Ukraine was working on Friday to repair energy infrastructure damaged by massive Russian strikes and to resupply millions of Ukrainians without heat and light as winter sets in. Ukraine’s energy system is on the verge of collapse and millions of people have suffered emergency power cuts in recent weeks.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow’s new strategy to plunge Ukraine into darkness would not weaken his country’s resolve. “It’s a war of strength, of resilience, it’s about who is the strongest,” he said, in an interview at FinancialTimes published this Friday.
60% of the population of kyiv without power
About fifteen regions encountered problems with the water and electricity supply. “The situation with electricity remains difficult in almost all regions. However, we are gradually moving away from the cuts and every hour we are reconnecting the electricity for new consumers, ”also declared Volodymyr Zelensky in his speech Thursday evening.
In kyiv, hit by freezing rain falling on snow and near-zero temperatures, 60% of the population were still enduring power outages, according to the town hall, but were gradually seeing the lights come back on. Three nuclear power plants under kyiv control were able to be reconnected on Thursday. “We will gradually give power for 2-3 hours until the amount of electricity entering kyiv is increased” and stabilized, promised the director of the DTEK network Dmytro Sakharuk.
In the capital, the water supply was restored Thursday evening, according to the town hall. The Russian Defense Ministry claimed the Russian bombing did not target kyiv, blaming Ukraine’s air defenses for the damage in the metropolis.
“Let’s stay united”
The rest of Ukraine was also largely affected by the outages, but the reconnection of critical infrastructure to the grid continued gradually.
In the Kharkiv region, the country’s second city, not far from the border with Russia, the supply has been restored after “very difficult” work, said its mayor Igor Terekhov. Governor Oleh Synehubov clarified that 70% of homes had recovered power this Friday, while the day before, “the whole region was in the dark because of the terrorism of the occupiers”. If the water, heating and public transport networks have also been restored, according to the governor, 300,000 inhabitants of the region, half of them in Kharkiv, still remained without electricity.
The World Health Organization has warned of “life-threatening” consequences for millions of Ukrainians who could leave their homes “in search of warmth and safety.” “Let’s stay united. Perhaps without electricity for the moment, but certainly without Russia,” exclaimed Sergiy Gamaliy, the governor of Khmelnytskyi. This region of western Ukraine is the most affected by the power cuts, which still affected more than 430,000 subscribers on Thursday evening, “despite the incredible efforts of workers in the energy sector”.
“We continue to work on the gradual restoration of residential neighborhoods,” added Sergiy Gamaliy, stressing that with 35% of its capacity, the region “has the opportunity to reconnect all crucial infrastructure”.
The Russian bombardments also continued, leaving four dead and ten wounded on Thursday in Kherson (south), from where Moscow troops withdrew two weeks ago, and seven dead and 30 wounded in Vyshgorod, near kyiv.
“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,” said French diplomacy. “These acts clearly constitute war crimes.”
Speaking by videoconference before the UN Security Council, Volodymyr Zelensky denounced Wednesday a “crime against humanity”. According to the Ministry of Energy, these bombings left Wednesday without electricity “the vast majority of consumers” in Ukraine, which had around 40 million inhabitants before the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.
Russia fired around 70 cruise missiles at the country on Wednesday, of which 51 were shot down, according to kyiv. In total, “eight energy facilities” were affected, said Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriï Kostine, adding that ten people had been killed and 50 others injured.
Emergency generators for hospitals
On the front, power cuts were also felt, forcing hospitals to work with emergency generators, while fighting continues in the east. “If they expect us to drop to our knees and crawl towards them, it won’t happen,” Oleksiy Yakovlenko, the administrator of a hospital in the city of Kramatorsk, told AFP.
“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,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov repeated on Thursday. . Russia, which has justified its war by the need to “denazify” and “demilitarize” Ukraine, which it accuses of repressing Russian-speaking populations, 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 southern region of Kherson, “nine torture sites” had been “discovered” as well as “the bodies of 432 civilians killed”.