Power cuts hit Kyiv as Russia destroys energy grid
Kyiv (Ukraine) (AFP) – Kyiv’s energy operator said on Sunday that scheduled blackouts had been introduced in the Ukrainian capital as Russia repeatedly targeted the country’s power grid.
More than a million Ukrainian homes have lost power as a result of recent Russian strikes, according to Ukraine’s presidency, with at least a third of the country’s power plants destroyed before winter.
Moscow announced a new incursion on Sunday, claiming to have destroyed a depot in central Ukraine that stored more than 100,000 tons of aviation fuel.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday night denounced Russia’s “infamous strikes against critical objects” after fresh attacks on energy facilities and power outages were reported across the country, including in western Ukraine. Ukraine, far from the front line.
National energy operator Ukrenergo introduced “stabilization closures” in Kyiv on Sunday to “avoid accidents”, energy company DTEK said in a statement on its website.
The outages began from 11:13 a.m. (0813 GMT) with consumers in Kyiv split into three groups that will be “disconnected for a while”, DTEK said.
He added that the outages were not expected to last “more than four hours” but could be longer “due to the extent of damage to the power supply system”.
DTEK reiterated calls for residents to use electricity “sparingly” and for businesses to limit their use of outdoor lighting.
‘Keep your strength’
In the southern Ukrainian town of Kryvyi Rig, Deputy Mayor Sergiy Miliutin was dealing with emergencies and power outages in his underground bunker used as a venue for children’s martial arts competitions.
“I’ve reached a point where I’m just surviving in my path. You have to keep a cool head and save your strength. Nobody knows how long this will last,” he told AFP.
The intensification of Russian strikes against Ukraine, particularly energy facilities, came after the bridge connecting the annexed Crimean peninsula to mainland Russia was partially destroyed by an explosion earlier this month.
The incident was seen as another major setback for forces in Moscow, which are struggling to contain a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south and east of the country.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held telephone talks with his French, Turkish and British counterparts to discuss Ukraine.
Shoigu raised “concerns about possible provocations by Ukraine with the use of a ‘dirty bomb'” in all three calls, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Ukraine reported three deaths in a Russian artillery strike overnight in the Toretsk region, a governor of the eastern Donetsk region said.
In Russia itself, two lines of defense have been built in the Kursk region near the border with Ukraine to deal with a possible attack, a local governor said on Sunday.
The move came a day after the governor of neighboring Belgorod region, which also borders Ukraine, said construction of defense structures had started in parts of the region.
Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov also reported the deaths of two civilians in strikes in his area on Saturday, adding that 15,000 people were left without power.
Evacuations from Kherson
Ukraine’s SBU intelligence service has come forward with a new charge of alleged collaboration, saying it arrested two officials from Ukrainian aircraft engine maker Motor Sich on suspicion of working with Russia.
The SBU said the management of the company’s plant in the Zaporizhzhia region of southern Ukraine, part of which is controlled by Russian forces, “acted in collusion” with the Russian defense conglomerate Rostec.
“The suspects established a transnational channel for the illegal supply of bulk lots of Ukrainian aircraft engines to the aggressor country,” the SBU said, adding that Russia used them to produce and repair attack helicopters.
The power cuts and deadly strikes came as pro-Moscow officials in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, which Russia claims to have annexed, on Saturday urged residents to leave “immediately” in a “tense situation” at the front.
Kherson, the region’s main city, was the first to fall to troops from Moscow and recapturing it would be a major prize in Ukraine’s counter-offensive.
Ukraine has denounced the expulsion of Kherson residents as “deportations”.
© 2022 AFP