- Russian attacks destroy Ukrainian energy and water facilities
- Ukraine says it wants to cut power consumption by a fifth
- Ukrainians save energy, some leave running water
- The battle for the southern city of Kherson rages on
KYIV, Oct. 20 (Reuters) – Ukrainians stockpiled electricity and some ran out of water as they tried to ease pressure on the grid and give engineers a chance to rebuild infrastructure destroyed by Russian strikes.
Despite successful counteroffensives against Russian forces in the east and south, Ukraine is struggling to protect power generation facilities and other utilities from Russian air and drone attacks that are disrupting and depressing people’s lives as winter approaches.
Ukraine’s government said on Thursday that Russia’s Feb. 24 The country imposed power restrictions for the first time since the invasion, which President Volodymr Zelenskiy said followed a spate of attacks that hit a third of all power plants.
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Under the new energy saving regime, electricity supply across Ukraine was restricted from 7am to 11pm on Thursday.
Ukraine’s energy minister said the government is seeking a 20% reduction in energy use and that Ukrainians are responding to calls to curb use.
“We’re seeing a decline in consumption,” he said. “We are seeing a reduction in volunteering. But when that is not enough, we are forced to bring about forced shutdowns,” Minister Herman Halushchenko told Ukrainian television.
Russia has carried out more than 300 airstrikes against Ukrainian energy facilities since October 10.
Zelenskiy told the nation in a video address on Wednesday night: “There has been new damage to critical infrastructure. Three energy facilities were destroyed by the enemy today.
“We assume that Russian terrorism will be directed at energy facilities until 100% of enemy missiles and drones are shot down with the help of partners.”
A coal-fired thermal power plant in Burstyn, western Ukraine, was one of the facilities hit on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately there is destruction, it is very serious,” Ivano-Frankivsk governor Svitlana Onyshchuk said on Ukrainian television.
“Please limit your electricity use,” Zelensky told Ukrainians in the same address to the nation.
The Ukrainian leader was due to address an EU summit later Thursday. The leaders of the 27 member states will discuss options for additional support to Ukraine, including energy equipment, help to restore electricity supplies and long-term financing for reconstruction.
Battle for Kherson
Cities in the northeast, such as the capital Kyiv and Kharkiv, announced bans on the use of electric public transport such as trolleybuses and reduced the frequency of trains on the metro.
DTEK, the main power supply company in Kyiv, told consumers it was doing its best to ensure power outages did not last longer than four hours.
The entire northeastern region of Sumy, which borders Russia, said it would be without water, electric transport or street lights for the rest of the day – from 0700 to 2300 local time.
“We need time to restore power stations, we need a break from our consumers,” Volodymyr Gudrytskyi, head of grid operator Ukrenergo, told Ukrainian television.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday it was continuing to target Ukrainian energy infrastructure, which it had stepped up since the appointment of Sergei Churovykin earlier this month — nicknamed “General Armageddon” by Russian media. Moscow called it a “special military operation”.
Witnesses told Reuters five drones struck the southern port city of Mykolaiv on Thursday, but it was unclear where they exploded.
The Ukrainian army has been trying to advance towards the southern city of Kherson, the only regional capital Russian forces have captured since their invasion eight months ago.
The Russian-appointed administration on Wednesday told civilians to leave the city – whose control allows it to control the only land route to the Crimean peninsula, seized by Russia in 2014, and the mouth of the Dnipro river.
Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the pro-Russia administration in the Kherson region, wrote on Telegram on Wednesday that Ukraine launched an attack on Novaya Kamianka and Perislav in the Kherson region.
While Ukraine remained tight-lipped about its operations, its military said 43 Russian soldiers had been killed and six tanks and other equipment destroyed in an update early Thursday in the Kherson region.
The Russian Defense Ministry described the battle in the area on Thursday, saying its forces were ultimately victorious.
“In the area of the Sukhanovo settlement of the Kherson region, the enemy managed to drive a wedge into the defensive lines of the Russian units,” the ministry said.
“Since the Russian command introduced a tank reserve into the battle and launched an ambush, the enemy was significantly defeated, the Ukrainian units fled. The position on the front edge of the defensive line was completely restored.”
Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports.
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Report by Reuters Bureau; By Andrew Osborne; Editing by Angus MacSwan
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