Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of “energy terrorism” after repeated attacks on critical infrastructure in Moscow left hundreds of thousands of people without power.
About 450,000 homes were without power on Friday as power outages continued across the country, according to the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko. “That’s one and a half times as many as in recent days,” Klitschko said on Telegram.
After weeks of Russian airstrikes and rocket attacks on Ukraine’s power grid, a dire warning of a cold and difficult winter has been issued for those remaining in the country.
This week alone, attacks on critical infrastructure in the Kyiv, Cherkasy, Kirovolad, Kharkov and Zaporozhye regions have left millions of people without power and electricity on and off. According to Zelensky, as of Thursday evening, about 4.5 million consumers were temporarily without power under the emergency and stabilization plan.
“The fact that Russia has acted on terror against the energy sector shows the weakness of the enemy. They cannot defeat Ukraine on the battlefield, so they are trying to destroy our people in this way,” Zelensky said in a night speech.
Repeated Russian airstrikes have dragged cities in central and western Ukraine back to the forefront of the war, leaving the capital’s residents struggling to keep businesses running, as well as water and other resources.
Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s state power supply company, said earlier this week that some regions will face extended blackouts as they try to repair damage caused by the recent strike.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Thursday ahead of a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in the western German city of Muenster that the Group of Seven (G7) nations will continue to grow as winter approaches the conflict-torn country. ) Group of rich nations will coordinate support for Ukraine.
“Because of the brutal tactics of the Russian president, we will not let the brutality of the war cause many elderly people, children, teenagers and families to die from starvation or cold in the coming winter,” Belbok told reporters.
The Ukrainian military said that Russian forces simultaneously intensified airstrikes near the eastern front, using multiple rocket launch systems (MLRS), especially in the Donetsk region.
The military’s general staff said 80 such attacks were recorded on Wednesday, while on Thursday “the enemy carried out four missiles and 28 air strikes, and fired more than 45 times from the MLRS”.
The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said in a conversation Thursday with NATO’s top allied commander in Europe, General Christopher Cavoli, that “the enemy is on the front line” The intensity of hostilities has tripled in some areas – up to 80 attacks per day.”
Russian troops and “collaborators” have also started a census in the city of Enehodar, near the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, according to Ukrainian officials.
Dmytro Orlov, the displaced mayor of Enerhodar, said: “They used force in a typical way because people cannot refuse to participate in the ‘census’.”
“It’s the second day now that the Russians and collaborators of the so-called police are going door-to-door and stopping people in yards. This is reported by local residents, who have to take part in the ‘census,’” Orlov claim.
“In many cases, the census ends up rummaging through and navigating cellphone apps. Be careful!” he said. The city’s pre-war population was about 50,000. It has been under Russian occupation since early March.
Energoatom, the state company that operates the plant, reported on Thursday that further Russian shelling about 50 kilometers from the plant, which paralyzed two high-voltage transmission lines, had put the plant in “total blackout mode.” All 20 diesel generators started running. The plant is run by Ukrainian technicians but controlled by Russian state operator Rusatom.
Further south, social media videos and local Telegram channels showed an explosion near an airport north of the Russian army-occupied city of Kherson.
Video showed a large amount of black smoke rising from the Chornobaivka area.
Ukrainian troops and Russian-appointed officials in the region have not officially commented on the video.
On the east bank north of the Dnieper, the unofficial Telegram channel said Russian troops were forcing locals out of the village of Velyka Lepetykha. Russian-backed authorities have announced an evacuation of civilians within 15 kilometers of the river as they build new fortifications in the area.
Those same channels said forced evacuations were also underway in the village of Hornostayivka further downstream, while new explosions were heard in the town of Nova Kakhovka, also on the east bank, near a dam and hydroelectric power plant on the river.
Humanitarian agencies say the tactic could amount to a human rights violation.