December 10, 2022

Ukrainians are preparing for a bleak winter as Russian strikes disrupt energy capacity

Ukrainians are preparing for a bleak winter as Russian strikes disrupt energy capacity

  • Ukrainians prepare for winter with little or no heating
  • Temperatures in several areas are already below freezing
  • Kherson residents can express their interest in moving to another place
  • Ukrainian security forces raid the famous Kyiv Monastery

Kyiv (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelensky has pleaded with Ukrainians to conserve energy amid relentless Russian strikes that have already halved the country’s electricity capacity, as the United Nations health body warns of a humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine this winter.

Authorities said millions of Ukrainians, including the capital Kyiv, could face blackouts at least until the end of March due to the strikes. They said that citizens of the recently liberated southern city of Kherson may apply to move to areas where heating and security problems are less severe.

Temperatures have been unusually mild this autumn, but have begun to dip below zero and are expected to drop to -20C (-4F) or even lower in some areas during the winter months.

Russia is targeting Ukrainian energy facilities with missile strikes after a series of field setbacks that included withdrawing its forces from the city of Kherson to the eastern bank of the mighty Dnipro River that divides the country.

“The systemic damage to our energy system from the strikes of Russian terrorists is so great that all of our people and companies must pay attention and redistribute their consumption throughout the day,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

“Try to limit your personal consumption of electricity.”

The World Health Organization said hundreds of hospitals and healthcare facilities lack fuel, water and electricity to meet people’s basic needs.

“The Ukrainian health system is facing its darkest day in the war so far. Having suffered more than 700 attacks, it is now also a victim of the energy crisis,” Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said in a statement after visiting Ukraine. .

Blankets

Sergei Kovalenko, the head of YASNO, which provides power to Kiev, said on Monday that workers are racing to repair damaged energy infrastructure.

“Stock up on warm clothes and blankets, and think about options that will help you get through a long break,” Kovalenko said. “Better to do it now than to be miserable.”

In a Telegram message to Kherson residents – especially the elderly, women with children and the sick or disabled – Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshuk published a number of ways residents can express their interest in leaving.

“You can be evacuated in winter to safer parts of the country,” she wrote, citing security and infrastructure problems.

And the official TASS news agency reported late last week that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the power outages and Russian strikes on energy infrastructure were the result of Kyiv’s unwillingness to negotiate.

An adviser to Ukrainian President Mykhailo Podolyak said Russia was shelling Kherson across the Dnipro River after its forces had now fled.

“There is no military logic: they just want revenge on the local population,” he wrote on Twitter late Monday.

The Suspilne News Agency of Ukraine reported that there were new explosions in the city of Kherson on Tuesday morning.

Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians in what it calls 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 war of aggression.

The nine-month war has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions and devastated the global economy, sending food and energy prices soaring. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said on Tuesday that the world’s worst energy crisis since the 1970s will lead to a sharp slowdown, with Europe hardest hit.

monastery raids

Ukraine’s security service and police raided a 1,000-year-old Orthodox Christian monastery in Kyiv early on Tuesday as part of operations to counter “suspected subversive activities of Russian special services,” the State Security Service of Ukraine said.

The sprawling Kiev-Pechersk Lavra complex – or Monastery of the Caves – is a Ukrainian cultural treasure and the seat of the Russian-backed wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate.

The Russian Orthodox Church condemned the raid, describing it as an “act of intimidation”.

Battles continued to rage in the east, with Russia sending some forces moving around Kherson in the south, and launching an offensive of its own along the front line west of the city of Donetsk that has been controlled by its proxies since 2014.

“The enemy does not stop bombing the positions of our forces and our settlements near the line of contact (in the Donetsk region),” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Tuesday.

Attacks continue to destroy critical infrastructure and civilian homes.

Four people have been killed and four others injured in Ukrainian-controlled areas of the Donetsk region over the past 24 hours, said the region’s governor, Pavlo Kirilino, on the messaging app Telegram.

The region’s governor said Russian shelling also hit a humanitarian aid distribution center in the southeastern Ukrainian town of Oryhiv on Tuesday, killing a volunteer and wounding two women.

Oryhiv is located about 110 km east of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which has been bombed again in the past few days, while Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for the bombings.

Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency toured the site on Monday. The agency, which has repeatedly called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the area to avert a major catastrophe, said experts found widespread damage but nothing damaging the station’s primary systems.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that no substantial progress had been made towards creating a security zone around the nuclear plant, the largest in Europe.

Additional reporting by Oleksandr Kozukhar and Maria Starkova in Kyiv, Lydia Kelly in Melbourne, and Ronald Popisky in Winnipeg; Writing by Shri Navaratnam and Gareth Jones; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Alex Richardson

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