Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called on the United Nations to punish Russian airstrikes on civilian infrastructure after a series of missiles caused the country’s worst power outages so far, plunging cities into freezing darkness.
With millions of Ukrainians facing sub-zero temperatures, authorities worked hard on Thursday to restart lights and heating. Russia’s latest rocket attack has killed 10 people, knocked out Ukraine’s nuclear power plants and left much of the country without electricity.
As of Thursday morning, Kyiv regional authorities said electricity had been restored in three-quarters of the capital and water was running again in some areas. Transport is also back in operation in the capital.
Authorities had expected to restart three nuclear power plants in Ukrainian-controlled territory by the end of the day.
Since early October, Russia has launched massive air strikes about once a week on energy targets across Ukraine.
Moscow acknowledges the attack on basic infrastructure, saying its goal is to reduce Ukraine’s combat capability and push it to negotiate. Kiev says such attacks are clearly meant to hurt civilians, making it a war crime.
“Today is just one day, but we have received 70 missiles. This is the Russian formula of terror. All this against our energy infrastructure,” Zelenskiy said overnight via video link to the UN Security Council chamber.
“Hospitals, schools, transport, residential neighborhoods have all suffered,” he said, urging the United Nations to take action to stop the attacks.
There was no prospect of action by the Security Council, where Russia has veto power. Moscow’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, said it was against council rules for Zelenskiy to appear via video and rejected what he called “reckless threats and ultimatums” from Ukraine and its backers in the West.
In an evening address to Ukrainians, Zelenskiy said, “We will rebuild everything and overcome everything because we are an indestructible people.”
Ukraine says it is shooting down most of its missiles and restoring most of its power in a day, but that each of these strikes causes more damage and more hardship for civilians.
“If Moscow truly believes the power outage will lead Ukrainians to overthrow the government and beg for mercy, then after nine months of war the Kremlin still knows absolutely nothing about Ukraine,” Zelenskiy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted.
Winter came abruptly to Ukraine and temperatures were well below freezing in the capital, a city of three million people. US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russian President Vladimir Putin “clearly uses winter as a weapon to inflict immense suffering on the Ukrainian people”.
The Russian president “will try to freeze the country into submission,” he added.
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