- Widespread power outages due to Russia targeting the electricity grid
- United States: Russia is trying to freeze Ukraine into submission
- Crews are working to restore power and water
- President Zelensky says: “We are an unbreakable people”
WASHINGTON/Kyiv (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged the United Nations Security Council to act against Russia over air strikes on civilian infrastructure that have plunged Ukrainian cities back into darkness and cold as winter approaches.
Russia unleashed a missile barrage across Ukraine on Wednesday, killing 10 people, shutting down nuclear power plants, and cutting off water and electricity supplies in many places.
“Today is only one day, but we received 70 missiles. This is the Russian formula for terrorism. All this against our energy infrastructure… Hospitals, schools, transportation, residential neighborhoods have all suffered,” Zelensky said via video link to Facebook. Council hall.
He added that Ukraine was expecting a “very firm response” to the air strikes from the world on Wednesday.
The council is unlikely to take any action in response to the appeal because Russia is a member with veto power.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “was clearly using winter as a weapon to inflict enormous suffering on the Ukrainian people.”
She added that the Russian president “will try to freeze and subjugate the country.”
Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, responded by complaining that it was against council rules for Zelensky’s video appearance, and dismissing what he called “reckless threats and ultimatums” by Ukraine and its supporters in the West.
Nebenzya said the damage to Ukrainian infrastructure was caused by missiles fired by Ukrainian air defense systems that hit civilian areas after being fired at Russian missiles, and called on the West to stop supplying Ukraine with air defense missiles.
The capital Kyiv was one of the main targets of the missile strikes on Wednesday. “Today we suffered three casualties in high-rise buildings. Unfortunately, ten people were killed,” Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky said. Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
The explosions reverberated across Kyiv as Russian missiles landed and Ukrainian air defense missiles were fired in an attempt to intercept them. Air raid sirens also sounded across the country on a nationwide alert.
Pulling out a suitcase, a man who gave his name as Fyodor said as he walked away from a burning apartment building that had been hit in Kyiv.
The Kyiv governor said the entire Kyiv region, where more than 3 million people live, had lost electricity and running water. Much of Ukraine has experienced similar problems and some regions have implemented emergency blackouts to help conserve energy and make repairs.
Speaking late Wednesday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said 80% of people in the capital were still without electricity and water. But Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said repair crews are working hard and “electricity will start to come on in the coming hours”.
By 6 p.m., electricity had been restored in the western half of Lviv after repairs, the mayor of Lviv said.
General Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top military commander, said air defenses shot down 51 of the 67 Russian cruise missiles launched, including 20 of the 30 that targeted Kyiv.
Since October, Russia has admitted to targeting Ukraine’s civilian power grid far from the front lines, as the Ukrainian counter-offensive has recaptured territory from the Russian occupiers to the east and south.
Moscow says the aim of its missile strikes is to weaken Ukraine’s ability to fight and push it to negotiate. Kyiv says the attacks on infrastructure amount to war crimes, and are deliberately intended to harm civilians and break the national will.
This will not happen, Zelensky vowed in a previous video address posted to messaging app Telegram.
“We will renew everything and overcome all of this because we are an unbreakable people,” he said.
The first snow
As the first snow falls in Ukraine’s generally frigid winter, authorities are concerned about the impact of the power outage on millions of people.
Zelensky announced on Tuesday that special “immunity centers” will provide citizens with free electricity, heat, water, internet, mobile phone connections and a pharmacy around the clock. Kyrilo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential administration, said on messaging app Telegram that 2,750 centers were operating on Wednesday evening.
In addition, the largest cities in Europe will donate power generators and transformers.
The series of Russian battlefield setbacks to the east and south included a Russian withdrawal earlier this month from the key southern city of Kherson.
Ground battles are still raging in the east, with Russia launching an offensive along a stretch of frontline west of the city of Donetsk, which has been controlled by its proxies since 2014.
Moscow says it is carrying out a “special military operation” to protect Russian speakers in what Putin calls an artificial state carved out of Russia. Ukraine and the West describe the invasion as an unjustified land grab.
Western responses included billions of dollars in financial aid, advanced military hardware to Kiev, and waves of punitive sanctions against Russia.
(Reporting by Simon Lewis and Hamira Pamuk in Washington, Dan Belichuk in Kyiv, David Leungren in Ottawa, and Ronald Popeskey in Winnipeg; Writing by Cynthia Osterman; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien
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