Ukraine is trying to restore power after Russian missiles hit the grid

Ukraine worked to restore electricity and water supplies on Saturday after Russia’s latest wave of attacks plunged several cities into darkness and forced people to endure sub-zero temperatures without heating or running water.

Russian bombing

The volley of rockets fired on Friday came as President Vladimir Putin held extensive meetings with military leaders overseeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where Moscow has stepped up bombing.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Saturday that power had been restored to nearly six million Ukrainians, but noted ongoing heat and water supply problems and “widespread outages” in many regions.

“The most important thing today is energy,” he said in his nightly address. “There is still a lot to do to stabilize the system.”

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emergency blackouts

In the capital Kyiv, the metro had suspended service to allow people in winter coats to take shelter at metro stations, but Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Saturday operations had resumed.

The water supply was also restored and 75% of the city’s population was supplied with heat again.

Power was also fully restored in the eastern city of Kharkiv, regional governor Oleg Sinegubov said on Saturday, after the strikes left Ukraine’s second-largest city without electricity.

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Ukraine’s national power company, Ukrenergo, had imposed emergency power cuts in response to the strikes, warning that the extent of damage in the north, south and center of the country would mean it could take longer to restore power than after previous attacks.

The country’s energy system “continues to recover,” it said on Saturday.

“Barbaric” attacks

In Russia, according to the Kremlin, Putin has obtained suggestions from his military commanders on how to proceed with the Ukraine offensive.

The Kremlin on Friday released footage of Putin chairing, among other things, a round table discussion with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov.

After a string of humiliating defeats on the battlefield, Russia has launched an airstrike since October against facilities Moscow says are linked to the military.

But France and the European Union have said the suffering inflicted on frozen civilians constitutes war crimes, with the bloc’s foreign policy chief calling the bombings “barbaric”.

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Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday the attacks had targeted Ukraine’s military and energy facilities while “disrupting the transfer of foreign-made weapons and ammunition.”

“All assigned targets have been hit,” the ministry said in its daily briefing.

Russia fired 74 missiles – mostly cruise missiles – on Friday, 60 of which were shot down by anti-aircraft systems, according to the Ukrainian army.

The military command of Ukraine said in a statement on Saturday that “the enemy continues to focus their efforts on conducting offensive actions towards Bakhmut and Avdiivka,” referring to two cities in the eastern Donetsk region.

Russian troops were also trying to regain lost terrain around Lymanskyi in the south, the statement added.

Zelenskyi said the strikes hit electricity and water supplies in Kyiv and 14 regions.

Regional officials said their air defense forces shot down 37 out of 40 missiles.

In downtown Kryvyi Rih, where Zelensky was born, airstrikes hit a residential building on Friday.

The rockets killed a 64-year-old woman and a young couple with a son, Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko said Saturday, and injured 13 others.

In the south, fresh Russian shelling in Kherson, recently recaptured by Ukraine, killed a 36-year-old man and injured a 70-year-old woman, Governor Yaroslav Yanushevich said Saturday morning.

Another strike hit a geriatric center in the village of Stepanivka north of Kherson, he later added, but no casualties were reported.

Kherson has faced sustained Russian shelling since Moscow forces withdrew in November, and earlier this week power was cut in the city.

protracted war

Moscow said the strikes in Ukraine’s infrastructure were in response to an explosion on the Kerch Bridge, which connects mainland Russia with the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Ukraine in 2014.

Ukrainian defense officials said this week that their forces shot down over a dozen Iranian-made attack drones launched in Kyiv, a sign that Western-supplied systems are having an effect.

The country’s military leaders have also warned Moscow to prepare for a major winter offensive, including a new attempt to take Kyiv.

Russia, meanwhile, on Saturday accused Moldova of “political censorship” after it suspended the broadcasting licenses of six TV channels over allegations of misinformation.

Moldova – which lies on Ukraine’s southwestern border – said on Friday the decision was made due to a “lack of correct information” in its coverage of national events and Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

Moscow also responded to the EU’s decision on Friday to impose more sanctions, adding restrictions on drone engine exports to Russia or countries like Iran that want to supply Moscow with weapons.

The new package of “unlawful unilateral restrictive measures” will not achieve its goal, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

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