Russia launches first big missile wave in weeks

STORY: Smoke rose over Ukrainian cities while people slept on Thursday (March 9) - the aftermath of a huge wave of Russian missile strikes across the country.

At least six civilians were killed, electricity was knocked out, and a nuclear power plant was forced off the grid.

The majority of those fatalities - five - were in western Lviv, where drone footage showed a flattened home surrounded by badly damaged buildings.

A body in a black bag was carried out of the rubble.

This man is a local resident. "This is horrible, " she says. "Russia is a calamity."

Another civilian was reported killed by the missiles in the central Dnipro region.

Three civilians were separately reported killed by artillery in Kherson.

In the capital Kyiv, residents like Liudmyla were woken by the strikes.

"I heard a very loud explosion, very loud. We quickly jumped out of bed and saw one car on fire. Then the other cars caught on fire as well. The glass shattered on the balconies and windows. It's very frightening. Very frightening. The child got scared and jumped out of bed."

The first big volley of missile strikes since mid-February shattered the longest period of comparative calm since Moscow began a campaign to attack Ukraine's civil infrastructure five months ago.

Moscow says its campaign of targeting Ukraine's infrastructure far from the front is intended to reduce its ability to fight.

Russia's defense ministry said the, quote, "massive retaliatory strike" on Ukrainian infrastructure was payback for a cross-border raid last week on a Russian village.

Kyiv said the air strikes have no military purpose and aim to harm and intimidate civilians, a war crime.

The strike knocked out the power supply to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, severing it from the Ukrainian grid.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief, Rafael Grossi on Thursday appealed for a protection zone around the Russian-held plant.

"Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is running on emergency diesels. The last, the last line of defence. This is the sixth time. Let me say it again. This is the sixth time that the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has lost all offsite power and has had to operate in this emergency mode. Let me remind you, this is the largest nuclear power station in Europe, operating for the sixth time under emergency diesel generators. What are we doing? "

Ukraine says an unprecedented six of Russia's small arsenal of kinzhal hypersonic cruise missiles were used - one of Moscow's most valuable weapons.

Ukraine has no way of shooting them down.