Ukraine gradually restores electricity after bombings

Ukraine is trying to restore electricity throughout the country, after the latest Russian bombardments throughout the territory, while new strikes left five dead on Saturday. The heaviest human toll from the new attacks was recorded in the central Dnipropetrovsk region, where four people were killed and 15 others injured, said deputy chief of the Ukrainian presidential cabinet Kyrylo Tymoshenko. He added that Saturday’s shelling also left one dead and three injured in the southern region of Kherson.

Metro traffic, interrupted Friday in kyiv so that the population could take refuge there, resumed early in the morning and the water supply returned, said its mayor Vitali Klitschko. “75% of the inhabitants of the capital already have heating” and work continues to “stabilize the situation” in this area, he further assured. Electricity has also been restored in Kharkiv (East), Ukraine’s second largest city, according to regional governor Oleg Sinegoubov. In Kramatorsk, on the other hand, “the supply of water and heating has stopped”, lamented the mayor of this eastern city in the afternoon. The national company Ukrenergo, which had imposed emergency cuts following the attacks, for its part noted that, despite improvements,

“War crimes”

These strikes were denounced by the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell, who on Friday condemned this new “example of the blind terror of the Kremlin”, “cruel and inhuman attacks” against the population which “constitute war crimes”. The EU has also approved new sanctions targeting Moscow, which notably prohibit the export of drone engines to Russia or third countries able to supply them.

 For its part, France condemned the Russian bombings on Friday. “These acts constitute war crimes and in no way weaken France’s determination to support Ukraine and fight against impunity,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. A total of 74 missiles – mostly cruise missiles – were fired by Russia on Friday, 60 of which were shot down by air defense, according to Ukraine’s military.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that kyiv and fourteen regions had been affected by power or water cuts. He called for Western “increasing pressure” on the Kremlin and delivering more air defense systems to Ukraine. Throughout the country, interventions are underway to restore electricity. “Our engineers and repair crews have already started work during the air strike and are doing everything possible to restore power generation and supply. This takes time. But it will be done, ”said the Ukrainian president.

 Earlier, in kyiv, the mayor Vitali Klitchko specified that only a third of the inhabitants had water and heating, and 40% of electricity. Three people died following a Russian strike which hit a residential building in Kryvyi Rig (South), according to the regional governor. For their part, the pro-Russian authorities of the Luhansk region, in the east, accused the Ukrainian forces of artillery fire on two localities, killing 11 and wounding 17 on Friday.

Faced with a series of military setbacks this fall, Russia has opted since October for a tactic of massive strikes aimed at destroying Ukraine’s electrical networks and transformers, plunging millions of civilians into cold and darkness in the midst of winter. With this new wave of Russian bombardments on Friday, “it may take longer than before to restore electricity”, alerted the national electricity operator Ukrenergo on Facebook, which specified that “electricity (would be) provided in priority to essential infrastructure: hospitals, water services, heating installations, wastewater treatment plants”.

“I will survive the winter”

In the capital, bundled up in their coats, sitting on the ground or on the steps of the escalators, some residents spent several hours sheltered in the metro. “This morning, I woke up, I saw a missile in the sky, and I was not surprised. I saw it and I knew I had to go on the subway,” said Lada Korovai, a 25-year-old actress.

In Kharkiv (north-east), the second largest city in the country, the authorities announced in the evening that they had restored power to 55%. According to regional governor Oleg Sinegoubov, 85% of the region’s inhabitants had access to electricity on Friday evening. In the city of Bakhmout, which Moscow is tirelessly trying to conquer, a semi-trailer truck came to deliver some 200 wood-burning stoves, then distributed to the inhabitants by volunteers, noted Agence France-Presse.

Oleksandra, 85, came to get medicine. “I will survive the winter, I will walk more to warm myself up, I heard about a heating point, but I think it is not something well organized,” she told AFP. . Not far away, in Kramatorsk, the power was cut at the end of the afternoon and the population no longer had access to the telephone network, AFP noted.

 A Putin-Lukashenko summit on Monday

Russian and Belarusian Presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko are due to meet in Minsk on Monday for a summit intended to further strengthen their alliance. Belarus, Russia’s only ally in this war, lent its territory to allow the Russian assault on kyiv at the start of the invasion on February 24.

According to Lukashenko, the summit will be “above all (devoted) to the economic sphere”, but the two leaders will also talk about “the politico-military situation around (their) countries”. In an interview published on Thursday, Ukrainian army commander-in-chief Valery Zaluzhny said he was convinced that Russia would attempt a new attack on kyiv in the first months of 2023.

For his part, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned that Moscow was preparing for a long war against Ukraine in which the Alliance’s allies must continue to supply weapons until Mr Putin understands that he “cannot win on the battlefield”. “We see that they are mobilizing more forces, that they are ready to take a lot of losses as well, that they are trying to get access to more weapons and ammunition,” he warned.