Russia bombarded Ukraine with a series of missile strikes across the country Friday.
Critical infrastructure facilities were hit, resulting in power outages.
Zaporizhzhia, which houses Europe’s largest nuclear plant, was hit with 17 missiles in one hour, according to the town’s acting mayor.
Air raid sirens blasted across the country. Officials warned people to pay attention to the sirens and seek shelter when hearing them.
The strikes Friday come just ahead of the February 24 anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The strikes also follow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s recent trips to London, Paris and Brussels, where he met with European leaders to ask for fighter jets to help Ukraine beat back the Russian invasion.
Ukraine has been promised tanks from the United States, Germany, and other NATO allies, but does not yet have enough tanks to launch a counteroffensive against Russia.
Britain’s Defense Ministry said Friday Russian forces “have likely made tactical gains” in two key locations in Ukraine – on the northern outskirts of the Donbas town of Bakhmut and around the western edge of the town of Vuhledar.
A British intelligence report posted on Twitter said Russian forces have advanced around that western side of the town.
The ministry said that on the northern outskirts of Bakhmut, Wagner Group forces have pushed two to three kilometers further west, controlling the area near the main route to town.
The report said that Russia has likely suffered heavy casualties, however, because of “inexperienced units” deployed there. “Russian troops likely fled and abandoned at least 30 mostly intact armored vehicles in a single incident after a failed assault,” the ministry said.
Meanwhile, Russia will cut its oil production by 500,000 barrels a month, beginning in March, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Friday.
Western countries have placed a cap on Russian crude oil because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“As of today, we fully sell all our crude output, but as we stated before, we will not sell oil to those who directly or indirectly adhere to the ‘price ceiling,’” Novak said.
There was some confusion about whether Russia had talked with OPEC+ members about the upcoming reduction in production. A Kremlin spokesman said Russia has consulted with some OPEC+ members. Novak said in a statement later, though, that there had been no consultations about the voluntary cut.
The reduction in Russia’s oil production may be an indication the price cap imposed by the West on Russian oil, combined with other sanctions from the West, may be having an impact on Russia’s economy.
Zelenskyy is scheduled to address a summit of sports ministers Friday to gain their support in his effort to block athletes from Russia and Belarus from participating in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
The International Olympic Committee wants the athletes to participate without using their national flags.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.