expressing his shock and disappointment in response to continued “complacency” surrounding successive strikes since the war began. Russian-installed officials in the occupied part of Zaporizhzhia have issued unevidenced claims that the power cut at the station was a deliberate Ukraine-orchestrated stoppage, designed as a ‘provocation’.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has condemned Russia’s “wretched tactics”, stating that the latest series of missile strikes had led to difficult nights for Ukraine; however, work to restore impacted energy systems has already got underway. Outside of Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia, a mass missile strike was also reported at an energy facility in Odesa – also triggering localised power cuts. Residential areas were also hit, although no casualties were reported. The city of Kharkiv and the surrounding region was also struck by around 15 missiles, while other regions affected include Dnipro and Poltava in central Ukraine, as well as Vynnytsia and Rivne in the west of the country. At least five people were also killed in Lviv in western Ukraine after a rocket hit a residential property. Three fatalities were also reported after a bus stop was hit in the southern city of Kherson, while one person also died in Dnipropetrovsk.
The barrage has come after widespread speculation regarding a highly-anticipated new Spring offensive by the Russian forces. So far, the fresh offensive has seen Russian forces intensify efforts to take more territory along the eastern frontline – most notably in the cities of Bakhmut and Kupiansk, with officials in Kyiv advising residents of the latter to leave the city whilst they still can last week due to near-constant Russian shelling. In response the Ukrainian forces have in turn doubled down on defending frontline territory, and Ukraine’s military insists it has pushed back repeated Russian attempts to take the embattled city of Bakhmut – which Russian forces claimed to have captured part of. Despite the recent deadly barrage of missile strikes, Russia’s new offensive has been more understated than initially expected and Western intelligence officials have recently suggested that Moscow may be aiming to drag the war in Ukraine out for years, due to Russian forces not having enough firepower to launch major new offensives. Describing the conflict, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines called it a “grinding attritional war in which neither side has a definitive military advantage”, before suggesting Moscow hopes prolonging the war might present a path to “eventually securing Russia’s strategic interests in Ukraine”.