- Russian missile strikes target electricity, water – Ukraine
- Ukrainian army says they have cleared 3,000 square kilometers
- The last reactor of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant shuts down
KYIV/KHAKIV, Ukraine, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Ukraine has accused the Russian military of attacking civilian infrastructure in response to a rapid weekend offensive by Ukrainian forces that forced Russia to abandon its main fortress in the Kharkiv region .
Ukrainian officials said the retaliatory attacks targeted a water utility and a coal-fired power station in Kharkiv and caused widespread power outages.
“No military installations, the goal is to deprive people of light and heat,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted Sunday night.
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Moscow has denied that its forces deliberately targeted civilians.
Zelensky described Ukraine’s offensive in the northeast as a potential breakthrough in a six-month war, and said winter could see further territorial gains if Kyiv gets more powerful weapons.
Moscow’s army suffered its worst defeat since being pushed back on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv in March, with thousands of Russian soldiers leaving behind ammunition and equipment as they fled the city of Izium, which they use as a logistics hub.
The armed forces have regained control of more than 3,000 square kilometers (1,158 square miles) of land since the beginning of the month, Ukrainian commander-in-chief General Valery Zaluzhny said.
Ukrainian gains are politically important to Zelensky as he tries to keep Europe together after Ukraine – providing arms and funding – even as an energy crisis looms after Russia cuts gas supplies to European customers this winter .
“The Coward’s Reaction”
Ukraine’s General Staff said on Monday that the Wehrmacht had expelled the enemy from more than 20 settlements in the past day.
Near the Russian border, in the village of Kozacha Lopan, north of Kharkov, Ukrainian soldiers and local officials were hugged and shaken by residents.
“Kozacha (Lopan) is and will be Ukraine,” regional mayor Vyacheslav Zadorenko said in a video he posted on Facebook on Sunday. “There is no ‘Russian world’. See for yourselves where the rubbish of the ‘Russian world’ is. Glory to Ukraine, glory to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
Moscow’s near-total silence on the defeat – or any explanation for what happened in northeastern Ukraine – has sparked outrage among some pro-war commentators and Russian nationalists on social media. Some on Sunday called on President Vladimir Putin to make immediate changes to ensure eventual victory in the war.read more
Zelensky said late Sunday that the Russian attack had caused complete power outages in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions and partial power outages in Zaporozhye, Dnipropetrovsk and Sumy.
Mikhailo Podoljak, adviser to the Ukrainian president, said the CHPP-5 power station in Kharkiv – one of the largest in Ukraine – was hit.
“A cowardly ‘response’ to their own troops fleeing the battlefield,” he tweeted.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential office, posted on Telegram a picture of the electrical infrastructure on fire, but added that power had been restored in some areas.
Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov told the Financial Times that Ukraine needs to ensure that it retakes territory to prevent a possible Russian counterattack against the stretched Ukrainian supply lines.
But he said the offensive was much better than expected, describing it as a “snowball rolling down a hill”.
“This is a sign that Russia can be defeated,” he said.
The British Ministry of Defence said on Sunday that fighting continued around the city of Izium and Kupiansk, Russia’s only railway hub across the northeastern Ukrainian front, which has been reoccupied by Ukrainian forces.
The leader of the Luhansk People’s Republic, Leonid Pasechnik, was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying that Ukrainian forces were trying to infiltrate the eastern region, which Russia claimed in early July.
“Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups have not stopped their attempts to infiltrate the territory of the republic to provoke and intimidate our citizens,” he said, adding that “there is no retreat from the position held by the republic”.
nuclear reactor shut down
As the war entered its 200th day, Ukraine on Sunday shut down the last operating reactor at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant to prevent disaster if fighting erupted nearby.
Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of risking the release of radiation by shelling the Russian-controlled Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.
The IAEA said backup power lines at the plant had been restored to provide the external power needed to shut down the plant while guarding against the risk of a meltdown.
French President Emmanuel Macron told Putin by phone on Sunday that the occupation of the factory by Russian troops was the reason its security was at risk. Putin blamed the Ukrainian army, according to a Kremlin statement.
France said on Sunday it would sign a deal with Romania to help boost Ukrainian grain exports.read more
Ukraine’s food exports have slumped since the war began, as its Black Sea ports were closed, pushing up global food prices and sparking fears of shortages.
“Tomorrow, I will sign an agreement with Romania that will allow Ukraine to ship more grains to Europe and developing countries, especially those in the Mediterranean region that need it,” Transport Minister Clement Born told France Internationale . radio.
The IMF is also looking at ways to provide emergency funding to countries facing war-induced food price shocks and will discuss measures at an executive committee meeting on Monday, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.read more
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Reporting by Reuters reporters; Writing by James Oliphant and Lincoln Feast; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Shri Navaratnam
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