Ukraine fends off Russian drone attack, electricity remains rationed

Ukraine said on Friday it repelled a nighttime explosive drone attack, launched by Russia less than 24 hours after massive bombings against energy infrastructure, depriving millions of Ukrainians of electricity.

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Since October and a series of military setbacks on the front, Russia has adopted the tactic of hitting Ukrainian power stations and transformers with its missiles and drones, plunging the population into cold and black in the middle of winter.

Thursday’s attack, using dozens of missiles, was the tenth of its kind and was followed by a nighttime salvo of Shahed explosive drones, according to the Ukrainian Air Force, which claimed Friday morning to have downed the 16 Iranian-made aircraft that had been launched.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said seven of them targeted the capital and all were destroyed. Falling debris damaged the windows of two apartment buildings in a neighborhood in southwestern Kyiv.

According to the Ukrainian presidency, other drones were shot down in the Cherkassy and Dnipro regions in the center of the country.

In a message posted on social media, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stressed that the war was “tough” but said he was convinced “that Russian aggression would fail”.

Energy restrictions

According to an updated report, 58 of the 70 cruise missiles fired by Russia were shot down on Thursday. A total of four civilians were killed and eight others injured.

The Russian Ministry of Defense told him on Friday that his “massive strikes” the day before had “hit all the intended targets”.

Power cuts remained numerous, while power has already been heavily rationed across the country for weeks.

The millions of Ukrainians who do not have generators are therefore preparing to celebrate the New Year without electricity, sometimes without water or heating and under curfew.

According to the electricity company Ukrenergo, the “consequences of the damage on the functioning of the network are less than the enemy had expected (…) but the situation in the south and east of the country remains difficult”.

The operator of the capital DTEK said it had managed “to stabilize the situation in Kyiv”, making it possible to return to power cuts planned by district.

To cope, generators have multiplied in cities across the country. From Kyiv to Lviv, these devices purr on the sidewalks to supply businesses and restaurants in particular and allow them to operate.

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine, launched on February 24, enters its tenth month, the fighting continues to rage, with a particularly bloody battle for Bakhmout, a city in the east that Russia has been trying to conquer since. months, and Kreminna, which Ukrainian forces are trying to retake.

South of Bakhmout, AFP met Corporal “Avatar”, 24, who uses a mortar donated by Finland, which his men named “Oksana”, after his wife.

“The situation is very complicated for our men on the front line,” he notes.

According to him, the Russians send the mercenaries of the paramilitary group Wagner, present in the area, “to the butchery”. “And it ends up having a psychological impact on the Ukrainian soldiers who kill these men one after the other,” adds “Avatar”.

The hardest part is “for the infantry positions, at the front”, very close to the line of contact with the Russian army, AFP judge Yaroslav, a 24-year-old artilleryman, who specifies that the unit “fires about 30 to 40 shells a day”.

Russia was planning a lightning campaign but it had to give up taking kyiv in the spring, withdrawing from the north of the country, before abandoning the north-east in September, and part of the South in November, in the face of an over-motivated Ukrainian army. and strength of western weapons systems.

The West deprived of Russian wishes

Prospects for peace talks are almost non-existent.

Ukraine is demanding the total withdrawal of the Russian army, while Moscow wants Kyiv to at least cede to it the four regions which the Kremlin has been claiming annexation since the end of September, as well as Crimea annexed in 2014.

Vladimir Putin presents his invasion, at the cost of heavy losses, as “a necessity”, ensuring that the West was using Ukraine as a bridgehead to threaten Russia.

The Kremlin clarified on Friday that the Russian president would not send New Year’s greetings to US Presidents Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz this year “given the unfriendly acts they constantly undertake”.

And Mr. Putin estimated Friday, during an interview by videoconference with Chinese President Xi Jinping, that the two countries were standing firm in the face of “unprecedented pressure and provocations from the West”.

He therefore advocated “strengthening cooperation between the armed forces of Russia and China”.

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