Dnipro, Ukraine – On Thursday, Russia launched the most brutal attacks on Ukraine in almost a month. A barrage of rockets and explosive drones came down in a sharp attack that hit cities from the capital Kyiv to the vital southern port of Odessa and as far west as Lviv in the country’s far west.
According to Ukrainian officials, at least nine people were killed and millions more plunged into cold and darkness as the attacks hit power infrastructure, including knocking out vital power supply of the Zaporozhye NPP againthe largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
The Ukrainian operator of the NPP “Energaatom” stated that “the last power line between the occupied Zaporizhzhya NPP [Nuclear Power Plant] and the Ukrainian power system was shut down by missile strikes.” The company said it was the sixth time the large facility had been cut off from the national power grid since it was seized by Russian forces last year.
Whenever the power goes out, the plant relies on old diesel generators to keep its vital cooling systems running, but they can only do their job for about 10 days.
“The countdown has begun. If during this time it is not possible to restore the external power supply of the station, an accident with radiation consequences for the whole world may occur,” Energoatom warned on Thursday.
In the artillery-hit central city of Dnipro, residents’ fears became more apparent after overnight rocket attacks, with some struggling to understand why their city had been targeted by Vladimir Putin.
“I don’t understand how this can happen in the 21st century,” said 60-year-old Igor Yezhov, calling the Russian attackers “wild people – just savages.”
Throughout the winter, the Kremlin has mercilessly bombarded Ukraine’s energy and civilian infrastructure with missiles and drones, but the ground war remains most intense in the eastern mining town of Bakhmut.
Head of Art Kremlin-linked Russian mercenary group Wagner claims its fighters have captured key urban areas after seven months of heavy street fighting in the city.
Moscow has fighter jets threw wave after wavemany of them from Wagner’s group, in the Battle of Bakhmut, desperate to conquer the entire city, which would be her first major territorial conquest in over six months.
In the devastated town of Chasau Yar, just a few miles west of Bakhmut in Ukrainian-controlled territory, CBS News met Bayda, a soldier who had just returned from the front lines. The 55-year-old said he never expected to become a soldier before Russia invaded his country and admitted the battle was “really hard”.
He spoke to us in front of the armored car, which he drove in battle and which, to his credit, saved his life and that of his fellow soldiers more than once.
“This vehicle is very strong, withstands anti-tank mines, ensures the safety of personnel, withstands rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank guided missiles,” he said. “I can show you examples where we came under fire in it and it stood strong, withstanding 120[mm] mortars. It maneuvers well, it works well in mud and forests, it is stable.”
But Bayda, the call sign, knows every time that nothing can protect him or his fellow soldiers.
“One of our people died yesterday, the driver of the same car,” he said. “That’s right. We hope that everything will be fine… There are losses, but without it we cannot win.”
These losses were felt at the funeral of 29-year-old doctor Yama Rykhlitskaya, who died while treating wounded soldiers in the field hospital near Bakhmut.
“Ah Yana,” exclaimed the mother in pain, saying goodbye, “my baby, little one.”
While Ukrainians continue to pay the ultimate price for this war, now in its second year, there is a grim recognition that the brutal conflict shows no sign of abating, let alone ending.