KYIV, Ukraine — Utility crews worked through a dark night amid snow and freezing rain to stabilize Ukraine’s devastated power grid Thursday after another devastating wave of Russian missile strikes, restoring basic services like running water and heat in many parts of the country even as millions lay still. He was left without electricity.
Ukrainians have expressed their defiance in the face of Moscow’s relentless campaign to weaponize winter in an effort to weaken their resolve and force Kyiv to capitulate even as Russia heaps new suffering on a war-weary nation.
Surgeons were forced to operate by flashlight, thousands of miners had to be pulled from the depths of the earth by hand winches, and people across the country hauled buckets and water bottles up stairs in high-rise apartment buildings as elevators stopped working.
State Border Service of Ukraine pending operations At checkpoints at the borders with Hungary and Romania on Thursday due to power outages, Ukraine’s national railway company reported delays and disruptions across a network that has been a resilient lifeline to the nation over nine months of war.
Families charged and heated their phones and gathered information at centers set up in towns and cities during the extended blackout. Police in the capital, Kyiv, and in other cities stepped up patrols as shopkeepers and restaurants turned on generators or lit candles and went about their business.
“The situation is difficult across the country,” said Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Galushenko. But he said that by 4 a.m., engineers had managed to “standardize the power system,” allowing power to be routed to critical infrastructure facilities.
In Moldova, Ukraine’s western neighbor, whose Soviet-era electrical systems are still interconnected with Ukraine’s, the grid is largely back in operation after the country suffered “major blackouts,” the infrastructure minister said. he said on Twitter. “We are moving forward, stronger and victorious,” wrote the minister, André Spineau.
A barrage of Russian missiles on Wednesday killed at least 10 people and wounded dozens, Ukrainian officials said, in what appeared to be one of the most depraved attacks in weeks. Since Oct. 10, Russia has launched about 600 missiles at power plants, hydroelectric facilities, water pumping stations, treatment facilities, high-voltage cables around nuclear power plants and critical substations that supply power to tens of millions of homes and businesses, Ukrainian officials said.
The campaign causes increasing losses. Wednesday’s strikes disabled all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants for the first time, depriving the country of one of its most vital energy sources.
“We expect that the nuclear plants will start working by the evening, so the deficit will decrease,” Galushenko said.
General Valery Zaluzhny, the supreme commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, said that Ukrainian air defenses shot down 51 out of 67 Russian cruise missiles launched on Wednesday and five out of 10 drones.
President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking Wednesday night at an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council, denounced what he described as Russia’s campaign of terror.
He said, “When the outside temperature drops below zero and tens of millions of people are left without electricity, heat and water as a result of Russian missiles hitting energy facilities, this is a clear crime against humanity.”
In Kyiv, about one in four homes were still without power Thursday afternoon, and more than half of the city’s residents did not have running water, according to city officials. City officials said service has been gradually restored, and said they are confident the pumps providing water to about three million residents will be back on by the end of the day.
Transit has been suspended in the southern Black Sea port city of Odessa until limited power supplies can be directed to running water again. In the Lviv region of western Ukraine, where millions have been driven from their homes by fighting and electricity and water have run low, services have largely been restored.
The national energy utility, Ukrenergo, said that given the “high amount of damage” and difficult working conditions, repairs in some areas may take longer than others.
“There is no reason to panic,” the company said in a statement. It added that all critical infrastructure would be reconnected.