Ukraine has been battling to reconnect water and electricity services to millions of people after a barrage of Russian missiles and drones hit energy infrastructure on Wednesday, leaving nearly 80 percent of the country in the dark.
By Thursday evening, more than 24 hours after the Russian strikes smashed areas of Kyiv, the city’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko said 60 percent of homes were still suffering emergency outages. With temperatures falling below zero, Kyiv authorities said they were able to restore water services but were still working to get the lights and heat back on.
“The very strong impression is that the Russians are having warfare on civilian infrastructure,” Jan Egeland, the secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in a statement on Thursday.
“The civilian population cannot sustain an entire winter without electricity, warmth and running water. And it’s now a breaking point,” he said referring to sustained attacks on the power grid by Moscow.
The energy system in Ukraine is on the brink of collapse and millions have been subjected to emergency blackouts over recent weeks as Russia has attacked power facilities in an apparent effort to force capitulation after nine months of war that has seen its forces fail in most of their stated territorial objectives.
Viewed from space, Ukraine has become a dark patch on the globe at night, satellite images released by NASA showed.
The World Health Organization has warned of “life-threatening” consequences and estimated that millions could leave their homes as a result, while the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “clearly weaponising winter to inflict immense suffering on the Ukrainian people”.
The Russian president “will try to freeze the country into submission”, she said on Wednesday.