Most Ukrainians Left Without Power After new Russian Strikes

Ukrainian firefighters work at a damaged hospital maternity ward in Vilniansk, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Kateryna Klochko)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A punishing new barrage of Russian strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure on Wednesday caused power outages across large parts of the country — as well as neighboring Moldova — further hobbling Ukraine’s battered electricity network and adding to civilians’ misery as winter begins.

Multiple regions reported attacks in quick succession and Ukraine’s Energy Ministry said that “the vast majority of electricity consumers were cut off.” Officials in Kyiv said three people were killed and nine wounded in the capital after a Russian strike hit a two-story building.

Russia has been pounding the power grid and other facilities with missiles and exploding drones for weeks and the energy system is being damaged faster than it can be repaired.

In the aftermath of the strikes, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on social media that he has instructed Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations to request an urgent meeting of the Security Council.

“Murder of civilians, ruining of civilian infrastructure are acts of terror. Ukraine keeps demanding a resolute response of international community to these crimes,” Zelenskyy said.

Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky said in a statement on Telegram that such a meeting has been called for 4 p.m. local time, or 2100 GMT.

Before the latest barrage, Zelenskyy had said that Russian strikes had already damaged around half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Wednesday that “one of the capital’s infrastructure facilities has been hit” and there were “several more explosions in different districts” of the city. He said water supplies were knocked out in all of Kyiv.

Kyiv resident Oleksii Kolpachov told The Associated Press that he heard an explosion as he was going up an escalator out of the subway.

“Then the electricity suddenly disappeared. When I got out of the subway, there was a column of smoke,” Kolpachov said.

There were power outages in parts of Kyiv, while power was out in the wider Kyiv region, in the northern city of Kharkiv, the western city of Lviv, and in all or part of the Chernihiv, Kirovohrad, Odesa and Khmelnytskyi regions. In Moldova, Infrastructure Minister Andrei Spinu said that “we have massive power outages across the country,” whose Soviet-era energy systems remain interconnected with Ukraine.

It was the second outage this month in Moldova. The country’s pro-Western president, Maia Sandu, said in a statement that “Russia left Moldova in the dark.” She said the future of Moldova, a country of about 2.6 million people, “must remain toward the free world.” Moldova’s foreign minister said the Russian ambassador was being summoned to give explanations.

Ukraine’s Air Force said Russia launched around 70 cruise missiles on Wednesday and 51 were shot down, as were five exploding drones.

The barrages started in October, with targets being hit early in the morning and power restored to many places by the evening. Wednesday’s strike and another major round last week occurred in the afternoon on short winter days, leaving workers toiling to restore supplies after dark.

The onslaught came hours after Ukrainian authorities said an overnight rocket attack destroyed a hospital maternity ward in southern Ukraine, killing a 2-day-old baby. Following the overnight strike in Vilniansk, close to the city of Zaporizhzhia, the baby’s mother and a doctor were pulled alive from the rubble.

The region’s governor said the rockets were Russian. The strike adds to the gruesome toll suffered by hospitals and other medical facilities — and their patients and staff — in the Russian invasion that will enter its tenth month this week.

They have been in the firing line from the outset, including a March 9 airstrike that destroyed a maternity hospital in the now-occupied port city of Mariupol.

Photos posted by the governor showed thick smoke rising above mounds of rubble, being combed by emergency workers against the backdrop of a dark night sky. The State Emergency Service said the two-story building was destroyed.

Medical workers’ efforts have been complicated by the succession of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure.

The situation is even worse in the southern city of Kherson, from which Russia retreated nearly two weeks ago after months of occupation — cutting power and water lines.

Many doctors in the city are working in the dark, unable to use elevators to transport patients to surgery and operating with headlamps, cell phones and flashlights. In some hospitals, key equipment no longer works.

“Breathing machines don’t work, X-ray machines don’t work … There is only one portable ultrasound machine and we carry it constantly,” said Volodymyr Malishchuk, the head of surgery at a children’s hospital in the city.

The European Parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed a resolution labeling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism for its invasion of and actions in Ukraine. The nonbinding but symbolically significant resolution passed in a 494-58 vote.

After Wednesday’s strikes, senior Zelenskyy aide Andriy Yermak wrote on social media: “The terrorists immediately confirm that they are terrorists — they launch rockets…”

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