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KYIV, Ukraine – More than 1.4 million Ukrainian homes have lost power after a morning of repeated Russian airstrikes, according to the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The Ukrainian General Staff reported that 40 cruise missiles and 16 allegedly Iranian-made drone hit Ukraine throughout the day.
Ukraine’s electricity utility, Ukrenergo, says the extent of the damage has set a new record, eclipsing the attacks the country has suffered earlier in october. The first airstrikes marked the biggest escalation in the war since the invasion of Russia.
The Ukrainian government has repeatedly called on citizens to ration their electricity consumption, announcing a schedule of continued blackouts if the grid reaches capacity. Ukrenerho warns that power outages can last 8-10 hours a day when power lines are still intact. Areas that have taken more damage can go without power for much longer.
The mayor of the western city of Lutsk, Ihor Polishchuk, said the damage inflicted by three Russian rockets “is not compatible with repair”. He asked for patience while engineers rebuild electrical infrastructure and restore water pressure.
Police also said most air raid sirens lacked electricity to warn of other potential airstrikes. They encouraged citizens to keep cellphones charged to receive emergency alerts and said they would turn on their vehicles’ sirens in the event of an imminent attack.
“When you have no electricity in a city, it means you have no water, you have no gas supply, you have nothing,” said Oleksandr Kharchenko, a Ukrainian energy expert, to NPR. “It really is a huge problem.”
Seven of Ukraine’s 25 regions suffered similar damage, mainly in the west, south and center of the country.
Dr Ihor Dundiuk, deputy director of Rivne City Hospital, told a national broadcaster that his facilities are running on backup power, using oxygen and fresh water supplies, but patients are eating food cooked on wood-burning stoves on the sidewalk.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, adviser to the Ukrainian president, said the Ukrainian Air Force managed to intercept 18 Russian rockets aimed at Ukrainian infrastructure. Military officials credit four new German IRIS-T air defense systems with preventing damage to major cities, but experts fear Ukraine still lacks the air defense capability to cover smaller towns. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has called for more air defense rockets in response to Saturday’s attacks.
Kharchenko says he thinks the Russian Air Force is working closely with energy experts to maximize civilian damage, though he says Ukraine has the ability to repair the grid quickly and multiple times. occasions. He notes, however, that strikes have moved from power stations to smaller relay stations and transformer facilities.
“Power generating facilities are pretty big objects that are protected by defense because there aren’t too many of them…but there are hundreds of transformers, and it’s impossible to cover them all,” said Kharchenko. “It’s absolute terrorism.”