Ukraine faces power cuts after Russian strikes, more flee Kherson



KYIV (Reuters) – More than a dozen Russian missiles pounded energy facilities and other infrastructure across Ukraine on Saturday, the Ukrainian air force said, with strikes causing blackouts in parts of different regions.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the Russian attacks had struck on a “very wide” scale. He pledged that his military would improve on an already good record of downing missiles with help from its partners.

At the same time, Russian occupation authorities in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson urged civilians to leave immediately, citing what they called a tense military situation.

The Ukrainian military said it was making gains as its forces moved southward through Kherson region, taking over at least two villages it said Russian troops had abandoned.

Since Oct. 10, Russia has launched devastating salvos at Ukraine’s power infrastructure, which have hit at least half of its thermal power generation and up to 40% of the entire system.

Shortly after daybreak, officials in a swath of regions reported strikes on energy facilities and power outages as engineers scrambled to restore the network. Governors advised residents to stock up on water.

Parts of Kyiv suffered power cuts into the evening. In one central district, shops were closed and traffic lights were off.

“The geography of this latest mass strike is very wide,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address, citing regions in western, central and southern Ukraine.

“Of course we don’t have the technical ability to knock down 100 percent of the Russian missiles and strike drones. I am sure that, gradually, we will achieve that, with help from our partners. Already now, we are downing a majority of cruise missiles, a majority of drones.”

Ukrainian forces had downed 20 missiles and more than 10 Iranian-made Shahed drones on Saturday, he said.

The air force command earlier had said 33 missiles had been fired at Ukraine. Eighteen were shot down.

POWER CUTS HIT SOUTHERN, CENTRAL UKRAINE

Reuters witnesses in the southern city of Mykolaiv reported a power cut over several hours, disrupting mobile phone signals.

In the southeastern city of Nikopol, which is regularly shelled from Russian positions across the Dnipro River, local authorities warned that air raid sirens would be switched off as a result of power cuts. Instead, emergency vehicles driving around the city would warn of incoming aerial threats, officials said.

Zelenskiy said teams were working to restore power to affected areas. Presidential adviser Kyrylo Tymoshenko said earlier that more than a million people were without power after two morning air raid alerts.

Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said Moscow wanted to create a new wave of refugees into Europe with the strikes, while Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter the attacks constituted genocide.

Moscow has acknowledged targeting energy infrastructure but denies targeting civilians.

State grid operator Ukrenergo said the attacks targeted transmission infrastructure in western Ukraine, but that supply restrictions were imposed in 10 regions, including in Kyiv.

“The scale of damage is comparable or may exceed the consequences of the attacks (between) October 10-12,” Ukrenergo wrote on the Telegram app, referring to the first wave of strikes on the power system last week.

The deputy head of Kyiv’s city administration, Petro Panteleev, warned Russian strikes could leave Ukraine’s capital without power and heat for “several days or weeks”.

In Kherson, which links Ukraine to the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014, thousands of civilians have been leaving in recent days across the Dnipro River after warnings of a looming Ukrainian offensive to recapture the city.

But Saturday’s warning was delivered with renewed urgency.

“Due to the tense situation at the front, the increased danger of massive shelling of the city and the threat of terrorist attacks, all civilians must immediately leave the city and cross to the left (east) bank of the Dnipro!” Russian occupation authorities said in a statement posted on Telegram.

Ukraine’s General Staff said Ukrainian forces were moving into areas being abandoned by Russian forces.

“Individual units of Russian occupying forces continue to leave the temporarily occupied territory of Kherson region,” it said in its evening report on Facebook (NASDAQ:).

It said Russian forces had left the towns of Charivne on the west bank of the Dnipro and Chkalovo on the east bank and officers and medical staff had been evacuated from the major centre of Beryslav, also on the river’s west bank.



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