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Russia keeps up attacks on Ukraine grid

The Manila Times logo The Manila Times 24/11/2022 Agence France-Presse
FAREWELL, FRIEND A woman mourns over the coffin of Ukrainian serviceman Sergii Myronov as others watch during his funeral at Saint Michael’s Golden-domed Cathedral in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. AFP PHOTO © Provided by The Manila Times FAREWELL, FRIEND A woman mourns over the coffin of Ukrainian serviceman Sergii Myronov as others watch during his funeral at Saint Michael’s Golden-domed Cathedral in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. AFP PHOTO

KYIV: Fresh Russian strikes battered Ukraine's already failing electricity grid, causing blackouts across the war-torn nation and in neighboring Moldova, in attacks Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the United Nations were "an obvious crime against humanity."

The Ukrainian energy system has been left in tatters and millions have been subjected to long periods without electricity after weeks of Russian bombardments, with the World Health Organization (WHO) warning the country's priority this winter would be "survival."

Ukraine's military said Russian forces had fired about 70 cruise missiles at targets across the country on Wednesday and also deployed attack drones.

The strikes piled pressure on the Ukrainian grid, disrupting power supplies in southern and eastern regions, with water and electricity cuts in the capital Kyiv.

"When we have the temperature below zero, and scores of millions of people without energy supplies, without heating, without water, this is an obvious crime against humanity," Zelenskyy told the UN Security Council via video link on Wednesday night.

The strikes killed several people and disconnected three nuclear power stations, officials said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the latest Russian salvo was a response to a decision by the European Parliament to recognize Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism" over its nine-month invasion of Ukraine, and its call for the 27-nation European Union to follow.

French Ambassador to the UN Nicolas de Riviere called the Russian attacks on the Ukrainian energy system "a clear violation of humanitarian law."

"The objective is clear: in the face of military defeats, to sow terror," he told the Security Council on Wednesday. "The continuation of these reprisals is intolerable."

Burnt-out cars, corpses

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko wrote on Telegram that three people were killed in the attacks in the capital, including a 17-year-old girl, and 11 residents were injured.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reporters at the scene of one strike in Kyiv saw the burnt-out remains of two cars and the bodies of two people killed in the blast.

Russia's systematic targeting of energy infrastructure caused severe damage to about half of Ukraine's power facilities.

The WHO has cautioned that winter will be "life-threatening" for millions of people as a result.

Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said half of the western city was without electricity.

Neighboring Moldova said it was experiencing massive blackouts caused by the missile barrage and its EU-friendly leader, Maia Sandu, accused Russia of leaving her country "in the dark."

Ukraine's nuclear energy operator Energoatom said Wednesday's strikes had disconnected all three nuclear power plants still under Ukrainian control from the grid and forced the Russia-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to be powered by backup generators.

'Attacks and atrocities'

The WHO has recorded more than 700 attacks on Ukraine's health facilities since Russia's invasion began on February 24, it said this week.

Wednesday's decision by European legislators to recognize Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism" is a symbolic political step with no legal consequences.

Kyiv has for months called on the international community to declare Russia a "terrorist state," and the Strasbourg parliament's decision is likely to anger Moscow.

The resolution approved by EU lawmakers said the "deliberate attacks and atrocities carried out by the Russian Federation against the civilian population of Ukraine... and other serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law amount to acts of terror."

Ukraine praised the decision, with Zelenskyy calling for Russia to be "held accountable in order to end its long-standing policy of terrorism in Ukraine and across the globe."

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