The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, has warned residents they must prepare for the worst this winter if Russia keeps striking the country’s energy infrastructure — and that means possibly having no electricity, water or heat in the freezing cold winter months.
“We are doing everything to avoid this. 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,” Klitschko told Ukrainian state media.
Meanwhile President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Sunday that about 4.5 million people were without electricity. He called on Ukrainians to endure the hardships, saying “we must get through this winter and be even stronger in the spring than now.”
Russia has focused on striking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure over the last month, causing power shortages and rolling outages across the country. Kyiv was having hourly rotating blackouts Sunday in parts of the city and the surrounding region.
Rolling blackouts also were planned in the Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Kharkiv and Poltava regions, Ukraine’s state-owned energy operator, Ukrenergo, said.
Kyiv plans to deploy about 1,000 heating points, but it’s unclear if that would be enough for a city of three million people.
Southern offensive continues around Kherson
As Russia intensifies its attacks on the capital, Ukrainian forces are pushing forward in the south.
Residents of Ukraine’s Russian-occupied city of Kherson received warning messages on their phones urging them to evacuate as soon as possible, Ukraine’s military said Sunday.
The Russians warned civilians that Ukraine’s army was preparing for a massive attack and told people to leave for the city’s right bank immediately.
Kherson, which was captured during the early days of the invasion. In September, Russia illegally annexed Kherson as well as three other regions and subsequently declared martial law in the four provinces.
The Kremlin-installed administration in Kherson has already moved tens of thousands of civilians out of the city.
Russia has been “occupying and evacuating” Kherson simultaneously, trying to convince Ukrainians that they’re leaving when in fact they’re digging in, Nataliya Humenyuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Southern Forces, told state television.
“There are defense units that have dug in there quite powerfully, a certain amount of equipment has been left, firing positions have been set up,” she said.
Russian forces are also digging in in a fiercely contested region in the east, worsening the already tough conditions for residents and the defending Ukrainian army following Moscow’s illegal annexation and declaration of martial law in Donetsk province.
The attacks have almost completely destroyed the power plants that serve the city of Bakhmut and the nearby town of Soledar, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, the region’s Ukrainian governor, said. Shelling killed one civilian and wounded three, he reported late Saturday.
“The destruction is daily, if not hourly,” Kyrylenko told state television.