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Friday, February 3, 2023

Ukraine Forces March toward Kherson, Kyiv Orders Energy Curbs

Power supply will be restricted between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., government officials and the grid operator, Ukrenergo, said

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UKRAINE: Ukrainian military forces continued with their persistent offensive campaign against the Russian forces occupying the southern city of Kherson on Thursday as the government declared nationwide restrictions on electricity use because of Russian missile and drone attacks on local power plants.

In Kherson, the only regional capital Russian forces have captured since their invasion or “special military operation” eight months ago, the Russian-installed administration began a rapid evacuation of a city that controls the only land route to the Crimea peninsula, which Russia annexed and seized in 2014, and the mouth of the Dnipro river.

On Wednesday, the deputy head of the Russian-backed administration in Kherson, Kirill Stremousov, wrote on Telegram that Ukraine had launched a fierce offensive towards Novaya Kamianka and Berislav in the Kherson region.

Despite being tight-lipped about its secretive operations, the Ukrainian military said in an early Thursday update on the Kherson region that 43 Russian servicemen had been killed and six tanks and other military hardware destroyed.

Video footage showing people fleeing across the Dnipro river was broadcast by Russian state television, portraying the exodus as an attempt to evacuate civilians before it became a bloody battle zone.

A mass exodus of nearly 50,000 to 60,000 people is predicted to be evacuated in the next six days, said Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed chief of Kherson.

It has also been projected that the Russian army had the necessary resources to hold the city and even launch counter-attacks, if they want to.

Meanwhile, Ukraine counted the cost of persistent Russian shelling and deep strikes into its territory, prompting the government to place restrictions on electricity usage nationwide as Russia’s unstoppable barrage of bombs on power plants has threatened electricity supply just before winter sets in.

Power supply will be restricted between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., government officials and the grid operator, Ukrenergo, said, and temporary blackouts were possible if people did not minimise their use of electricity, a presidential aide said.

“We do not exclude that with the onset of cold weather we will be asking for your help even more frequently,” Ukrenergo said, referring to the restriction that is limited to Thursday.

In an attempt to dismantle critical civilian infrastructure via attacks on energy plants and water facilities, Russia has targeted Ukraine’s crucial resources in recent days.

“There is new damage to critical infrastructure. Three energy facilities were destroyed by the enemy today, “President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his Wednesday night video address.

“We assume that Russian terror will be directed at energy facilities until, with the help of partners, we are able to shoot down 100% of enemy missiles and drones,” said Zelenskyy, who earlier in the week said a third power station had been hit by Russian air strikes.

Zelenskyy was scheduled to convene with 27 other EU leaders at a summit on Thursday to discuss the supply of more military hardware to Ukraine, including energy equipment, helping restore power supply and long-term financial resources to rebuild Ukraine.

Moreover, Ukraine continued to accuse Russia of using Iran-made Shahed-136 ‘kamikaze drones’ to target and detonate near civilian infrastructure in the southern city of Mykolaiv on Thursday.

Iran has consistently denied supplying any arms to Russia, while the Kremlin has denied using them.

Russia’s deputy U.N. Ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, told reporters that Russia would reassess its cooperation with U.N. Secretary-general Antonio Guterres and his staff if Guterres launches an on-site investigative probe into downed drones that Ukraine and the West allege were made in Iran.

Additionally, Polyansky said he was not optimistic about reaching a final agreement with Guterres and other U.N. officials in negotiations to expand a July 22 deal that would enable the Ukraine Black Sea grain and fertiliser deal to resume in full swing. The pact could expire next month.

The United States also closed in on Russia and imposed bans on the Kremlin, targeting a network of U.S. manufacturers who are allegedly sending military stockpiles to Russian users for battle use.

In other news developments, Russians destroyed a school in the Zaporizhzhia region in the early morning on Thursday. It occurred in the Komyshuvakha village, according to the Deputy Head of the Office of the President, Kyrylo Tymoshenko.

“There are no casualties. But there is destroyed civilian infrastructure and residential buildings, “he said.

The Russian military said they maintained their sights on eastern Ukraine in an attempt to advance on the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka.

Bakhmut is the focus of Russia’s slow advance through the Donetsk region. The Ukrainian military said its forces had practised tank and artillery fire on at least ten towns in the area, including Bakhmut, Soledar, and Bilohorivka.

Zelenskyy warned Ukrainians in occupied areas against any Russian attempts to draught them into the army, saying they should try to leave.

“If you cannot do this and find yourself in Russian military structures, at the first opportunity, try to lay down your weapons and come to Ukrainian positions,” he said.

Yurii Andrukhovych won the Heinrich Heine Prize in 2022 for his determined advocacy of European values and his commitment to a “free and independent Ukraine and close ties with Europe.”

Andrukhovych is being honoured by the city of Düsseldorf, whose mayor, Stephan Keller, said the award is a reminder to “continue to show solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy awarded EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenari with a state award “for his personal contribution in support of Ukraine” and thanked him for the unprecedented amount of humanitarian assistance to war-torn Ukraine from the European Union.

The Swiss president, Ignazio Cassis, is currently in Ukraine to “get a picture of the war situation, the humanitarian situation, and the preparatory work for the reconstruction of the country.”

The West and the European Union are now in full support of the Ukrainian crisis, commissioning hefty military aid packages to the battlefront to support Ukraine.

U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby has said that financial support for Ukraine has bipartisan approval in Congress.

“Today we can talk about bipartisan support for Ukraine in Congress. We are doing everything so that Ukraine can defend itself and defend its sovereignty, because this is really what is at stake, except, of course, the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian lives that have suffered from this war,” he said.

However, there are emerging talks over a split in agreement for Ukraine aid in the Republican Party, which is likely to gain control of the House of Representatives after the November elections.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy warned that he would cut U.S. funding for Ukraine’s fight against Russia.

Also Read: Russian Commander Says Situation for His Forces ‘Tense’ in Ukraine

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