Ukraine is struggling to restore power as Russia attacks the power grid

Much of Ukraine has been left without heat and electricity after Russia’s most devastating airstrikes on the energy grid yet, and in Kyiv residents have been warned to prepare for further attacks and to stock up on water, food and warm clothing.

Oscow acknowledges the attack on basic infrastructure and says it aims to reduce Ukraine’s combat capability and urge it to negotiate.

Kyiv says such attacks are a war crime.

“We endured nine months of all-out war together, and Russia has not found and will not find a way to break us,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a late-night video address on Thursday.

Zelenskyy also accused Russia of incessant shelling of Kherson, the southern Ukrainian city it abandoned earlier this month.

A Russian attack on Thursday killed seven people and wounded 21, local authorities said.

Seen from space, Ukraine has become a dark spot on the globe at night, NASA satellite imagery showed.

Zelenskyi said while electricity, heat, communications and water are gradually being restored, 15 regions still face water supply problems.

Ukrenergo, which monitors Ukraine’s national electricity grid, said 50 percent of demand was not being met as of 7 p.m. Kiev time (5 p.m. GMT) on Thursday.

In the capital Kyiv, a city of three million, 60 percent of residents were without power in temperatures well below freezing, Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said.

“We understand that such missile attacks could happen again. We must be prepared for any developments,” he added, according to the Kyiv City Council.

Authorities have set up “invincibility centers” where people can charge phones, warm up and get hot drinks.

“It’s the second day we’ve been without power and food. More than 60 children are waiting for food and we cannot prepare anything unless the electricity is fixed,” said a woman at one such center in Kyiv.

Russia’s barrage on Thursday killed 11 people and shut down all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants for the first time in 40 years.

As of Thursday, nine months had passed since Moscow launched a so-called “military special operation” to protect the Russian-speaking population.

Ukraine and the West say the invasion is an unprovoked war of aggression.

Since early October, Russia has fired missiles to destroy Ukraine’s power grid about once a week.

Zelenskyi told the Financial Times that this week’s strikes created a situation not seen in 80 or 90 years – “a country on the European continent where there was no light at all”.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has visited Ukraine and will pledge millions of dollars in further support to ensure the country gets the aid it needs over the winter, his office said on Friday.

Cleverly, who will meet Zelenskyy on the trip, condemned Russia for its “brutal attacks” on civilians, hospitals and energy infrastructure.

Ukrainian officials said a reactor at a nuclear power plant, Khmelnytskyi, was reconnected to the grid late Thursday.

The giant Zaporizhia power plant on Russian territory was reconnected on Thursday, Ukraine’s Energoatom nuclear power plant said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was Kiev’s fault that Ukrainians were suffering because it refused to give in to Moscow’s demands, which it failed to articulate. Ukraine says it will not stop fighting until all Russian forces have withdrawn.

Nuclear officials say power outages can disrupt cooling systems and cause a nuclear catastrophe.

More than 15,000 people were missing during the war in Ukraine, an official with the Kiev office of the Hague-based International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) said.

ICMP program director for Europe Matthew Holliday said it was unclear how many people were forcibly transferred, detained in Russia, alive and separated from family members, or died and buried in makeshift graves.

In Kyiv, members of the Kyiv National Academic Operetta Theater bid a tearful goodbye to 26-year-old ballet dancer Vadym Khlupianets, who was killed fighting Russian troops.

Moscow switched to the tactic of attacking Ukraine’s infrastructure, despite Kyiv inflicting battlefield defeats on Russian forces since September.

The first winter of the war will now test whether Ukraine can continue its campaign to retake territory or whether Russian commanders can stem Kiev’s momentum.

Zelenskyi said Ukrainian troops were preparing to advance in some areas, but gave no details.

After the retreat, Russia has a much shorter line of defense to hold conquered lands, as more than a third of the front is now blocked by the Dnipro River.

Russia has conducted its own offensive along the frontline west of the city of Donetsk, which has been held by Moscow’s proxies since 2014. Ukraine said Russian forces tried again to attack its main targets Bakhmut and Avdiivka, with limited success.

Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield accounts. Ukraine is struggling to restore power as Russia attacks the power grid

Fry Electronics Team

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