- “Invincible centers” to provide heating, water and the Internet
- Widespread power outages due to Russia targeting the electricity grid
- The Group of Seven will soon announce the ceiling for Russian oil prices – an American official
Kyiv (Reuters) – Ukraine has promised shelters with heat and water and encouraged its people to conserve energy as a harsh winter approaches amid relentless Russian strikes that have left its electrical infrastructure in tatters.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Tuesday that special “invincibility centers” will be set up across Ukraine to provide free and round-the-clock electricity, heat, water, internet, mobile phone and pharmacy connections.
The Russian attacks caused prolonged power outages for up to 10 million consumers at one time. Ukraine’s national power grid operator said on Wednesday that more power outages would be necessary across the country.
“If massive Russian strikes happen again and it turns out that power will not be restored for hours, the” immunity centers “will start working with all the main services,” Zelensky said.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said this week that about 8,500 generator sets are imported into Ukraine every day.
The first snow of winter fell in most parts of the country this past week.
Authorities have warned of power outages that could affect millions of people until the end of March – the latest impact from Russia’s nine-month-old invasion that has already killed tens of thousands, uprooted millions and devastated the global economy.
The Russian attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities follow a series of field setbacks that included the withdrawal of its forces from the southern city of Kherson to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River that divides the country.
A week after Ukrainian forces retook the city, residents in Kherson demolished Russian propaganda billboards and replaced them with pro-Ukrainian banners.
“The moment our soldiers entered, these posters were printed and handed to us. We found workers to install the posters, and we are cleaning the advertisement as quickly as possible,” said Antonina Dobrozinska, who works for the State Communications Department.
Russia is hitting Ukraine with expensive long-range cruise missiles and cheap Iranian drones. Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday that there had been no public reports of Russia using Iranian one-way attack drones since around November 17, which it said was an indication that Moscow may be running out of them, and will try to get more.
On the messaging service Telegram, the governor of the region said that Russian missiles hit a maternity hospital in Zaporizhia region killing a baby.
Reuters could not independently verify the news. Russia denies targeting civilians.
The battles have broken out in the east, as Russia launches an offensive along a frontline stretch west of the city of Donetsk, which has been controlled by its proxies since 2014. The Donetsk region has been the scene of fierce attacks and incessant bombing in the past. Zelensky said 24 hours.
The region’s governor said that in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, Russian air defenses were activated and two drone attacks were repelled on Tuesday, one of which targeted a power station near Sevastopol. Sevastopol is the main port of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
Russian governor Mikhail Razvojev called for calm and said there was no damage.
This week, the World Health Organization warned that hundreds of Ukrainian hospitals and healthcare facilities lack fuel, water and electricity.
Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said in a statement after visiting Ukraine.
Russia says it is carrying out a “special military operation” to protect Russian-speaking communities. Ukraine and the West call it an unprovoked imperial takeover of land.
Western responses have included financial and military aid to Kiev – it received 2.5 billion euros ($2.57 billion) from the European Union on Tuesday and expects $4.5 billion in US aid in the coming weeks – and waves of sanctions on Russia.
The BBC has reported that Britain will send three helicopters to Ukraine, the first manned aircraft since the war began. She added that Ukraine would deploy them with Ukrainian crews trained in Britain.
The West has also sought to reduce the prices of Russian energy exports, aiming to lower the oil revenues that finance Moscow’s war machine while keeping oil flowing to global markets to prevent a price hike.
A senior US Treasury official said on Tuesday that the Group of Seven countries should announce the price ceiling soon and will probably adjust the level several times a year.
(Reporting by Pavel Politiuk, Aleksandr Kozuchar, and Maria Starkova in Kyiv, Ronald Popisky in Winnipeg, and Lydia Kelly in Sydney; Writing by Rosalba O’Brien and Lincoln Feist; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Robert Purcell, and Nick McPhee
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