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Power outages worsen in Ukraine; fighting rages on many fronts

Power outages worsen in Ukraine; fighting rages on many fronts

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia’s relentless attacks on energy infrastructure prompted Ukrainian authorities on Friday to announce worsening power outages around the country’s largest cities, and the mayor of Kiev warned that the capital’s power grid was operating in “emergency mode” with equally reduced energy reserves as 50% of the pre-war level.

Meanwhile, the Russian president sought to deflect criticism of the chaotic call-up of 300,000 reservists to serve in Ukraine by ordering his defense minister to ensure they are properly trained and equipped for combat.

In the Kyiv region, as winter looms, the latest damage to utility services will mean outages of four or more hours a day, according to Ukrenergo, the state-owned operator of Ukraine’s high-voltage transmission lines.

However, Kyiv regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba warned that “stricter and longer shutdowns will be applied in the coming days.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that power outages affect about 4 million people across the country. He said last week that 30% of Ukraine’s power plants had been destroyed since Russia launched the first wave of targeted infrastructure strikes on October 10.

In Kyiv, Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said the power grid was operating in “emergency mode,” adding that he hoped Ukrenergo would find ways to resolve the shortfall “in two to three weeks.”

The former world boxing champion also said new air defense equipment has been deployed in Kiev to help defend against Russian drone and missile attacks on energy facilities.

In Kharkiv region, home to Ukraine’s second-largest city of the same name, Governor Oleg Syniehubov said daily one-hour blackouts would begin on Monday.

Officials across the war-torn country have urged people to save by reducing electricity consumption during peak hours and avoiding the use of high-voltage appliances.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that the thousands of reservists recently called up needed proper training and equipment to “make people feel confident when they have to go into battle.”

Shoigu told Putin that 82,000 reservists have been deployed to Ukraine, while 218,000 are still in training. He said there were no immediate plans to raise more, but Putin’s mobilization order left the door open for a future military call.

Putin’s push to increase troop numbers along the 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line follows recent setbacks, including Russia’s withdrawal from the Kharkiv region. However, the mobilization sparked numerous protests in Russia and caused hundreds of thousands of men to flee the country.

Activists and Russian media reports and the Associated Press said many of the recruits were inexperienced, they were told to provide themselves with basic items such as medical kits and flak jackets, and received no training before being sent into combat. Some were killed a few days after the call.

Shoigu admitted that “problems with supply existed in the initial stages” but told Putin that they had now been resolved. Putin ordered Shoigu to propose ways to reform the ground troops and other parts of the military based on their performance in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russian missile and artillery barrages pounded targets across Ukraine. Several towns across the Dnieper River from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant were hit, the presidential office said. The shelling damaged dozens of residential buildings in Nikopolje, and electricity was cut off there and for thousands of families in neighboring towns.

A Russian S-300 air defense missile destroyed a three-story office building and damaged a new residential building nearby, Mykolaiv regional governor Vitaly Kim said. Russian forces have often used converted S-300 missiles to target ground targets in Ukraine.

Moscow was also pressing its ground advance on the cities of Bakhmut and Avdiikva after a series of failures in the east. The fighting has turned the entire Donetsk region into a “zone of active hostilities,” says Governor Pavlo Kirilenko.

“Civilians who remain in the region live in constant fear without heating or electricity,” Kirilenko said in televised remarks. “Their enemy is not only the Russian guns, but also the cold.”

A Russian takeover of Bakhmut, which has remained in Ukrainian hands throughout the war, would open the way for the Kremlin to push toward other Ukrainian strongholds in the hotly contested Donetsk region. A strengthened eastern offensive could also potentially delay or derail Ukraine’s recovery effort the southern city of Khersongateway to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Last month, Putin illegally annexed annexed Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai reported on Friday that Russian soldiers had withdrawn from some areas; Moscow claimed full capture of Luhansk in July.

“The Russians practically destroyed some villages after they started to retreat,” Haidai said. “There are a lot of freshly mobilized Russians in the Luhansk region, but they are dying in droves. His claim could not be independently verified.

In the Zaporozhye region, Kremlin-appointed officials urged residents not to switch to daylight saving time along with Kiev and the rest of the country. “We live in the Russian Federation, and our city lives on Moscow time,” said Alexander Volga, mayor of Enerhodar, home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, built by Russia.

Russian-backed Kherson authorities have urged civilians to evacuate ahead of an expected Ukrainian offensive. On Friday, Zelenskyy accused the Russians of dismantling health facilities in Kherson and turning the city into an area “without civilization.”

Some people fleeing Kherson went to Russian-occupied Crimea. At the checkpoint in the town of Dzhankoy, volunteers set up a small tent city for refugees. They said 50 to 300 come through every day.

“People leave us confused after passing through the checkpoint. Many don’t know where to go next, how to go, which way to go,” said volunteer Natalija Poltaratskaja to an Associated Press reporter, adding that the volunteers help them with food, water and advice on the route.

A temporary camp was set up in a boarding house in Dzhankoy for those who left Kherson. About 200 people live there, regional officials said.

People in Kherson were not given the choice to flee to areas held by Ukraine.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine



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