- Nationwide restrictions are limited to one day for now
- Zelensky says the new damage to critical infrastructure
- Looming battle for the southern city of Kherson
(Reuters) – Ukraine’s military tightened a noose on Russian forces occupying the southern city of Kherson on Thursday as the government ordered nationwide electricity restrictions due to Russian missile and drone attacks on power stations.
In Kherson, the only regional capital captured by Russian forces since they invaded eight months ago, the Russian-appointed administration has begun evacuating the city that controls the only land route to Crimea, captured by Russia in 2014, and the mouth of the Dnipro River.
On Wednesday, Kirill Strimosov, deputy head of the Russian-backed administration in Kherson, wrote on Telegram that Ukraine had launched an attack on Novaya Kamyanka and Pereslav in the Kherson region.
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While Ukraine has remained silent about its operations, its military said in an update early Thursday on the Kherson region that 43 Russian soldiers had been killed and six tanks and other equipment destroyed.
Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield reports.
Russian state television broadcast footage of people fleeing by boat across the Dnipro River, depicting the exodus as an attempt to evacuate civilians before it became a combat zone.
Vladimir Saldo, the Russia-appointed chief of Kherson, said 50,000-60,000 people would be relocated in the next six days, emphasizing that Russia had the resources to take the city and even counterattack if necessary.
While Ukraine was gaining ground on the front lines, it calculated the cost of Russia’s far-reaching strikes deep into its own territory.
On Thursday, the government restricted electricity use across the country for the first time since the Russian invasion following a barrage of attacks on power plants before winter hits.
Government officials and grid operator Uknergo said that power supplies will be restricted between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., and that temporary blackouts will be possible if people do not reduce their electricity use.
“We do not rule out that with the onset of cold weather we will ask for your help more frequently,” Okringo said, referring to the restriction, which is limited to Thursday.
Russia has intensified its missile and drone attacks on Ukraine’s electricity and water infrastructure in recent days.
“There is new damage to critical infrastructure. The enemy destroyed three power installations today,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his video address Wednesday night.
“We assume that Russian terrorism will be directed at energy facilities so that, with the help of partners, we can shoot down 100% of enemy missiles and drones,” said Zelensky, who said earlier in the week. subjected to Russian air strikes.
Zelensky is scheduled to address the European Union summit on Thursday. Leaders of the 27 member states will discuss options for further support for Ukraine, including energy equipment, assistance in restoring energy supplies and long-term financing for reconstruction.
Drone strikes, grain talks
Reuters witnesses said five drones bombed the southern city of Mykolaiv on Thursday, but it was not clear where they had exploded or the extent of damage.
Ukraine accuses Russia of using Iranian-made “kamikaze” planes that fly to their target and explode. Iran denies supplying it and the Kremlin has denied using it.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States, Britain and France raised the issue of Iran’s suspected transfer of drones to Russia during a meeting of the UN Security Council.
Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, told reporters that Russia would re-evaluate its cooperation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and his staff if Guterres sent experts to Ukraine to inspect the downed drones that Ukraine and the West confirmed were made in Iran.
Polyansky said he was not optimistic about reaching an agreement with Guterres and other UN officials in negotiations to extend and expand the July 22 agreement that led to the resumption of grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea region. The agreement may expire next month.
Meanwhile, the United States imposed new sanctions on Russia, targeting a network it accused of purchasing military and dual-use technologies from American manufacturers for Russian users.
On the eastern front
The Ukrainian military said that Russian forces focused their main attempt in eastern Ukraine on the border with Russia to advance on the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
Bakhmut is the focus of Russia’s slow progress through the Donetsk region. The Ukrainian military said troops trained tank and artillery fire on at least 10 towns in the area, including Bakhmut, Solidar and Belhorivka.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an all-Russian war effort and declared martial law on Wednesday in the Ukrainian regions occupied by his forces.
Zelensky warned the Ukrainians in the occupied areas against any Russian attempts to include them in the army, saying that they should try to leave.
“If you cannot do this and find yourself in Russian military structures, then at the first opportunity try to lay down your weapons and get to the Ukrainian positions,” he said.
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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Grant McCall, Lincoln Fest and Simon Cameron Moore; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Stephen Coates
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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