Russia has launched a fresh wave of attacks on Ukraine, targeting the country’s energy grid with a “new massive strike,” said Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky.
The strike has left 1.5m homes without power, amid power outages across the country.
He revealed that the attacks were on a “very wide” scale, hitting regions in the west, centre, south and east.
Areas targeted by the latest attacks include the Cherkasy region, south-east of the capital Kyiv, and the city of Khmelnytskyi, further west.
The Ukrainian premier said that 36 rockets had been launched on Saturday, and most of them had been downed.
He also argued that the strikes would not stop Ukrainian military advances, following weeks of successful counter attacks across the Donestk region.
In a video address late last night, he said: “Of course, we do not yet have the technical ability to shoot down 100 per cent of Russian missiles and attack drones. We will gradually come to this – with the help of our partners, I’m confident of this.”
Almost a third of Ukraine’s power stations and other energy-generating facilities have been destroyed in a wave of air strikes since Monday last week, according to reports from the BBC.
Ukraine has since been on a power-saving drive, with Zelensky encouraging citizens to cut 20 per cent of their energy usage.
Ukraine faces challenging winter
The national electricity operator, Ukrenergo, warned the strikes have caused more damage than the bombardment earlier this month.
This follows Zelensky accusing Russia of planting mines at a hydroelectric dam in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine yesterday, which is under the control of Moscow’s forces.
He feared that if the Kakhovka plant was destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people would be in danger of flooding.
Russia has denied the claims, and said Ukraine was firing missiles at the dam.
Ukrainian forces are advancing on the Kherson, which remains occupied by Russian forces, amid reports of thousands of civilians fleeing the city.
The latest escalation in the conflict comes after Naftogaz, Ukraine’s state energy operator, told City A.M. earlier this month that the country has a 3bn cubic meter shortfall of gas supplies.
It has called on international allies to provide financial support so that it can secure energy supplies on global markets, and for the West to follow through on proposals to cap Russian oil and gas to slash war revenues and lower commodity prices.
Chief media adviser Svitlana Zalishchuk has praised the European Union’s (EU) series of sanctions packages including oil and coal sanctions, but also raised concerns over the lack of agreement within the bloc over more measures.
Zalishchuk said: “We see that they haven’t been realised because there’s no unity in the EU on that front. So, we believe that smart measures coming from our international partners are still needed to influence the revenues the Russians earn for the energy resources.”