Flash rips Russia’s “transparently false” claim that Ukraine is preparing “dirty bomb” attacks
KYIV – Ukrainian officials said “sinister” Russian missile attacks on civilian energy sites have caused blackouts across the country, leaving more than a million households without power, while Russian authorities ordered residents to leave Kherson “immediately” ahead of an expected effort by Kiev forces to retake crucial southern city.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Telegram 22 October that Russia carried out a “massive attack” on Ukraine overnight and that “the attacker continues to terrorize our country”.
“At night, the enemy launched a massive attack: 36 rockets, most of which were shot down…These are vile attacks on critical objects. Typical tactics of terrorists,” he wrote. “The world can and must stop this terror.”
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Zelenskiy’s office, said Ukrainian air defense forces had shot down 18 of the missiles.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said a number of missiles had been shot down during the approach to the capital.
“Several rockets flying towards Kyiv were shot down in the region by air defense forces. Thanks to our defenders!” Klitschko said.
There was no immediate word on deaths related to the missile strikes, but officials said several people were injured.
It was not possible to verify the reports on any of the sites.
In the face of continued Russian attacks, Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba again called on Ukraine’s Western allies to speed up the delivery of modern air defense systems.
“We intercepted some, others hit the targets. Air defense saves lives. In [Western] capitals, there should not be a single minute delay in the decision on air defense systems for Ukraine.” Kuleba said.
Local officials said power stations were hit in Odesa, Kirovohrad and Lutsk regions, while other regions reported problems with electricity.
“Another rocket attack by terrorists fighting against civilian infrastructure and people,” Ukrainian presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak wrote on the Telegram app.
Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told a cabinet meeting that from October 10 to October 20, Russian strikes damaged more than 400 facilities in 16 regions of Ukraine, including dozens of energy facilities.
“The Russian army has identified our energy sector as one of the key targets of its attacks,” Shmyhal said on October 21.
“Russian propagandists and officials openly talk about the purpose of all these attacks: Ukraine, according to them, should be left without water, without light, without heat.” he said.
Meanwhile, on October 22, Russian-appointed authorities in the occupied and illegally seized southern Kherson region ordered the estimated 60,000 residents of the region’s eponymous capital to leave “immediately” in the face of Kiev’s advancing counteroffensive.
“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,” says the region’s Russia-backed forces. authorities said on social media.
Russina-installed officials are moving people out of the strategic city in what they call an evacuation, but which Ukrainian officials label as deportations.
The order came despite a claim by Russia’s Defense Ministry on October 22 that its forces had thwarted an attempt by Ukraine to break through its line of control in Kherson.
“All attacks were repulsed, the enemy was pushed back to their starting positions,” the Defense Ministry said, adding that Ukraine’s offensive was launched against the settlements of Piatykhatky, Suhanove, Sablukivka and Bezvodne, on the west side of the Dnieper River.
The ministry’s statement said Russian forces had also repelled attacks in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.
The city of Kherson, which had a population of 280,000 before the war, is one of the first urban areas occupied by Russia at the start of the invasion.
Zelenskiy’s office said 88 settlements in the southern Kherson region and 551 settlements in the northeastern Kharkiv region have been “de-occupied”, while the Ukrainian forces’ counteroffensive in the Kherson region continues.
Ukraine is trying to drive Russian forces in Kherson back east across the Dnieper. Russian soldiers on the western bank, where the city of Kherson is located, are reportedly close to being cut off from supply lines and reinforcements.
Natalya Humenyuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command, said the Ukrainian military struck the Antonivskiy bridge over the Dnieper in the city of Kherson during an overnight curfew. Russia-installed officials were put in place to avoid civilian casualties.
“We are not attacking civilians and settlements,” Humenyuk told Ukrainian TV.
Ukrainian strikes rendered the Antonivskiy Bridge unusable, prompting Russian authorities to set up ferry crossings and pontoon bridges to move civilians and transport supplies.
Russia has sent in thousands of newly mobilized troops to reinforce the defense of Kherson, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces so on 21 October.
On October 21, Zelenskiy again called on the West to warn Russia not to blow up a dam at the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric plant on the Dnieper River, as this could flood settlements towards Kherson.
Zelenskiy said Russian forces had planted explosives inside the dam, which holds back a huge reservoir, and planned to blow it up.
“Now everyone in the world must act strongly and quickly to prevent another Russian terrorist attack. Destroying the dam would mean a large-scale disaster,” he said in his nightly speech.