Authorities in Ukraine say much of the country remains without heat or power following Russia’s devastating wave of missile attacks on Wednesday.
In his overnight video address to the population President Volodymyr Zelensky said that after nine months of war Russia had been unable to break the will of the Ukrainian people and they would not do so.
Ukraine is still counting the cost of Wednesday’s barrage, the effects of which the country’s energy grid were the most devastating so far.
In the capital, where 60% of residents remained without power amid temperatures well below freezing, residents were warned to brace for further attacks and to stock up on water, food and warm clothing.
Ukraine’s energy regulator said 50% of electricity demand was not being met as of 7pm local time last night.
All of the country’s nuclear plants had been shut down, although one reactor had been reconnected to the grid by yesterday evening.
Kyiv’s mayor Vitaly Klitschko said such missile strikes will happen again and the city had to be ready for any developments.
Surgeons working in Kyiv Children’s Heart Hospital had to perform open heart surgery on a child using head torches because of a sudden power outage.
Russia has denied targeting civilian infrastructure, saying it is only hitting facilities with a direct or indirect military use.
The Kremlin has said the Ukrainian government can stop the suffering of its population by acceding to Russia’s demands.
“Together we endured nine months of full-scale war and Russia has not found a way to break us, and will not find one,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a nightly video address last night.
Mr. Zelensky also accused Russia of incessantly shelling Kherson, the southern Ukrainian city that it abandoned earlier this month.
Seven people were killed and 21 wounded in a Russian attack yesterday, local authorities said.
Mr. Zelensky said that while power, heat, communications and water were being restored gradually, problems still existed with water supplies in 15 regions.
Russia’s barrage killed 11 people yesterday and shut down all of Ukraine’s nuclear plants for the first time in 40 years.
Yesterday marked nine months since Moscow launched what it called a “special military operation” to protect Russian-speakers. Ukraine and the West say the invasion is an unprovoked war of aggression.
Since early October, Russia has launched missiles roughly once a week in a bid to destroy the Ukrainian power grid.
Volodymyr Zelensky told the Financial Times that this week’s strikes had created a situation not seen for 80 or 90 years – “a country on the European continent where there was totally no light.”
British Foreign Minister James Cleverly visited Ukraine and will pledge millions of pounds in further support to ensure the country has the help it needs through winter, his office said.
Mr Cleverly, who is set to meet the Ukrainian President on the trip, condemned Russia for its “brutal attacks” on civilians, hospitals and energy infrastructure.
Ukrainian officials said a reactor at one nuclear plant, Khmelnytskyi, had been reconnected to the grid late yesterday.
The vast Zaporizhzhia plant in Russian-held territory was reconnected yesterday, Ukrainian nuclear power company Energoatom said.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said it was Kyiv’s fault Ukrainians were suffering because it refused to yield to Moscow’s demands, which he did not spell out. Ukraine says it will only stop fighting when all Russian forces have left.
Nuclear officials say interruptions in power can disrupt cooling systems and cause an atomic disaster.
Thousands of missing
More than 15,000 people have gone missing during the war in Ukraine, an official in the Kyiv office of the Hague-based International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) said.
The ICMP’s program director for Europe, Matthew Holliday, said it was unclear how many people had been forcibly transferred, were being held in detention in Russia, were alive and separated from family members, or had died and been buried in makeshift graves.
In Kyiv, members of the Kyiv National Academic Operetta Theater tearfully bid farewell to 26-year-old ballet dancer Vadym Khlupianets who was killed fighting Russian troops.
Moscow shifted to the tactic of striking Ukraine’s infrastructure even as Kyiv has inflicted battlefield defeats on Russian forces since September.
The war’s first winter will now test whether Ukraine can press on with its campaign to recapture territory, or whether Russia’s commanders can halt Kyiv’s momentum.
Mr Zelensky said that in some areas Ukrainian troops were preparing to advance but gave no details.
Having retreated, Russia has a far shorter line to defend to hold on to seized lands, with more than a third of the front now blocked off by the Dnipro River.
Russia has pursued an offensive of its own along the frontline west of the city of Donetsk, held by Moscow’s proxies since 2014.
Ukraine said Russian forces tried again to advance on their main targets, Bakhmut and Avdiivka, with limited success.
Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield accounts.
Additional reporting Reuters