UKRAINE. Kyiv: On Saturday, there were several reports of a Russian missile operation launched against Ukrainian energy and other facilities, causing frequent blackouts in various regions, Kyiv said, while Russian occupation authorities in the southern city of Kherson urged civilians to flee the area.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the Russian attacks had been executed on a “very large” scale. He pledged that his forces would improve on their track record of shooting down Russian drones and missiles.
As the conflict is gradually approaching its ninth month, with the impending doom threatening to freeze the entirety of Europe amid climate change, many Ukrainians are now intensely concerned about their food and energy rations as Russia continues to bomb Ukraine’s power grids.
One of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s main targets ever since he launched his “special military operation” on February 24, Kherson, has been violently hit with shelling and bombs as the occupation authorities instructed civilians to get out.
The occupation authorities posted on Telegram: “Due to the tense situation at the front, the increased danger of massive shelling of the city and the threat of terrorist attacks, all civilians must immediately leave the city and cross to the (east) bank of the Dnipro!”
Thousands of locals have left Kherson after warnings of a Ukrainian offensive to reclaim the territory.
On the opposite bank of the Dnipro river at Oleshky, several people arrived by river boat, along with their possessions, boxes, bags, and pets.
Some units of the Russian army are temporarily leaving the occupied region of Kherson, retreating from Charivne and Chkalove and evacuating officers and medical personnel from Beryslav, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military notified that they were advancing towards the south, recapturing at least two villages that they said Russian troops had abandoned. Kherson is a strategic region that links Ukraine to the Crimean peninsula that was annexed and seized by Russia in 2014.
Kherson, along with three other regions, including Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia-form the four critical zones where President Putin announced his referendums, which have been denounced by Kyiv and the West as “sham” and “illegal”.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram: “Kherson region! just a little bit more. Hang in there. The Ukrainian Armed Forces are at work. “
Russia has been on the constant lookout for power grids and energy facilities in Ukraine since October 10, targeting nearly 40% of these critical infrastructural facilities.
On Saturday, several areas across the country complained about strikes on energy facilities, with local engineers labouring to restore electricity to the civilians.
More than a million people were left powerless, said presidential adviser Kyrylo Tymoshenko, as parts of Kyiv suffered power cuts well into the evening. A city official warned that frequent power cuts could continue for several days.
Moscow has admitted targeting energy facilities but has denied attacking civilians.
President Zelensky addressed the dilemma in his nightly video address and said the “latest mass strike” affected regions in western, central, and southern Ukraine.
“Of course, we don’t have the technical ability to knock down 100% of the Russian missiles and strike drones. I am sure that, gradually, we will achieve that, with help from our partners. Already now, we are downing a majority of cruise missiles and a majority of drones,” he said.
He said Ukrainian forces have so far shot down 20 missiles and more than 10 Iran-made Shahed drones on Saturday. The air force command earlier said 33 missiles had been fired at Ukraine, with 18 downed.
Yet, there are no more recent developments regarding the attack on Nova Kakhovka dam, which Russia has accused Kyiv of bombing. But Kyiv believes that the Russians are responsible for the attack and are using it as leverage to blame it on Kyiv.
The dam is crucial as it supplies water to Crimea and the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, bearing 18 cubic kilometres of water, large enough for the Great Salt Lake in the U.S. state of Utah.