By Laurence Peter
The Ukrainian authorities have warned people in the capital Kyiv to expect longer power cuts, lasting more than four hours, because of Russian attacks on energy infrastructure.
Rolling blackouts are hitting not only Kyiv but also central regions of Ukraine, including the city of Dnipro.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said about four million people were affected but “shelling will not break us”.
This month Russia launched dozens of missiles and Iranian-made drones.
Ukraine’s energy infrastructure is being pounded by the air attacks – Mr Zelensky says about a third of the country’s electric power stations have been destroyed.
The Kyiv region has lost 30% of its power capacity, the private energy company DTEK says, meaning “unprecedented” power cuts will be necessary.
“Unfortunately the scale of restrictions is significant, much larger than it was before,” said DTEK director Dmytro Sakharuk.
The power cuts have meant curbs on the use of street lights and electric-powered public transport, besides the discomfort in people’s homes.
The EU and other international allies of Kyiv have condemned the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure – attacks that Ukraine sees as war crimes.
Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, heavily damaged by Russian shelling, also faces long power cuts, along with the central cities of Zhytomyr, Poltava and Chernihiv.
Russia stepped up its missile attacks on Ukraine’s power stations and other civilian infrastructure in retaliation for the 9 October bombing of the Kerch Bridge – a key link to Russian-annexed Crimea.
President Vladimir Putin called that blast a Ukrainian “act of terrorism”. The bridge is a symbol of his campaign to incorporate large swathes of Ukraine into Russia.
A power station employee called Pavlo, quoted by AFP news agency, said “we are confronted by such damage for the first time”. The unnamed plant had twice been targeted by missiles and then by an Iranian-made “kamikaze” drone.
He said repairs had been under way for more than two weeks, but “there are difficulties in that the equipment that has been damaged is unique – it’s hard to find the same parts”.
- The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol said that Russian naval forces had repelled a drone attack in waters off the port city. Mikhail Razozhayev said no facilities in the city, the largest in annexed Crimea and HQ of Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet, had been hit. Ukraine has not acknowledged the incident.
- Russia said it had mobilised 300,000 reservists – the target number set by defence minister Sergei Shoigu. He said 41,000 of those called up had already been deployed to the battlefield in Ukraine
- Russia also said it had completed an operation to move thousands of civilians out of occupied Kherson, ahead of an expected battle with Ukrainian forces for the strategic southern city
- President Zelensky accused Russia of dismantling medical facilities in Kherson – removing “equipment, ambulances, just everything” – and pressurising doctors to move to Russia
- Chechen leader and Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov admitted that a Chechen unit had suffered “big losses” – 23 fighters killed and 58 wounded in a Ukrainian artillery attack
- UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged all parties to renew the grain export deal, which is due to expire next month. Russia has suggested it might not renew the deal. The agreement allowed Ukraine to resume exports in the Black Sea which had been blocked when Russia invaded.