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Russia fires missiles and drones in overnight attack

Russia launched 16 missile sand 11 drones at Ukraine in an overnight air attack, Ukraine’s air force has said.

In a statement on Telegram, the air force said it had managed to down nine of the drones and nine of the missiles. It did not identify their targets.

For over a week, Russia has significantly stepped up an airstrike campaign against Ukrainian energy facilities, causing significant damage and leaving Ukrainians fearing a return to the blackouts seen in the first winter of the full-scale war.

Ukraine’s largest private energy firm, DTEK, said yesterday that five of its six plants had been damaged or destroyed with 80% of its generating capacity lost, and that repairs could take up to 18 months.

Russian missile and drone attacks hit thermal and hydropower plants in central and western Ukraine overnight on Friday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his nightly video address yesterday, said Russia was carrying out “vile strikes” designed to cause the “bleeding” of Ukrainian energy.

“America, Europe, our other partners, everyone knows what we need,” he said. “Everyone knows how important it is right now to help us protect ourselves from these strikes.”

DTEK, which meets about a quarter of the country’s needs, has seen its thermal power stations and other facilities repeatedly hit by Russian missiles, drones and artillery in more than two years of war.

DTEK Executive Director Dmytro Sakharuk said in remarks shown on national television that waves of attacks on 22 March and 29 March had hit thermal and hydro production “in almost all regions” and that distribution facilities were destroyed.

Putin signs decree on spring military conscription

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree setting out the routine spring conscription campaign, calling up 150,000 citizens for statutory military service, a document posted on the Kremlin’s website shows.

All men in Russia are required to do a year-long military service, or equivalent training during higher education, from the age of 18.

In July Russia’s lower house of parliament voted to raise the maximum age at which men can be conscripted to 30 from 27.The new legislation came into effect on 1 January 2024.

Compulsory military service has long been a sensitive issue in Russia, where many men go to great lengths to avoid being handed conscription papers during the twice-yearly call-up periods.

Conscripts cannot legally be deployed to fight outside Russia and were exempted from a limited mobilisation in 2022 that gathered at least 300,000 men with previous military training to fight in Ukraine – although some conscripts were sent to the front in error.

In September Mr Putin signed an order calling up 130,000 people for the autumn campaign and last spring Russia planned to conscript 147,000.

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