KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s state electricity operator announced Saturday blackouts in Kyiv and seven other regions of the country following Russia’s devastating strikes on energy infrastructure.
The move comes as Russian forces continue to shell Ukrainian towns and villages with missiles and drones, damaging power plants, water supplies and other civilian targets in grinding war which is approaching its nine-month mark.
Russia has denied that the drones it used in Ukraine came from Iran, but the Islamic Republic’s foreign minister on Saturday admitted for the first time that it supplied Moscow with a “limited number” of drones before the invasion. However, Hossein Amirabdollahian claimed that Tehran did not know if its drones were used against Ukraine and stated Iran’s commitment to ending the conflict.
Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s sole operator of high-voltage transmission lines, initially said in an online statement on Saturday that the planned outages would take place in the capital and greater Kyiv region, as well as several regions around it – Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Poltava and Kharkiv.
Later in the day, however, the company released an update saying that scheduled outages for a set number of hours are not enough and instead there will be emergency outages that could last indefinitely.
Ukraine has struggled with power and water outages since Russia began unleashing massive missile and drone strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure last month.
Moscow said they came in response to what it claimed were Ukrainian attacks on Crimea, the region Russia illegally annexed in 2014. Ukraine has rejected those claims.
Meanwhile, Russian shelling of Ukrainian regions continued into the early hours of Saturday.
About 40 shells were fired overnight at the city of Nikopol, Dnipropetrovsk Governor Valentin Reznichenko said on Telegram. Russian forces bombarded the city and the surrounding areas with heavy artillery. Two fires broke out and damaged more than a dozen residential and commercial buildings, as well as a gas pipeline, the official said.
Elsewhere in the region, Ukrainian forces shot down a drone and another projectile, according to Reznichenko.
In the southern Nikolaev region, overnight shelling of rural areas damaged several houses but caused no casualties, Nikolaev Governor Vitaly Kim said on Telegram.
Russian forces also fired rockets at the southeastern Zaporozhye region, which was illegally annexed by Moscow and large parts of which remain occupied. According to regional governor Alexander Starukh, the attack took place shortly after midnight and damaged buildings of three businesses as well as several cars.
In the eastern Donetsk region, also annexed and partially occupied by Russia, eight towns and villages were shelled, including Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Porkovsk.
Russian-appointed authorities in Donetsk have reported an assassination attempt on a Moscow-appointed judge of the region’s Supreme Court. Alexander Nikulin, who was on a jury that in June sentenced to death two Britons and a Moroccan fighting on the Ukrainian side, has been hospitalized with gunshot wounds and is in serious condition, Kremlin-backed officials said.
According to Ukraine’s presidential office, at least three civilians have been killed and eight others wounded in the past 24 hours in Russian shelling of nine Ukrainian regions, using drones, missiles and heavy artillery.
In the Russian-occupied Kherson region, where the Ukrainian counter-offensive is taking place, the Russian military continues to abduct local residentsthe presidential office reported, with the most recent cases being in the last 24 hours.
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