Russians attack power supplies, snow blankets Kyiv

The snow is expected to reach the Ukrainian capital on Sunday and will last into midweek with temperatures below freezing.

Heavy snow is expected to hit Kiev – with temperatures dropping below freezing day and night – as millions of people still living in and around the Ukrainian capital struggle with little access to electricity and heat.

Snow is expected on Sunday in Kiev, a pre-war city of 2.8 million, and will continue into mid-week with temperatures expected to remain below freezing.

Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s electricity grid operator, said on Saturday that electricity producers could only meet three-quarters of consumption, necessitating restrictions and blackouts across the country.

Sergey Kovalenko, chief operating officer of YASNO, which supplies energy to the capital, said the situation in the city had improved but remained “quite difficult”. He indicated that residents should have a minimum of four hours of power a day, and said those receiving less than that amount should contact his agency.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said six million people across the country were without power on Friday after the latest Russian bombing left them without light, water or heat.

In a rare public spat involving Ukrainian leaders, Zelenskyy on Friday criticized the mayor of Kiev for setting up emergency shelters to help people without power and heat after Russian attacks.

The United States has accused Russia of wanting to “freeze” Ukraine into submission for its failure to prevail on the battlefield.

“President [Vladimir] Putin seems to have decided that if he cannot take Ukraine by force, he will try to freeze it into submission,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this month.

A volunteer distributes free food to people without electricity after recent Russian attacks at a heating point in the town of Vyshhorod, north of Kiev, Ukraine, on November 25, 2022. [Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear power company, Energoatom, said last week that the power units at three Ukrainian nuclear power plants had been shut down after Russian missiles hit the entire country.

Since October, Russia has been targeting Ukraine’s electricity and heating systems with long-range missiles and drones. Moscow says the goal is to reduce Kiev’s ability to fight and force it to negotiate.

On Saturday, Ukraine commemorated the victims of a Soviet-era famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the winter of 1932-33.

The memorial day for the “Holodomor”, which was established after the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, falls on the fourth Saturday of November and is commemorated by placing candles in the windows of Ukrainian houses.

The Holodomor, which roughly translates as “death by hunger”, has taken on an increasingly central role in Ukrainian collective memory since the 2014 Maidan revolution ousted a Russian-backed president and raised national consciousness.

Pope Francis this week compared Russia’s war in Ukraine to what he called the “terrible genocide” of the Stalin era, saying Ukrainians now suffer the “martyrdom of aggression”.

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