As Russian troops make little progress on the battlefield, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused the Kremlin of resorting to “energy terrorism.” According to Mr. Zelensky, 4.5 million people are without power as a result of Russian attacks on the country’s energy network.
Russia has carried out large-scale missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian power plants in recent weeks. The strikes come as officials predict that Russian troops will withdraw from Kherson, a key southern city.
Following a string of humiliating defeats on the battlefield, Russia has increased its attacks on power infrastructure in cities far from the front lines in recent weeks. According to President Zelensky, a third of the country’s power stations have been destroyed in the last month. As a result, the Ukrainian government has been forced to urge the population to use energy sparingly.
“Approximately 4.5 million consumers were temporarily disconnected from energy consumption tonight,” President Zelensky said in his nightly address on Thursday.
He described Russia’s targeting of energy infrastructure as a sign of “weakness,” as Russian forces struggle to gain ground on the frontlines. “The fact that Russia is resorting to energy terrorism demonstrates the weakness of our adversary,” he said.
“Because they can’t beat Ukraine on the battlefield, they try to break our people.” Russia’s defense ministry has confirmed that it is targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure. Mr. Zelensky’s accusation comes as reports emerge that Russian troops are leaving the occupied city of Kherson, indicating a significant retreat for Russia.
Kirill Stremousov, a Russian-installed official in the Kherson region, told Russian media that Moscow was “likely” to withdraw its troops from the region. According to a Western official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, most Russian commanding officers have already left the city.
Instead of attempting to maintain control of the city, they claimed that Russian troops were establishing defensive positions on the other side of the Dnipro River as part of a larger Russian effort to establish better defensive lines throughout southern and eastern Ukraine before winter arrived.
It is difficult to know what is going on inside the city, but an official said that mobilized Russian reservists had been sent in to cover the final retreat when it occurs.
Furthermore, the BBC’s international affairs correspondent Paul Adams claims that banks and museums have been looted. Over the course of several weeks, occupying authorities have also evacuated thousands of civilians from the area. Ukrainian troops, according to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, are “capable” of retaking the southern city.
However, Ukraine stated that it is still fighting in the area and is wary of Russia setting a trap for Ukrainian troops. The capture of Kherson, a major city, by Russia in March was regarded as one of Moscow’s most significant achievements of the war.
However, a Ukrainian counter-offensive in the area, which has been ongoing for more than a month, has forced Russia to reconsider its battlefield objectives.