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Ukraine strikes Melitopol as 1.5 million left without power in Odesa

Ukraine strikes Melitopol as 1.5 million left without power in Odesa

At least two people were killed following missile strikes in Melitopol after Kyiv attacked the southeastern city on Saturday, according to Russian authorities.

Melitopol is a major industrial and transport centre that has been occupied by Vladimir Putin’s troops since March.

Yevgeny Balitsky, the Moscow-appointed governor of the occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region, said air defence systems destroyed two missiles, while four reached their targets. At least 10 people sustained injuries in the attack.

He said a “recreation centre” where people were dining was destroyed in the attack with HIMARS missiles.

It comes after Ukrainians faced more misery as fresh blackouts were triggered to repair the grid damaged by Russian missile attacks.

Apartment buildings in Odesa without electricity during a power outage after critical civil infrastructure was hit by Russian drone attacks (REUTERS)
Apartment buildings in Odesa without electricity during a power outage after critical civil infrastructure was hit by Russian drone attacks (REUTERS)

The country’s largest private power producer, DTEK, said blackouts were launched in and around the capital Kyiv, the southern region of Odesa and central Dnipro.

More than 1.5 million people in Odesa are believed to be without power, according to authorities.

The blackouts were declared hours after Putin vowed to continue hitting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Ukrainian grid operator Ukrenergo said: “Because of damage caused by missile strikes to power plants and the high-voltage network, the system has a significant shortage of electricity.”

The situation has been made worse by severe frost, rain, snow and strong winds, which are causing wires to ice over in western regions.

But the east, where fighting has been fiercest, is suffering most. Zaporizhzhia governor Oleksandr Starukh said: “There is a lack of energy - up to a third of what is needed.”

Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February, says strikes on vital infrastructure are militarily legitimate.

Kyiv says the grid attacks are a war crime and “amount to genocide”.

The United Nations and the World Health Organisation warn millions of Ukrainians could freeze to death this winter, unless Russia relents.

Mr Putin said the strikes were reprisal for the bombing of a Russian bridge to annexed Crimea on October 8.

He also said Ukraine blew up power lines from the Kursk nuclear power plant and it was also “genocide” to cut off water to Russian-occupied Donetsk.

The leader accused the West of “complete silence” and bias against Russia.

Meanwhile, Russia is said to have installed multiple rocket launchers at the shut-down Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Ukraine fears Europe’s largest atomic power station could be used to fire on defending forces and heighten radiation dangers.