Pro IQRA News Updates.
Russia unleashed a barrage of missiles across Ukraine on Wednesday, forcing shutdowns at nuclear power plants and killing civilians in Kyiv as Moscow waged a campaign to plunge Ukrainian cities into darkness and cold as winter approaches.
The entire capital region, home to more than three million people, was deprived of power and running water, Kiev’s governor said, as were many other regions where emergency shutdowns were necessary to help conserve energy and carry out repairs.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was expected to brief an extra session of the UN Security Council via video link on Russia’s attacks on civilian infrastructure.
“The killing of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure are acts of terrorism,” Zelenskiy said in a tweet. “Ukraine will continue to demand a decisive response from the world to these crimes.”
Officials across the border in Moldova said electricity was also lost to more than half of their country, the first time a neighboring state has reported such extensive damage from the war in Ukraine that was sparked by Russia’s invasion nine months ago.
Power outages forced the shutdown of reactors at Ukraine’s Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in the south and the Rivne and Khmelnitskyi plants in the west, all on government-held territory, state-run nuclear company Energoatom said.
“Currently, they (power units) work in project mode, without generation in the domestic energy system,” Energoatom said.
Ukraine’s main nuclear complex, at Zaporizhzhia near the front lines in the south, is Russian-controlled and was previously shut down due to shelling that both sides blame on the other.
Air raid sirens went off across Ukraine in a nationwide alert.
Explosions echoed throughout Kyiv on Wednesday afternoon as Russian missiles crashed and Ukrainian anti-aircraft missiles were fired in an attempt to intercept them.
At least three people in a residential area were killed, including a 17-year-old girl, with at least 11 injured, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
“I was sitting in my apartment and I heard an explosion. My windows in my hall, kitchen and bedroom were thrown open by the blast wave,” said Yuriy Akhymenko, 55, who lives in the apartment building across the road from the one that washed it.
Most thermal and hydroelectric plants were also forced to shut down, Ukraine’s Energy Ministry said. As a result, it said, the vast majority of electricity consumers in areas of the country under Ukrainian control were cut off.
By 6 p.m., electricity had been restored to half of the western city of Lviv following repairs, the mayor said.
Earlier, Russian missiles hit a maternity hospital in the Zaporizhzhia region overnight, killing a child, the regional governor said on the Telegram messaging service.
Explosions were also reported in other cities, where further information on casualties was not immediately available.
Ukraine’s top military commander, General Valeriy Zaluzhniy, said air defenses had shot down 51 of 67 Russian cruise missiles fired, including 20 of the 30 aimed at Kyiv.
Since October, Russia has openly acknowledged targeting Ukraine’s civilian power and heating systems with long-range missiles and drones. Moscow says the aim is to weaken Kiev’s ability to fight and push it to negotiate; Ukraine says the attacks on the infrastructure amount to war crimes, deliberately intended to harm civilians to break the national will.
That won’t happen, Zelenskiy promised in an earlier video address posted on the Telegram messaging app.
“We will renew everything and get through all this because we are an unbreakable people,” he said.
SPILLOVER BLACKOUT IN MOLDOVA
Moldova, like Ukraine, a former Soviet republic once dominated by Moscow but now pro-Western, has long worried about the prospect of fighting spreading across its borders.
“Massive blackout in Moldova after today’s Russian attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure,” Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said on Twitter, adding that the grid operator was trying to reconnect “more than 50% of the country to electricity”.
As the first snow of Ukraine’s generally chilly winter falls, authorities worry about the impact of power outages affecting millions of people.
Zelenskiy announced on Tuesday that special “invincibility centers” would be set up around Ukraine to provide electricity, heat, water, internet, mobile phone links and a pharmacy, free of charge and around the clock.
In addition, Europe’s largest cities will donate power generators and transformers to help Ukrainians get through the harsh winter ahead.
The missile attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities far from the front lines follow a series of Russian battlefield setbacks in the east and south, culminating earlier this month in a retreat from the southern city of Kherson to the eastern bank of the Dnipro river that divides the country.
Ground fighting continues to rage in the east, where Russia is pressing an offensive along a front line west of the city of Donetsk, which has been held by its proxies since 2014. The Donetsk region was the scene of heavy attacks and constant shelling over the past 24 hours, Zelenskiy said.
For their part, Ukrainian forces killed around 50 Russian soldiers in an attack on an ammunition depot in eastern Luhansk region and up to 15 Russians in a separate attack in Zaporizhzhia region, Kiev’s military said on Wednesday.
No further details were provided and Reuters could not independently verify the reports.
Moscow says it is conducting a “special military operation” to protect Russian speakers in what President Vladimir Putin calls an artificial state carved out of Russia. Ukraine and the West call the invasion an unprovoked land grab.
Western responses have included billions of dollars worth of financial aid and state-of-the-art military equipment for Kyiv and waves of punitive sanctions against Russia.