Kyiv – Ukrainian officials said “heinous” Russian rocket attacks on civilian energy sites have caused power outages across the country and left more than a million homes without power, while Russian authorities ordered residents to leave Kherson “immediately” before Kiev forces are expected to retake the crucial southern city.
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President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Telegram on October 22 that Russia had carried out a “massive attack” on Ukraine overnight and that “the aggressor continues to terrorize our country”.
“During the night, the enemy launched a massive attack: 36 missiles, most of which were shot down … These are heinous attacks on critical objects. Typical terrorist tactics,” he wrote. “The world can and must stop this terror.”
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office, said the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces did so 18 of the missiles shot down.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said several rockets were shot down while approaching the capital.
“Several rockets flying in the direction of Kyiv were shot down in the region by air defense forces. Thanks to our defenders!” said Klitschko.
There was no immediate information on any deaths related to the rocket attacks, but officials said several people were injured.
It was not possible to verify the reports on either side.
In the face of ongoing Russian airstrikes, Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba again urged Ukraine’s western allies to speed up the delivery of modern air defense systems.
“We intercepted some, others hit the targets. Air defense saves lives. In [Western] Capitals, there should not be a single minute delay in deciding on air defense systems for Ukraine”, said Kuleba.
Local officials said power plants in Odessa, Kirovohrad and Lutsk regions were hit, while other regions reported power supply problems.
“Another missile attack by terrorists fighting civilian infrastructure and people,” Ukrainian Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak wrote on the Telegram app.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at a government meeting that October 10-20 Russian strikes damaged more than 400 facilities in 16 regions of Ukraine, including dozens of power plants.
“The Russian army has identified our energy sector as one of the main targets of its attacks,” Schmyhal said on October 21.
“Russian propagandists and officials speak openly about the purpose of all these attacks: according to them, Ukraine should remain without water, without light and without heat.” he said.
Meanwhile, Russian-appointed authorities in the occupied and illegally seized southern Kherson region on October 22 ordered the estimated 60,000 residents of the region’s eponymous capital to leave “immediately” in the face of the ongoing counteroffensive by Kiev.
“Due to the tense situation at the front, the increased danger of mass shelling of the city and the threat of terrorist attacks, all civilians must leave the city immediately and cross to the left bank of the Dnieper,” said the Russian-backed region that informed the authorities in the social media with.
Officials deployed by Russina are taking people out of the strategically important city in what they call evacuations, but what Ukrainian officials call deportations.
The order came despite an Oct. 22 claim by Russia’s defense ministry that its forces had prevented an attempt by Ukraine to breach its line of control in Kherson.
“All attacks were repulsed, the enemy was pushed back to their starting positions,” the Defense Ministry said, adding that the Ukrainian offensive was launched on the settlements of Piatykhatky, Suhanove, Sablukivka and Bezvodne on the west bank of the Dnieper.
The ministry statement said Russian forces also repelled attacks in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.
The city of Kherson, which had a population of 280,000 before the war, is one of the first urban areas occupied by Russia at the beginning of the invasion.
Zelenskyy’s office said that 88 settlements in the southern Kherson region and 551 settlements in the northeastern Kharkiv region have been “de-occupied” as the counter-offensive by Ukrainian forces in the Kherson region progresses.
Ukraine is attempting to push back Russian forces in Kherson east across the Dnieper. Russian soldiers on the west bank, where the city of Kherson is located, are reportedly on the verge of being cut off from supply lines and reinforcements.
Natalya Humenyuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Southern Operations Command, said Ukrainian military attacked the Antonivskiy Bridge over the Dnieper River in the city of Kherson during an overnight curfew imposed by Russia to avoid civilian casualties.
“We do not attack civilians and settlements,” Humenyuk told Ukrainian television.
Ukrainian strikes rendered the Antonivsky Bridge inoperable, prompting Russian authorities to set up ferry crossings and pontoon bridges to relocate civilians and transport supplies.
Russia has dispatched thousands of recently mobilized troops to bolster the defenses of Kherson, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said on October 21st.
Zelenskyy again on October 21 called on the West to warn Russia not to blow up a dam at the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric power station on the Dnieper, as doing so could flood settlements towards Kherson.
Zelenskyy said Russian forces had planted explosives in the dam holding back a huge reservoir and planned to blow it up.
“Now everyone in the world must act vigorously and quickly to prevent a new Russian terrorist attack. The destruction of the dam would mean a great catastrophe,” he said in his nightly address.