Firefighters conduct work after a Russian attack targeted energy infrastructure in Kyiv on Tuesday. Around 1.5 million Ukrainians were without power on Saturday because of further Russian missile strikes. Photo courtesy of State Emergency Service of Ukraine | License Photo
Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Russian rocket strikes in central and western Ukraine knocked out power to more than 1 million people early Saturday while Russian-installed authorities in an annexed part of the country told civilians to flee.
Overnight airstrikes targeted critical civilian infrastructure, including parts of the power grid, resulting in roaming power cuts, Ukrainian authorities confirmed. Ukraine's air defenses were able to shoot down a number of the Russian missiles as well.
"Another audacious attack by the occupiers on our infrastructure. The enemy continues to strike energy facilities in various regions across our country," the deputy head of the Ukrainian president's office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said in a Saturday morning social media post.
"A total of 18 missiles were destroyed by air defense forces," he wrote. "Specialists immediately begin repair works on the affected areas."
A series of air strikes over the last two weeks has destroyed almost a third of the country's power stations, leaving a little under 1.5 million residents without power.
Ukraine's electrical utility operator said it was limiting supply in multiple regions, including Kyiv. Both intentional and unintentional power disruptions are being reported across much of the country.
Air strikes also led to a large fire in the city of Smila near the Tyasmyn River, a tributary of the Dnieper River.
Meanwhile, Russian-installed authorities began ordering civilians in some of the regions it recently annexed to evacuate their cities immediately ahead of a looming Ukrainian military advance.
The Russian-backed authorities in the occupied port city of Kherson ordered people to leave and head across to the other side of the Dnieper River.
Regional administrators said "all civilians of Kherson need to leave the city immediately," Russian news agency TASS reported. "Kherson's civilian residents, offices and ministries of the civil administration need to relocate to the left bank of the Dnieper."
Civilians who remained behind risked artillery attacks and possible "terrorist attacks," they said.
On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia was plotting to blow up a large hydroelectric dam in the area, which would cause devastating flooding to Kherson along with 80 other towns and villages. He said Russia would carry it out as a so-called false flag operation, blaming Ukraine for the damage.