Ukraine says Russia hits electrical site near Kyiv

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A missile strike severely damaged a key energy facility in Ukraine’s capital region, the country’s grid operator said on Saturday as the Russian military worked to cut off power to remote populated areas while defending against Ukrainian counterattacks in occupied areas.

Kyiv Region Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said the strike on the unidentified facility did not kill or injure anyone. Electricity transmission company Ukrenergo said repair crews were working to restore power service, but warned residents of possible further outages.

After a truck bomb explosion a week ago damaged the bridge that connects Russia to the annexed Crimean peninsula, the Kremlin launched what is believed to be its largest coordinated missile attacks in Ukraine since the initial invasion of the country in late February.

Large-scale retaliatory attacks this week, which included the use of self-destructing explosive drones from Iran, killed dozens of people. The strikes affected residential buildings as well as civil infrastructure such as power plants in Kyiv, Lviv in western Ukraine and other cities that had seen relatively few strikes in recent months.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, on Saturday urged residents of the Kyiv region and residents of three neighboring regions to reduce their energy consumption during evening rush hours.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Moscow saw no need for more massive strikes, but that its military would continue with selective strikes. He said that of 29 targets the Russian military planned to eliminate in attacks this week, seven were undamaged and would be phased out.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, interpreted Putin’s remarks as intended to counter criticism from pro-war Russian bloggers who “widely welcomed renewed strikes on Ukrainian cities but warned that a short campaign would be ineffective. “

“Putin knew he would not be able to sustain high-intensity missile strikes for long due to a dwindling high-precision missile arsenal,” the think tank said.

Russian diplomat Konstantin Vorontsov told a United Nations General Assembly committee on arms control on Friday that Russia would supply its ally Belarus with Iskander-M short-range missiles that could carry a nuclear or conventional warhead, and would modernize part of Belarus. Su-25 ground attack jets to carry nuclear weapons.

Vorontsov explained the move by citing Moscow’s concern over the possibility of US nuclear weapons being deployed in Poland near the borders of Belarus and Russia.

He stressed that, in accordance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Russia does not currently intend to install nuclear warheads on Belarusian weapons systems or to transfer nuclear warheads to the territory of Belarus.

Regions of southern Ukraine that Putin illegally designated as Russian territory last month remained at the center of the fighting on Saturday. Ukrainian forces continued a campaign to retake the mostly Russian-occupied Kherson region.

Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Moscow-installed administration in the region, reminded residents they could evacuate to Crimea and towns in southwestern Russia as Ukrainian forces try to advance towards the capital regional.

After the region’s concern Kremlin-backed leaders urged civilians to evacuate on Thursday to ensure their safety and give Russian troops more maneuverability, Moscow offered free accommodation to residents who agreed to leave.

Ukrainian troops attempted to advance south along the banks of the Dnieper but failed to gain ground, according to Stremousov.

“The lines of defense worked and the situation remained under the full control of the Russian military,” he wrote on his messaging app channel.

Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said the army had destroyed five crossing points on the Inhulets River, another route Ukrainian fighters could take to advance towards the Kherson region .

Konashenkov said Russian troops also blocked Ukrainian attempts to break through Russian defenses near Lyman, a town in the annexed Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine which the Ukrainians recaptured two weeks ago. in a major defeat for the Kremlin.

In the Zaporizhzhia region that borders Kherson, Governor Oleksandr Starukh said the Russian military carried out strikes with Iranian-made suicide drones and S-300 missiles. Some experts have said the Russian military’s use of long-range missiles may reflect a shortage of dedicated precision weapons to hit ground targets.

North and east of Kherson, Russian shelling killed two civilians in the Dnipropetrovsk region, Governor Valentyn Resnichenko said. He said the shelling of the town of Nikopol, located across the Dnieper from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, damaged a dozen residential buildings, several shops and a transportation facility.

Fighting near the nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, was a constant concern during the nearly eight-month war. The power plant has temporarily lost its last remaining outside source of electricity twice in the past week, fueling fears the reactors could eventually overheat and cause a catastrophic radiation leak.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said those fears had eased somewhat on Friday evening, as Ukrainian engineers succeeded after several weeks in restoring emergency power lines that can serve of “buffer” in case of new breakdowns related to the war.

“Working in very difficult conditions, the operating staff of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are doing all they can to strengthen its fragile offsite energy situation,” Grossi said. “The restoration of the backup power connection is a positive step in this regard, even if the overall nuclear safety and security situation remains precarious.”

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