In a shocking overnight assault, Russian drones struck key infrastructure facilities in Ukraine, resulting in power outages affecting over 400 towns and villages in the south, southeast, and north of the country, Ukrainian officials reported on Saturday.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised the Ukrainian air force for successfully intercepting and downing 29 out of 38 Iranian-made Shahed drones in various regions between 8 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Friday and 4 a.m. on Saturday. In a video address, Zelenskiy expressed gratitude, saying, "Your accuracy, guys, is literally life for Ukraine." However, he cautioned that as winter approaches, the likelihood of intensified Russian strikes becomes more significant.
Last winter, Ukraine experienced severe disruption when Russia launched hundreds of missiles and drones, leaving millions without essential services such as electricity, heating, and water during the coldest months.
The Ukrainian energy ministry confirmed that although there was sufficient electricity in the system to meet the country's needs, the drone strikes resulted in power outages for 1,550 consumers due to damage to the grid. The attacks particularly affected 416 settlements in the Odesa region in the south and the Zaporizhzhia region in the southeast.
Despite an unusually warm autumn this year, officials have urged residents and businesses to brace for renewed Russian attacks as temperatures begin to fall. Volodymyr Kudrytskiy, head of the power grid operator Ukrenergo, emphasized the need for continuous vigilance, stating, "We do not have the right to relax."
The energy ministry disclosed that an oil refinery in the Odesa region was among the targets hit. An administrative building was also damaged, resulting in one civilian being wounded, as reported by the south military command on the Telegram messaging app.
In the northern Chernihiv region, situated on the border with Russia and Belarus, two infrastructure buildings sustained damage during the overnight strike, according to military sources. The energy ministry noted that six settlements in the Chernihiv region were without power following the drone attacks.
Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, was also targeted in the assault, marking the second attack this month. Ukrainian officials reported successfully intercepting all drones heading towards the capital during their approach. As the situation unfolds, reports from Maria Starkova in Lviv and Elaine Monaghan in Washington contribute additional perspectives to the evolving crisis.