KYIV, Ukraine – Russia’s continued attacks on energy infrastructure prompted Ukrainian authorities on Friday to announce worsening blackouts around the country’s biggest cities, with the mayor of Kyiv warning that the capital’s grid is operating in “emergency mode” with energy supplies reduced by up to 50% compared to pre-war levels.
Meanwhile, the Russian president has sought to dispel criticism of a chaotic call of 300,000 reservists to Ukraine by ordering his defense minister to ensure that they are properly trained and equipped. suitable for combat.
According to Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s high-voltage power line operator, in the Kyiv region, when winter hits, the latest damage to utilities means power outages of four hours or more a day.
But Kyiv regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba warned “more severe and longer shutdowns will be imposed in the coming days.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the blackout was affecting about 4 million people across the country. Last week, he said 30% of Ukraine’s power plants have been destroyed since Russia launched its first wave of targeted infrastructure attacks on October 10.
In Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the grid was operating in “emergency mode”, adding that he hoped Ukrenergo would find a way to address the shortage “in two to three weeks”.
The former world boxing champion also said new air defense equipment had been deployed in Kyiv to help defend itself against Russian drone and missile attacks on energy facilities.
In the Kharkiv region, home to Ukraine’s second-largest city of the same name, Governor Oleg Syniehubov said daily hour-long power outages 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 thousands of reservists recently called up needed proper training and equipment so that “everyone feels confident when they need to go to war.”
Shoigu told Putin that 82,000 reservists have been deployed to Ukraine, while another 218,000 are still in training. He said there were no immediate plans for further reinforcement, but Putin’s order to dispatch opened the door for a future military convocation.
Putin’s attempt to bolster troops along the 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line follows recent setbacks, including Russia’s withdrawal from the Kharkiv area. However, the movement spurred many protests in Russia and caused hundreds of thousands of men to flee the country.
Activists and Russian media and AP reports say many of those involved in the combat are inexperienced, being asked to procure basic supplies such as medical kits and coats, and received no training before they were sent to combat. Some were killed within days of being called up.
Shoigu acknowledged that “supply problems still exist in the early stages,” but told Putin that these problems have now been resolved. Putin ordered Shoigu to propose ways to reform the ground forces and other parts of the army based on the results of their operations in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Russian missiles and artillery hit targets across Ukraine. The presidential office said several towns across the Dnieper River from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant had been attacked. The shelling damaged dozens of residential buildings in Nikopol, and power was cut there and thousands of homes in neighboring towns.
The governor of the Mykolaiv region, Vitalii Kim, said a Russian S-300 air defense missile destroyed a three-story office building and damaged a new residential building nearby. Russian forces regularly use converted S-300 missiles to attack ground targets in Ukraine.
Moscow also pushed ahead with its advance on the cities of Bakhmut and Avdiikva after a string of defeats in the east. According to Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, the fighting has turned the entire Donetsk region into “an area of hostile activity”.
Kyrylenko said in televised speeches: “Common people in the area always live in fear without heating and electricity. “Their enemy is not only Russian cannons, but also the cold.”
Russia’s takeover of Bakhmut, which remained in Ukrainian hands throughout the war, would pave the way for the Kremlin to advance to other Ukrainian strongholds in the heavily contested Donetsk region. A revived offensive in the east is also likely to stall or derail Ukraine’s push to retake the southern city of Kherson, a gateway to Crimea that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. .
Last month, Putin illegally annexed the regions of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.
Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai reported on Friday that Russian troops had withdrawn from some areas; Moscow announced the complete capture of Luhansk in July.
“The Russians practically destroyed several villages after they started retreating,” Haidai said. “There are a lot of new Russians mobilized in the Luhansk region, but they are slowly dying.” His claims cannot be independently verified.
In the Zaporizhzhia region, Kremlin-appointed officials urged residents not to switch to daylight saving time along with Kyiv and the rest of the country. Alexander Volga, mayor of the city of Enerhodar, home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, said: “We live in the Russian Federation and our city lives up to Moscow’s time.
Russian-backed authorities in Kherson have urged civilians to evacuate ahead of an expected Ukrainian attack. Zelenskyy on Friday accused the Russians of dismantling health care facilities in Kherson and turning the city into an area of ”no civilization”.
Some of those who fled Kherson went to Russian-occupied Crimea. At a checkpoint in the city of Dzhankoi, volunteers set up a small tent city for refugees. They said 50 to 300 people pass through every day.
“People came out with us after going through the checkpoint confused. Many people don’t know where to go next, how to go, which route to take,” volunteer Natalya Poltaratskaya told an Associated Press journalist, adding that volunteers help them with food, drinking water and route advice.
In Dzhankoi, a makeshift camp was set up in a boarding house for those leaving Kherson. Area officials say about 200 people live there.
People in Kherson were given no option to flee to Ukrainian-held areas.
Follow AP coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine