Ukraine’s capital and other cities suffer power and water outages after Russian missile strikes

Russia has fired missiles at Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, in what President Vladimir Putin has called retaliation for an attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Ukraine said it shot down most of these missiles, but some hit power stations, cutting off electricity and water.

The United States denounced the attacks, saying about 100 missiles were fired on Monday and Tuesday.

“As temperatures drop, these Russian attacks aimed at exacerbating human suffering are especially heinous,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters during a daily press briefing.

Russia denies targeting civilians.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February in what Moscow called a “special military operation” to eliminate dangerous nationalists and protect Russian speakers.

Kyiv says Moscow’s military action is an unprovoked imperialist land grab.

Thousands of Russian men have fled abroad to escape conscription in a conflict that has killed thousands, displaced millions and reopened Cold War-era divisions.

The European Union on Tuesday accused Moscow of illegally enlisting men in Crimea, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.

“Why should I leave? »

Russia told civilians on Tuesday local time to leave an area along the eastern bank of the Dnipro River in Ukraine’s Kherson province, a major extension of an evacuation order that Kyiv said amounted to forced depopulation of occupied territory.

Russia had previously ordered civilians out of a pocket it controls on the west bank of the river, where Ukrainian forces have been advancing for weeks to capture the city of Kherson in what would be a strategic prize in the eight-year war. month.

Russian officials said on Tuesday they were also extending the order to a 15-kilometre buffer zone along the eastern shore. Ukraine says the evacuations include forced deportations from occupied territory, a war crime.

Russia, which claims to have annexed parts of the Kherson region, says it is keeping civilians safe due to the risk of Ukraine using unconventional weapons.

“Due to the possibility of using methods of warfare prohibited by the Ukrainian regime, as well as reports that Kyiv is preparing a massive missile strike on the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station, there is an immediate danger that the Kherson region will be flooded,” Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed leader of occupied Kherson province, said in a video message.

“Decision [to expand the evacuation zone] will create a layered defense to repel Ukrainian attacks and protect civilians.”

Russian-installed authorities in the Kherson region also said a mandatory evacuation of the Kakhovka district, near the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric power station, was to begin on November 6.

Moscow has accused Kyiv of planning to use a so-called “dirty bomb” to spread radiation or blow up a dam to flood towns and villages in Kherson province.

Kyiv says accusations that it would use such tactics on its own territory are absurd, and Russia could be planning such actions itself to blame Ukraine.

The mouth of the Dnipro has become one of the most important front lines eight months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Saldo identified seven towns on the east bank that would now be evacuated, including the major populated settlements along that stretch of the river.

In the city of Kherson on Tuesday, the streets were virtually empty, with most shops and businesses closed. A handful of people at a pier boarded a ferry to cross to the east bank of the Dnipro, though a few men were still fishing peacefully, seemingly oblivious to the distant rumble of artillery fire.

Some residents remained defiant, despite being ordered to leave.

“Why should I leave? … Why? I will stay here until the end,” said Ekaterina, a trader, in reference to the house she said her ancestors had built “with their own hands”.

Russia suspends participation in grain program

Mr Putin has suspended Russia’s cooperation with a program backed by Turkey and the United Nations to escort cargo ships carrying grain out of the war zone.

The three-month-old pledge had ended a de facto Russian blockade of Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest grain producers, and averted a global food crisis.

Mr Putin told the Turkish president on a call on Tuesday that Russia could only consider resuming the deal after the completion of an investigation into the drone attacks on a Crimean port, which Moscow has already attributed to Ukraine.

Despite Russia’s suspension of its participation in the grain agreement, no blockade has been reinstated so far. Three ships left Ukrainian ports on Tuesday morning after 12 ships departed on Monday.

Program administrators said Tuesday’s shipments had been approved by the Ukrainian, Turkish and UN delegations and that Moscow had been briefed, an apparent sign of a willingness to proceed without Russian cooperation.

Reuters

Christi C. Elwood