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Wave Of Russian Infrastructure Attacks Force Ukraine To Restrict Electricity

Ukraine on October 20 began restricting electricity consumption for the first time since the start of Russia's invasion as the country sustained serious damage to its infrastructure following waves of Russian air strikes targeting its electricity grid ahead of the onset of winter.

Russia has stepped up attacks on Ukrainian civilian and infrastructure facilities in Ukraine since October 10, mainly using kamikaze drones that Ukraine and its Western allies say are Iranian-made. Moscow and Tehran have denied the accusations.

The supply restriction started at 7 a.m. local time and is due to last until 11 p.m., with grid operator Ukrenergo urging Ukrainians "to charge everything" before the start of the cuts, warning temporary blackouts were possible if people did not reduce their use of electricity.

"We do not exclude that with the onset of cold weather we will be asking for your help even more frequently," Ukrenergo said, referring to the restriction that is limited to October 20.

Ukrenergo called on Ukrainians to stock up with water and make sure they have "warm socks and blankets and hugs for family and friends."

The company urged people to make sure they have charged mobile phones, power banks, flashlights, and batteries.

In the latest Russian attack, an energy facility was struck and damaged in the Kryvorizka district of the Dnipropetrovsk region, the head of the regional administration, Valentyn Reznichenko, reported on October 20.

Earlier, a missile strike hit a major coal-fired power station in the city of Burshtyn in western Ukraine, the region's governor said.

"Our region experienced missile fire today. The Burshtyn thermal power station was hit, which caused a fire," Svitlana Onyshchuk, governor of Ivano-Frankivsk region, said in an online video statement.

The Burshtyn power station supplies electricity to three western regions and 5 million consumers.

"There is new damage to critical infrastructure. Three energy facilities were destroyed by the enemy today," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address late on October 19.

"We assume that Russian terror will be directed at energy facilities until, with the help of partners, we are able to shoot down 100 percent of enemy missiles and drones," said Zelenskiy.

Oleksandr Kharchenko, an adviser to the energy minister, said on October 19 that there will be outages, including some that are scheduled.

"Unfortunately, according to new data, about 40 percent of the total infrastructure is seriously damaged. Repair and connection work is ongoing, but outages are expected today and tomorrow," Kharchenko said on Ukrainian television.

Zelenskiy is due to address EU leaders on October 20 as they gather for a summit to discuss options for more support to Ukraine, including energy equipment, helping restore power supply, and long-term financing to rebuild.

Ahead of the summit, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addressed lawmakers in Berlin on October 20, condemning Russia's latest drone attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine and saying that "such scorched-earth tactics will not help Russia win the war."

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Scholz said such tactics by Russian President Vladimir Putin would "only strengthen the resolve and the will of Ukraine and its partners to persevere."

"In the end, Russia's bombing and missile terror is an act of desperation -- just like the mobilization of Russian men for war," Scholz said. "He wants to sow fear, divide, and intimidate. He is speculating on our weakness, but he is wrong -- we are not weak."

Scholz said the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war would be a "generational task in which the entire civilized community of states must join forces."

In London, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace will also make a statement to parliament on Ukraine later on October 20, the House of Commons said on Twitter.

By RFE/RL

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