Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022

Russia launched a new missile attack on Ukraine’s damaged power grid on Wednesday, knocking out electricity to cities and some water and public transport, exacerbating the hardships of the winter for millions. Aerial destruction of electricity supplies also shut down nuclear power plants and internet connections and spilled blackouts into neighboring Moldova.

Multiple regions reported attacks in rapid succession and cascading outages. Ukraine’s energy ministry said supplies to “the vast majority of electricity consumers” had been interrupted. Trams and trolleybuses in Lviv stopped running because the city in western Ukraine was left without electricity and water, the mayor said. All of Kyiv was left without water, said the mayor of the capital. Electricity and public transport were also out in Kharkiv, said the mayor of the northeastern city, Ukraine’s second largest.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy instructed Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations to request an urgent meeting of the Security Council.

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Speaking later on Wednesday, Zelenskyy said Ukraine would present a resolution condemning “any form of energy terror”. Speaking of Russia’s likely veto, he said, “it is stupid that the right of veto is secured for the party that is waging this war, this criminal war.”

“We cannot be held hostage by an international terrorist,” Zelenskyy said, saying the council must act.

He also called on the UN to send experts to examine and assess Ukraine’s critical infrastructure.

Three people were killed and 11 wounded in an attack in Kyiv, the city authorities announced. Another four people were killed and 35 wounded in the wider region of Kyiv, its governor said.

“I was going up the escalator, I heard an explosion. Then all of a sudden the power went out,” said Oleksiy Kolpachev, a passenger on the Kyiv subway. “When I got out of the subway, there was a column of smoke.”

Click to play video: 'Newborn baby killed in airstrike on maternity hospital in Ukraine, officials say'

A newborn baby has been killed in an air strike on a maternity hospital in Ukraine, officials say

Russia has been targeting the power grid and other facilities with missiles and explosive drones for weeks, causing damage faster than it can be repaired. The strikes have already damaged about half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, Zelenskyy said before the latest barrage, and constant blackouts have become a terrifying new normal for millions.

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Ukrainian officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes the misery of unheated and unlit homes in the winter cold and darkness will turn public opinion against continuing the war – but they say it is instead strengthening Ukrainian resolve.

Ukraine’s air force said Russia launched about 70 cruise missiles and 51 were shot down, as well as five drones that exploded. The afternoon’s timing of the barrage _ as was the case last week — left workers scrambling in the wintry darkness to restock supplies.

In Kiev, a city of 3 million, the administration said that water and heating would not be restored to residential buildings until Thursday morning.

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Holodomor Day: Regina commemorates the past and present victims of the genocide in Ukraine

Late Wednesday and after dark, the deputy chief of the Ukrainian president’s office said that Kyiv and more than a dozen regions, including Lviv and Odesa in the south, had been reconnected to the electricity grid.

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Moldova, with Soviet-era power systems interconnected with Ukraine, also reported major power outages — for the second time this month. President Maia Sandu accused Moscow of plunging the country of 2.6 million into darkness, and the foreign minister summoned the Russian ambassador for an explanation.

“We cannot trust a regime that leaves us in the dark and cold, that deliberately kills people, out of the simple desire to keep other peoples in poverty and humiliation,” Sandu said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the waves of Russian attacks in recent weeks “intolerable” and said: “This terror bombing of civilians must stop, and immediately.”

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UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told a Security Council meeting on Wednesday that the organization demands that Russia immediately halt attacks that violate international humanitarian law, stressing that “there must be accountability for violations of the laws of war.”

US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said that Putin is “using the weaponry of winter to inflict intense suffering on the Ukrainian people”.

“He decided that if he couldn’t conquer Ukraine by force, he would try to freeze the country into submission,” she said.

Ukraine’s state-run nuclear operator, Energoatom, said the country’s last three fully operational nuclear power plants had been disconnected from the power grid as part of an “emergency protection” measure. It said radiation levels were unchanged at the sites and “all indicators are normal”.

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The Ministry of Energy announced that the attacks also caused temporary power outages in most thermal and hydroelectric plants, and also affected transmission facilities. Repair teams were working, “but given the extent of the damage, it will take time,” Facebook said.

Wednesday’s power outages also caused “the biggest internet outage in Ukraine in months and the first to hit neighboring Moldova, which has since partially recovered,” said Doug Madory, director of internet analytics at network monitoring firm Kentik Inc.

Click to play video: 'Ukraine and Russia blame each other for nuclear power plant shelling'

Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of shelling the nuclear power plant

The attack followed an overnight Russian rocket attack on the city of Vilniansk, near the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, which destroyed the hospital’s maternity ward, killing a 2-day-old newborn and seriously injuring a doctor.

“The first S300 rocket has arrived on the road. The second rocket hit this place, the main general hospital, in the maternity hospital,” said Mayor Nataliya Usienko. “One woman gave birth two days ago. She gave birth to a boy. Unfortunately, this rocket took the life of this child who lived for only two days.”

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On Twitter, the first lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska wrote: “Terrible pain. We will never forget and never forgive.”

The strike adds to the horrific toll on hospitals and other medical facilities _ and their patients and staff _ in the Russian invasion, which will enter its tenth month this week.

They were in the firing line from the start, including an airstrike on March 9 that destroyed a maternity hospital in the now-occupied port city of Mariupol.

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A newborn died after rockets hit a maternity hospital in Ukraine

In the southern city of Kherson, which was retaken by Ukraine two weeks ago, many doctors are working without electricity in the dark, unable to use elevators to transport patients to surgery and operating with headlamps, cellphones and flashlights. In some hospitals, key equipment no longer works.

“The breathing machines don’t work, the X-ray machines don’t work… There is only one portable ultrasound machine and we carry it all the time,” said Volodymyr Malishchuk, head of surgery at the Kherson Children’s Hospital.

On Tuesday, after 13-year-old Artur Voblikov was seriously wounded in the Kherson attacks, a team of medical personnel carefully maneuvered the sedated boy up six narrow flights of stairs to an operating theater to amputate his left arm.

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Malischchuk said three children wounded in the Russian attacks arrived at the hospital this week. Holding up a piece of shrapnel found in the stomach of a 14-year-old boy, he said the children were arriving with severe head injuries and ruptured organs.

Artur’s mother, Natalia Voblikova, sat in the dark hospital with her daughter, waiting for the operation to finish.

“You can’t even call (Russians) animals, because animals take care of their own,” said Voblikova, wiping tears from her eyes. “But children… Why kill children?”

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