Ukraine, including its capital kyiv, was largely without electricity and running water on Thursday, the day after massive new strikes by Russia specifically targeted energy infrastructure, a strategy described as “war crimes” by the allies Westerners as winter sets in.
Nine months to the day after the start of the Russian invasion, millions of Ukrainians will spend the day without electricity and in the cold.
In kyiv, hit by freezing rain that fell on snow, around 70% of the population remained without power Thursday morning, according to the town hall.
The water supply was restored in the early afternoon, according to the town hall, when temperatures barely exceeded zero degrees.
For its part, the Russian Ministry of Defense affirmed that its bombardments had not targeted kyiv, accusing the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense of being responsible for the damage in the capital.
In Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city on the border with Russia, “electricity supply problems” persisted, Governor Oleg Synegoubov said in particular in the morning.
The rest of Ukraine was also largely affected by the outages, but the reconnection of critical infrastructure to the grid continued gradually.
The Ukrainian presidency announced the opening of some 4,000 heating points across the country.
– “Crime against humanity” –
“This systematic targeting of the population as winter approaches reflects a clear Russian desire to make the Ukrainian people suffer, to deprive them of water, heat and electricity to undermine their resilience,” he said. French diplomacy. “These acts clearly constitute war crimes,” she added in a statement.
Speaking by videoconference before the UN Security Council, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced for his part on Wednesday a “crime against humanity” because “with temperatures below zero, several million people (find themselves) without energy supply, without heating and without water”.
The three nuclear power plants under the control of kyiv were able to be reconnected and were to supply the homes without electricity again in the evening, but also the water distribution systems.
These plants had been disconnected by their automatic protection system following the Russian strikes.
“If there are no new strikes, we will be able to significantly reduce the lack (of electricity) in the energy system by the end of the day,” said Energy Minister German Galushchenko. , calling the situation still “difficult”.
According to the Ministry of Energy, these strikes left Wednesday without electricity “the vast majority of consumers” of the country which had approximately 40 million inhabitants before the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24.
Russia fired around 70 cruise missiles at Ukraine on Wednesday, of which 51 were shot down, according to kyiv. These strikes targeted key energy infrastructure, already damaged by several waves of such bombings.
In total “eight energy facilities” were affected, said Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriï Kostine, adding that ten people had been killed and 50 others injured.
Ukraine’s military intelligence estimated Thursday on Telegram that Russia “needs about a week” to prepare for another massive strike.
Faced with a series of military setbacks that forced it into humiliating retreats this fall in northeastern and southern Ukraine, Russia opted in mid-October to bombard its neighbour’s energy installations in when winter sets in.
– Warsaw offers its Patriots –
In this context, the Polish Minister of Defense proposed that Germany transfer to Ukraine the Patriot air defense system that it offered to Poland after a missile caused two deaths on its territory last last week during a wave of Russian strikes.
“This will protect Ukraine from further losses and power cuts, and will strengthen security on our eastern border,” Mariusz Blaszczak said on Twitter on Wednesday evening.
Russia, for its part, urged Ukraine to give in to its demands.
“The leadership of Ukraine (…) has the opportunity to resolve the situation by satisfying all the demands of the Russian side, and to put an end to the possible suffering of the civilian population”, repeated Thursday the spokesman of the Kremlin Dmitry Peskov.
Russia justifies its war by the need to “denazify” and “demilitarize” Ukraine, which it accuses of repressing Russian-speaking populations. Moscow also claimed at the end of September the annexation of four Ukrainian regions which are under partial Russian control.
Moscow announced on Thursday that it had distributed Russian passports to more than 80,000 inhabitants of these four Ukrainian territories, making them “citizens of the Russian Federation”.
The Prosecutor General of Ukraine for his part indicated that since the reconquest on November 11 of the north of the Kherson region, “nine torture sites have been discovered” as well as “the bodies of 432 civilians killed”, without detailing the causes. of these deaths.
Another direct consequence of the Russian strikes, Moldova, already plagued by major energy problems caused by the war in Ukraine, was also the victim of massive power outages on Wednesday. The situation had largely normalized on Thursday.
The Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Thursday the summons of the Russian ambassador to protest against these “brutal bombardments” which “have dramatic consequences” in Moldova, a former Soviet republic neighboring Ukraine and led by a pro-government government. western.