🔴 Live: Russia launches airstrikes on cities across Ukraine

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Russia unleashed a massive missile barrage on cities across Ukraine early Thursday, targeting energy infrastructure facilities, Ukrainian officials and media said. Follow our live blog for all the latest developments on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).   


03:56am: Russian missiles target cities across Ukraine, officials say

Air raid sirens wailed all over Ukraine on Thursday morning as Russia launched air strikes on multiple cities.

The governor of the northeastern Kharkiv region, Oleh Syniehubov, reported more than 15 strikes on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.

“Objects of critical infrastructure is again in the crosshairs of the occupants,” he said in a Telegram post.

The governor of the southern Odesa region, Maksym Marchenko, also reported strikes on Odesa, saying that energy facilities and residential buildings were hit.

Explosions were also reported in cities in Dnieper, Lutsk and Rivne.

10:01pm: US House speaker declines Zelensky’s invitation to visit Ukraine

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he has no plans to visit Ukraine after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky extended an invitation, CNN reported on Wednesday.

In an interview with CNN set to air on Wednesday, Zelensky asked McCarthy, a Republican, to see the situation in Ukraine firsthand.

“Mr. McCarthy, he has to come here to see how we work, what’s happening here […] Then after that, make your assumptions,” Zelensky said in the CNN interview.

The US has extended nearly $32 billion in aid to Ukraine since Russian troops invaded on February 24, 2022, but some

Republicans have balked at sending more.

Asked about Zelensky’s invitation, McCarthy told CNN he did not need to travel to the country and would get information in other ways.

“I will continue to get my briefings and others, but I don’t have to go to Ukraine or Kyiv to see it,” he told the television network.

9:02pm: Zelensky calls for ‘democratic success’ in Georgia amid protests

Ukraine‘s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday called for “democratic success” in Georgia where thousands of protesters rallied against a controversial “foreign agent” bill reminiscent of Russian legislation used to silence critics.

“There is no Ukrainian who would not wish success to our friendly Georgia. Democratic success. European success,” Zelensky said in his evening address to the nation.

7:21pm: Germany cautious over Nord Stream pipeline attack reports

Germany’s defence minister voiced caution Wednesday over media reports that a pro-Ukraine group was involved in blowing up the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea last year.

German daily newspaper Die Zeit and public broadcasters ARD and SWR reported Tuesday that investigators were able to largely reconstruct how the pipelines from Russia to Germany were sabotaged on the night of September 26, 2022.

Citing multiple unnamed officials, the news outlets reported that five men and a woman used a yacht hired by a Ukrainian-owned company in Poland to carry out the attack. German federal prosecutors confirmed that a boat was searched in January.

The New York Times also reported Tuesday that US officials reviewed intelligence that suggested a pro-Ukrainian group was behind the blasts. The Ukrainian government has denied involvement.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said he read the news reports “with great interest” but warned against drawing hasty conclusions.

“We need to clearly differentiate whether it was a Ukrainian group that acted on the orders of Ukraine or … without the government’s knowledge,” he told reporters in Stockholm.

5:38pm: Russia won’t make major gains in Ukraine in 2023, US intelligence chief says

Russia‘s military is likely unable to sustain its current level of fighting in Ukraine and probably won’t capture significantly more territory this year, US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said Wednesday.

After major setbacks and large battlefield losses, “We do not foresee the Russian military recovering enough this year to make major territorial gains,” Haines told a Senate hearing.

Nevertheless, Russian President Vladimir Putin “most likely calculates that time works in his favor”, Haines said.

Putin likely believes that prolonging the war, with intermittent pauses in fighting, “may be his best remaining pathway to eventually securing Russian strategic interests in Ukraine, even if it takes years”, she said.

© France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP & Reuters)