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By Emmanuel Peuchot
Ukraine suffered sweeping blackouts and water supplies were cut for 80 percent of Kyiv residents on Monday after another wave of Russian missile strikes on key infrastructure. online news
The Ukrainian army said “more than 50” cruise missiles were launched at targets across the country, days after Russia blamed Ukraine for drone attacks on its fleet in the Black Sea.
The army said many missiles were shot down by air defences but Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said they had caused power cuts in “hundreds” of areas across seven Ukrainian regions.
Several blasts were heard in the capital Kyiv.
“Currently, due to the emergency situation in Kyiv, 80 percent of consumers remain without water supply,” the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram.
“Engineers are also working to restore power to 350,000 homes in Kyiv that were left without electricity,” he added.
In the west of Kyiv, an AFP journalist saw over 100 people waiting patiently to collect water from a park fountain after their supply was cut off by the Russian attack.
All of them carried empty plastic bottles to be filled.
“Russian terrorists have again launched a massive attack against electricity installations,” said the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidency, Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter: “Instead of fighting on the battlefield, Russia fights civilians.”
The Russian army confirmed it had carried out cruise missile strikes and said they had all reached their intended targets.
- ‘Cold winter ahead’ –
Three missiles struck a site to the north of Kyiv, a soldier close to the target told AFP.
“It is dangerous here because there could be more strikes,” the soldier said at a blocked crossroads.
In a nearby town, Mila Ryabova, 39, told AFP she was woken by between eight and 10 “powerful explosions”.
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“We were together with my family, preparing my daughter for school, but now there is no electricity in our house and at school,” said Ryabova, a translator.
“I’m not afraid of anything. (Some people) are still in shelters now, but not us.
“But we are worrying and talking about opportunities to move abroad, because there is a cold winter ahead. We may not have electricity, heat supply. It can be hard to handle, especially with a small child.”
Previous strikes this month have already destroyed around a third of Ukraine’s power stations.
In Moldova, the government said a Russian missile shot down by Ukrainian air defences fell on a village in the north of the country, but without causing any injuries.
The country’s interior ministry said the missile fell on the village of Naslavcea close to the Ukrainian border.
- Grain deal –
Monday’s attack comes after Russia pulled out of a landmark agreement that allowed vital grain shipments via a maritime safety corridor.
The July deal to unlock grain exports signed between warring nations Russia and Ukraine — and brokered by Turkey and the United Nations — is critical to easing the global food crisis caused by the conflict.
But Russia announced Saturday it would suspend its participation in the deal after accusing Kyiv of a “massive” drone attack on its Black Sea fleet, which Ukraine labelled a “false pretext”.
Sevastopol in Moscow-annexed Crimea has been targeted several times in recent months and serves as the fleet’s headquarters and a logistical hub for operations in Ukraine.
Despite Russia’s decision, at least 10 cargo ships loaded with grain and other agricultural products left Ukrainian ports Monday, according to a marine traffic website.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that continuing grain exports without Russian participation was “hardly feasible”.
“It takes on a different character, much more risky, dangerous,” he said.
In all, 12 ships were due to leave Ukraine on Monday and four were to head to the country, according to the Joint Coordination Centre that has been overseeing the agreement.
“Civilian cargo ships can never be a military target or held hostage. The food must flow,” Amir Abdulla, UN Coordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative, said on Twitter.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country has stayed neutral throughout the eight-month war in Ukraine, vowed to pursue efforts to keep the agreement in force despite Russia’s moves.
“Although Russia acts hesitantly… we will resolutely continue our efforts to serve humanity,” Erdogan said in a televised address.
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