Massive Russian strikes target energy grid – Zelensky

By Henri Astier & Yaroslav Lukov

BBC News

Russia has launched a “new massive strike” targeting Ukraine’s energy grid, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

He added that the attacks were on a “very wide” scale, hitting regions in Ukraine’s west, centre, south and east.

In an evening address, Mr Zelensky said power had been restored in multiple areas where it had been cut off.

Officials had said earlier on Saturday that nearly 1.5 million households had been left without electricity.

In his video, Mr Zelensky added that most of the Russian missiles and drones were being shot down, and such strikes would not stop a Ukrainian military advance.

“Of course, we do not yet have the technical ability to shoot down 100% of Russian missiles and attack drones. We will gradually come to this – with the help of our partners, I’m confident of this,” the Ukrainian leader said in a video.

Almost a third of Ukraine’s power stations and other energy-generating facilities have reportedly been destroyed in a wave of air strikes since Monday last week.

The areas targeted by the latest attacks include the Cherkasy region, south-east of the capital Kyiv, and the city of Khmelnytskyi, further west.

Air strikes and power disruptions were also reported from Odesa in the south to Rivne and Lutsk in the north-west.

The national electricity operator, Ukrenergo, said the strikes may have caused more damage than intense bombardment earlier this month.

Mr Zelensky said that 36 rockets had been launched on Saturday, and most of them had been downed.

Home damaged in a missile strike near the Russian border in Kharkiv region, 21 October
The latest wave of strikes have also wrecked many homes

The deputy mayor of the western city of Lviv, Serhiy Kiral, told the BBC on Saturday that Russia’s strategy was to damage critical infrastructure before the winter, and bring the war to areas beyond the front line.

“The more successes the Ukrainian armed forces are having at the front the worse it’s going to be for people on the home front because Russia is going to do all it can to target civilians and to target critical infrastructure,” he said in an interview with the Newshour radio programme.

On Friday Mr Zelensky accused Russia of planting mines at a hydroelectric dam in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, which is under the control of Moscow’s forces.

Map showing areas of Russian military control in Ukraine

He said that if the Kakhovka hydropower plant was destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people would be in danger of flooding. Russia has denied planning to blow up the dam and said Ukraine was firing missiles at it.

The dam may provide Russia with one of the few remaining routes across the River Dnieper (called Dnipro by Ukrainians) in the partially occupied Kherson region.

Thousands of civilians have been leaving the city of Kherson in recent days, as Ukrainian forces advance.

And on Saturday a new directive from occupying Russian authorities was released, renewing its appeal for civilians to leave “immediately”.

The transfer or deportation of civilians by an occupying power from occupied territory is considered a war crime. In September, the UN said there were already credible accusations of forced deportation of Ukrainian children from Russian-occupied areas.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzia, said the allegations were unfounded.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s armed forces said that Russian troops on Saturday had left two villages – Charivne and Chkalove – in Kherson region. The claim has not been independently verified.

Across the border, in Russia’s Belgorod region, the local governor said two people had been killed in Ukrainian shelling.

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