'Unprecedented' Power Cuts In Ukraine After Russian Strikes Damage Infrastructure

By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says about 4 million people across Ukraine have been hit by power restrictions that Ukraine’s energy companies have been forced to impose because of damage to infrastructure caused by Russia's bombing campaign.

Zelenskiy said in his nightly address on October 28 that the areas affected include the Kyiv and Kharkiv and the regions around the two major cities.

Authorities in Kyiv said the cuts would have to be stepped up to "unprecedented" levels.

Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said the city's energy supply system on October 28 was operating in emergency mode. He said it would take two to three weeks to eliminate an electricity deficit ranging between 20 percent and 50 percent.

Earlier on October 28, the press service of the Ukrenergo national energy company said in a statement that “emergency outages” of four hours a day or more had resumed in the Kyiv region.

Oleksiy Kuleba, governor of the capital region, said on Telegram that residents could expect to see “tougher and longer” power outages compared to earlier in the war, while Oleh Synehubov, governor of the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine, announced that daily one-hour power outages would begin on October 31 across the province.

The measures are necessary to stabilize the power grid because Russia continues shelling Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, he said on Telegram.

Ukraine says about one-third of its power stations have been destroyed since Russia launched the first wave of targeted infrastructure strikes on October 10.

Ukraine and its allies have said many of the strikes have been carried out by drones supplied by Iran with the goal of depriving Ukrainians of heat for their homes in the coming winter.

Moscow and Tehran have denied the accusations.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he demanded Iran stop sending the weapons to Russia in a phone call with his Iranian counterpart.

Kuleba said on Twitter that he “demanded Iran to immediately cease the flow of weapons to Russia used to kill civilians and destroy critical infrastructure in Ukraine” during the call on October 28 with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

The United States announced $275 million in fresh military aid to Ukraine -- in part because of Russia's attacks on the country's civilian infrastructure.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the aid is the 24th drawdown of U.S. arms and equipment for Ukraine since August 2021.

"The United States will continue to stand with more than 50 allies and partners in support of the people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom and independence with extraordinary courage and boundless determination," Blinken said.

The United States also is working to provide Ukraine with air-defense capabilities, he said, adding that two initial U.S. NASAM air-defense systems are ready for delivery to Ukraine next month and that the United States is working with allies and partners to enable delivery of their air-defense systems to Ukraine.

In Moscow, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin in a televised meeting that the military had met its mobilization target of 300,000 soldiers.

The partial mobilization, which prompted some Russian men to leave the country, was announced on September 21.

According to Shoigu, 82,000 recruits are already in Ukraine, and 41,000 of them were deployed to military units. Shoigu said that no additional conscription is planned.

In his video address, Zelenskiy expressed doubt that the mobilization was truly complete, saying the poor performance of Moscow's forces meant "very soon Russia may need a new wave of people to send to the war."

With reporting by Reuters and AP