The Ukrainian military said it used anti-aircraft missile units and mobile firing groups to destroy 18 Russian cruise missiles during a series of attacks on energy infrastructure across the country on Saturday morning.
“18 enemy cruise missiles were destroyed by air force, anti-aircraft missile units and mobile firing groups,” an Air Force post 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,” he 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, Vitaliy Klitschko, said in a separate statement.
A series of attacks across Ukraine on Saturday have so far left residents of parts of Odessa, Cherkasy, Kropyvnitsky, Rivne, Khmelnytskyi and Lutsk without power, according to officials in each region.
Russia has launched a series of attacks across Ukraine in recent weeks, striking civilian infrastructure and spreading terror in Ukrainian towns 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 the drones used in the attacks are supplied by Tehran.
“We are expecting UN experts to go to the field to recover the remains of these drones and tell us where they came from. It is part of their mandate, they report twice a year and this must be done,” France’s UN ambassador Nicolas de Rivière told reporters in New York on Friday.
However, Iran has denied supplying weapons to Russia and accused the West of waging a disinformation campaign against it. Russia has also denied using Iranian drones, saying such claims are “unsubstantiated inferences” and “outlandish assumptions”.
The French ambassador rejected these denials, saying that “no one pays attention to them” and that “the facts are crystal clear”.
France considers Russia’s use of drones in Ukraine “a massive violation of international humanitarian law and international law”, he added, saying it also went against a resolution of the UN on Iran’s nuclear program.
His comments came after a meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Ukraine, held at the request of France and Mexico.
CNN reported on 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 close to US intelligence.
Suicide drones are a type of aerial weapon system. They are known as wandering munitions because they are able to wait for a period of 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 thrown, but their main advantage is that they are difficult to detect and can be fired from a distance.
Ukrainian authorities say Russia has ordered 2,400 Shahed-136 drones from Iran and is changing its name and using the Shaheds as “Geran”.
US officials say there has already been “some evidence” that Iranian drones have “experienced numerous failures” on the battlefield.
De Rivière, the French ambassador, said Moscow was changing tactics and targeting civilian infrastructure because “the Russian military 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 Russian artillery. This must clearly stop.
“So this is where we are, we have to talk, we have to discuss, we have to end this war,” de Rivière said, “and the sooner the better.”
Hours later on Saturday, nearly 1,000 homes in the southern Ukrainian town of Nikopol in the Dnipropetrovsk region were left without power after Russian shelling knocked out power lines overnight , according to Governor Valentin Reznichenko. The town of Khmelnytskyi in western Ukraine also reported a loss of power following a series of explosions.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation said aerial sirens had been activated across the country, in all regions except Russia’s annexed Crimea.
The governor of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine said rockets were seen above his head “probably [their way] in western and central Ukraine.
The governor of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine also warned residents of the “threat of rocket fire”.
And in western Ukraine, regional army chief Khmelnytskyi has urged residents to stay indoors amid reports of explosions.
Parts of the Odessa region were left without power following two missile strikes at energy infrastructure on Saturday, according to regional military administration chief Maksym Marchenko.