Ukraine struggled Thursday to repair its ailing power and water supplies after Russia attacked the power grid with dozens of cruise missiles and temperatures dropped.
Ukraine’s power system is on the brink of collapse and millions have been hit by emergency power cuts for weeks from systematic Russian bombing of the grid.
The World Health Organization has warned of “life-threatening” consequences and estimates millions could be forced to leave their homes as a result.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko said more than two-thirds of the capital was still cut off as of Thursday, although municipal workers in Kyiv restored part of the water supply overnight.
“Seventy percent of the capital remain without electricity,” said Klitschko. “Energy companies are scrambling to give it back as soon as possible,” he added.
Ukraine’s military accused Russian forces of firing around 70 cruise missiles at targets across the country and using attack drones on Wednesday.
Moscow’s attack on Ukrainian power plants is its latest strategy, hoping to force surrender after nine months of war in which Russian forces have missed most of their stated territorial objectives.
– ‘Scary Day’ –
Wednesday’s attacks left several dead, automatically disconnected three Ukrainian nuclear power plants from the national grid and even provoked power outages in neighboring Moldova, whose power grid is linked to Ukraine.
“So many victims, so many houses destroyed,” 52-year-old Iryna Shyrokova told AFP in Vyshgorod, on the outskirts of Kyiv, after Russian attacks on Wednesday.
“People have no place to live, no place to sleep. It is cold. I can not explain. For what reason? We’re human too,” she said, calling it “the scariest day.”
The Ministry of Energy of Ukraine said that all three nuclear power plants would be reconnected by Thursday morning.
The governor of the Kharkiv region – home to the country’s second-largest city – said the eponymous city was experiencing power problems and “emergency power shutdowns”.
The head of the central Poltava region, Dmytro Lunin, said the authorities were working “around the clock to restore power”.
“In the coming hours, we will begin to power critical infrastructure and then the majority of homes,” Lunin said.
– ‘Shutdowns’ –
About 50 percent of the central Dnepropetrovsk region has electricity, Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.
“The energy supply situation is complicated. Therefore, shutdowns in the region will continue to relieve the grid as much as possible,” Reznichenko warned.
Elsewhere, including in the Rivne, Cherkasy, Kirovograd and Zhytomyr regions, repair work is underway, officials said.
Moscow separately announced that it has issued tens of thousands of Russian passports to residents of four Ukrainian territories that President Vladimir Putin allegedly annexed last month.
“More than 80,000 people have received passports as citizens of the Russian Federation,” said Valentina Kazakova, a migration commissioner at the Interior Ministry, in a remark transmitted by Russian news agencies.
In September, Russia held so-called referendums in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson, claiming that residents voted to become subjects of Russia.
Putin formally annexed the territories at a ceremony in the Kremlin in early October, although his troops never fully controlled them.