Russian shelling knocked out power to much of the recently liberated Ukrainian city of Kherson on Thursday, just days after it was restored amid Moscow’s ongoing campaign to destroy key civilian infrastructure as the war begins. cold weather.
In Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned the capital’s millions of residents that they should stock up on water and canned food to get them through a winter that could prove miserable if more power infrastructure is damaged.
He also urged people to consider leaving the city to stay with friends or family elsewhere, if possible.
“Difficult months are ahead. The enemy still possesses substantial resources,” Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said. He added, however, that “signs are accumulating that (Russia) needs a pause at all costs.”
Ukraine has faced an onslaught of Russian artillery fire and drone strikes since early October. Shelling has been especially heavy in Kherson since Russian forces withdrew and the Ukrainian army recaptured the southern city nearly three weeks ago.
Ukraine’s presidential office said Thursday that at least two civilians were killed and six others wounded across the country in the latest Russian shelling. In Kherson, a 70-year-old woman was killed in her apartment and a 64-year-old man was injured in the street. A 15-year-old boy was killed when a hospital in the city of Bilopillia, in the northeastern Sumy region, was attacked, the presidential office said.
Local authorities said around two-thirds of Kherson had power as of Thursday night. Some residents congregated at the train station or in government-supported tents that provided heat, food, drink and electricity to charge cell phones.
Walking cautiously towards an evacuation train, Liudmyla Biloshysta, 79, said she decided to leave and join her children in Kyiv because she feared conditions in Kherson would worsen.
“The strike was so massive that our house even started to shake,” Biloshysta said of the latest shelling. “These bombings scare me a lot.”
Alluding to her birth during World War II, she said: “I was a war child and now I am a wartime grandmother.”
In the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, Russian forces fired “from evening to morning” on Ukrainian-controlled towns opposite the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant across the Dnieper river, the regional governor said on Thursday.
“Eight bombings per night. The Russians from evening to morning attacked the Nikopol area with (multiple rocket launchers) and heavy artillery. Two districts, Marhanets and Chervonohryhorivka, were attacked by the enemy,” Governor Valentyn Reznichenko wrote on Telegram.
Elsewhere in eastern Ukraine, Russian forces continued their attempts to encircle the Donetsk region town of Bakhmut, targeting several villages around it and trying to cut off a key road.
Andriy Yermak, head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said Russia released 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war and Ukraine handed over the same number on Thursday as fighting continued.
In Berlin, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised the “heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people” against Russian attacks, saying that with the help of allies, “Ukraine has made significant progress” on the battlefield.
“But we must not underestimate Russia,” Stoltenberg warned in a speech at the Berlin Security Conference. “Russian missiles and drones continue to rain down on Ukraine’s cities, civilians and critical infrastructure, causing enormous human suffering as winter approaches.”
The NATO chief said Russian President Vladimir Putin had made “two big strategic mistakes” when he invaded Ukraine in February: underestimating Ukraine and underestimating the support that NATO and its allies were willing to give so the country could defend itself.
In a related development, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday strongly condemned a European Union proposal, issued the day before, to set up a UN-backed tribunal to investigate possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
“As for attempts to establish some kind of tribunals, they will not have any legitimacy and will not be accepted by us. They will be condemned by us,” Peskov said during a press conference.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a video message on Wednesday that the EU would work with international partners to garner “the widest possible international support” for the proposed war crimes court while continuing to support the International Criminal Court.
Neither Russia nor Ukraine are among the 123 ICC member states.