Ukraine tries to restore power for winter after major Russian attacks on infrastructure

KIEV (Reuters) – Millions of Ukrainians were still without heat or power on Friday after the most devastating Russian air strikes on Ukraine’s power grid so far, with residents warned to prepare for further attacks and stockpile water, food and clothing. hot.

Moscow says attacks on Ukraine’s basic infrastructure are militarily legitimate and that Kiev can end its people’s suffering if it gives in to Russian demands. Ukraine says attacks aimed at causing civil misery are a war crime.

“Together we have endured nine months of full-scale war and Russia has not found a way to break us, and will not find one,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an overnight speech.

Russia has been hitting the Ukrainian power grid far from the front lines of the war with long-range missiles about once a week since early October.

Wednesday’s attacks caused the worst damage yet, leaving millions of people without electricity, water or heat even as temperatures across the country plunged below freezing.

Nearly 48 hours after the attacks, national grid operator Ukrenergo said the power system was still 30% short of meeting demand.

The three nuclear power plants in Ukrainian-held territory are now operational, he said, two days after attacks forced Ukraine to shut them down for the first time in 40 years, creating what Kiev called a risk of nuclear catastrophe.

Zelenskiy also accused Russia of bombing Kherson, the southern Ukrainian city that Russian troops abandoned earlier this month. Seven people were killed and 21 wounded in a Russian attack on Thursday, local officials said.

Russia insists it does not target civilians in the “special military operation” launched in late February. International human rights officials say the stance is difficult to reconcile with attacks across the country on civilian infrastructure.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Tom Balmforth; Additional reporting by Stefaniia Bern, Ronald Popeski and Reuters Writing)

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