Russia rained volleys of missiles over Ukraine on Wednesday, hitting infrastructure in the capital Kyiv and other cities as Moscow continued its campaign to knock out Ukraine’s power and heat ahead of the approaching winter.
Authorities reported power outages across the country and also in neighboring Moldova, where officials said at least half of the country had lost power.
Multiple regions reported attacks in quick succession, suggesting a barrage of attacks. In several regions, authorities reported strikes on critical infrastructure. Kiev city authorities said three people were killed and three injured in the capital after a Russian attack hit a two-story building.
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 had their plants shut down following 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.
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 an overnight video address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that special “invincibility centers” would be set up around Ukraine to provide electricity, heat, water, internet, mobile phone connections and a pharmacy free of charge 24 hours a day.
Russian attacks have powered up to 10 million consumers at a time for long periods of time.
“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.
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 suffered during the Russian invasion, which enters its 10th month this week. Medical centers have been in the line of fire from the start, including an airstrike on March 9 that destroyed a maternity hospital in the now-occupied port city of Mariupol.
“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.
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 resolution designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism for its actions in Ukraine.
The non-binding but symbolically important resolution was adopted by a vote of 494 to 58 with 48 abstentions. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy welcomed the vote.
“I propose to designate the European Parliament as a sponsor of idiocy,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova replied to Telegram.
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 in Asia, the trade still mainly involves European shippers and insurers who are not allowed to carry cargo above the capped price. Ambassadors from the 27 EU countries discussed the G7 proposal with the aim of reaching a common position by the end of the day.
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.
“Ukraine’s health system is experiencing its darkest days of war yet. After enduring more than 700 attacks, it is now also a victim of the energy crisis,” said Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe. a statement after a visit to Ukraine.