Kyiv residents fill plastic bottles at a water pump in a park in Kyiv on Thursday amid blackouts. [Source: Aljazeera]
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 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.
Ihor Terekhov, the mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, near the border with Russia, said water was being restored to homes.
But there were still disruptions across the country and the central bank warned the outages could hinder bank operations.
A new round of attacks on Thursday killed at least four people in the southern city of Kherson, recently recaptured by Ukraine, said a senior official there.
Ukraine accused Russian forces of sending about 70 cruise missiles as well as drones in attacks that left 10 dead and around 50 wounded on Wednesday.
But Russia’s defence ministry denied striking anywhere inside Kyiv, insisting Ukrainian and foreign air defence systems had caused the damage.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian prosecutors said on Thursday that authorities had discovered nine torture sites used by the Russians in Kherson as well as “the bodies of 432 killed civilians”.