© Reuters. A Ukrainian soldier fires mortar at the frontline, as Russia’s offensive on Ukraine continues, in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine November 16, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer
By Max Hunder and Jonathan Landay
KYIV/KHERSON, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russian missile strikes have knocked out about half of Ukraine’s power supply, the government said on Friday, and officials in the capital Kyiv warned that the city could face a “total shutdown” of the electricity grid this winter. . have established.
With temperatures dropping and Kyiv seeing its first snowfall, officials were working to restore power across the country after Ukraine’s nine-month war.
The United Nations says the lack of electricity and water in Ukraine is threatening a humanitarian disaster this winter.
“Unfortunately, Russia continues to fight with the armed forces in Ukraine and the damage caused. About half of our forces are disabled,” said Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
He was speaking at a press conference with the vice president of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, who offered Ukraine “unwavering support”.
Engineers have been racing to fix the power grid in Kyiv.
“We are preparing for various events, including a complete shutdown,” Mykola Povoroznyk, deputy head of the Kyiv city administration, said on television.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said about 10 million people were without power in a country with about 44 million people before the war. Power was disrupted in 17 regions and the capital, and officials in some regions ordered emergency shutdowns, Zelenskiy said in his late-night address.
Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s national grid operator, said Russia had launched six major attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure since Oct. 10 to Nov. 15.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces used long-range weapons on Thursday to attack defense facilities and factories, including “missile production facilities”.
Reuters could not confirm the military reports.
Russian troops entered Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what Moscow described as a “special military operation” to eliminate vulnerable people. Ukraine calls Russia’s actions an illegal and imperialist seizure of territory.
Thousands of Russian men have fled to another country to escape conscription in a war that has killed thousands, displaced millions, turned cities into ruins and re-established Cold War-era divisions.
Russian troops seized areas south of Kherson that are now back in Ukrainian hands following protests, Zelenskiy’s deputy chief of staff said.
“After the trip to … the Kherson region, one thing became clear – our people there need a lot of help. The Russians not only killed and mined, but they robbed entire cities and villages. There is nothing there,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko said on the program of telegraphic communications.
A Reuters witness heard an explosion in the center of Kherson on Friday morning and saw black smoke billowing from behind a house. Police cordoned off the entrance but the chaos did not appear to have disturbed the hundreds of people in the central square who were queuing for help.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in an evening report that the Russian troops who are now sent to the banks of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region had destroyed the villages including Antonivka and Bilozerka on the west bank and Chornobaivka, which they used to store weapons.
Searchers in the liberated areas of Kherson region have found 63 bodies with signs of torture after Russian troops left, Ukraine’s interior ministry said.
The head of the Ukrainian Parliament for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, released a video of what he said was a torture chamber used by the Russian military in the Kherson region.
Separately, researchers at Yale University concluded in a report sponsored by the US State Department that hundreds of people were arrested or disappeared in Kherson while it was in Russian hands, and many may have been tortured.
Reuters could not confirm the various claims. Russia denies that its forces are targeting civilians or committing atrocities.
RUSSIA’S ACTIVITIES ARE ‘KILLFUL’
Mass burials have been found in some former Russian military areas, including some with civilian bodies showing signs of torture.
Russia, for its part, accused Ukraine of killing more than 10 Russian prisoners of war with a direct shot to the head. Reuters could not immediately confirm the defense ministry’s statement. There is no immediate response from Kyiv.
Russia has moved some troops to Kherson to strengthen its positions east of Donetsk and Luhansk, an industrial region known as the Donbas.
Zelenskiy said that the Ukrainian army repelled about 100 attacks in Donetsk, without stopping the fighting.
“The fiercest war is taking place in the Donetsk region,” Zelenskiy said in his speech on Friday night. “No problem.”
The Ukrainian military said that Russian forces had opened fire on several towns in eastern and southern Ukraine.
His evening report said the Russian military had trained artillery and mortar fire near Bakhmut – the site of the fiercest fighting in Ukraine – to blow up the towns of Bakhmut, Soledar and Bilohorivka.
Russian warplanes also hit areas near Avdiivka, a Russian target inside Ukrainian-controlled territory, including the key towns of Maryinka and Pervomaiske.
Other areas affected by the fire were towns in western Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions in southern Ukraine, including Vuhledar and Hulyaipole. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.