- Official says Ukraine faces ‘critical’ energy situation
- Three killed in new strikes in Kyiv
- Three explosions hit the port of Mykolaiv – witness
- I left Zhytomyr without electricity and water
- Zelensky accuses Russia of targeting civilians
Kyiv/Mykolaiv, Ukraine, Oct 18 (Reuters) – Russian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that Russia has destroyed nearly a third of Ukraine’s power plants in the past week, as Moscow rained more missiles on infrastructure in what he calls West in Kyiv. Campaign to intimidate civilians.
The missiles hit power stations in the capital, Kyiv, killing three people, in Kharkiv in the east, Dnipro and Kryvyi Rih in the south and Zhytomyr in the west, causing power outages and interruptions in water supplies. A man was killed in his destroyed apartment in Mykolaiv in the south.
Russia has openly acknowledged targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with waves of missile and drone strikes since the start of last week, in what President Vladimir Putin said was legitimate retaliation for an explosion on a bridge.
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Kyiv and the West say a deliberate attack on civilian infrastructure is a war crime, and attacks aimed at leaving Ukrainians without heat and power as winter hits, are Putin’s latest tactics to escalate the war his forces are losing.
“The situation is now critical across the country… The whole country needs to prepare for power, water and heating outages,” Kirilo Tymoshenko, deputy chief of the Ukrainian president’s office, told Ukrainian television.
In Mykolaiv, Reuters heard three explosions in the early hours of Tuesday. A missile completely destroyed one of the wings of a building in the downtown area, creating a large crater. A firefighting crew was seen pulling the body of a man from under the rubble.
The Russians “may be enjoying this,” said Oleksandr, the owner of a nearby flower shop.
Zelensky said Russia continues to try to intimidate and kill Ukrainian civilians.
“Since October 10, 30% of Ukraine’s power plants have been destroyed, causing blackouts across the country,” he wrote on Twitter.
Zelensky reiterated his refusal to negotiate with Putin, who he says heads a “terrorist state”.
Zelensky ruled out negotiations with Putin last month after the Russian leader announced the annexation of four Ukrainian provinces. Putin has also called up hundreds of thousands of reservists and has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons since mid-September, after his forces suffered humiliating battlefield losses.
There was no immediate word on the overall death toll from Tuesday’s strikes. The day before, Russia sent squadrons of drones to attack infrastructure in Kyiv and other cities, killing at least five people.
Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians, although it has bombed villages, towns and cities across Ukraine in what it initially described as a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbour.
The Russian Defense Ministry repeated previous statements that it was carrying out attacks with high-precision weapons on what it described as military targets and energy infrastructure across Ukraine.
Ukraine accuses Russia of using Iranian-made ‘Kamikaze’ Shahed-136 aircraft, which fly to their target and explode. Iran denies supplying them and the Kremlin on Tuesday denied using it.
However, two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told Reuters that Tehran has promised to provide Russia with more drones in addition to surface-to-surface missiles, a move that is sure to irritate the United States and its allies.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he will ask Zelensky to formally sever diplomatic ties with Iran in protest of the drones. “Iran’s actions are despicable and misleading,” he said.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO will send air defense systems to Ukraine “in the coming days” to help the country defend itself against drones.
Earlier this month, Russia appointed General Sergei Surovkin as commander-in-chief of Moscow’s forces in Ukraine. Dubbed “General Armageddon” in Russian media, Surovkin served in Syria and Chechnya as Russian forces bombed cities to shatter them in a brutal and effective scorched-earth policy against their opponents.
His appointment on October 10 was soon followed by the largest wave of missile strikes against Ukraine since the start of the war.
Putin considered these strikes in retaliation for an explosion that destroyed Russia’s bridge to Crimea – the peninsula that Moscow captured from Ukraine in 2014. Kyiv did not claim responsibility for the attack but celebrated the destruction of what it sees as a military target used to transport weapons and troops. .
Britain’s Armed Forces Minister James Hebe told BBC radio that Surovkin was pursuing a cruel and futile strategy which he said would fail in its objective of trying to “break the will of the Ukrainian people”.
The Kremlin said on Tuesday that four Ukrainian regions it allegedly annexed in recent weeks are under the protection of its nuclear arsenal.
The statement comes as both NATO and Russia prepare to hold annual military exercises to test the readiness of their nuclear forces. Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that two of its nuclear-capable Tu-95MS strategic bombers flew more than 12 hours over the Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk.
Putin had previously said he was ready to use nuclear weapons if necessary to defend Russia’s “territorial integrity”.
On Tuesday, the governors of the Russian regions of Kursk and Belgorod bordering Ukraine announced cross-border shelling.
They added that a train station in Belgorod was bombed, train lines were suspended and two villages in Kursk were bombed, leading to a blackout.
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Reporting by Reuters offices. Writing by Andrew Osborne and Gareth Jones; Editing by Philippa Fletcher and Peter Graf
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