Russian missile strikes force Ukraine to shut nuclear power plants

Blackouts force shutdown of reactors at Ukraine's Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in the south and the Rivne and Khmelnitskyi plants in the west

Reuters
Published : 23 Nov 2022, 01:42 PM
Updated : 23 Nov 2022, 01:42 PM

Russia rained down missiles across Ukraine on Wednesday, forcing shutdowns of nuclear power plants and killing civilians in Kyiv as Moscow pursued a campaign to plunge Ukrainian cities into darkness and cold with winter setting in.

All of the capital region was without power, Kyiv's governor said.

Officials across the border in Moldova said electricity was also lost to more than half of their country, the first time a neighbouring state has reported such extensive damage from the war in Ukraine triggered by Russia's invasion nine months ago.

Blackouts forced the shutdown of reactors at Ukraine's Pivdennoukrainsk nuclear power plant in the south and the Rivne and Khmelnitskyi plants in the west, all in government-held territory, the state-run nuclear energy firm Energoatom said.

"Currently, they (power units) work in project mode, without generation into the domestic energy system," Energoatom said.

Ukraine's largest nuclear complex, at Zaporizhzhia near the front lines in the south, is Russian-controlled and was previously switched off because of shelling that both sides blame on each other.

SIRENS, EXPLOSIONS, DARKNESS

Air raid sirens blared across Ukraine in a nationwide alert.

Explosions could be heard on the outskirts of Kyiv on Wednesday afternoon and at least three people in a residential block were killed including a 17-year-old girl, with at least 11 wounded, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

The ensuing power blackout was felt throughout the capital region, home to more than three million people, its governor said.

Most thermal and hydro-electric power plants were forced to shut down as well, Ukraine's energy ministry said. As a result, it said, the great majority of electricity consumers in areas of the country under Ukrainian control were cut off.

Earlier, Russian missiles hit a maternity hospital in the Zaporizhzhia region overnight, killing a baby, the regional governor said on the Telegram messaging service.

Blasts were also reported in other cities, where further information about casualties was not immediately available.

Since October, Russia has openly acknowledged targeting Ukraine's civil power and heating systems with long-range missiles and drones. Moscow says the aim is to weaken Kyiv's ability to fight and push it to negotiate; Ukraine says the strikes on infrastructure are a war crime, deliberately intended to harm civilians to break the national will.

That will not happen, President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed in a brief video address posted on the Telegram messaging app.

"We'll renew everything and get through all of this because we are an unbreakable people," he said.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher