Russia Attacks Power Plants After Ukraine Offensive

Russia Attacks Power Plants After Ukraine Offensive

Russia on Sunday attacked power plants and other infrastructure, triggering widespread blackouts across Ukraine as kyiv forces press in a swift counteroffensive that has driven Moscow soldiers from swaths of territory they had occupied in the northeast.

The attack sparked a huge fire at a power plant on the western outskirts of Kharkiv, killing at least one person. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the “deliberate and cynical missile attacks” on civilian targets, calling them acts of terrorism.

Ukraine’s second most populous city, Kharkiv, appeared to be without power on Sunday night. Cars drove through the dark streets and the few pedestrians used flashlights or mobile phones to illuminate themselves.


Meanwhile, the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in the south of the Russian-occupied country was completely shut down in an attempt to prevent a radioactive catastrophe as fighting continued nearby.

kyiv’s action in recent days to recapture Russian-occupied areas in the Kharkiv region forced Moscow to withdraw its soldiers to avoid being encircled, leaving behind a significant number of weapons and ammunition in a hasty flight, meet the war its 200th day on Sunday.

Ukraine’s military commander, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyy, said his forces had recaptured some 3,000 square kilometers (1,160 square miles) since the counteroffensive began a few days ago. He said the Ukrainian soldiers are only 50 kilometers (about 30 miles) from the Russian border.

One battalion shared video of Ukrainian forces outside a municipal building in Hoptivka, a town about two kilometers (just over a mile) from the border and about 19 kilometers (12 miles) north of Kharkiv.

Kharkiv Governor Oleh Syniehubov said Ukrainian soldiers have regained control of more than 40 settlements in the region.

In Russia’s missile strikes on Sunday night, the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions appeared to bear the brunt. Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia and Sumy only partially lost power, Zelenskyy said.

Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov called the blackout “revenge of the Russian aggressor for the successes of our army at the front, in particular in the Kharkiv region.”

Ukrainian officials said Russia attacked the Kharkiv TEC-5 power plant, the country’s second largest, and Zelenskyy released a video of the plant on fire.

“Russian terrorists remain terrorists and attack critical infrastructure. Not to military installations, (but) only for the purpose of leaving people without light or heat,” he tweeted.

The president remained defiant despite the attacks. Addressing Russia, he added: “Do you still think that you can intimidate us, bend us, force us to make concessions?… Cold, hunger, darkness and thirst for us are not as frightening and deadly as your ‘friendship and brotherhood’ . But history will put everything in its place. And we will be with gas, electricity, water and food… and without you!”

By evening the power supply had been restored in some regions. None of the outages are believed to be related to the shutdown of reactors at the Zaporizhia plant.

As most attention focused on the counteroffensive, Ukraine’s atomic power operator said the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, had been reconnected to the country’s power grid, allowing engineers to turn off its last operational reactor to safeguard it in the midst of the fighting.

The plant, one of the 10 largest nuclear power plants in the world, has been occupied by Russian forces since the first days of the war. Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for the artillery shells falling around it.

Since the plant was disconnected from transmission lines due to a rocket fire on September 5, the reactor was powering critical safety equipment in a so-called “island mode,” an unreliable regime that left the plant increasingly more vulnerable to a possible accident.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog agency that has two experts at the plant, welcomed the restoration of external power. But its general director, Rafael Grossi, said that he is “extremely concerned about the situation at the plant, which remains in danger as long as the artillery fire continues.”

He said talks have begun to establish a security zone around it.

In a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron urged the withdrawal of Russian soldiers and the weaponization of the plant in line with IAEA recommendations.

The withdrawal of forces from Moscow in recent days marked the biggest battlefield success for Ukrainian troops since they thwarted a Russian attempt to take kyiv in the early stage of the war. The Kharkiv campaign seemed to catch the Kremlin by surprise, which had relocated many of its soldiers from around the capital to southern Ukraine in anticipation of a counteroffensive there.

Yuriy Kochevenko, from the 95th Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, tweeted a video from what appeared to be the center of Izium. The city was considered a command and supply center for Russia’s northern front.

“Everything around is destroyed, but we will restore everything. Izium was, is and will be Ukraine,” Kochevenko said in the video of him, showing the empty central square and destroyed buildings.

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