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Russian forces have again targeted Ukraine's energy facilities

A presidential aide said the situation across Ukraine was now critical. Prosecutors say two people were killed in an attack on the capital. Plumes of smoke were seen billowing around a power station near the Dnipro river. Power and water were cut in Zhytomyr, west of Kyiv, and two facilities were severely damaged in Dnipro. Everyone should be ready, first, to save electricity, and second, rolling power blackouts are also possible if strikes continue," said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the president's office.

"The entire population needs to prepare for a tough winter." President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that in the past eight days, 30% of Ukraine's power stations had been destroyed, "causing massive blackouts across the country."Ukrainian energy firm DTEK said two thermal power plants had been significantly damaged by Russian shelling, leaving one worker dead and six others wounded. Russia has recently stepped up attacks on electricity infrastructure in cities away from the front lines. Officials have rushed to repair the damage, but the strikes, ahead of winter, have raised concerns about how the system will respond. The latest attacks came 24 hours after "kamikaze" drones believed to have been supplied by Iran and Iran killed at least nine people in Kyiv and Sumy, as strikes on infrastructure caused power cuts in hundreds of towns and villages.

It was not initially apparent to what extent drones were involved on Tuesday. Ukraine said Russian bombers had fired missiles, and one S-300 anti-aircraft missile had hit a residential building in the southern city of Mykolaiv overnight, killing one person. The city's flower market was also destroyed. On Tuesday In Zhytomyr, the mayor said there was no power or water in the city, and hospitals were working on backup power. 11 villages in the Zhytomyr region were also without electricity, officials said. Power and water supplies were disrupted in the central city of Dnipro, where a large energy facility was destroyed, and officials said street lighting would be turned off.

Shelling was reported in the north-eastern town of Kharkiv Infrastructure in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia was hit, although local officials said no one had been hurt. In some cities, Ukrainians are buying power generators and gas burners, while across the country, people have been urged to reduce their energy consumption at peak times. Some towns are already facing rolling blackouts. In a separate development, Ukraine's state nuclear energy company accused Moscow of abducting two senior officials at its nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhya. Russian forces occupy the plant, but its Ukrainian staff continues to work there under challenging conditions. We were expecting Russia to intensify energy and civilian infrastructure attacks and increase urban warfare towards autumn. Here we are precise with that scenario," Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko told a news source.

In its latest assessment, UK defense intelligence said it was highly likely that Russia had become increasingly willing to strike civilian infrastructure and military targets since its setbacks on the battlefield. Russia's missile and drone attacks have brought renewed calls from the Ukrainian government to deliver air defense missiles. Earlier, the US said it agreed with its French and UK allies that the supply of drones by Iran violated a UN Security Council resolution linked to a nuclear agreement, barring the transfer of specific military technology. Ukraine has identified the drones used in deadly attacks on Kyiv and Sumy as Shahid-136 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Vedant Patel of the US state department said the US would not hesitate to use sanctions.

The EU said it was gathering evidence and was ready to act. Both Russia and Iran have denied that Iranian drones were deployed. However, Western officials in Ukraine said it was not in doubt that the drones had come from Iran, and it was apparent Russia was seeking to attack the power network. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he would ask President Zelensky to sever diplomatic ties with Tehran. He also said an official note would be sent to Israel appealing for immediate air defense supplies. Israeli officials have so far stopped short of sending weapons to Kyiv. One Russian security figure, Dmitry Medvedev, has warned that relations with Moscow would be destroyed if they did.

Meanwhile, in one of the most prominent prisoner swaps since Russia's war began in February, 218 detainees, including 108 Ukrainian women, were exchanged. And across the Sea of Azov from Ukraine, a Russian fighter jet crashed into the courtyard of a block of flats in the southern Russian town of Yeysk. At least 13 people, including three children, were killed, while dozens of residents were rescued from the nine-story block.

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