Russia rained missiles over Ukraine on Wednesday, shutting down nuclear plants and killing civilians, as Moscow continues its campaign to plunge Ukrainian cities into darkness and cold as winter sets in.
Multiple regions reported attacks in quick succession, and Ukraine’s energy ministry said that “the vast majority of the
electricity consumers were cut off.” Officials in Kiev said three people were killed and nine injured in the capital after a Russian strike hit a two-story building.
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Power was lost in more than half of neighboring Moldova, the first time a neighboring state has reported such extensive damage from the war in Ukraine.
The entire Kiev region is now without electricity, according to Governor Oleksiy Kuleba, and Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the water supply for the entire city has been turned off.
Zelenskyy promises ‘invincibility centers’
Three Ukrainian nuclear power plants were shut down after the strikes, but Energoatom Nuclear Power Plant said radiation levels were normal at all nuclear sites in the country.
State grid operator Ukrenergo said repair work would begin when the air raid sirens stop, and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy said, “We will renew everything and endure all this, because we are an unbreakable people.”
Since October, Russia has repeatedly targeted electricity and heating infrastructure. Moscow says the goal is to reduce Ukraine’s ability to fight; Kiev says the deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure constitute a war crime.
LOOK | Shelling gets dangerously close to Ukraine nuclear power plant
In a late-night video address, Zelenskyy announced that special “invincibility centers” would be set up in Ukraine to provide free electricity, heat, water, internet, cell phone connections and a pharmacy 24 hours a day.
“If massive Russian attacks happen again and it is clear that power will not be restored for hours, the ‘invincibility centers’ will be in action with all major services,” Zelenskyy said.
Russia may be out of drones: UK
Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities follow a series of battlefield setbacks, including a retreat from the southern city of Kherson to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River that bisects the country.
Russia is attacking Ukraine with expensive long-range cruise missiles and cheap Iranian drones. Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday there had been no public reports of Russia’s use of Iranian one-way drones since about Nov. 17.
On the Ukrainian side, the US is sending another $400 million worth of weapons, ammunition and generators to Ukraine, the White House announced Wednesday, drawing the funds from its own stockpiles to get aid to Kiev as soon as possible.
Including the latest aid, the US has pledged more than $19 billion in arms and other equipment to Ukraine since Russia attacked on February 24.
Battles raged in the east, as Russia has launched an offensive along a stretch of frontline west of the city of Donetsk, which has been held by its proxies since 2014. The Donetsk region has been the scene of heavy attacks and continuous shelling in the past 24 hours, Zelenskyy said.
Ukrainian authorities said a nighttime rocket attack destroyed a maternity ward of a hospital in southern Ukraine, killing a two-day-old baby.
After the night strike in Vilniansk, close to the city of Zaporizhzhia, the baby’s mother and a doctor were pulled alive from the rubble.
The governor of the region said the missiles were Russian.
The strike adds to the horrific toll hospitals and other medical facilities have taken during the Russian invasion, which enters its 10th month this week.
“Why kill children?”
First Lady Olena Zelenska wrote on Twitter that a two-day-old boy was killed in the strike and expressed her condolences. “Terrible pain. We will never forget and never forgive,” she said.
The efforts of medical personnel have been hampered by successive Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure in recent weeks. The situation is even worse in the southern city of Kherson, from which Russia withdrew almost two weeks ago after months of occupation, cutting power and water lines.
LOOK | Newborn killed in strike, Ukraine says:
Many doctors in the city work in the dark, can’t use elevators to transport patients to the operating room, and operate with headlamps, cell phones and flashlights. In some hospitals, important equipment no longer works.
“Respirators don’t work, X-ray machines don’t work… There is only one portable ultrasound machine and we carry it with us all the time,” says Volodymyr Malishchuk, chief of surgery at a children’s hospital in the city.
On Tuesday, after attacks on Kherson seriously injured 13-year-old Artur Voblikov, a team of health personnel carefully maneuvered the anesthetized boy up six floors of a narrow staircase to an operating room to amputate his left arm.
Malishchuk picked up a piece of shrapnel found in the stomach of a 14-year-old boy and said children are arriving with severe head injuries and ruptured internal organs.
Artur’s mother, Natalia Voblikova, sat with her daughter in the dark hospital waiting for his operation to be over.
“You can’t even call [Russians] animals, because animals take care of themselves,’ said Voblikova, wiping the tears from her eyes. “But the children… Why kill children?”
Oil price ceiling
In Strasbourg, France, the European Parliament overwhelmingly supported a non-binding but symbolically important resolution labeling Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism for its actions in Ukraine.
A few hours later, the European Parliament’s website was hit by a cyber-attack.
Meanwhile, European officials debated the details of a global price cap on Russian oil, a US-backed proposal that was adopted by the G7 and would take effect on December 5 with the intention of curbing Moscow’s ability to finance the war.
While Western sanctions mean that Russian crude oil is now mainly sold by sea in Asia, the trade still mainly concerns European shippers and insurers who are not allowed to carry cargo above the capped price.
A European diplomat said the price cap being discussed would be between $65 and $70 a barrel. Russia’s Ural crude blend is already trading at around $70 a barrel, a sharp discount to other benchmarks, due to sanctions.
The World Health Organization warned this week that hundreds of Ukrainian hospitals and healthcare facilities are without fuel, water and electricity.
Europe’s largest cities will donate power generators and transformers to help Ukrainians get through the harsh winter ahead, as part of a campaign launched on Wednesday.
In Vatican City on Wednesday, Pope Francis linked the suffering of Ukrainians now to the “artificial genocide caused by Stalin” in the 1930s, when the Soviet leader was blamed for causing a man-made famine in Ukraine, which is believed to have happened. that more than three million people have died.
Francis’ linking the plight of today’s Ukrainian citizens with those who died of famine 90 years ago, and his willingness to call it a “genocide” caused by Josef Stalin, marked a sharp escalation in papal rhetoric against Russia. As of this year, only 17 countries have officially recognized the famine known as the Holodomor as a genocide, according to the Holodomor Museum in Kyiv.