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Russian strikes force Ukraine to power outages for hours

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s power grid operator warned of hours of blackouts on Friday as Russia targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with renewed artillery and rocket attacks that interrupted supplies to as many as 40% of the population at the start of winter.

Grid operator Ukrenergo said outages could last several hours, with colder temperatures putting additional strain on energy networks.

You should always prepare for the worst, we understand that the enemy wants to destroy our energy system in general, to cause prolonged power cuts,” Ukrenergo’s chief executive Volodymyr Kudrytskyi told Ukrainian state television on Friday. “We need to prepare for possible long-term outages, but at this point we are introducing scheduled schedules and will do everything we can to make sure the outages don’t last very long.”

Kudrytskyi added that the power situation in critical facilities such as hospitals and schools has stabilized.

According to regional governor Oleh Syniehubov, nightly shelling and rocket attacks targeted “critical infrastructure” and damaged energy equipment in the northeastern region of Kharkiv. Eight people, including crews from energy companies and police officers, were injured in clearing the debris, he said.

Moscow’s attacks on Ukraine’s power and power plants in recent weeks have left millions without heating and electricity, fueling fears of what the dead of winter will bring. Energy infrastructure was targeted again on Thursday after Russia unleashed a nationwide barrage of more than 100 missiles and drones two days earlier that incapacitated 10 million people.

Those attacks have also had a knock-on effect on neighboring countries such as Moldova, where half a dozen cities in that country experienced temporary blackouts.

Russian forces unleashed the breadth of their arsenal to attack southeastern Ukraine using drones, missiles, heavy artillery and warplanes, resulting in the deaths of at least six civilians and the wounding of an equal number in the past 24 hours , the president’s office reported.

In the Zaporizhzhia region, part of which remains under Russian control, artillery shelled ten towns and villages. The death toll from a rocket attack on a residential building in the city of Vilniansk has risen to nine people on Thursday, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office Kyrylo Tymoshenko reported on Telegram.

In Nikopol, located across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, 40 Russian missiles damaged several high-rise buildings, private houses, outbuildings and a power line.

In the wake of its humiliating withdrawal from the southern city of Kherson, Moscow stepped up its assault on the eastern Donetsk region, where Russia’s defense ministry said on Friday its forces seized control of the village of Opytne and repelled a Ukrainian counter-offensive to destroy the settlements. from Solodke. Volodymyrivka and Pavlivka.

The city of Bakhmut, a key target of Moscow’s attempt to seize all of Donetsk and win a demonstrable victory after a series of battlefield setbacks, remains the scene of heavy fighting, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

The Russian defense ministry also said Ukrainian troops were being pushed back from Yahidne in Ukraine’s eastern Kharkov province and Kuzemivka in neighboring Luhansk province. Donetsk and Luhansk were among four Ukrainian provinces illegally annexed by Moscow in September, along with Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

At the same time, Moscow is strengthening its defenses in the southern region to thwart further Ukrainian advances. According to a British Ministry of Defense report, Russian troops have dug new trenches on the border with Crimea and on the Siversky-Donets River between Donetsk and the Luhansk Oblasts.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian and international investigators continue their work to uncover suspected war crimes committed by Russian forces during the nearly seven-month-old occupation of the Karkhiv region. Ukraine’s National Police said in a statement Friday that its officers had filed more than 3,000 criminal suits alleging “violations of the customs of war” by Russian troops.

A light Ukrainian counter-offensive in September recaptured the Kharkiv region and pushed Russian forces back into the Donbas, the country’s eastern industrial heartland, and recaptured strategically located towns, including Izium and Kupiansk.

Reports of torture and other atrocities committed by Russian forces have also emerged from the Kherson region, where Ukrainian officials said they have opened more than 430 war crimes cases and are investigating four alleged torture sites.

Alesha Babenko from Kyselivka village said he was arrested by the Russians in September and locked in a cellar. The 27-year-old said he was regularly beaten by Russian soldiers while bound, blindfolded and threatened with electric shocks.

“I thought I was going to die,” he told The Associated Press.

Kherson residents continued to queue for food from a charity, and many said they had nothing to eat and were left without heating or electricity. A man said: “all the refrigerators are defrosted, we have nothing to eat.”

Despite the hardships, a small sign of a return to normalcy was the news that the first train from the capital Kyiv to Kherson was set to depart on Friday evening. Ukraine’s state rail network Ukrzaliznytsia said about 200 passengers will travel by train – the first in nine months.

Dubbed the “Train to Victory”, the train’s carriages were painted in eclectic designs by Ukrainian artists and the tickets were sold as part of a “Tickets to Victory” charity project.

In Vienna, the board of directors of the International Atomic Energy Agency approved a resolution calling, among other things, for Russia to withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia plant, the largest in Ukraine and Europe.

British Ambassador Corinne Kitsell tweeted Thursday night that 24 countries voted for and two against the resolution, which was led by Canada and Finland. Russian ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov identified the two countries voting against as Russia and China, saying seven states abstained.

Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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