Ukrainian forces push towards Kherson, Kiev orders electric blockades

  • Nationwide restrictions are currently limited to one day
  • New damage to critical infrastructure, Zelenskiy says
  • The battle for the southern city of Kherson rages on

Oct 20 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s military tightened the cordon around Russian forces occupying the southern city of Kherson on Thursday as the government ordered a nationwide blackout after drone strikes on Russian missile and power plants.

In Kherson, the only regional capital Russian forces have captured since their invasion eight months ago, a Russian-appointed administration has begun evacuating the city, which controls the only land route to the Crimea peninsula, which Russia seized in 2014. Dnipro River.

On Wednesday, Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russia-backed administration in the Kherson region, wrote in a telegram that Ukraine launched an attack on Novaya Kamianka and Perislav in the Kherson region.

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While Ukraine remained tight-lipped about its operations, its military said 43 Russian soldiers had been killed and six tanks and other equipment destroyed in an update early Thursday in the Kherson region.

Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports.

Russian state television broadcast footage of people fleeing by boat across the Dnipro River, portraying the exodus as an attempt to evacuate civilians before it turned into a war zone.

About 50,000 to 60,000 people will be evacuated over the next six days, said Vladimir Zalto, head of the Russian-founded Kherson, while Russia has the resources to hold the city and even mount a counterattack if necessary.

While Ukraine was on the front line, Ukraine counted the cost of Russia’s long-range attacks deep within its borders.

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On Thursday, the government imposed nationwide restrictions on electricity use for the first time since Russia’s invasion following a spate of attacks on power plants just before the start of winter.

Government officials and grid operator Ukrainergo said the blackout would be between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., and a presidential aide said temporary blackouts were possible unless people reduced their electricity usage.

“We do not exclude that we will often ask for your help once winter begins,” said Ukrenerko.

Russia has intensified missile and drone attacks on Ukraine’s electricity and water infrastructure in recent days.

“There has been new damage to critical infrastructure. Three energy facilities were destroyed by the enemy today,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Wednesday night.

“We consider that Russian terrorism will be directed at energy facilities until we shoot down 100% of enemy missiles and drones with the help of partners,” Zelensky said, adding that the third power plants were installed earlier in the week. Suffered by Russian airstrikes.

Zelenskiy was due to address the EU summit on Thursday. The leaders of the 27 member states will discuss options for additional support to Ukraine, including energy equipment, help to restore electricity supplies and long-term financing for reconstruction.

Drone strikes, grain talks

Reuters witnesses said five drones struck the southern city of Mykolaiv on Thursday, but it was unclear where they exploded or how much damage was caused.

Ukraine accuses Russia of using Iranian-made Shahed-136 “kamikaze drones” that fly into their targets and detonate them. Iran refuses to provide them and the Kremlin has refused to use them.

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The United States, Britain and France questioned Iran’s transfer of drones to Russia at a UN Security Council meeting, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Russia will reconsider its cooperation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and his staff if Ukraine and the West send experts to Ukraine to examine the downed drones they say were made in Iran, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told reporters.

Poliansky said he was not confident of reaching an agreement with Guterres and other UN officials in negotiations to extend and expand the July 22 agreement that led to the resumption of Black Sea grain and fertilizer exports by Ukraine. The deal may expire next month.

Meanwhile, the US imposed new sanctions on Russia, targeting a network it accused of buying military and dual-use technologies from US manufacturers for Russian users.

On the Eastern Front

In eastern Ukraine bordering Russia, Moscow’s forces have concentrated their main effort to advance on the towns of Pakmut and Avdiyvka, the Ukrainian military said.

Pakmut is at the heart of Russia’s slow advance through the Donetsk region. The Ukrainian military reported tank and artillery attacks by trained forces on at least 10 towns in the region, including Bagmut, Soledar and Bilohoryvka.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday demanded an all-Russian war effort and declared martial law in areas occupied by his forces in Ukraine.

Zelensky warned against Russian attempts to conscript Ukrainians in the occupied territories into the army, saying they should try to leave.

“If you can’t do this, if you can’t find yourself in the Russian military structures, then at the first opportunity put down your weapons and try to get to the Ukrainian positions,” he said.

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Report by Reuters Bureau; Written by Grant McCool, Lincoln Feist and Simon Cameron-Moore; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Stephen Coates

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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