More than 10 million Ukrainians are without electricity after Russian jets attacked the country’s power grid as winter sets in and temperatures drop, President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
Repeated bombings disrupted electricity and water supply in Ukraine, but Russia blamed civilians for Ukraine’s refusal to end the conflict that began on February 24.
On Thursday, residents of the recently captured southern Ukrainian city of Kherson rushed to stock up on food, blankets, and winter clothing, with shouting matches and scuffles breaking out as volunteers threw supplies into a crowd that had waited for hours in the freezing rain.
A number of Ukrainian cities came under attack as the latest terror attacks hit with the first snowfall, with Kyiv officials warning of “difficult” days ahead.
“Currently, more than 10 million Ukrainians do not have electricity,” Zelenskyy said on Thursday, adding that the regions of Odesa, Vinnytsia, Sumy and Kyiv were the most affected.
Ukraine’s energy company Ukrenergo said the “freeze” had led to increased demand in areas where electricity had recently been restored, and state electricity adviser Oleksandr Kharchenko told reporters that 50 percent of Ukrainians were experiencing blackouts.
“People’s websites are what they need the most. “Russia is waging a war against people’s electricity and heat by blowing up electricity and other electronic devices,” Zelenskyy said.
South of Odesa, Russian airstrikes hit infrastructure and the governor warned residents of the threat of a “massive attack” of missiles, urging them to take shelter.
The eastern region of Kharkiv was also affected, governor Oleg Synegubov announced, adding that Russia had hit “severe damage”.
‘This is their result’
In response, Zelenskyy described Russia as a “terrorist state” and said that Moscow “wants to bring the Ukrainian people suffering and suffering”.
Russia, however, blamed Kyiv for the blackout.
“The unwillingness of the Ukrainian side to solve the problem, to start negotiations, to refuse to seek common ground – these are their consequences,” Kremlin Dmitry Peskov said.
“First they negotiate, then they refuse to negotiate, then they pass a law that prohibits any kind of negotiations, then they say they want negotiations, but public ones,” Peskov told reporters.
“Therefore, it is difficult to imagine a public dialogue… One thing is certain: the Ukrainian people do not want a dialogue.”
Peskov said that in this context Moscow will continue what it calls a “special military operation”, and that the armed attack on Ukraine took place because Kyiv did not want to meet at the negotiating table.
The UN says a major humanitarian crisis is looming as millions face “sustained power cuts” as Ukraine’s worst winter sets in.
The grain deal has been rescheduled
The attack on Ukraine’s power grid follows a series of Russian military setbacks, including last week’s retreat from Kherson.
However, Moscow and Kyiv managed to extend a deal allowing Ukraine to export grain through the Black Sea after the deal’s collapse sparked global food panic.
The Black Sea oil operation will be extended for 120 days, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations announced. The agreement provides a safe passage for cargo ships using Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the deal was “essential” to preventing a global food crisis.
Russia confirmed that the agreement has been renewed. “Any attempt to use the humanitarian aid system in the Black Sea for military purposes will be repelled,” his foreign ministry warned.