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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has told Ukrainians to brace for potentially more Russian military strikes on the country’s already damaged energy infrastructure as the mayor of Kyiv told residents of the Ukrainian capital to consider leaving temporarily if the city lost power and water.
Speaking in his regular nightly address on November 6, Zelenskiy said Russia was "concentrating forces and means for a possible repetition of mass attacks on our infrastructure. First of all, energy."
More than 4.5 million consumers were already without power, he added, amid concerns that support for Ukraine could waver as the war's impact on energy and food prices persists into winter.
Earlier, the mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, said he can’t rule out that the Ukrainian capital could be left without water and power as a result of Russia's devastating strikes on energy infrastructure.
“We are doing everything to avoid this. But let’s be frank, our enemies are doing everything for the city to be without heat, without electricity, without water supply, in general, so we all die. And the future of the country and the future of each of us depends on how prepared we are for different situations," Klitschko told state media.
Russia’s military has targeted Ukraine's energy infrastructure over the last month, triggering power shortages and rolling outages across the country. On November 6, Kyiv experienced hourly rotating blackouts in parts of the city and the surrounding region.
Kyiv plans to deploy about 1,000 heating points, but it's unclear if that would be enough for a city of 3 million people.
Rolling blackouts were also planned in the Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Kharkiv and Poltava regions, Ukraine’s state-owned energy operator, Ukrenerho, said.
Presidential adviser Mykhaylo Podolyak said earlier on Twitter that Ukraine would "stand" despite Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure, by marshalling air defense, protecting infrastructure, and optimizing consumption to do so.
As Russia steps up its attacks on civilian infrastructure, Ukrainian forces are reported to be advancing in the south. Residents of Ukraine's Russian-occupied city of Kherson received warning messages on their phones urging them to evacuate as soon as possible, Ukraine's military said on November 6.
Russian forces are preparing for a Ukrainian counteroffensive to seize back Kherson, which was captured during the early days of the invasion. In September, Russia illegally annexed Kherson as well as three other regions and subsequently declared martial law in the four provinces.
The Kremlin-installed administration in Kherson has already moved tens of thousands of civilians out of the city.
Russia has been “occupying and evacuating” Kherson simultaneously, trying to convince Ukrainians that they're leaving when in fact they're digging in, Natalya Humenyuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine's Southern Forces, told state television.
“There are defense units that have dug in there quite powerfully, a certain amount of equipment has been left, firing positions have been set up,” she said.
On November 6, Russian news agencies said shelling by Ukrainian forces damaged Ukraine's vast Russian-held Nova Kakhovka dam, upstream of Kherson on the Dnieper River. They gave no supporting evidence.
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