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Ukraine braces for harsh winter as Russian strikes cripple power facilities

Ukrainians are preparing for a winter without power in many areas, including Kyiv. Temperatures have already fallen below freezing since relentless Russian strikes severely reduced half of the country’s energy resources.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called for people to preserve power, especially in areas like Kyiv, Vinnytsia (southwest), Sumy (north) and Odesa (Black Sea).

Moscow has responded to military setbacks over the past weeks with a barrage missile strikes against power plants. Zelenskiy stated that Russian rockets had destroyed half of the country’s power capacity.

In his nightly video address, Zelenskiy stated that “the systematic damage to our electricity system by strikes by the Russian terrorists has been so substantial that all our citizens and businesses should be aware and redistribute the consumption throughout the day.” Try to reduce your personal electricity consumption.

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According to a head of major energy provider, millions of Ukrainians will experience blackouts every day – at least up until 31 March.

Sergey Kovalenko is the head of YASNO which supplies energy to Kyiv. He said that workers are rushing for repairs before the winter chill arrives.

Residents of Kherson in the south, which Kyiv claims Russian troops have destroyed crucial infrastructure, can apply for relocation to areas with less security and heating problems.

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Iryna Vereshchuk, deputy prime minister, posted in a Telegram message to Kherson residents – particularly the elderly, women with kids and those who are disabled – a list of ways residents could express their interest in moving.

She wrote that “you can be evacuated for winter to safer areas of the country”, citing both infrastructure and security issues.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, said that the blackouts and Russia’s strikes on the energy infrastructure were the result of Kyiv not being willing to negotiate. This was reported by the state TASS news agency late last week.

Mykhailo Podolyak, the Ukrainian presidential advisor, stated Monday evening that Russia was attacking Kherson across the Dnipro River now that its troops have fled.

He tweeted: “There is no military logic. They just want revenge on the locals.”

Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians as part of a “special military operations” to rid Ukraine from nationalists and protect Russian speaking communities.

The West and Kyiv both describe Russia’s actions in unprovoked wars of aggression.

NUCLEAR PLANT SHELLING

After the arrival of the Russian troops from the south into the industrial Donbas region around Kherson, fighting continued in the east.

Late Monday, the Ukrainian military stated that Russian forces attempted to advance around Bakhmut in Donetsk and Avdiivka (in Donetsk), and bombarded nearby villages.

Moscow has been strengthening the areas it holds and launching an offensive along the front line west from the city of Donetsk, which is held by its proxy since 2014.

On Monday, Russia and Ukraine traded blame for at most a dozen explosions at Ukraine’s Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. This facility has been under Russian control since shortly after its invasion of the country on February 24, but is located across the Dnipro River in areas controlled by Kyiv.

The fighting that rocked Europe’s largest plant with a barrage shells at weekend saw Ukraine escape almost certain disaster. The U.N. nuclear watchdog stated that some fell close to reactors and damaged radioactive waste storage buildings.

Zelenskiy asked NATO members to ensure protection against “Russian sabotage” at nuclear facilities.

On Monday, IAEA experts visited the site and found extensive damage but not enough to compromise the essential functions of the plant.

Although the reactors have been shut down, there still exists the possibility that the nuclear fuel might overheat if power to the cooling systems is reduced. Shelling has cut power lines repeatedly.

According to Russia’s defense ministry, Ukraine attacked power lines that supply the plant.

Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear energy company, claimed that Russia attacked the site and accused it of nuclear blackmail.

Concern has been raised by repeated shelling of the plant in wartime.

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