Russian air strike causes more damage to Ukraine's power grid

By Anastasiia Malenko and Tom Balmforth

KYIV (Reuters) -Russia launched a new barrage of missiles and drones at Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday, causing "significant" damage to a thermal power plant and maintaining pressure on the electricity grid, Ukrainian officials said.

The attack on energy infrastructure in four regions damaged equipment, wounded seven workers and cut off electricity to more than 218,000 consumers, the energy ministry said.

The attacks, Kyiv says, have knocked out half of Ukraine's energy generating capacity since March and forced rolling blackouts. Moscow has said energy facilities are a legitimate military target and that some of the strikes were retaliation for Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory.

Officials in Kyiv have for months been appealing to Ukraine's allies to supply more air defences against the air strikes carried out by Russia throughout the nearly 28-month-old full-scale invasion.

The Ukrainian air force said it shot down five out of nine missiles and all 27 drones launched by Russia over 10 Ukrainian regions during Thursday's attack.

Private power company DTEK said one of its thermal power plants suffered significant damage during what it said was the seventh large-scale attack on its infrastructure since March 22.

"Enemy missiles hit a DTEK power station already damaged in previous attacks... We urgently need to close our skies or Ukraine faces a serious crisis this winter. My plea to allies is to help us defend our energy system and rebuild in time," said the company's CEO, Maxim Timchenko.

National grid operator Ukrenergo said the attack would lead to an increase in scheduled blackouts on Thursday.

The military said the attack mostly targeted eastern Ukraine and in particular the Dnipropetrovsk region.

Dnipropetrovsk's governor said five drones and four missiles were shot down over the region. Three men were wounded in the attack, which also damaged seven homes, he said.

Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv's military administration, said air defences shot down all incoming aerial targets on their approach to the capital, and no damage or injuries were reported in the city.

Air defences also downed four drones over the central region of Vinnytsia, where debris damaged a critical infrastructure object, the regional governor said without identifying it.

(Reporting by Anastasiia Malenko and Tom Balmforth; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Stephen Coates, Timothy Heritage and Shinjini Ganguli)