Russia launched more kamikaze drones on infrastructure and civilian targets in southeastern Ukraine, officials said on November 4, as extensive damage to the power grid left millions of Ukrainians without electricity, prompting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to accuse Moscow of "energy terrorism."
Valentyn Reznichenko, the governor of the Dnipropetrovskov region, said the Ukrainian military destroyed eight Iranian Shahed-136 "kamikaze" drones in the region's southern Nikopol district.
"Our air defense did a great job this night. Eight enemy Shaheds downed," Reznichenko wrote on Telegram. It was the second day in a row that Nikopol was targeted by Russian drones.
Reznichenko said Russian troops also pounded four settlements in the same district -- Myrivska, Chervonogrigorivska, Marganetska, and Nikopolska -- with Grad rockets and artillery fire, damaging a gas pipeline and a power line and destroying residential buildings.
Russian troops regularly bombard the Dnipropetrovsk region, one of Ukraine's steelmaking hubs, with various types of weapons.
Moscow denies its attacks on civilians in Ukraine.
Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on November 3 that millions of Ukrainians were temporarily without power due to the Russian attacks.
"Tonight, about 4.5 million consumers have been temporarily disconnected from energy consumption," Zelenskiy said. "The very fact that Russia is resorting to energy terrorism shows the weakness of our enemy. They cannot beat Ukraine on the battlefield, so they try to break our people this way."
Russia has been targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure and other civilian buildings with missile, drone, and artillery attacks for several weeks amid a Ukrainian counteroffensive that has driven Russian troops out of the northeast and pushed them back in the east and southeast.
Over the past days, however, despite heavy fighting, there has been no significant change on the ground on the eastern and southern Ukraine fronts, with preparations building for a fight over the southern city of Kherson.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry accused Moscow of forcibly deporting Ukrainian citizens from Kherson to Russia.
"The Russian occupation administration has begun mass forced relocation of residents of the left bank [of the Dnieper River] of the Kherson region…to the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea or the Russian Federation," the ministry said in a statement on November 3.
Similar deportations are also being carried out by Russia in the Zaporizhzhya, Luhansk, and Donetsk regions, as well as in Crimea, the ministry said.
Russia in September proclaimed to have seized the partially occupied Ukrainian regions of Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, Luhansk, and Donetsk following referendums condemned by Kyiv and the West as shams.
Volodymyr Saldo, the Russia-appointed head of Kherson, announced on October 31 an expansion of what Russia has called the evacuation of Ukrainian citizens. Saldo said he was moving people further into the region or to Russia because of the risks of a "massive missile attack."
Just three days earlier, the Russian-installed officials announced that the evacuation process in Kherson region had ended.
Kyiv reiterated on November 3 that it saw the move as a "deportation." It also said reports continue to circulate about the alleged mining of the Nova Kakhovska hydroelectric power plant by Russian troops.
Zelenskiy previously said that Ukraine suspects Russia has mined the dam and units of the power plant on the Dnieper River, and that if it were blown up, more than 80 settlements, including Kherson, would be in danger of flooding.
The Foreign Ministry statement also accused Russian troops of looting industrial, cultural, educational, and medical institutions, as well as private houses and apartments.
Russian forces also removed roadblocks in Kherson. The head of the Kherson regional military administration, Yaroslav Yanushevich, believes that they did this to create the illusion that Russian forces have left the city.
It was also reported that the Russian flag was removed from the Kherson regional administration building. The head of the joint coordination press center of the Defense Forces of Southern Ukraine, Natalya Humenyuk, said that this could be a provocation.
The loss of Kherson, which Russian troops captured in March in the early days of the war, would signal a significant retreat.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, asked to comment on the battlefield situation in southern Ukraine, said he believes Ukrainian forces in the Kherson region “have the capacity” to retake the territory on the west side of the Dnieper River and Kherson city from Russian troops.
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