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Ukraine updates: Russia strikes damage power plants

Published March 29, 2024last updated March 29, 2024

Ukraine has reported significant damage to the country's energy infrastructure following overnight Russian attacks. Meanwhile, a US diplomat said Ukraine needed assistance "now." Follow DW for more.

Ukraine's Dniester HES-2 hydroelectric power station pictured in July 2020
Ukraine's Dniester HES-2 hydroelectric power station is situated on the border with MoldovaImage: Starush/IMAGO/Pond5 Images
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

Russian missile and drone attacks overnight damaged Ukrainian thermal and hydropower plants, authorities said.

Ukraine's Energy Ministry said the attack damaged power infrastructure in several regions, causing blackouts.

Meanwhile, NATO member Poland scrambled warplanes to protect Polish airspace in response to the attacks. 

The US ambassador in Kyiv said it was clear "our assistance is needed now." 

Here are the main developments from Russia's war in Ukraine on Friday, 29 March:

Skip next section Five injured by Russian missile strike on Odesa
March 29, 2024

Five injured by Russian missile strike on Odesa

Ukraine's air force downed two Russian missiles in the southern port city of Odesa on Friday, officials said.

Debris from the missiles hit civilian infrastructure, injuring five people, including a 15-year-old boy.

In a message on the Telegram messaging app, Ukraine's southern military command denounced Moscow's forces for "insidiously directing missile strikes on industrial and residential areas of Odesa."

Several neighborhoods of Odesa were also hit by power outages as a result of Russian attacks on three of Ukraine's thermal power plants, the largest private electricity operator DTEK said.

The plants suffered damage as part of a wider assault by Russia on Ukrainian power infrastructure Friday.

Skip next section Ukrainian FM Kuleba wraps up India visit
March 29, 2024

Ukrainian FM Kuleba wraps up India visit

The foreign ministers of Ukraine and India have agreed to restore trade and cooperation to pre-war levels.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba concluded a two-day visit to India on Friday saying, "we will be looking forward to restoring what had existed before the large scale invasion of Russia in Ukraine began."

"India and Ukraine have been traditional friends, but I think there is much more that we can do and should do, not only in the interests of our nations but also in the interest of global development and security architecture," Kuleba said after meeting his counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishanka, in Delhi.

Jaishankar said "our immediate goal is to get trade back to earlier levels."

India has shied away from explicit condemnation of Russia for its invasion of Ukraine but Jaishankar said on social media that talks with Kuleba had "reiterated our commitment to strengthen the overall relationship with Kyiv."

Skip next section Zelenskyy says 2 Ukrainian hydropower plants attacked
March 29, 2024

Zelenskyy says 2 Ukrainian hydropower plants attacked

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed that the Kaniv and Dnister hydropower plants in Ukraine were attacked in Russian strikes overnight.

"The terrorist country wants to repeat the environmental disaster in the Kherson region. But now not only Ukraine but also Moldova is under threat," Zelenskyy said on the Telegram messaging app.

The Dnister plant is on Ukraine's border with Moldova.

Zelensky had previously described Russia's attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure as "energy terrorism."

Meanwhile, Ukraine has announced emergency blackouts in three regions and was urging consumers to limit their electricity use.

"Ukrenergo's dispatch center is forced to apply emergency blackout schedules until the evening in the regions of Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kirovograd," the provider said in a statement, blaming "the massive Russian attack on Ukrainian power plants overnight."

Skip next section Drone attack in Russian border city Belgorod leaves 1 dead
March 29, 2024

Drone attack in Russian border city Belgorod leaves 1 dead

One person was killed and two injured in the Russian city of Belgorod, near the border with Ukraine, Region Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said.

"The drone crashed into an apartment building. As a result of the explosion, unfortunately, a man was killed. Two people were injured,"  Gladkov said.

Russia's Ministry of Defense said it shot down 15 Ukrainian shells on Friday. 

Ukraine has, in recent weeks, launched several air attacks on Belgorod and two nearby Russian regions, Bryansk and Voronezh. 

There have also been land incursions in Belgorod.

Skip next section Russia to conscript tens of thousands of soldiers
March 29, 2024

Russia to conscript tens of thousands of soldiers

Russia will call up tens of thousands of soldiers next week in a conscription effort to fill its military ranks and build up reserves.

Despite rumors of a new mobilization of troops, Moscow said the conscripts in the draft — which happens twice a year — would not sent to fight in Ukraine.

"The spring draft will be held from April 1," deputy head of the Defense Ministry's mobilization department, Rear Admiral Vladimir Tsimlyansky, said Friday, according to the AFP news agency.

"Conscripts will not be sent to the armed forces' deployment points in the new regions of Russia — the Donetsk and LuhanskPeople's Republics, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions —or perform tasks of the special military operation," he added, using Russia's official language for its war against Ukraine.

Moscow illegally annexed the four Ukrainian regions in 2022. 

Skip next section Drone fragments found in Romania
March 29, 2024

Drone fragments found in Romania

NATO member Romania has launched an investigation after identifying fragments, believed to be from a drone, on its territory.

The pieces were found late Thursday on an island on the Danube River in the Braila region, close to the border with Ukraine, the Defense Ministry said.

"Fragments that appear to have come from an aerial device (drone) were identified on a piece of agricultural land on the Big Island of Braila," the ministry said.

Russia has stepped up its missile and drone attacks on Ukraine since December. 

Romania has found drone fragments before but had previously said it did not believe it was being deliberately targeted. 

Skip next section Ukraine needs fewer troops than expected
March 29, 2024

Ukraine needs fewer troops than expected

Kyiv's top general said on Friday that Ukraine's military will require fewer troops than initially anticipated to resist Russia's two-year-old invasion.

In December, President Volodymyr Zelenskzy said up to 500,000 more Ukrainians would be mobilized into the armed forces.

Commander-in-chief Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Friday that the figure had been "significantly reduced." He did not give the new figure.

"We expect that we will have enough people capable of defending their motherland," told the Ukrinform news agency. 

He said "thousands" of service members working in non-combat units had been sent to the frontlines.  

Syrskyi also said "powerful" defensive lines were being prepared "in almost all threatening areas" as Russia keeps up its attacks.

How Ukraine fortifies its border with Russia and Belarus

Skip next section Poland scrambles war planes after Russian attack on Ukraine
March 29, 2024

Poland scrambles war planes after Russian attack on Ukraine

Polish and allied aircraft were scrambled after Russia launched missile strikes on Ukraine, the Operational Command of the Polish armed forces said. 

"Polish and allied aircraft are operating in Polish airspace, which may result in increased noise levels, especially in the southeastern part of the country," the Command wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

A member of the NATO military alliance, Poland has put its forces on heightened readiness after a Russian missile briefly breached Polish airspace during an attack in Ukraine last weekend. 

Skip next section US ambassador in Kyiv says Ukraine needs urgent assistance
March 29, 2024

US ambassador in Kyiv says Ukraine needs urgent assistance

US Ambassador Bridget Brink condemned "Russia's barbaric effort to take the power out for millions of men, women, and children."

Her comments came following an overnight assault by Russia on Ukraine's energy infrastructure.

Brink wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that "our assistance is needed now."

US Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson has yet to bring a measure to approve $60 billion in Ukrainian aid before lawmakers.

After the Russian attacks, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal again said, "Ukraine needs more air defence systems to secure critical infrastructure and protect the population."

He said it was the main topic of discussion with Ukraine's allies. 

Skip next section Russia targets Ukraine's power plants
March 29, 2024

Russia targets Ukraine's power plants

Russia launched fresh strikes overnight into Friday, targeting Ukraine's power generation plants.

"Last night, Russia continued its barbaric attacks against the Ukrainian energy system. Emergency blackouts have been introduced in some regions," Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said.

The country's air force said Russia made extensive use of drones, missiles and cruise missiles.

Ukrainian air defenses shot down 84 of the incoming missiles and drones.

Ukraine's largest private power firm, DTEK, said three of its thermal power stations had been attacked in the barrage, leaving facilities "severely damaged."

Grid operator Ukrenergo also said thermal and hydropower plants had been damaged.

lo/sms (AP, AFP, DPA, Reuters)