Ukraine promises “invincibility centers” to shelter people from harsh winter – National

Ukraine’s government has pledged to build shelters to provide heat and water and encouraged citizens to conserve energy as a harsh winter approaches amid a brutal Russian crackdown that has crippled the power structure.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address on Tuesday night that special “invincible centers” will be created around Ukraine to provide electricity, heating, water, internet, mobile phone connection and pharmacy free of charge around the clock.

The Russian attacks caused prolonged power outages for up to 10 million consumers at a time. Ukraine’s national electricity grid operator said on Tuesday that the damage was extensive.

“If Russia’s massive strikes happen again and its apparent power is not restored for hours, the ‘invincibility centers’ will be mobilized along with all major services,” Zelensky said.

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Ukraine is bracing for a cold winter as Russia cripples its energy potential

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Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmykhal said this week that 8,500 electric generator sets are brought to Ukraine every day.

During the last week, the first snow of winter fell in most regions of the country.

Authorities have warned of power outages that could affect millions by the end of March, the latest impact of Russia’s nine-month occupation that has killed tens of thousands, uprooted millions and crippled the global economy.

Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy facilities follow a series of battlefield setbacks that have included the withdrawal of its forces from the southern city of Kherson to the east bank of the Dnieper River, which bisects the country.

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A week after it was retaken by Ukrainian forces, residents of Kherson have been tearing down Russian propaganda signs and replacing them with pro-Ukrainian signs.

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“As soon as our soldiers entered, these posters were printed and handed over to us. We have found workers to install the posters and we are removing the advertisement as soon as possible,” says Antonina Dobrojenska, who works in the government’s communications department.

The governor of the region, Alexander Starukh, said on the Telegram messaging service that Russian rockets hit a maternity hospital in the Zaporozhye region, killing a baby.

Reuters could not independently verify the report. Russia denies targeting civilians.

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Fighting is ongoing in the east, where Russia has launched an offensive along the front line west of the city of Donetsk, which has been under the control of Russian forces since 2014. Donetsk region has been the scene of violent attacks and continuous fire in the past. 24 hours, Zelensky said.

Russian air defenses were activated in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and two drone attacks were repelled on Tuesday, including one targeting a power plant near Sevastopol, the region’s governor said. Sevastopol is the home port of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Russian-appointed governor Mikhail Razvozhaev called for calm and said there was no damage.

“wear warm clothes”

The World Health Organization warned this week that hundreds of Ukrainian hospitals and health facilities are without fuel, water and electricity.

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“Ukraine’s healthcare system is experiencing the darkest days of the war so far. Having withstood more than 700 attacks, it has now become a victim of the energy crisis,” WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said in a statement after his visit to Ukraine.

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Sergey Kovalenko, the head of YASNO, which supplies energy to Kyiv, advised citizens to “pack warm clothes, blankets… think of options that will help you get out of a long break.”

Russia’s TASS state news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that last week’s attacks on Russia’s energy infrastructure were the result of Kiev’s unwillingness to negotiate.

Russia says it is conducting a “special military operation” to rid Ukraine of nationalists and protect Russian-speaking communities.

Ukraine and the West characterize Russia’s actions as an unprovoked, imperialist land grab in a neighboring state once dominated by the former Soviet Union.

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Western responses have included financial and military aid to Kiev — it received 2.5 billion euros ($2.57 billion) from the EU on Tuesday and expects $4.5 billion in aid from the United States in the coming weeks — and a wave of sanctions against Russia.

The West has also tried to cap Russia’s energy export prices, with the aim of reducing oil revenues that fund Moscow’s war machine, while keeping oil flowing to global markets to prevent price increases.

A senior U.S. Treasury official said Tuesday that the Group of Seven nations should announce a price ceiling soon and will probably adjust the level several times a year.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Oleksandr Kojukhar and Maria Starkova in Kyiv, Ronald Popeski in Winnipeg, Lydia Kelly in Sydney; Writing by Rosalba O’Brien and Lincoln Feast; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Robert Birsel)