Ukraine shivers in darkness after Russian missile attacks knock out power

Ukraine shivered Thursday after Russia battered the invaded nation with one of the broadest rocket attacks in the nine-month-old war, leaving the frigid capital of Kyiv draped in darkness.

Russians unleashed barrages of missiles on Wednesday, apparently aiming to test Ukrainians’ resolve and to weaponize frosty winter weather that has begun to fall across the country. The Russian attacks killed at least 10 people and decimated the electrical grid.

Much of snow-covered Kyiv still lacked running water on Thursday, while power outages were reported from Lviv in Ukraine’s west to Kharkiv in the east. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 11 regions of Ukraine were fully deprived of power on Wednesday after Russia showered 67 missiles on its neighbor.

“Russia uses massive missile strikes against peaceful cities,” Zelenskyy said in a Thursday address to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “It is trying to leave millions of people without electricity, communication, heat and water.”

Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram that 30% of the city had power on Thursday, and the water supply was being restored, but that the process would “take some time.” Three people died and 11 were wounded in Russian missile attacks in Kyiv on Wednesday, according to Ukraine’s government.

Citizens of the capital, which had a prewar population of 2.8 million, descended into the chilly subway system to juice their cellphones at charging stations. Others headed to coffee shops, where generators rattled loudly.

Locals resorted to using candles and flashlights for light, a tactic that has lost any charm in residences and become problematic in health facilities. Ukrainians have grown accustomed to rolling blackouts during the grinding war, but the extent of the latest service disruptions proved a unique test.

Yurii Patliakevych, a 28-year-old software engineer, said in an interview from his dark Kyiv home that navigating the capital’s streets at night has become “quite dangerous.”

“It’s very hard to see people,” he told the Daily News. But he added: “We’re resilient.”

President Vladimir Putin, humbled by the Russian Army’s sweeping battlefield losses, has grasped for ways to turn the trajectory of Europe’s largest military conflict since World War II. Russian forces have lost about half of the territory they claimed after launching their invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Ukraine was bringing hardship upon itself by not ceding to Russian demands. Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, hoping to swiftly seize Kyiv in the north, but has set its sights on the east and south since being repelled from the capital region.

In September, Putin signed sham treaties nominally annexing four provinces in southern and eastern Ukraine, backing the move through bogus referendums overseen by Russian soldiers.

But after he laid claim to the territory, Ukraine’s forces swept into Kherson, a prized southern city in the territory that Putin had sought to illegally annex. The Russian retreat from Kherson two weeks ago came as a major blow to Moscow.

“Ukraine’s leadership has every opportunity to bring the situation to normal,” Peskov told reporters, according to the Tass news agency, a Kremlin mouthpiece. “It has every opportunity to settle the situation to fulfill Russia’s requirements and, accordingly, stop all possible suffering.”

But as Russia moved to inflict fresh pain on Ukrainians, their leaders projected resolve.

“Power, water and heating will be restored,” Ukraine’s official Twitter account vowed Wednesday. “Russian empire will not.”

On Thursday, Zelenskyy declared on Telegram that his “invincible nation will overcome all challenges and ultimately prevail.”

“I am grateful to everyone who overcomes unprecedented challenges created by the terrorist state,” Zelenskyy said, thanking “energy workers, rescue teams, utility workers, local authorities, business and everyone who helps our country persevere.”

Russia is seeking to test the U.S. and European countries’ willingness to keep up costly efforts to help Ukraine.

The latest round of rocket attacks drew outrage from France’s President Emmanuel Macron, who pledged to mobilize global support for Ukraine to boost its energy access.

“Strikes against civilian infrastructures are war crimes and cannot go unpunished,” Macron wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

Speaking with reporters in Nantucket, Mass., on Thursday, President Biden said he expected the lameduck Congress to fulfill his request for some $38 billion in additional support for Ukraine, though some Republicans appear squeamish about continued large cash infusions.

“This is no time to walk away from Ukraine,” Biden said. “We had a lot of talk in this last election about whether the other team is going to continue to support Ukraine. And I still believe there’s enough support.”