KYIV, UKRAINE (AFP) – Ukraine worked on Saturday to restore electricity and water supplies after Russia’s latest wave of attacks pitched multiple cities into darkness and forced people to endure sub-zero temperatures without heating or running water.
The volley of missiles unleashed on Friday came as President Vladimir Putin held extensive meetings with the military top brass overseeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where Moscow has stepped up bombardments.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Saturday electricity had been restored to almost six million Ukrainians, but noted ongoing problems with heat and water supplies, and “large-scale outages” in many regions.
“The main thing today is energy,” he said in his nightly address. “There is still a lot of work to do to stabilise the system.”
In the capital Kyiv, the metro had stopped running so that people wrapped in winter coats could take shelter at underground stations, but Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Saturday the service had resumed. Water supply had also been restored and 75 per cent of the city’s population had their heating supply back. In the eastern city of Kharkiv, power had also been fully returned, regional governor Oleg Sinegubov said on Saturday, after the strikes had left Ukraine’s second city without electricity.
Ukraine’s national energy provider Ukrenergo had imposed emergency blackouts in response to the strikes, warning the extent of the damage in the north, south and centre of the country meant it could take longer to restore supplies than after previous attacks. The country’s energy system “continues to recover”, it said on Saturday.
In Russia, Putin sought proposals from his military commanders on how to proceed with the Ukraine offensive, according to the Kremlin.
The Kremlin released footage on Friday of Putin presiding over a round-table meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov among other top brass.
After a series of humiliating battlefield defeats, Russia has since October pursued an aerial campaign against what Moscow says are military-linked facilities. But France and the European Union have said the suffering inflicted on freezing civilians constitutes war crimes, with the bloc’s foreign policy chief calling the bombings “barbaric”.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday the strikes had targetted Ukraine’s military and energy facilities, while also disrupting “the transfer of weapons and ammunition of foreign production”.
“All assigned targets were hit,” the ministry said in its daily briefing.
Russia fired 74 – mainly cruise – missiles on Friday, 60 of which were shot down by anti-aircraft defences, according to the Ukrainian army.