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Russia’s new missile strike hits Ukraine’s energy facilities, causing power outages

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Power outages have become increasingly common in Ukraine amid Russia's military operation in the country. (AP File Photo)

Moscow has reportedly launched a fresh missile strike on Ukraine, which cut off electricity and water in at least two major centers, according to reports, after Ukraine's shelling in the Luhansk region.

Explosions were heard on Friday in at least three regions of Ukraine. A residential building in Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, the hometown of President Volodymyr Zelensky, was attacked and at least two people were killed, according to reports.

An explosion was also heard in the east of Kharkiv city. Local officials said critical infrastructure in the area was damaged. Officials in the Black Sea region of Odesa also said that critical infrastructure in the region was damaged in a fresh attack.

Some reports said that explosions were also heard in the capital city of Kiev, however, is not yet clear whether the missiles were able to pass through the air defense system or not.

Details about possible casualties in these attacks have not yet been reported, and it is not known what critical infrastructures were hit by the missiles.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy in the Ukrainian president's office, called on the people to take air raid warnings seriously and stay in shelters until further notice.

Vitaly Kim, the governor of the Mykolaiv region in southern Ukraine, said 60 Russian missiles had been spotted heading toward Ukraine.

The governor of the northern region of Sumy said that power was cut in his region following Friday's missile attack.

It came after Russia’s state news agency, TASS, reported eight people were killed and 23 injured in Ukrainian shelling in the Luhansk region.

The shelling hit the village of Lantrativka, a small settlement close to the border with Russia, Leonid Pasechnik, the administrator of the region, said on Telegram.

“Today, early in the morning, the city of Stakhanov and the village of Lantratovka in the Trinity District were again under shelling by the nationalists. Eight people died, and 23 more of our countrymen were injured”, he said.

West extends more help to Ukraine as new Russian offensive expected

The fresh escalation comes after the European Union approved new sanctions against Russia on Thursday and amid reports that combat training for Ukrainian soldiers has been expanded by the US.

According to reports, the training will be conducted in Grafenwoehr in Germany during the winter months.

President Volodymyr Zelensky, General Valery Zaluzhniy, and General Oleksandr Syrskiy said in an interview with The Economist magazine on Thursday that Moscow's new attack could happen as soon as January.

Officials have warned that the push could come from the eastern Donbas region, the south or neighboring Belarus, and could include another ground attack on Kiev.

"The Russians are preparing some 200,000 fresh troops. I have no doubt they will have another go at Kyiv," Zaluzhniy was quoted as saying.

Both warring sides have so far rejected a Christmas truce and there are currently no talks aimed at ending Europe's biggest conflict since World War II.

Lithuania to purchase eight HIMARS launchers from US

Meanwhile, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas said in a meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon that Lithuania will purchase eight new high-mobility artillery launchers (HIMARS) from the United States.

Anusauskas said on Thursday that Lithuania has signed a contract with the United States to supply eight launchers of HIMARS, which he said will strengthen Lithuania's national and regional capabilities.

The demand for the purchase of these launchers has increased following the increase in tension between Ukraine and Russia.

Estonia, Poland, Latvia and Australia are several other countries that have also announced their intention to buy it.

Putin accuses EU of being a doormat for US

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the current economic problems in the European Union and the unfriendly view of the United States towards Europe are a direct result of the weakness shown by the leaders of the European Union.

He made these statements at the meeting of the Council of Strategic Development and National Projects of Russia.

“Today, the EU’s main partner, the US, is pursuing policies leading directly to the de-industrialization of Europe. They even try to complain about that to their American overlord. Sometimes even with resentment, they ask ‘Why are you doing this to us?’ I want to ask: ‘What did you expect?’ What else happens to those who allow feet to be wiped on them?” Putin said.

Earlier this month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned about US economic policies and called on the EU to take action if it wants to compete with the US government's subsidized green industry.

The economic crisis in the EU largely stems from the bloc’s own actions, targeting Russia with a multitude of sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, Putin noted.

“What exactly has Europe itself achieved by imposing the restrictions? First of all, there has been an unprecedented, as economists say, jump in inflation in their own home, the eurozone. In November, it amounted to 10% in the eurozone as a whole, with some countries showing extreme figures of more than 20%, even 25%,” Putin noted.

Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

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