Airstrikes cut power and water supplies to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians on Tuesday, part of what the country’s president called an expanding Russian campaign to drive the nation into the cold and dark and make peace talks impossible.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said nearly one-third of Ukraine’s power stations have been destroyed in the past week, “causing massive blackouts across the country.”
“No space left for negotiations with Putin’s regime,” he tweeted.
Depriving people of water, electricity and heating as winter begins to bite and the broadening use of so-called suicide drones that nosedive into targets have opened a new phase in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war. The aerial bombardments appear aimed at wearing down the notable resilience Ukrainians have shown in the nearly eight months since Russia invaded.
Even far from front lines, basic utilities are no longer certainties, with daily strikes reaching far into the country and damaging key facilities, sometimes faster than they can be repaired.
The latest city to lose power and water entirely was Zhytomyr, home to military bases, industries, leafy boulevards and about 250,000 people, some 140 kilometers (85 miles) west of Kyiv.
The city’s hospitals switched to backup power after the double missile strike Tuesday on an energy facility, and other settlements in the area also lost electricity, city and regional officials said.
In Kyiv, the capital, missile strikes damaged two power facilities and killed two people, city authorities said. The attack left 50,000 people without power, the facilities’ operator said.
Missiles also severely damaged an energy facility in the south-central city of Dnipro.
Russia is also mixing up its modes of attack.
Suicide drones set ablaze an infrastructure facility in the partly Russian-occupied southern Zaporizhzhia region, the regional governor said.
Air-defense S-300 missiles, which Russia has been repurposing as ground-attack weapons as its stocks are being depleted, were used to strike the southern city of Mykolaiv. The body of a man was found in the debris of a building, the region’s governor said.
In the eastern city of Kharkiv, eight rockets fired from across the nearby border with Russia hit an industrial area, the regional governor said.
Waves of the explosives-laden suicide drones also struck Kyiv on Monday, hitting energy facilities and setting ablaze and partly collapsing buildings. One drone slammed into a residential building, killing four people.
Ukraine says Russia is getting thousands of drones from Iran. The Iranian-made Shahed drones that hit targets in Kyiv have also been widely used elsewhere in recent weeks.
An Associated Press photographer caught one of the Iranian drones on camera Monday, its triangle-shaped wing and pointed warhead clearly visible, though the Kremlin refused to confirm their use.
In the past week alone, more than 100 self-destructing Iranian-made drones have slammed into power plants, sewage treatment plants, residential buildings, bridges and other targets in urban areas, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said.
In a televised address on Monday night, Zelenskyy said Russia is using the drones because it is losing ground in the war.
“Russia doesn’t have any chance on the battlefield, and it tries to compensate for its military defeats with terror,” he said. “Why this terror? To put pressure on us, on Europe, on the entire world.”
In other developments:
— Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator said Russian forces have detained two more senior employees at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Energoatom said their whereabouts are unknown. Also unknown are the whereabouts of another executive who was detained earlier in October.
— In Russia, the death toll from the crash Monday of a Russian warplane climbed to at least 13. The Su-34 bomber came down in the port city of Yeysk after one of its engines caught fire during takeoff for a training mission, the Russian Defense Ministry said. It said both crew members bailed out safely, but the plane crashed into a residential area, causing tons of fuel to explode on impact.
– Hanna Arhirova, AP News