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KYIV, Ukraine — Russia launched a new round of air strikes on Ukrainian cities on Monday in the latest attempt to cut off electricity and other basic services to civilians as the country deals with sub-zero temperatures. freeze.
“The enemy has once again attacked Ukrainian territory with missiles,” said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a top official in President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office. telegram.
He said several houses were attacked in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia, killing two people and injuring two others.
And in the South, report from the port city of Odesa said a major fire had broken out and the water supply had been cut off.
In the capital Kiev, many residents took shelter in the city’s subway system.
Large explosions were reported in several other cities around the country, although it is not clear whether Russian missiles or Ukrainian air defense weapons were attempting to shoot them down.
Russia has been waging large-scale attacks on Ukraine’s power systems since October 10 to cut off electricity to civilians as the country enters winter.
Temperatures are below freezing in much of the country — 17 degrees Fahrenheit Monday morning in Kiev.
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The most recent nationwide attack was on 23 November and has caused significant damage to the power grid, knocking out power in most major cities, including Kiev. The power outage caused the heating and water systems to be cut off.
Ukrainian power companies are working to restore power and they say the country is producing about 70% of the energy needed.
That means the power cuts remain in effect across the country. That usually involves at least one outage a day for four hours or so, but sometimes there can be two or three such outages.
Ukraine is preparing for winter. Zelenskyy said his government has set up 4,000 centers to take care of civilians should the power outage persist.
He calls them “invincible spots,” saying they will provide heat, water, phone charging and internet access. Many are in schools and government buildings.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has warned of power outages that could last for days. He is urging city dwellers to move to live with relatives in the countryside, where they can burn wood for warmth. But so far, he said, they’ve stayed put.
“I talked to our citizens and they were angry, ready to stay and ready to fight,” Klitschko said last week.
The Russian military has been losing ground on the battlefield for the past few months. But Russia is betting that it can break Ukraine’s resolve by making civilian life unbearable this winter.
NATO countries have responded by increasing support for Ukraine’s power systems.
The Ukrainians say that support can’t get here soon enough. Some devices, such as transformers, are extremely hard to find.
As a large country with an extensive electricity grid, Ukraine transmits electricity from power plants up to 750,000 volts, energy officials say. When electricity reaches residential areas, transformers will drop their voltage significantly as electricity reaches homes and businesses.
The Russians have targeted and destroyed many of these high-voltage transformers, and Ukraine admits they are having a hard time finding replacements.
In normal times, this process can take several months as the transformers have to be built to Ukrainian specifications. For example, European networks tend to use transformers that handle up to 400,000 volts and are therefore not suitable for Ukraine.