Blackouts in parts of Ukraine after ‘massive’ Russian attacks | Russia-Ukraine war News

Hundreds of thousands of people in central and western Ukraine are without power after Russia launched massive drone and missile attacks, while intense fighting continues in the southeastern region of Lugansk, Donetsk and Kherson, where Russia has struggled to stop Ukraine’s renewed progress.

Ukraine’s air force said in a statement on Saturday that Russia had launched a “massive missile attack” targeting “critical infrastructure”, hours after air raid sirens sounded across the country. It said it shot down 18 of 33 air- and sea-launched cruise missiles.

Local officials in Ukraine’s regions reported strikes on power facilities and power outages as engineers scrambled to restore the ruined grid. Some advised residents to stock up on water in the event of a cut.

Russia has stepped up its attacks on power plants, water systems and other key infrastructure across the country since October 10, destroying a third of Ukraine’s power plants in apparent retaliation for the attack on the Crimean bridge – a key route of military supply – and recently the progress made by Ukrainian forces.

INTERACTIVE - WHO CONTROLS WHAT IN UKRAINE 240
(Al Jazeera)

No power, no water

After the first wave of rockets struck early in the morning, air raid sirens sounded again nationwide at 11:15 local time (08:15 GMT).

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State grid operator Ukrenergo said the attacks targeted transport infrastructure in western Ukraine, but that power restrictions were in place in 10 regions of the country, including the capital, Kyiv.

“The extent of the damage is comparable or may exceed the consequences of the attacks [between] October 10-12,” Ukrenergo wrote on the Telegram app, referring to the first wave of strikes on Ukraine’s energy system last week.

“Another missile attack by terrorists who are fighting against civilian infrastructure and people,” Ukrainian president’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak wrote on the Telegram app.

The western city of Hmelnytskyi, which straddles the Bug River and was home to about 275,000 people before the war, was left without electricity shortly after local media reported several loud explosions.

The city council urged residents to stockpile water “in case it’s gone and within an hour,” in a social media post on Saturday.

The mayor of Lutsk, a city of 215,000 in Ukraine’s far west, made a similar call on Telegram on Saturday. Power in Lutsk was partially cut after Russian missiles hit local power facilities, he said.

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The central city of Uman, a key pilgrimage center for Hasidic Jews, which had about 100,000 residents before the war, was also plunged into darkness after a rocket hit a nearby power plant, regional authorities said on Telegram .

In comments to the AFP news agency on Saturday, Ukrenergo said some parts of Ukraine were cutting their electricity consumption by up to 20 percent.

“We are grateful to both people, who have reduced their consumption at home, and companies, who are doing the same in their offices and workplaces. We observe savings in different regions and on different days the level of voluntary consumption reduction varies on average from five to 20%,” Ukrenergo head Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said in written comments to AFP.

Earlier this week, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked consumers to reduce their energy use between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. daily and avoid using energy-guzzling appliances such as electric heaters.

Fighting in Kherson

Meanwhile, Russia’s defense ministry said on Saturday that its forces had repelled attempted Ukrainian offensives in southern Lugansk and Donetsk regions and southern Kherson region.

It said Russian forces thwarted an attempt by Ukraine to break through its defense line in the Kherson region by the settlements of Piatykhatky, Sukhanove, Sablukivka and Bezvodne.

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Ukrainian authorities say they have taken about 88 towns in the region. Al Jazeera could not independently verify reports from the battlefield.

Civilians evacuated from Ukraine's Russian-controlled Kherson region arrive at a train station in the city of Dzhankoi, Crimea, October 20, 2022. REUTERS/Alexey Pavlishak TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Civilians evacuated from Ukraine’s Russian-controlled Kherson region arrive at a train station in the city of Dzhankoi, Crimea, on October 20, 2022. [Alexey Pavlishak/Reuters]

Kherson is one of four Ukrainian territories illegally annexed by Moscow last month.

Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of planning to blow up a huge dam in the Kherson region. President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed that Russian forces are planting explosives in the Nova Kakhovka dam.

He warned that its destruction would be catastrophic. Meanwhile, Russian officials stationed in Kherson accused Ukraine of firing missiles at the dam.

Neither side presented evidence for their claims.

Al Jazeera’s reporting Kimberley Halkett from the White House spoke to National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, who said Russia’s attack on civilian infrastructure, including that allegedly at the dam, was “absolutely unacceptable” .

“It’s another example of Russian brutality against the Ukrainian people, trying to put fear into them and trying to affect their ability to get through what will likely be a cold winter,” he said.

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