Some 4.5 million people throughout Ukraine were without power Thursday night as the country combats a shortage in electricity due to Russia's continued attacks on civilian infrastructure. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Millions of Ukrainians were dealing with power outages overnight Thursday and into Friday morning as the nation combats an electricity shortage caused by Russia's continued attacks on civilian infrastructure in what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has dubbed "energy terrorism."
Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Ukraine's capital Kyiv, which has been under Russian bombardment since last month, said nearly half a million households were without power early Friday.
The 450,000 without power was a jump of some 150% from a day prior, he said via Telegram, urging residents in the capital to conserve electricity as much as possible.
Zelensky in his nightly address Thursday said 4.5 million customers have been temporarily disconnected from electricity under emergency and stabilization schedules, affecting 10 regions, including Kyiv, with blackouts possible in others.
"To endure Russian energy terror and such a challenge is our national task, one of the main ones now," Zelensky said. "The very fact that Russia resorted to terror against the energy industry shows the weakness of the enemy.
"They cannot defeat Ukraine on the battlefield, and that is why they are trying to break our people in this way -- to humiliate Ukrainians, to strike at the morale of our people, at the resistance of our people. I believe that Russia will not succeed."
Russia launched its war against Ukraine Feb. 24, but since last month it has been specifically targeting civilian centers and infrastructure, including energy facilities, after suffering humiliating and severe losses this fall amid Russian President Vladimir Putin's attempt to annex four regions from eastern and southern Ukraine.
The attacks have attracted the continued condemnation of democratic nations, with Josep Borrell, the high representative for the European Commission, the European Union's executive branch, accusing Russia on Thursday of attempting to submerge the country in darkness ahead of winter.
"This is a war crime. We do not need to talk about nuclear threats. Using conventional arms, they are destroying a country, killing civilians, trying to break down the morale of the Ukrainians," he said, stating this is why ally nations need to continue to support the besieged nation.
"The winter is coming, and Putin is waiting for the 'General Winter' to come and support the Russian army," he said. "Now, more than ever, we have to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
"They are fighting, defending their country and we have the moral duty to support them."
Ukraine has been dealing with blackouts since last month amid the attacks with officials urging residents to conserve energy as much as possible. Zelensky informed European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson on Tuesday that Russia's "energy terrorism" has damaged about 40% of Ukraine's entire energy infrastructure, in particular thermal plants, combined heat and power plants and hydroelectric power facilities.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock vowed at the start of a meeting of the G7 nations in her home country Thursday that they will decide on further support for Ukraine.
"This time, we are also here to coordinate our actions with regard to the winter support for Ukraine, because electricity grids are being bombed, water stations are being bombed, children are hiding under their school tables when they hear the alarms, and the elderly people are afraid that they will not be able to heat their already damaged houses during the winter," she said in her opening speech.
"Therefore, it's crucial that we stand side by side with the people in Ukraine, and also with those people around the world who are suffering from rising food and energy prices because of Russia's war."
Klitschko on Thursday night told residents that they have prepared some 1,000 heating locations where in a worst-case scenario when there is no electricity, water or heat supply at all they can still warm up, drink tea and recharge their phones.