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Updates: Massive blackouts in Ukraine after strikes

Published October 22, 2022last updated October 22, 2022

More than a million households in Ukraine are without power after a Russian attack on energy infrastructure. Meanwhile, Russian-installed authorities urged residents of Kherson to leave the city. DW has the latest.

Firefighters work to put out a fire in a thermal power plant, damaged by a Russian missile strike in Kyiv
Russian missile attacks regularly target Ukraine's energy infrastructureImage: State Emergency Service of Ukraine via REUTERS

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia carried out a "massive attack" on Ukraine overnight, following reported strikes on energy infrastructure that resulted in power outages across the country.

"The aggressor continues to terrorize our country. At night, the enemy launched a massive attack: 36 rockets, most of which were shot down... These are vile strikes on critical objects. Typical tactics of terrorists," Zelenskyy said on social media.

More than a million households in Ukraine were left without electricity following Russian strikes on energy facilities across the country, the deputy head of the Ukrainian presidency said.

"As of now, 672,000 subscribers have been disconnected in Khmelnytskyi region, 188,400 in Mykolaiv region, 102,000 in Volyn region, 242,000 in Cherkasy region, 174,790 in Rivne region, 61,913 in Kirovohrad region and 10,500 in Odesa region," Kyrylo Tymoshenko said on social media.

State grid operator Ukrenergo said the attacks targeted transmission infrastructure in western Ukraine, but that power supply restrictions were being put in place in ten regions across the entire country, including in the capital, Kyiv.

"The scale of the damage is comparable or may exceed the consequences of the attack on October 10-12," Ukrenergo said. Russian forces rained more than 80 missiles on cities across Ukraine on October 10, according to Kyiv, in apparent retaliation for an explosion that damaged a key bridge linking the Crimean peninsula to Russia

Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak said Moscow wanted to create a new wave of refugees into Europe with the strikes, while foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said they constituted "genocide."

"Deliberate strikes on Ukraine’s critical civilian infrastructure are part of Russia’s genocide of Ukrainians," Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on October 22:

Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson begins – report

An assessment provided by the Washington-based think-tank the Institute for the Study of War reports, "The Russian withdrawal from western Kherson Oblast has begun. Russian forces likely intend to continue that withdrawal over the next several weeks but may struggle to withdraw in good order if Ukrainian forces choose to attack."

The Institute’s daily report notes that Russian forces are in the process of moving materiel from the west bank of the Dnieper River to the eastern bank by ferry.

The Institute for the Study of War also notes, "The Russian withdrawal from western Kherson requires that a Russian detachment left in contact hold the line against Ukrainian attack, covering other Russian forces as they withdraw."

Ukraine’s General Staff said it likely the most combat-ready units will be withdrawn first with mobilized conscripts in theory offering cover for the withdrawal.

Despite the withdrawal, the Institute for the Study of War assesses, "Russian President Vladimir Putin is setting conditions for Russia to continue a protracted high-intensity conventional war in Ukraine, not a negotiated settlement or off-ramp."

Meanwhile, the Russian-installed authorities in Ukraine's southern Kherson region, urged residents of the region's eponymous main city to leave "immediately" in the face of Kyiv's advancing counter-offensive.

"Due to the tense situation on the front, the increased danger of mass shelling of the city and the threat of terrorist attacks, all civilians must immediately leave the city and cross to the left bank of the Dnieper River," the region's Russian-installed authorities said on social media. 

German ministers call for more financial aid for Ukraine

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock are calling for significantly more money for military assistance to Ukraine in the coming year than previously planned.

In a letter to Finance Minister Christian Lindner, the two ministers demanded that the €697 million ($687 million) planned so far in the draft budget for 2023 be increased to €2.2 billion. According to the letter, €2 billion was already earmarked in the current budget for Ukraine.

Lambrecht and Baerbock also demanded Lindner to increase the previously planned commitment appropriations of €100 million to €1 billion.

The previous budget estimates would reduce "the room for manoeuver to a politically no longer justifiable minimum," Lambrecht and Baerbock warn. A significant increase is needed for the German government to be able to keep its commitments for continued massive support to Ukraine, according to the letter.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has asked Germany for further military aid as soon as possible. Ukraine is "impatiently" waiting for new ammunition, which is needed "right now," Shmyhal told the Sunday edition of Germany's broadsheet Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Ukraine vows to 'hit back harder' if Russia blows up Kherson dam

Ukrainian will "hit back even harder" if Russia destroys a hydroelectric power plant in the Kherson region, the head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office warned.

Andrii Yermak tweeted that Moscow's "nuclear blackmail" had failed to intimidate Ukraine and its allies, so now "they are trying to scare everyone by blowing up" the Kakhovka hydro-electric dam on Dnieper River.

"Ukraine will not succumb to peace by coercion ... They won't break us. We will hit back even harder," he wrote on Twitter.

Separately, Zelenskyy accused Russia of mining the dam as his forces prepared to push Moscow's troops from the occupied city of Kherson. 

"Now everyone in the world must act powerfully and quickly to prevent a new Russian terrorist attack. Destroying the dam would mean a large-scale disaster," he warned.

Russian-installed officials in Kherson meanwhile claim Ukrainian forces have been attacking the dam in part to cut the water supply to Crimea.

Security expert tells DW Putin can't conquer more of Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin is no longer able to set out what he wanted to do when he invaded Ukraine, the chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Christoph Heusgen, told DW.

"He can prolong the fight, but I do not see that he has the possibility to actually conquer more Ukrainian territory," Heusgen said.

"[Putin] has not made for the last month any progress on his military path to conquer more territory," Heusgen said. "Quite the country. He's on the defensive."

He said Russia's use of kamikaze drones shows Putin has "his back against the wall."

"Putin continues to commit war crimes in the country," Heusgen said of Russian strikes on civilian infrastructure. "This is just a series of crimes against humanity, war crimes that Putin is committing."

'Putin continues to commit war crimes'

Heusgen also described the Russian leader's partial mobilization of military reservists as "a desperate move."

He said Russia would have to follow Germany's example of de-Nazification once Putin is out of power.

"I think there has to be some de-Putinization," he said.

"People have to understand that the way that Putin has conducted the policy is unacceptable, that, you know, Russia does not stand above other nations, has to respect international law, has to respect human rights, has to respect the rules-based international order," Heusgen added.

Probe of Russian use of Iran drones urged

The United States, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom have asked the United Nations to investigate allegations that Russia used Iranian-made drones to attack Ukraine.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the three European countries asked the UN to send a team to investigate the origin of the drones.

"These UAVs are being used by Russia in its war of aggression against Ukraine in attacks against civilian infrastructure and cities across Ukraine, leading to the death of innocent civilians," they wrote.

The United States sent a similar letter, saying Iranian drones were transferred to Russia in late August.

The accusations were denounced as "false and baseless"  by Tehran, whose Foreign Ministry "strongly rejected and condemned" calls for a UN probe.

Over the last two weeks, Russia has struck Ukraine with a wave of drone attacks including dive-bombing the capital, Kyiv.

The US and three European powers said if Iranian drones were used in the attacks it violated the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which restricts certain arms transfers to or from Iran.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the drones are Russian and repeated a warning that an investigation would seriously affect relations between Russia and the UN.

US Deputy Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis told a Security Council meeting that "The UN must investigate any violation of UN Security Council resolutions and we must not allow Russia or others to impede or threaten the UN from carrying out its mandated responsibilities."

Separately the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said diplomacy was still the best way to address Iran's nuclear program but he saw no imminent revival of the 2015 nuclear deal because of Tehran's injection of "extraneous issues."

He specifically said Iranian drones were used in Ukraine.

On Thursday, the US said Iranian troops were in Crimea and had helped fly the drones.

Despite Iran denying having supplied the drones, many have been shot down and recovered making their origins clear.

More from DW's coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Following Russian drone attacks on Ukraine, Kyiv has once again asked Israel for military help. Israel, however, is seeking to maintain relations with both Ukraine and Russia. Read more about Israel's Ukraine dilemma.

Russia "is deliberately delaying" grain exports from Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, without going into details. He added around 150 vessels were waiting to be loaded.

mm, mf, lo/ar, sms (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)