Ukraine is struggling to restore water and electricity services to millions of people after Russian missiles and drones hit its energy infrastructure on Wednesday, leaving about 80 percent of the country in the dark.
By Thursday evening, more than 24 hours after Russian strikes devastated areas of Kyiv, the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said 60 percent of homes still had emergency blackouts. With temperatures dropping below zero, Kyiv authorities said they were able to restore water services but are still working to restore lighting and heating.
“The very strong impression is that the Russians are fighting a war over civilian infrastructure,” Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in a statement Thursday.
“The civilian population cannot withstand an entire winter without electricity, heat and running water. And now it is the breaking point,” he said, referring to the constant attacks on the power grid by Moscow.
Ukraine’s energy system is on the verge of collapse and millions have been hit by emergency blackouts in recent weeks as Russia has attacked power facilities in an apparent attempt to force surrender after nine months of war that have mostly failed its forces. Stated regional goals.
Satellite images published by NASA showed that, viewed from space, Ukraine has become a dark spot on the globe at night.
The World Health Organization warned of “life-threatening” consequences and estimated that millions could leave their homes as a result, while US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas Greenfield said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “clearly using winter as a weapon”. to inflict enormous suffering on the Ukrainian people.
On Wednesday, she said the Russian president would “try to freeze and subjugate the country”.
Russia denies the attacks
Wednesday’s attacks cut three Ukrainian nuclear plants from the national grid and caused power outages in neighboring Moldova, where the power grid is linked to Ukraine’s. was the force Almost completely in former Soviet Moldova on Thursday.
Ukraine’s Energy Ministry said the three nuclear facilities were reconnected on Thursday morning.
Ihor Terekov, the mayor of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, near the border with Russia, said water is being returned to homes.
“We got the power supply back on. Believe me, it was very difficult,” he said.
But there were still unrest across the country and the central bank warned that power outages could hamper banks’ operations.
A new round of attacks on Thursday killed at least four people in the southern city of Kherson, which Ukraine recently recaptured, a senior official there said.
Ukraine accused Russian forces of sending about 70 cruise missiles and drones in attacks that left 10 people dead and about 50 wounded on Wednesday.
But the Russian Defense Ministry denied that there had been bombing anywhere within Kyiv, and insisted that Ukrainian and foreign air defense systems had caused the damage.
“Not a single strike was directed against targets within the city of Kyiv,” it said.
‘crime against humanity’
The Kremlin said Ukraine was ultimately responsible for the consequences of the attacks and could end them by giving in to Moscow’s demands.
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Ukraine “has every chance to resolve the situation, to fulfill Russia’s demands and, as a result, to end all possible suffering of the civilian population.”
But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia’s strategy to destroy energy infrastructure will not weaken his country’s resolve to regain the territories occupied by Moscow.
“We must return all the territory … because I think the battlefield is the way when there is no diplomacy,” Zelensky told the Financial Times.
On Wednesday, Zelensky called the Russian attacks a “crime against humanity” in a video address to the United Nations Security Council.
A Kyiv resident spoke to Al Jazeera’s Rory Chalands, and he echoed Zelensky’s sentiments.
“I don’t know anyone who is ready to go to negotiations with the Russians just because of these strikes,” said Alyona Peskon.
Russian forces suffered a series of defeats on the battlefield. This month they withdrew from Kherson, the only provincial capital they had captured, destroying major infrastructure as they retreated.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian prosecutors said on Thursday that authorities had discovered nine torture sites used by Russians in Kherson as well as “the bodies of 432 dead civilians”.
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