KYIV, Ukraine—Ukraine called on residents to limit their use of electricity on Thursday after 10 days of targeted Russian missile-and-drone attacks damaged critical energy infrastructure across the country.
said he would meet officials on Thursday to accelerate repairs to facilities and urged residents to ration their use while the work is under way.
“The general situation requires very conscious use of electricity,” he said in a video address late on Wednesday, asking Ukrainians to limit electricity consumption between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. and to explain the recommendations to relatives and friends.
“Everyone who follows this simple rule in peak hours is helping the whole country,” he said.
Ukrainian cities are highly dependent on reliable electricity supplies and centralized heating. Any disruption to these during winter can cause pipes to burst and render high-rises uninhabitable. In towns near the front lines that have been deprived of gas and electricity, some residents have spent months cooking on open fires in the courtyards of homes—a situation that could cause a new exodus of Ukrainians to Europe if repeated across the country.
Russia has markedly stepped up attacks on Ukrainian cities since Oct. 10, when it launched the biggest barrage of the war so far. Kyiv has accused Russia of trying to wear down the civilian population in response to Ukraine’s battlefield victories.
On Thursday, German Chancellor
told Germany’s parliament that the strikes are war crimes that wouldn’t help Moscow achieve victory.
“Deliberate attacks on the civilian population are war crimes,” Mr. Scholz said. “Even such a scorched-earth tactic will not help Russia win the war. It only bolsters the resolve and perseverance of Ukraine and its allies. Russia’s bomb-and-missile terror is an act of desperation.”
Kyiv says Russia’s attacks have knocked out some 30% of the country’s power plants, which typically provide its electricity. A separate system of nationwide power plants burns fuel, such as natural gas or oil, to heat water for city-wide piping networks. These go to heat almost half of all Ukraine’s buildings. That system, too, is under threat, making cities such as Kyiv vulnerable not only to blackouts, but also to extended periods without heat.
The heating season is just starting and temperatures in many places are still relatively mild. But temperatures can drop well below freezing starting in December, hitting their lowest levels in January and February.
Western governments have said there is ample evidence that the Russian assault is increasingly relying on Iranian-made suicide drones. Some of these have managed to defy Ukraine’s air defenses, which have otherwise denied Russian warplanes access to the skies over the country.
Current and former U.S. officials say Tehran has dispatched military advisers to help the Russians more effectively use the drones.
Tehran has denied providing Moscow with any weapons for use in Ukraine. All drones used in Ukraine were manufactured in Russia,
Russia’s first deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, said on Wednesday. Moscow would review its cooperation with U.N. Secretary-General
if the organization sends experts to Ukraine to inspect drones used by Russia and shot down by Ukraine, Mr. Polyanskiy said.
Mr. Polyanskiy called on Mr. Guterres and his staff to abstain from “engaging in any illegitimate investigation. Otherwise, we will have to reassess our collaboration with them, which is hardly in anyone’s interests.” He didn’t elaborate further.
The U.N. decision to send experts came after a Ukrainian request of a closed discussion of the Security Council on Wednesday evening, called by the U.S. and European allies.
In his speech on Wednesday, Mr. Zelensky praised the IRIS-T homing missiles provided by Germany, which helped shoot down Russian rockets during a barrage that targeted 10 regions across Ukraine that afternoon.
“We are working with partners to provide even better defense to Ukrainian skies,” he said.
As Ukraine has sought to up the effectiveness of its air defenses, its forces in the south have continued an advance aimed at retaking the southern Kherson region from Russia. Russian occupying authorities in the regional capital on Thursday continued to transfer residents out of the city to the safer left bank of the Dnipro River, also using pontoon bridges to move equipment and elite units out of the direct path of Ukraine’s offensive, Ukrainian officials and Western analysts said.
The U.K.’s Defense Ministry on Thursday said Russia’s evacuation of residents and earlier statements about a difficult situation emerging in Kherson likely presage a possible full withdrawal from the city, the only Ukrainian regional capital Russia has captured since the invasion began in February.
The recent mention of difficulties in the southern campaign, the ministry said, “likely indicates that the Russian authorities are seriously considering a major withdrawal of their forces from the area west of the Dnipro River.”
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