- Ukrainians with little or no heating after the bombings
- Temperatures in several regions already below freezing point
- Kherson residents receive offer to evacuate to safer areas
- Ukrainian security services raid famous monastery in Kyiv
KYIV, Nov 22 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s government on Tuesday urged people to save energy in the face of relentless Russian strikes that have halved the country’s energy capacity, as the United Nations health body put in place guard against a humanitarian disaster in Ukraine this winter.
Authorities said millions of Ukrainians, including in the capital Kyiv, could face power cuts at least until the end of March due to missile attacks, which Ukraine’s national grid operator Ukrenergo said to have caused. “colossal” damage.
Temperatures have been exceptionally mild in Ukraine this fall, but are starting to drop below freezing and are expected to drop to -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) or even lower in some areas during the winter months.
Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities follow a series of battlefield setbacks that have included a withdrawal of Russian forces from the southern city of Kherson to the eastern bank of the mighty Dnipro River that runs through the country.
“Electricity savings remain of crucial importance,” Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Telegram on Tuesday.
Planned power outages are occurring in all regions, and emergency outages are possible in some situations as frosts have started and electricity consumption is increasing, he said.
Ukrenergo chief Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said on Tuesday that virtually no thermal or hydropower plants had been spared, although he dismissed the need to evacuate civilians.
“We cannot generate as much energy as consumers can use,” Kudrytskyi told a briefing, adding that after a brief cold spell on Wednesday, temperatures are expected to rise again, providing an opportunity to stabilize. the electricity generation system.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said hundreds of Ukrainian hospitals and health facilities lacked fuel, water and electricity.
“The Ukrainian health system is so far going through the darkest days of the war. After suffering more than 700 attacks, it is now also a victim of the energy crisis,” said Hans Kluge, WHO regional director. for Europe, in a press release after his visit to Ukraine. .
Workers are rushing to repair damaged electricity infrastructure, according to Sergey Kovalenko, the head of YASNO, which supplies energy to Kyiv.
“Stock up on warm clothes, blankets, think about options that will help you through a long blackout,” Kovalenko said.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s deputy chief of staff Kyrylo Tymoshenko told a briefing quoted by Ukrainian media that gas supplies had been restored to 1,300 settlements recaptured from Russia in a Ukrainian counteroffensive .
Water supply was restored in 1,400 settlements and mobile communications in 1,200 settlements.
In a Telegram message to residents of Kherson, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk posted a number of ways residents can express their interest in leaving. “You may be evacuated during the winter period to safer parts of the country,” she wrote.
Russian strikes on energy infrastructure are the consequence of Kyiv’s refusal to negotiate, the official TASS news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying last week.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said Russia was shelling Kherson across the Dnipro River now that its troops had fled. “There is no military logic: they just want revenge on the locals,” he tweeted on Monday evening.
Moscow denies deliberately attacking civilians in what it calls a “special military operation” to rid Ukraine of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities.
Kyiv and the West portray Russia’s actions as an unprovoked imperialist land grab in the neighboring state it once ruled in the former Soviet Union.
The nine-month war has killed tens of thousands, uprooted millions and damaged the global economy. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has said the world’s worst energy crisis since the 1970s will trigger a sudden slowdownEurope being the hardest hit.
Battles continued to rage in the east, where Russia is launching an offensive along a stretch of the frontline west of the city of Donetsk held by its proxies since 2014.
“Attacks continue to damage critical infrastructure and civilian homes,” the Ukrainian General Staff said.
Four people have been killed and four injured in Ukrainian-held areas of the Donetsk region in the past 24 hours, regional governor Pavlo Kyryleno said on the Telegram messaging app.
The Russian bombings too hit Tuesday at a humanitarian aid distribution center in Orihiv, southeastern Ukraine, killing a volunteer and injuring two women, the regional governor said.
Orihiv is about 110 km (70 miles) east of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which has been bombed again in recent days, with Russia and Ukraine blamed for the explosions.
In Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, Russian air defenses were activated and two drones were shot down over the city of Sevastopol on Tuesday, the regional governor said, urging people to keep calm.
Sevastopol is the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
HELP AND RAID
Meanwhile, Ukraine received a further 2.5 billion euros ($2.57 billion) in financial support from the European Union on Tuesday, Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko said.
In Washington, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the disbursement of $4.5 billion in US aid to Ukraine would begin in the coming weeks to bolster its economic stability.
SBU Ukrainian Security Service and Police raided a 1,000-year-old Orthodox Christian monastery in Kyiv early Tuesday as part of operations to counter “suspected subversive activities of Russian special services”, the SBU said.
The sprawling Kyiv Pechersk Lavra complex – or Cave Monastery – is a Ukrainian cultural treasure and the seat of the Russian-backed wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that falls under the Moscow Patriarchate.
The Russian Orthodox Church condemned the raid as an “act of intimidation”.
Reporting by Oleksandr Kozhukhar and Maria Starkova in Kyiv, Lidia Kelly in Melbourne and Ronald Popeski in Winnipeg; Written by Shri Navaratnam and Gareth Jones; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Alex Richardson and Mark Heinrich
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