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WHO predicts ‘deadly’ winter in Ukraine



(Kyiv) Power cuts across Ukraine could continue until March, according to one of the country’s energy chiefs, as Ukrainians prepare for a harsh winter after weeks of relentless Russian strikes against its power grid.

Sergei Kovalenko, CEO of private energy supplier DTEK Yasno, said in a Facebook post late Monday that the company was receiving instructions from Ukraine’s public grid operator to resume emergency outages in areas that it covers, including the capital Kyiv and the eastern region of Dnipropetrovsk.

“Although there are fewer power cuts now, I want everyone to understand: most likely Ukrainians will have to live with power cuts until at least the end of March,” Kovalenko warned.

“I think we have to be prepared for different options, even the worst ones. Stock up on warm clothes, blankets, think about what will help you during a long shutdown,” he said, addressing Ukrainian residents.

Russia has been hammering Ukraine’s power grid and other infrastructure for weeks as the war nears its nine-month milestone. This assault caused widespread blackouts and deprived millions of Ukrainians of electricity, heat and water.

Temperatures generally stay below zero in Ukraine during the winter months. Ukrainian authorities have started evacuating civilians from recently liberated sections of the southern regions of Kherson and Mykolaiv, fearing that the winter will be difficult to survive.

Mr Kovalenko added that even if there were no more Russian strikes, planned blackouts will be needed across Ukraine to ensure electricity is evenly distributed across the struggling power grid.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has revealed that Russian missile strikes have damaged more than 50% of the country’s energy facilities, and the World Health Organization has warned that millions will face a ‘deadly’ winter in Ukraine .

The battle on the ground continued unabated despite deteriorating weather conditions, with Ukrainian forces pressing Russian positions in a week-long counter-offensive and Moscow forces continuing shelling and attacks. missile strikes.

In a key battlefield development, a Ukrainian official admitted that Kyiv forces were attacking Russian positions on the Kinburn Spit, which is a gateway to the Black Sea basin and parts of the southern region. of Kherson which are still under Russian control.

Despite a lack of information about the operation, Natalya Humenyuk, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian army’s Southern Operational Command, said in televised remarks that Ukrainian forces were “continuing a military operation” in the region.

The Kinburn Spit is Russia’s last outpost in the Mykolaiv region of southern Ukraine, directly west of Kherson. Ukrainian forces recently liberated other parts of Kherson and Mykolaiv regions.

Moscow used the Kinburn Spit as a staging ground for missile and artillery strikes on Ukrainian positions in Mykolaiv province and elsewhere along the Ukrainian-controlled Black Sea coast.

Ukraine recently recaptured the city of Kherson, on the west bank of the Dnieper, and surrounding areas in a major battlefield advance.

Capturing the Kinburn Spit could help Ukrainian forces penetrate territory Russia still holds in the Kherson region “under far less Russian artillery fire” than an attempt to cross the Dnieper directly would likely trigger, analyzed Monday. a Washington-based think tank.

The Institute for War Studies added that controlling the area would help Kyiv mitigate Russian strikes on southern Ukrainian seaports and allow Ukraine to increase naval activity in the Black Sea. .

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s presidential office announced on Tuesday morning that at least eight civilians had been killed and 16 injured in the past 24 hours, as Moscow forces again used drones, rockets and artillery heavy to pound eight Ukrainian regions.

Since Russia invaded its neighbor on February 24, the war has killed at least 16,784 civilians and injured 10,189, estimates the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In the eastern Donetsk region, fierce battles have continued around the city of Bakhmut, where Kremlin forces are keen to secure an unequivocal victory after weeks of embarrassing military setbacks.

Speaking on Ukrainian television, Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said Russia had launched missiles at the city of Kramatorsk, which houses the local headquarters of the Ukrainian army, and at the strategic town of Avdiivka.

Mr Kyrylenko added that power supply and communications are non-existent in most of the Donetsk region.

According to Ukraine’s presidential office, one civilian was killed and three others injured after Russia shelled the city of Kherson, which Ukrainian forces recaptured on November 10.

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