Power plants down as Ukraine warns of Russian ‘brutality’ in Donetsk

Ukraine is being swept by fresh wave of violence as Russian forcesstep up their strikes in a fiercely contested region, under-siege authorities said.

The action is worsening the already tough conditions for residents and the defending army following Moscow’s illegal annexation and declaration of martial law in Donetsk province, they said.

The attacks have almost completely destroyed the power plants that serve the city of Bakhmut and the nearby town of Soledar, said Pavlo Kyrylenko, the region’s Ukrainian governor.

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Shelling killed one civilian and wounded three, he reported late on Saturday.

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“The destruction is daily, if not hourly,” Mr Kyrylenko said in a state television interview.

Moscow-backed separatists controlled part of Donetsk for nearly eight years before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

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Protecting the separatists’ self-proclaimed republic there was one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justifications for the invasion, and his troops have spent months trying to capture the entire province.

While Russia’s “greatest brutality” was focused in the Donetsk region, “constant fighting” continued elsewhere along the front line that stretches more than 1,000 kilometres (620 miles), Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

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Russia continues to target civilians in Donetsk (Photo/Alexei Alexandrov)

Between Saturday and Sunday, Russia launched four missiles and 19 air strikes impacting more than 35 villages in seven regions, from Chernihiv and Kharkiv in the north east to Kherson and Mykolaiv in the south, according to the president’s office.

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Russia has focused on striking energy infrastructure over the last month, causing power shortages and rolling outages across the country.

The capital Kyiv was scheduled to have hourly blackouts rotating on Sunday in various parts of the city of some three million people and the surrounding region.

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Rolling blackouts were also planned in the Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Kharkiv and Poltava regions, Ukraine’s state-owned energy operator Ukrenergo said in a Telegram post.

More positive news was the reconnection of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to Ukraine’s power grid, local media reported on Sunday.

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Europe’s largest nuclear plant needs electricity to maintain vital cooling systems, but it had been running on emergency diesel generators since Russian shelling severed its outside connections.

In the Donetsk city of Bakhmut, some 15,000 remaining residents were living under daily shelling and without water or power, according to local media.

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The city has been under attack for months, but the bombardment picked up after Russian forces experienced setbacks during Ukrainian counter-offensives in the Kharkiv and Kherson regions.

In Kharkiv, officials are working to identify bodies found in mass graves after the Russians withdrew, Dmytro Chubenko, a spokesperson for the regional prosecutor’s office, said in an interview with local media.

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DNA samples have been collected from 450 bodies discovered in a mass grave in the city of Izium, but the samples need to be matched with relatives and so far only 80 people have participated, he said.

Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister has acknowledged for the first time that his country has supplied Russia with drones, insisting the transfer came before Moscow’s war on Ukraine that has seen the Iranian-made drones hitting Kyiv.

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The comments by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian come after months of confusing messages from Iran about the weapons shipment.

“We gave a limited number of drones to Russia months before the Ukraine war,” Mr Amirabdollahian said.



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