Ukraine is struggling to reconnect electricity and water services to millions of people after Russian missiles and drones hit energy infrastructure on Wednesday, leaving almost 80 percent of the country in the dark.
As of Thursday evening, more than 24 hours after Russia struck parts of Kyiv, the city’s mayor, Vitaly Klitschko, said 60 percent of homes were still experiencing emergency power outages. As temperatures dropped below freezing, Kyiv officials said they were able to restore water service, but were still struggling to get the lights and heat back on.
“There is a very strong perception that the Russians are at war with civilian infrastructure,” Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in a statement on Thursday.
“The civilian population cannot endure an entire winter without electricity, heat and running water. And now it’s a breaking point.” he said, referring to Moscow’s ongoing attacks on the power grid.
Ukraine’s energy system is on the brink of collapse, with millions of people exposed to emergency blackouts in recent weeks as Russia attacks power facilities in an apparent attempt to force a surrender after a nine-month war that has seen its forces lose most of their forces. has done. Declared territorial goals
Satellite images released by NASA show that Ukraine has turned into a dark spot on the planet at night.
The World Health Organization warned of “life-threatening” consequences and estimated that millions could be forced from their homes as a result, while Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said that Vladimir Putin , the Russian president “is clearly weaponizing winter. To inflict enormous pain and suffering on the people of Ukraine.”
He said on Wednesday that the Russian president “will try to bring the country into submission.”
Russia denies the attacks
Wednesday’s attacks cut off three Ukrainian nuclear power plants from the national grid and caused blackouts in neighboring Moldova, where the energy grid is connected to Ukraine. Power was almost fully restored in former Soviet Moldova on Thursday.
Ukraine’s Energy Ministry announced that all three nuclear facilities had been reconnected by Thursday morning.
Ihor Terkhov, the mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, near the border with Russia, said water was being returned to homes.
We restarted the power supply. Believe me, it was very difficult.”
But there were still disruptions across the country and the central bank warned that these outages could prevent banks from operating.
A fresh round of attacks on Thursday killed at least four people in the southern city of Kherson, recently recaptured by Ukraine, a senior official there said.
Ukraine accused Russian forces of sending about 70 cruise missiles as well as drones in the attacks that left 10 dead and around 50 wounded on Wednesday.
But the Russian Ministry of Defense denied the attack somewhere inside Kyiv and emphasized that Ukrainian and foreign air defense systems caused the damage.
The statement said: “No attacks have been carried out against targets inside the city of Kyiv.
“crime against humanity”
The Kremlin said Ukraine was ultimately responsible for the consequences of the attacks and could end them by bowing to Moscow’s demands.
Ukraine’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Ukraine has every opportunity to resolve the situation, meet Russia’s demands, and thus end all possible suffering of the civilian population.”
But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s strategy to destroy energy infrastructure would not weaken his country’s determination to retake territory occupied by Moscow.
“We have to get all the territories back … because I believe that the battlefield is the way when there is no diplomacy,” Zelenskiy told the Financial Times.
In a video address to the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Zelensky called the Russian attacks a “crime against humanity”.
Speaking to Al Jazeera’s Rory Challans, a Kyiv resident echoed Zelensky’s sentiments.
“I don’t know anyone who is ready to negotiate with the Russians just because of these attacks,” Aliona Piskon said.
Russian forces have suffered a series of defeats on the battlefield. This month they retreated from the city of Kherson, the only regional capital they had captured, destroying key infrastructure as they retreated.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s prosecutor said Thursday that authorities had discovered nine torture sites used by the Russians in Kherson, as well as “the bodies of 432 dead civilians.”