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Russia accused of hitting power stations in eastern Ukraine

Russia has been accused of attacking power stations and other infrastructure in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, which caused widespread outages.

The bombardment ignited a massive fire at a power station on Kharkiv’s western outskirts and killed at least one person. 

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced the “deliberate and cynical missile strikes” against civilian targets as acts of terrorism.

Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv appeared to be without power Sunday night. Cars drove through darkened streets, and the few pedestrians used flashlights or mobile phones to light their way.

Separately, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the Russia-occupied south completely shut down in a bid to prevent a radiation disaster as fighting raged nearby.

In Sunday night’s missile attacks by Russia, the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions seemed to bear the brunt. Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia and Sumy had only partially lost power, Zelenskyy said.

Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov called the power outage “revenge by the Russian aggressor for the successes of our army at the front, in particular, in the Kharkiv region”.

Ukrainian officials said Russia hit Kharkiv TEC-5, the country’s second-biggest heat and power plant, and Zelenskyy posted video of the Kharkiv power plant on fire.

“Russian terrorists remain terrorists and attack critical infrastructure. No military facilities, only the goal of leaving people without light and heat,” he tweeted,

But Zelenskyy remained defiant despite the attacks. Addressing Russia, he added: “Do you still think you can intimidate, break us, force us to make concessions? … Cold, hunger, darkness and thirst for us are not as scary and deadly as your `friendship and brotherhood.’ But history will put everything in place. And we will be with gas, lights, water and food … and WITHOUT you!”

Later in the evening, some power had been restored in some regions. None of the outages were believed to be related to the shutdown of the reactors at the Zaporizhzhia plant.

FILE – Ukrainian servicemen ride atop of an armored vehicle on a road in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022.Leo Correa / Associated Press

Ukraine’s successful counter-offensive

The power station strikes come as Ukrainian forces pressed a swift counteroffensive that has driven Moscow’s troops from swaths of territory it had occupied in the northeast.

Kyiv’s action in recent days to reclaim Russia-occupied areas in the Kharkiv region forced Moscow to withdraw its troops to prevent them from being surrounded, leaving behind significant numbers of weapons and munitions in a hasty flight as the war marked its 200th day on Sunday.

Ukraine’s military chief, General Valerii Zaluzhnyy, said its forces had recaptured about 3,000 square kilometers since the counteroffensive began in early September. He said Ukrainian troops are only 50km from the Russian border.

One battalion shared a video of Ukrainian forces in front of a municipal building in Hoptivka, a village around 2km from the border and about 19km north of Kharkiv.

Kharkiv Governor Oleh Syniehubov said Ukrainian troops have reclaimed control of more than 40 settlements in the region.

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