Russia launches missile barrage against Ukraine’s heating, electrical utilities as freeze continues

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Russians launched dozens of missiles at Ukrainian energy utilities early Friday, knocking out electricity and heating in several cities and towns across the country as temperatures dropped well below freezing.

More than 40 missiles were tracked in Kyiv, with many being shot down, city officials said.

“This is one of the most massive missile attacks since the beginning of the large-scale war,” Mykhailo Shamanov, a spokesman for Kyiv’s military administration, told the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

Analysts have said Moscow’s new strategy appears to focus on targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in a bid to freeze the country into submission to make up for Russian losses on the battlefield.

The Kremlin has warned of dire but unspecified consequences if the U.S. supplies Ukraine with the Patriot missile system, its most sophisticated ground-based air defense weapon. Pentagon officials on Thursday would not confirm multiple reports that President Biden could sign off on the deal within days.

The Institute for the Study of War think tank (ISW) said Russia may be setting conditions to conduct a new offensive against Ukraine, possibly focusing on Kyiv. But, “such an attack is extraordinarily unlikely to succeed,” ISW said. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s objectives in Ukraine have not changed, analysts say. He continues to use multiple mechanisms intended to compel Ukraine to negotiate on terms most favorable to Moscow.

“This fundamental objective has underpinned the Kremlin’s various military, political, economic and diplomatic efforts over the past 10 months in Ukraine,” ISW said this week.

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