Much of Ukraine remained without electricity, heat and water two days after a devastating series of Russian missile attacks against the country’s civilian infrastructure.
The Kyiv mayor, Vitaly Klitschko, said 60% of households in the city of 3 million had no power, and there were rolling blackouts around the country, as engineers struggled to repair transformers and transmission lines damaged or destroyed by cruise missiles on Wednesday.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said basic utilities were gradually being restored, but there were problems with water supplies in 15 regions.
The UN high commissioner for human rights, Volker Türk, said Russian strikes on critical infrastructure had killed at least 77 people since October.
“Millions are being plunged into extreme hardship and appalling conditions of life by these strikes,” said Türk in a statement. “Taken as a whole, this raises serious problems under international humanitarian law, which requires a concrete and direct military advantage for each object attacked.”
The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, did not deny that Russia was attacking Ukraine’s energy infrastructure but blamed Kyiv on the grounds it had not bowed to Russian demands, which he did not specify. Zelenskiy’s government has vowed not to accept peace terms that leave Russia in control of any Ukrainian territory.
In his nightly address on Thursday, Zelenskiy said the attacks would not break the will of the Ukrainian population. “Together we endured nine months of full-scale war and Russia has not found a way to break us, and will not find one,” he said.
The three nuclear power stations still under Ukrainian control were back in operation after an unprecedented complete shutdown on Wednesday. However, Petro Kotin, the head of the state nuclear energy company, Energoatom, told the Guardian that defects in turbogenerators meant that two reactors were not yet rejoined the power grid. Kotin did not say where the two affected reactors were.
Kotin said that in the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which remains under Russian control, two of the six reactors were in standby mode, but had not yet been returned to the grid.
Russian forces have continued to shell the southern city of Kherson two weeks after withdrawing their troops to the other side of the Dnipro River. Ukrainian citizens being evacuated from the city because of the complete destruction of electricity, heat and water systems, have come under artillery fire as they attempt to leave.
According to the Ukrainian presidency, 11 people were killed and nearly 50 injured in the Kherson region on Thursday.