In Kherson, residents were without lights and water Sunday, as the city’s Russian-installed officials accused Ukraine of “sabotage” without evidence.
The Kremlin-installed administration in Kherson said an airstrike, the “result of an attack organized” by Ukraine, damaged “three concrete poles of high-voltage power lines.”
The authorities said energy specialists were working to “quickly” resolve the issue, according to Agence France-Presse.
However, Yaroslav Yanushevych, the head of the Kherson regional administration, blamed Russia for the power outages.
Yanushevych wrote on Telegram: “In temporarily occupied Beryslav, Russian troops blew up high-voltage power lines. About one and a half kilometers of utility poles and lines were destroyed.”
The “damage is quite extensive,” he added.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials have said in the past month that between 30% and 40% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been destroyed by Russian airstrikes.
He said in his nightly video address Sunday, “As of this evening, stabilization blackouts continue in Kyiv and six regions. More than 4.5 million consumers are without electricity. Most of them are now in Kyiv and the Kyiv region. It’s really difficult.”
Residents told to prepare for worst
In Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned the city’s residents Sunday that they must prepare for the worst this winter – such as having no electricity, water or heat in the freezing cold — if Russia keeps striking the country’s energy infrastructure.
“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 state media.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP27, opened in Egypt Sunday and with the summit being overshadowed by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
U.K. representative Alok Sharma, who was the president of COP26, said at the ceremonial opening speech at COP27: “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s brutal and illegal war in Ukraine has precipitated multiple global crisis, energy and food insecurity, inflationary pressures and spiraling debt.
“These crises have compounded existing climate vulnerabilities and the scarring effects of the pandemic,” Sharma added.
Sameh Shoukry, incoming COP27 president and Egyptian foreign minister, expressed concern Sunday that crises related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should not sidetrack action on climate change.
Ukrainians cautious in Kherson
In Kherson, Russia is increasing its evacuation of residents from the conflict zone and acknowledging the deteriorating situation in the region. At least 70,000 civilians have been moved from Kherson, which fell to Russian forces within days of the start of the conflict in February.
While a bloody battle for the city is predicted, the “situation in Kherson is clear as mud,” Michael Kofman, the director of Russian studies at CNA, a research institute in Arlington, Virginia, wrote in an analysis this week, The New York Times reported. “Russian forces seemed to withdraw from some parts, evacuated and drew down, but also reinforced with mobilized personnel.”
Residents of the city report abandoned checkpoints and no more Russian patrols, but Ukrainian officials are cautious, believing Moscow is setting a trap.
Russian military commanders dismissed, says intelligence report
Also Sunday, Britain’s defense ministry said in its daily intelligence report about Ukraine that there has been a “series of dismissals of senior Russian military commanders since the onset of the invasion in February 2022.”
The report said, “These dismissals represent a pattern of blame against senior Russian military commanders for failures to achieve Russian objectives on the battlefield. This is in part likely an attempt to insulate and deflect blame from Russian senior leadership at home.”
In its intelligence update Saturday, however, the British defense ministry said “Russia is probably struggling to provide military training for its current mobilization drive and its annual autumn conscription intake. The Russian Armed Forces were already stretched providing training for the approximate 300,000 troops required for its partial mobilization, announced in September.
“These issues,” the ministry said, “will be compounded by the additional regular autumn annual conscription cycle” that begins in November for about 120,000 conscripts.
Russia has resorted to training troops in Belarus, the ministry said, “due to a shortage of training staff, munitions and facilities in Russia.” The intelligence update said that “deploying forces with little or no training provides little additional offensive combat capability.”
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.