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2 dead as Russia launches attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A Russian cruise missile strike on infrastructure in Ukraine’s western Lviv region killed one man, while another died in an attack in the northeast, officials said Sunday.

The attack in Lviv destroyed a building and sparked a fire, Gov. Maksym Kozytskyi wrote on social media app Telegram. He said that rescue operations were being conducted.

In the Kharkiv region, Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said that an air attack killed an 19-year-old man after a missile hit a gas station.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands in Ukraine’s Odesa region were left without power Sunday after debris from a downed Russian drone caused a blaze at an energy facility, Gov. Oleh Kiper said. Some 170,000 homes suffered power outages as a result of the attack, said Ukraine’s largest private electricity operator, DTEK.

The Ukrainian air force said that it shot down nine of the 11 Shahed-type drones launched by Russia overnight, as well as nine out of 14 cruise missiles.

Russia has escalated its attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure in recent days, causing significant damage in several regions.

Ukrainian energy company Centrenergo announced Saturday that the Zmiiv Thermal Power Plant, one of the largest in the northeastern Kharkiv region, was completely destroyed following Russian shelling last week. Power outage schedules were still in place for around 120,000 people in the region, where 700,000 had lost electricity after the plant was hit on March 22.

In a message Sunday to mark the date when some of Ukraine’s Christians celebrate Easter, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the country to persevere.

“There is not a day or night right now when Russian terror does not try to shatter our lives. Last night, we once again saw rockets and Shaheds launched against our people,” he said.

“We defend ourselves, we persevere; our spirit does not give up and knows that death can be averted. Life can win,” Zelenskyy said.

Ukraine’s Catholic, Protestant, and Greek Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter Sunday according to the Gregorian calendar. The country’s religious majority, Orthodox Christians, follow the Julian calendar, which in 2024 places Easter on May 5.

Many of Ukraine’s Orthodox Christians began marking Christmas in line with the Gregorian calendar on Dec. 25 in 2023, in a move adopted by some of the country’s churches to distance themselves from Russia. However, the dates for Easter and other religious holidays have so far remained unchanged.

Zelenskyy, alongside Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and several ambassadors, spent the day in the town of Bucha in the Kyiv region, commemorating the second anniversary of the area’s liberation from Russian forces.

Bucha’s name has come to evoke savagery by Moscow’s military since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022. Ukrainian troops who retook the town on March 31, 2022, found the bodies of men, women and children on the streets, in yards and homes, and in mass graves. Some showed signs of torture.

The Ukrainian leader laid a lamp at the town’s Wall of Remembrance, the president’s website said. The monument names the 509 civilians who have so far been identified of those killed during the occupation.

In Russia, meanwhile, 10 Czech-made Vampire rockets landed in the region of Belgorod on Sunday, the Ministry of Defense said. One woman was injured when a fire broke out following the attack, said regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov. Another woman was killed as shelling hit villages along the Russian border.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed orders heralding the start of the country’s annual spring recruitment season, officially drafting 150,000 conscripts.

Russia’s parliament raised the upper age limit for conscripts from 27 to 30 in July 2023 in a move that appeared to be part of efforts to expand the country’s military during the fighting in Ukraine. All Russian men are obliged to complete the yearlong national service, although many avoid the draft by using deferments granted to students, people with chronic illnesses and others.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at /hub/russia-ukraine