Bleak winter looms as Russian strikes cripple Ukraine’s power capacity

  • Ukrainians have little or no heat after the bombing
  • Temperatures are already below freezing in several areas
  • Residents of Kherson are advised to evacuate to safer areas
  • Security service of Ukraine attacked the famous Kyiv monastery

KYIV, Nov 22 (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Ukrainians to conserve electricity amid relentless strikes that have halved the country’s power capacity, as United Nations health officials warned of a humanitarian disaster in Ukraine. warned this winter.

Millions of Ukrainians, including in Kyiv, could face power outages until at least the end of March due to missile attacks that Ukraine’s national grid operator Ukrenergo said caused “building” damage, officials said.

Temperatures in Ukraine have been unusually mild this fall, but are starting to drop below freezing and are expected to drop to -20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) or even lower in some areas during the winter months.

Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy facilities follow a series of battlefield setbacks that have seen Russian troops withdraw from the southern city of Kherson to the east bank of the mighty Dnieper River, which bisects the country.

“Energy savings remain important,” Prime Minister Denis Schmihal said on Telegram on Tuesday.

He said that there are planned power outages in all areas and in some cases emergency outages are possible as cold weather sets in and power consumption increases.

“The systematic damage to our energy system from Russian terrorist strikes is so great that all our people and businesses must be aware and redistribute their consumption throughout the day,” Zelensky said in a video message overnight.

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Ukrenergo chief Volodymyr Kudritskyi said on Tuesday that virtually no power or water plants were damaged, although he denied the need to evacuate civilians.

“We cannot generate enough power for consumers to use,” Kudrytskyi told a briefing, adding that after Wednesday’s brief cold snap, temperatures will rise again, allowing the power generation system to stabilize.

“DARKEST DAYS”

The World Health Organization said that hundreds of hospitals and healthcare facilities in Ukraine are without fuel, water and electricity.

Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said in a statement after his visit to Ukraine: “Ukraine’s health system is facing its darkest days of the war so far. Having endured more than 700 attacks, it is still a victim of the energy crisis.” .

According to Sergey Kovalenko, the head of the company YASNO, which supplies Kyiv with electricity, workers are rushing to repair the damaged electricity infrastructure.

“Stock up on warm clothes, blankets, think about options that will help you get through a long break,” Kovalenko said.

Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk, in a telegram to Kherson residents – especially the elderly, women with children, and the sick or disabled – published a number of ways residents can express their desire to leave the country.

“You may be evacuated to safer areas of the country during the winter,” he said.

State news agency TASS quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying last week that Russia’s attacks on energy infrastructure are the result of Kyiv’s unwillingness to negotiate.

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Mykhailo Podoliak, adviser to the President of Ukraine, said that Russia is now bombing Kherson from the other side of the Dnieper River, while its soldiers have fled. “There is no military logic: they just want revenge on the local people,” he said on Twitter on Monday.

Ukraine’s Suspilne news agency reported fresh explosions in the city of Kherson on Tuesday.

Moscow denies a deliberate attack on civilians, calling it a “special military operation” to rid Ukraine of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities.

Kyiv and the West describe Russia’s actions as an unjustified and imperialist land grab in a neighboring country that once dominated the former Soviet Union.

The nine-month war killed tens of thousands of people, uprooted millions and crippled the world economy. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said the world’s worst energy crisis since the 1970s would cause a sharp decline, with Europe the hardest hit.

Fighting continues in the east, where Russia has been handing over the offensive on the front line west of Donetsk since 2014 to its proxies.

“The attacks damaged critical infrastructure and civilian homes,” the Ukrainian General Staff said.

The governor of the region, Pavlo Kirileno, said in the Telegram messaging program that in the last 24 hours, four people were killed and four were wounded in the areas controlled by Ukraine in the Donetsk region.

Russian shelling also hit a humanitarian aid distribution center in Orihiv in southeastern Ukraine on Tuesday, killing one volunteer and wounding two women, the regional governor said.

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Orihiv is about 110 kilometers (70 miles) east of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has come under fire again in recent days, with blasts blamed on businessmen Russia and Ukraine.

In Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, Russian air defense units were activated on Tuesday and two drones were shot down over the city of Sevastopol, the governor of the region said, calling for calm.

Sevastopol is the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

HELP AND RAID

Meanwhile, Ukraine received a new tranche of 2.5 billion euros ($2.57 billion) in financial aid from the European Union on Tuesday, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in Washington that the distribution of $4.5 billion in US economic aid to Ukraine will begin in the coming weeks to strengthen economic stability and support essential government services.

Ukraine’s Security Service and SBU police raided a 1,000-year-old Orthodox monastery in Kyiv on Tuesday as part of an operation against “subversive activities of Russian special services.”

Kyiv’s sprawling Pechersk Lavra complex – or cave monastery – is a Ukrainian cultural treasure and home to the Russian-backed wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate.

The Russian Orthodox Church condemned the attack as an “act of intimidation”.

Reporting by Alexander Kozhukhar and Maria Starkova in Kyiv, Lydia Kelly in Melbourne and Ronald Popeski in Winnipeg; Written by Sri Navaratnam and Gareth Jones; Edited by Lincoln Feast, Alex Richardson, and Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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