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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Ukraine works to restore water and power after Russian strikes

Ukrainian authorities are working to restore electricity and water services after recent Russian military strikes which vastly damaged infrastructure.

resident Volodymyr Zelensky said millions have seen their power restored since blackouts swept the war-battered country days earlier.

Skirmishes continued in the east and residents from the southern city of Kherson headed north and west to flee after punishing, deadly bombardments by Russian forces in recent days.

The strikes have been seen as attempts at Russian retribution against Ukraine’s beleaguered but defiant people after Ukrainian troops liberated the city that had been in Russian hands for many months.

“The key task of today, as well as other days of this week, is energy,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly televised address late on Friday.

“From Wednesday to today we have managed to halve the number of people whose electricity is cut off, to stabilise the system.”

He said, however, that blackouts continued in most regions, including Kyiv, the capital.

“In total, more than six million subscribers are affected. On Wednesday evening, almost 12 million subscribers were cut off,” Mr Zelensky added.

He allowed himself a rare show of pique about how Kyiv authorities were faring, alluding to “many complaints” with the rollouts of “points of invincibility” — public centres where residents can stock up on food, water, battery power and other essentials — in the capital.

“Please pay attention: Kyiv residents need more protection,” he said.

“As of this evening, 600,000 subscribers have been disconnected in the city. Many Kyiv residents were without electricity for more than 20 or even 30 hours.”

“I expect quality work from the mayor’s office,” he said, alluding to the administration of Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

Early on Saturday, the Kyiv municipal administration said water connections had been restored throughout the city, but that about 130,000 residents remain without electricity.

City authorities said on Saturday morning that all power, water, heating and communication services would be restored within 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Ukrainians were marking the 90th anniversary of the start of the “Holodomor”, or Great Famine, that killed more than three million people over two years as the Soviet government under Josef Stalin confiscated food and grain supplies and deported many Ukrainians.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz marked the commemoration by drawing parallels with the impact of the war on Ukraine — a key supplier of wheat, barley, sunflower oil and other foodstuffs — on world markets.

Exports from Ukraine have resumed under a UN-brokered deal but have still been far short of pre-war levels, driving up global prices.

“Today, we stand united in stating that hunger must never again be used as a weapon,” Mr Scholz said in a video message.

“That is why we cannot tolerate what we are witnessing: The worst global food crisis in years with abhorrent consequences for millions of people – from Afghanistan to Madagascar, from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa.”

He said a World Food Programme ship was in the process of delivering Ukrainian grain to Ethiopia, and Germany was adding another 10 million euros to efforts to help expedite grain shipments from Ukraine.

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