KYIV, Dec 10 (Reuters) – All non-critical infrastructure in the Ukrainian port of Odessa was cut off after Russia used Iranian-made drones to strike two energy facilities, knocking out power to 1.5 million people, officials said on Saturday.
“The situation in the Odesa region is very difficult,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.
“Unfortunately, the impacts were very significant, so restoring power will take longer than that…it won’t take hours, but unfortunately it will take days.”
Since October, Moscow has targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with widespread waves of missile and drone strikes.
Zelenskiy said Norway has sent $100 million to help rebuild Ukraine’s energy system.
Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa regional administration, said that electricity would be restored to the city’s population “in the coming days,” while full restoration of networks could take two to three months.
Bratchuk said an earlier Facebook post by the regional government advising some people to consider evacuating was being investigated by Ukrainian security services as an “element of hybrid warfare” by Russia.
That post has since been deleted.
“Not a single representative of the regional authorities made any request to evacuate the residents of Odessa and the region,” Bratchuk said.
Odessa had more than 1 million residents before the February 24 attack, which Russia called a “special military operation” to “de-identify” its smaller neighbor.
Kiev says Russia has launched hundreds of Iranian-made Shahid-136 drones at targets in Ukraine, calling the attacks war crimes because of their devastating impact on civilian lives. Moscow says its strikes are militarily legitimate and do not target civilians.
The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine announced that two electrical installations in the Odessa region were hit by the Shahid-136 drone.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine announced on Facebook that 15 drones were launched against targets in the southern Odesa and Mykolaiv regions and 10 were shot down.
Tehran denies sending drones to Moscow. Kiev and its Western allies say this is a lie.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that it believes Iran’s military support for Russia is likely to increase in the coming months, including the possible delivery of ballistic missiles.
(Reporting by Max Hander and David Ljunggren.) Edited by Ross Russell, Daniel Wallis and William Mallard
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