Russia tightens energy grip on Ukraine with more strikes

Russian missile strikes and the bombardment of energy utilities left more villages, towns and parts of two Ukrainian cities without power on Wednesday, Ukrainian authorities said, further tightening the energy noose that Moscow uses to squeeze the country, threatening the misery of millions of people in winter.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again urged Ukrainians to make a “very conscious” effort to save energy, speaking ahead of another night when power substations and other infrastructure were pounded.

The shelling cut off electricity and water in parts of Enerhodar, Mayor Dmytro Orlov said. The southern city is next to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which is one of the most worrying hotspots of the nearly eight-month invasion.

Missiles severely damaged an energy facility in the region of Kryvyi Rih, a city in south-central Ukraine, the regional governor reported. He said the strike had knocked out electricity to villages, towns and a city district.

A nearly two-week barrage of Russian attacks with missiles, self-destructing explosive drones and other weapons on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure has opened a new phase in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war and has further tested the resilience that Ukrainians have shown since the invasion of Moscow.

Zelenskyy tweeted on Tuesday that nearly a third of Ukraine’s power plants have been destroyed since October 10, causing “massive blackouts” across the country.

Later Tuesday, in his nightly video address, Zelenskyy said turning off appliances and doing other things to save energy during peak consumption hours helps “the whole country.”

He thanked Ukrainian soldiers who shot down Iranian-made missiles and drones that targeted energy facilities.

Western countries have promised more air defense systems to help Ukraine counter the air assault. A newly arrived system supplied by Germany has been deployed and is working well against Russian strikes, Zelenskyy said.

Image: AP

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Christi C. Elwood