Ukraine: Russia bombs as harsh winter fighting conditions loom

Kherson, Ukraine –

Russian forces pounded eastern and southern Ukraine early Sunday, as utility crews scrambled to restore electricity, water and heat amid the onset of snow and freezing weather, while civilians continued to flee the southern city of Kherson due to the latest attacks and the devastation they caused. growing fears.

With steady snow blanketing the capital Kiev on Sunday, analysts predicted the wintry weather – with its frozen terrain and heavy fighting conditions – could have an increasing impact on the conflict that has raged since Russian forces invaded Ukraine more than nine months ago. . .

Both sides are already mired in heavy rain and muddy conditions on the battlefield, experts said.

After a series of Russian artillery strikes on infrastructure that began last month, workers mobilized around the clock to restore basic essential services, as many Ukrainians were forced to cope with only a few hours of electricity a day.

On Sunday, state-owned power grid operator Ukrenergo said power generators were meeting about 80% of demand, up from 75% the day before.

The deprivations have revived the rivalry between the Ukrainian president and the mayor of Kyiv. Mayor Vitaly Klitschko on Sunday defended himself against President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s claims that many Kyiv residents are still without electricity and that there are not enough centers to provide food, water, electricity and other basic needs.

Kitschko wrote on Telegram that hundreds of these centers are operating, as well as hundreds of emergency generators, adding, “I don’t want to get into political battles, especially in the current situation. This is ridiculous.”

Since Zelenskiy took office in 2019, the president and the mayor have been at loggerheads from time to time. Zelenski accuses Klitschko and the officials around him of corruption, while Klitschko claims that the presidential apparatus exerted political pressure on him.

The Institute for the Study of War, which has been closely monitoring events in Ukraine, says reports from both sides indicate that heavy rain and mud have had an impact, as well as more widespread frost expected on the front lines in the coming days. .

“At this time, it is unclear whether both sides are actively planning or preparing to continue major offensive or counter-offensive operations, but the weather factors that hinder these operations will begin to open up,” he said. .

ISW said Russian forces were drilling further east of the city of Kherson, which Ukrainian forces drove out more than two weeks ago, and were continuing “conventional artillery fire” in the Dnieper.

The think tank also cited reports that Russian forces had moved several rockets and surface-to-air missile launchers to positions near the city as part of a plan to “increase the speed of surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missile strikes.” “. is targeting the north of the Dnieper in the coming days. »

The city of Kherson, which was liberated more than two weeks ago – a development Zelensky called a turning point in the war – has come under heavy fire from nearby Russian forces in recent days.

A senior UN official in Ukraine said civilians, many complaining of inhospitable conditions and fearing future strikes, continued to pour out of Kherson on Sunday.

“The level of devastation, the scale of the devastation, what’s needed in the city and the province, it’s huge,” UN resident coordinator Denis Brown said, referring to the region. According to him, UN teams carried supplies such as food, water, shelter materials, medicines, blankets and mattresses.

“Certainly time is running out before this becomes an absolute disaster,” Brown told The Associated Press in Kherson.

The head of the city’s military department, Galina Lugova, said in an interview that evacuation trains were lined up, and bomb shelters with stoves, beds, first aid kits and fire extinguishers were set up all over the city.

“We are preparing for winter in difficult conditions, but we will do everything to ensure people’s safety,” said Lugova. According to him, his biggest concern is “the bombardment, which is intensifying every day. Bombings, bombings and more bombings.”

On the roads outside the city, some residents felt they had no choice but to leave.

“Artillery fire hit our house the other day. Four apartments burned. They broke the windows,” said Vitaliy Nadochiy, who went out with a terrier in his arms and a Ukrainian flag hanging from his sunglasses. “We can’t be there. There is no electricity, water or heat. So we go to my brother.

Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said that 5 people died as a result of shells fired in the eastern region of Donetsk during the last day. In the west, the regional leaders of Zaporizhzhia and Dnepropetrovsk regions reported on the night shooting. In addition, he said that two people were killed during artillery fire in the city of Kurakhove.

Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov said that one person died and three others were injured in the northeastern region.

On Sunday, Russian missiles hit unspecified railway facilities in Krivyi Roh, Zelensky’s birthplace, according to a regional official. No immediate injuries were reported.


Keaten reported from Kiev, Ukraine. Mstyslav Chernov in Kherson contributed to this report.

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