The Ukrainian military said it used anti-aircraft missile units and mobile fire groups to destroy 18 Russian cruise missiles during a string of attacks on energy infrastructure across the country Saturday morning.
“18 enemy cruise missiles were destroyed by aviation, anti-aircraft missile units and mobile fire groups,” a post from the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said.
“In addition, the Russians attacked from ships in the Black Sea with Kalibr cruise missiles. A total of 16 starts,” it continued. CNN cannot independently confirm the Ukrainian military’s claims.
Several rockets flying towards Kyiv on Saturday were shot down by air defense forces in the region, the city’s Mayor Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said in a separate statement.
A series of attacks across Ukraine Saturday has so far left residents in parts of Odesa, Cherkasy, Kropyvnitsky, Rivne, Khmelnytskyi and Lutsk without electricity, according to officials in each region.
Russia has launched a series of attacks across Ukraine in recent weeks, striking civilian infrastructure and sowing terror in Ukrainian cities far from the frontlines of the war.
The attacks have increased since the summer when, according to the United States and Kyiv, Moscow acquired suicide drones from Iran.
On Friday, France called for a United Nations investigation into whether drones used in the attacks are being supplied by Tehran.
“We expect the UN experts to go on the ground and to collect the remains of these drones and to tell us where they are coming from. This is part of their mandate, they report twice a year and it has to be done,” France’s Ambassador to the UN, Nicolas de Rivière, told reporters in New York on Friday.
However, Iran has denied supplying weapons to Russia and accused the West of running a disinformation campaign against it. Russia has also denied using Iranian drones, saying such claims are “unsubstantiated inferences” and “far-fetched assumptions.”
The French ambassador dismissed these denials, saying “nobody is paying any attention to them” and that “the facts are crystal clear.”
France views Russia’s use of drones in Ukraine as “a massive violation of international humanitarian law and international law,” he added, saying that it also went against a UN resolution on Iran’s nuclear program.
His comments came after a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine, held following requests by France and Mexico.
CNN reported Tuesday that Iran has sent military personnel to Russian-occupied territory inside Crimea to train and advise the Russian military on the use of their drones, according to two sources familiar with US intelligence.
Suicide drones, are a type of aerial weapon system. They are known as a loitering munition because they are capable of waiting for some time in an area identified as a potential target and only strike once an enemy asset is identified.
They are small, portable and can be easily launched, but their main advantage is that they are hard to detect and can be fired from a distance.
Ukrainian authorities say Russia has ordered 2,400 Shahed-136 drones from Iran and that it is rebranding and using the Shaheds under the name of “Geran.”
US officials say there has been “some evidence already” that the Iranian drones have “experienced numerous failures” on the battlefield.
De Rivière, the French ambassador, said Moscow was changing its tactics and targeting civilian infrastructure because “the Russian army is clearly in trouble on the ground.”
“Therefore, Russia has decided to increase its pressure on Ukrainian civilians to destroy energy facilities, hospitals, schools. Many cities in Ukraine have been targeted by the Russian artillery. This must clearly stop.
“So this is where we are, we need to talk, we need to discuss, we need to put this war to an end,” de Rivière said, “and the sooner, the better.”
Just hours later, on Saturday, nearly 1,000 homes in the southern Ukrainian town of Nikopol in Dnipropetrovsk region were left without electricity after Russian shelling during the night severed power lines, according to governor Valentin Reznichenko. The city of Khmelnytskyi in western Ukraine also reported losing power, folllowing a series of explosions.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation said air sirens were activated across the country, in all regions except Russian-annexed Crimea.
The governor of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine said rockets had been seen overhead “probably on [their way] to western and central Ukraine.”
The governor of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine also warned residents of the “threat of a rocket strike.”
And in western Ukraine, the head of the Khmelnytskyi regional military urged residents to stay indoors amid reports of explosions.
Parts of the Odesa region were without electricity following two missile strikes on an energy infrastructure facility Saturday, according to the head of the regional military administration Maksym Marchenko.