Zelensky: Russian strikes destroyed around 30% of Ukraine’s power stations in a week

Ukrainian president says repeated targeting of energy infrastructure is a form of terror attack; some hospitals running on backup generators

A photograph shows Kyiv late on October 11, 2022, during a rolling blackout of parts of districts of the Ukrainian capital following rocket attacks on critical infrastructures in the evening, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Eugene KOTENKO / AFP)
A photograph shows Kyiv late on October 11, 2022, during a rolling blackout of parts of districts of the Ukrainian capital following rocket attacks on critical infrastructures in the evening, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Eugene KOTENKO / AFP)

KYIV, Ukraine (AFP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday that Russian strikes had destroyed about 30 percent of his country’s power stations in one week, speaking hours after a fresh barrage cut electricity to cities across Ukraine.

Russian attacks rocked energy facilities in Kyiv and urban centers across the country, causing blackouts and disrupting water supplies, just one day after the capital was bombarded with a swarm of suicide drones.

The strikes in the early hours of Tuesday hit Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east, Mykolaiv in the south and central regions of Dnipro and Zhytomyr, where officials said hospitals were running on backup generators.

Drones bombarded Kyiv on Monday, destroying a residential building in the center and killing five people in what the presidency described as an attack of desperation.

It was the second Monday in a row that Russia launched punitive strikes that military observers have said appear to be Moscow’s response to battlefield losses.

Zelensky described the repeated targeted of energy infrastructure as “another kind of Russian terrorist attacks.”

In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine, Oct. 10, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

“Since October 10, 30 percent of Ukraine’s power stations have been destroyed, causing massive blackouts across the country,” the Ukrainian leader said on Twitter.

Hospitals on backup power

He said the attack meant that there was “no space left for negotiations with (President Vladimir) Putin’s regime.”

Many settlements in the Zhytomyr region west of Kyiv and parts of the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine were without electricity, while power was restored to the southern city of Mykolaiv after strikes overnight.

“Now the city is cut off from electricity and water supplies. Hospitals are working on backup power,” the mayor of Zhytomyr Sergiy Sukhomlyn said in a statement on line.

Employees of a cafe serve visiters in a cafe without electricity in western Ukrainian city of Lviv, after three Russian missiles fired targeted energy infrastructure on October 11, 2022 (Yuriy Dyachyshyn / AFP)

In the northeast, Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the border with Russia was hit with eight missiles, the regional governor said.

Kharkiv’s mayor Igor Terekhov said an “industrial enterprise” had been hit.

In Kyiv, meanwhile, the DETK energy provider said its staff were “doing their best to restore electricity supply after the destruction of a critical infrastructure facility in Kyiv city.”

Zelensky earlier said the fresh wave of nationwide strikes — which he said had damaged a residential building and flower market in Mykolaiv — was a Russian attempt to “terrorize and kill civilians.”

A man reacts near the body of his cousin, killed in a Russian rocket attack in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, Oct. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/LIBKOS)

“The terrorist state will not change anything for itself with these kind of actions. It will only confirm its destructive and murderous essence, for which it will certainly be held to account,” Zelensky said on social media.

There was no immediate reaction from Moscow, but it has said following similar attacks that assigned military targets were hit.

Kremlin denies Iran drone use

Following the wave of kamikaze drone attacks on Kyiv Monday, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba demanded EU sanctions on Iran, accusing Tehran of providing Russia with drones.

The Kremlin said Tuesday it has no knowledge of its army using Iranian drones in Ukraine.

“Russian tech is being used,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, referring other questions to the defense ministry.

A drone flies over Kyiv during an attack on October 17, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine (Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP)

Iran has denied exporting any weapons to either side, but the United States warned it would take action against companies and nations working with Tehran’s drone program following the strikes in Kyiv.

Senior presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak meanwhile called for Russia to be excluded from the upcoming G20 summit.

With fighting ongoing across a sprawling frontline in east and southern Ukraine, its military said that over the past 24 hours it had shot down 38 Iranian-made Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles.

Separately on Tuesday, Russian investigators said they initially believe that a military plane that crashed into a residential building in the south of the country near Ukraine was the result of a technical malfunction.

Investigators said they were questioning the pilots of the Sukhoi Su-34, who managed to parachute out of the plane before it crashed on Monday evening into the nine-story building, engulfing it in flames.

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