Ukraine war: Kyiv ‘ran out of missiles’ to stop Russian strike from ruining power station

A lack of air defence missiles prevented Ukraine from thwarting a Russian missile attack last week that destroyed the biggest power plant in the region around the capital Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

Zelensky’s comments, which follow repeated warnings from his government to its allies about scarce air defences, reflect the dire situation Ukraine finds itself in as Russia scales up strikes on its energy system.

“There were 11 missiles flying. We destroyed the first seven, and four [remaining] destroyed Trypillia. Why? Because there were zero missiles. We ran out of missiles to defend Trypillia,” he said in the interview with PBS.

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Smoke and fire rise from the site of a missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, at the Trypilska power station in Kyiv region, Ukraine on April 11. Photo: Reuters

Reuters was not able to independently verify the account. Zelensky has earlier warned that Ukraine has already had to make tough choices about what to protect, and said his country could run out of defensive missiles entirely if Russian attacks continued apace.

Destroyed in by Russian strike, the Trypilska thermal power plant was the largest energy facility near Kyiv and was built to have a capacity of 1,800 megawatts, more than the pre-war needs of Ukraine’s biggest city. Other stations and imports have filled the gap for now, but residents have been urged to save power.

Russia has stepped up combined missile and drone strikes targeting Ukraine’s grid system since mid-March. It is the second concerted Russian attack on the energy system since Russian forces invaded Ukraine more than two years ago and has proven much more devastating than the first one.

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An emergency worker extinguishes a fire after a Russian attack on the Trypilska thermal power plant. Photo: Ukrainian Emergency Service via AP

In recent attacks, Ukraine lost about 7 gigawatts of power generating capacity, with major thermal power plants and transmitting capabilities significantly damaged.

Moscow says the strikes are aimed at degrading Ukraine’s ability to fight and are in retaliation for recent attacks inside Russia.

Western allies have been reluctant to send additional air defences to Ukraine, which says it needs 25 Patriot systems to cover its territory properly. Germany has pledged to deliver another system following urgent calls from Kyiv.

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