Ukraine Accuses Russia of Attacking Power Grid, Causing Blackouts

By Reuters
September 11, 2022Russia–Ukraine War
Ukraine Accuses Russia of Attacking Power Grid, Causing Blackouts
Firefighters work at a site of a thermal power plant damaged by a missile strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sept. 11, 2022. (Press service of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters)

KYIV/KHARKIV, Ukraine—Ukraine accused Russian forces of attacking civilian infrastructure in response to a weekend offensive by Ukrainian troops.

Ukrainian officials said the targets of the retaliatory attacks included water facilities and a thermal power station in Kharkiv, and that they caused widespread blackouts.

“No military facilities, the goal is to deprive people of light & heat,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter late on Sunday.

Zelenskyy said that Russian attacks caused a total blackout in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, and partial blackouts in the Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, and Sumy regions.

Moscow denies its forces deliberately target civilians.

Zelenskyy has described Ukraine’s offensive in the northeast as a potential breakthrough in the six-month-old war, and said the winter could see further territorial gains if Kyiv received more powerful weapons.

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Saturday that it was pulling back troops from two areas in the Kharkiv region.

Ukraine’s chief commander, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said the armed forces had regained control of more than 3,000 square kilometers (1,158 square miles) since the start of this month.

Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine needed to secure retaken territory against a possible Russian counterattack on stretched Ukrainian supply lines. He told the Financial Times that Ukrainian forces could be encircled by fresh Russian troops if they advanced too far.

But he said the offensive had gone far better than expected.

Nuclear Reactor Shuts Down

As the war entered its 200th day, Ukraine on Sunday shut down the last operating reactor at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant to guard against a catastrophe.

Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of shelling around the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia plant, risking a release of radiation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said a backup power line to the plant had been restored, providing the external electricity it needed to carry out the shutdown while defending against the risk of a meltdown.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Putin in a phone call on Sunday that the plant’s occupation by Russian troops is the reason why its security is compromised, the French presidency said. Putin blamed Ukrainian forces, according to a Kremlin statement.

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