Ukraine Says that Russia Attacked Their Power Grid as Payback for Their Offensive

Ukraine Power Grid
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Ukraine accused the Russian military of attacking civilian infrastructure in response to a rapid weekend offensive by Ukrainian troops that forced Russia to abandon its main bastion in the Kharkiv region.

Ukrainian officials said targets of the retaliatory attacks included water facilities and a thermal power station in Kharkiv, and caused widespread blackouts.

“No military facilities, the goal is to deprive people of light & heat,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on Twitter late on Sunday.

Moscow denies its forces deliberately target civilians.

Zelenskiy has described Ukraine’s offensive in the northeast as a potential breakthrough in the six-month-old war, and said the winter could see further territorial gains if Kyiv received more powerful weapons.

In the worst defeat for Moscow’s forces since they were repelled from the outskirts of the capital Kyiv in March, thousands of Russian soldiers left behind ammunition and equipment as they fled the city of Izium, which they had used as a logistics hub.

Ukraine’s chief commander, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said the armed forces had regained control of more than 3,000 square km (1,158 square miles) since the start of this month.

Ukraine’s gains are important politically for Zelenskiy as he seeks to keep Europe united behind Ukraine – supplying weapons and money – even as an energy crisis looms this winter following cuts in Russian gas supplies to European customers.

Russia has likely ordered the withdrawal of its troops from the entirety of occupied Kharkiv Oblast west of the Oskil River, the UK defence ministry said in a regular update on Monday.

Ukraine’s General Staff said on defence forces had dislodged the enemy from more than 20 settlements in the past day.

Near the Russian border, in the village of Kozacha Lopan north of Kharkiv, Ukrainian soldiers and local officials were greeted by residents with hugs and handshakes.

“Kozacha (Lopan) is and will be Ukraine,” district Mayor Vyacheslav Zadorenko said on a video he posted on Facebook. “No ‘Russian World’ whatsoever. See for yourselves where the ‘Russian World’ rags are lying around. Glory to Ukraine, glory to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

Moscow’s almost total silence on the defeat – or any explanation for what had taken place in northeastern Ukraine – provoked significant anger among some pro-war commentators and Russian nationalists on social media. Some called on Sunday for President Vladimir Putin to make immediate changes to ensure ultimate victory in the war.

Zelenskiy said late on Sunday that Russian attacks caused a total blackout in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, and partial blackouts in the Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Sumy regions.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, said Kharkiv’s CHPP-5 electricity station – one of the largest in Ukraine – had been hit.

“A coward ‘response’ for the escape of its own army from the battlefield,” he said on Twitter.

Kharkiv governor Oleh Synehubov said 80% of electricity and water supplies had been restored in the region by Monday morning.

Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov told the Financial Times Ukraine needed to secure retaken territory against a possible Russian counterattack on stretched Ukrainian supply lines.

But he said the offensive had gone far better than expected, describing it as a “snowball rolling down a hill”.

“It’s a sign that Russia can be defeated,” he said.

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