While the heavy fighting in Ukraine is concentrated in the east and south, the capital of Kyiv in the northcentral region and its surrounding areas are subjected to a different kind of assault — one relying on suffering and disruption as weapons.
Under duress because of Russian attacks that have destroyed 40% of the country’s energy infrastructure, Ukraine’s electricity operator has announced rolling blackouts for Kyiv and six other nearby regions, including Kharkiv. Unscheduled emergency outages are expected as well.
“We are doing everything to avoid this,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko told state media. “But let’s be frank, our enemies are doing everything for the city to be without heat, without electricity, without water supply, in general, so we all die. And the future of the country and the future of each of us depends on how prepared we are for different situations.”
Power outages caused by Russia’s drone and missile attacks have affected 16 provinces and forced Kyiv officials to contemplate conducting mass evacuations. They plan to establish about 1,000 heating shelters but noted that may not be enough for the city’s 3 million people. Kyiv’s average temperatures in the winter range from the low 20s to the low 30s.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday in his nightly video address that about 4.5 million people had lost power, telling the nation: “We must get through this winter and be even stronger in the spring than now.”
‘A TEST OF OUR ENDURANCE’: Will brutal winter weather be a game changer for Ukraine or Russia?
►The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant was reconnected to Ukraine’s power grid Sunday, three days after fighting in the region knocked it offline, forcing the use of emergency diesel generators to keep vital cooling systems running.
►Russian officials continue to evacuate occupied Kherson city in the south, sending warning phone messages Sunday telling residents to leave for the east bank in anticipation of a major battle with the Ukrainian army. Russian troops, though less visible, “have dug in there quite powerfully,” said Nataliya Humenyuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Southern Forces.
►The 15,000 remaining residents in the eastern city of Bakhmut have been living for months under persistent shelling that has intensified in recent weeks, leaving them without water or power, local media reported.
Iran acknowledges sending Russia drones, claims it was before war
Iran has backtracked on its denials that it supplied drones to Russia, bringing into question other statements qualifying the admission.
“We gave a limited number of drones to Russia months before the Ukraine war,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told reporters Saturday in Tehran.
Amirabdollahian added that Iran had no knowledge of Russia attacking Ukraine with the drones, adding: “If it is proven to us that Russia used Iranian drones in the war against Ukraine, we will not be indifferent to this issue.”
That flies in the face of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard vaguely boasting of providing drones to the world’s top powers.
Since last month, Russia has been engaged in a campaign of destroying Ukrainian power plants and other civilian targets, relying on exploding drones that can cost as little as $20,000 per or 50 times less than a cruise missile. Russia has rebranded the drones but there has been evidence they’re Iranian-made Shaheds.
Both Russia and Iran, which insists remaining neutral on the war, had denied any shipments of the unmanned aerial vehicles. The U.S. and its Western allies on the U.N. Security Council have called on Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to investigate if Russia has used Iranian drones to attack civilians in Ukraine.
“The whole world will know that the Iranian regime helps Russia prolong this war,” Zelenskyy said Sunday.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who has warned the Kremlin that using nuclear weapons in Ukraine would result in “catastrophic consequences” for Russia, has held confidential talks with top aides of President Vladimir Putin in an attempt to prevent the war from escalating or expanding, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
The objective of the conversations over recent months was not to negotiate a peace agreement but to maintain open lines of communication and reduce the risk of non-conventional weapons being used in the war, the newspaper said, citing U.S. and allied officials.
Sullivan visited Kyiv on Friday and expressed the U.S.’s “unwavering and unflinching” support for Ukraine even after Tuesday’s midterm elections.
Russia may oust the commanders of all its military districts before the year’s over.
The latest to get tossed aside was Colonel General Alexander Lapin, who appears to have been replaced as head of the Central Military District by Major General Alexander Linkov, according to the British Defense Ministry.
The ministry pointed out the commanders of Russia’s eastern, southern and western military districts have already been supplanted since the invasion of Ukraine began in February.
“These dismissals represent a pattern of blame against senior Russian military commanders for failures to achieve Russian objectives on the battlefield,” the ministry said. “This is in part likely an attempt to insulate and deflect blame from Russian senior leadership at home.”
Contributing: The Associated Press