Russia’s relentless attacks on power infrastructure prompted Ukrainian authorities on Friday to declare a major blackout in the country’s major cities, with the mayor of Kyiv warning that the capital’s power grid was operating in “emergency mode” with power supplies up to 50 percent below normal. levels of war.
In the Kyiv region, as winter progresses, the latest damage to utilities will mean outages of four hours or more a day, according to Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s national operator of high-voltage transmission lines.
But Gov. Oleksiy Kuleba warned “a strict and long-term ban will be applied in the coming days.”
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the city’s power grid was operating in “emergency mode,” and said he hoped Ukrenergo would find ways to deal with the shortage “in two to three weeks.”
The former world boxing champion also said that new air defense systems have been installed in the Ukrainian capital to help defend against Russian drone and missile attacks on energy facilities.
In the Kharkiv region, home to Ukraine’s second largest city of the same name, Gov. Oleg Syniehubov said that daily one-hour power outages will begin on Monday.
Officials across the country urged people to save by reducing electricity use during peak hours and avoiding the use of high-powered appliances.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last week that 30 percent of Ukraine’s power stations had been destroyed since Russia launched its first strike on infrastructure targets in Oct.
In the Zaporizhzhia region, Kremlin-appointed officials urged residents not to switch to daylight saving time with Kyiv and the rest of the country. Russia switched to permanent winter time in 2014.
“We live in the Russian Federation, and our city lives in the time of Moscow,” said Alexander Volga, the mayor of Enerhodar, where the European nuclear power station is located.
Meanwhile, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) plan to visit two sites where Russia says, without citing evidence, that Ukraine is building “dirty bombs.”
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said the inspectors were sent after a written request from the Ukrainian government.
Moscow has repeatedly made baseless claims that Ukraine is preparing to detonate a device that spreads radioactive waste on its territory while trying to blame Russia. Western officials have dismissed the claim as false information, which could be used as a justification for Russia’s military escalation.
Meanwhile, Russian missiles and rockets hit targets across Ukraine. Several towns across the Dnieper River from Russia’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant were hit, the president’s office said.
The shells damaged many residential buildings in Nikopol, and the electricity went out there and for thousands of families in the neighboring towns.
A Russian S-300 air defense missile destroyed a three-story office building and damaged a new residential building nearby, Mykolaiv regional governor Vitalii Kim said. Russian forces regularly use modified S-300 missiles to strike targets in Ukraine.
Moscow reasserted its hold on the cities of Bakhmut and Avdikva after a string of retreats to the east. The fighting had turned the entire Donetsk region into a “war zone,” according to Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko.
“Citizens living in this area are always afraid without heating and electricity,” Kyrylenko said in a television report. “Their enemy is not only the Russian cannons but also the cold.”
Russia’s capture of Bakhmut, which has been in Ukrainian hands throughout the war, will pave the way for the Kremlin to advance on other Ukrainian strongholds in the Donetsk region. A reinforced offensive in the east could hinder or derail Ukraine’s push to retake the southern city of Kherson, the gateway to Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Last month, Putin illegally annexed the regions of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia. Much of the fighting since then has appeared aimed at consolidating Moscow’s control over the region, which Putin has placed under martial law.
Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai reported on Friday that Russian troops have retreated to some areas; Moscow claimed that Luhansk was fully captured in July.
“The Russians destroyed some villages after they started retreating,” Haidai said. “There are many Russians who were recently gathered in the Luhansk region, but they died in large numbers.” His claim could not be independently verified.
Putin calls for efficient and well-trained officials
Meanwhile, the Russian president tried to quell criticism of the call-up of 300,000 people to serve in Ukraine by ordering his defense minister to ensure they are well trained and equipped for battle.
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that the thousands of people who will be called up recently need proper training and equipment so that “people can trust themselves when they have to go to war.”
Shoigu told Putin that 82,000 people have been sent to Ukraine, while another 218,000 are still being trained. He said there were no current plans for more consolidation, but Putin’s order to consolidate left the door open for future calls.
Putin’s efforts to increase the number of troops within 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) have followed recent setbacks, including Russia’s withdrawal from the Kharkiv region. However, this sparked protests in Russia and caused hundreds of thousands of men to leave the country.
Activists and reports by Russian media and the Associated Press said many of the recruits were inexperienced, told to buy basic items such as medical equipment and flak jackets themselves, and received no training before being sent into combat. Some were killed within days of being drafted.
Shoigu admitted that “supply problems existed in the early stages,” but told Putin that they had now been resolved.
Putin ordered Shoigu to suggest ways to reform the ground forces and other military units based on their performance in Ukraine.