Russia has launched more suicide drones at infrastructure and civilian targets in southeastern Ukraine, officials said Nov. 4, as extensive damage to the power grid left millions of Ukrainians without power , prompting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to accuse Moscow of “energy terrorism”.
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Valentyn Reznichenko, the governor of the Dnipropetrovskov region, said the Ukrainian army destroyed eight Iranian Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones in the Nikopol district, in the south of the region.
“Our air defense did a great job last night. Eight enemy Shaheds were shot down,” Reznichenko wrote on Telegram. It was the second day in a row that Nikopol had been targeted by Russian drones.
Reznichenko said Russian troops also shelled four settlements in the same district – Myrivska, Chervonogrigorivska, Marganetska and Nikopolska – with Grad rockets and artillery fire, damaging a gas pipeline and a power line and destroying residential buildings.
Russian troops regularly bombard the Dnipropetrovsk region, one of the steel centers of Ukraine, with various types of weapons.
Moscow denies its attacks on civilians in Ukraine.
Zelenskiy said in his Nov. 3 nighttime video address that millions of Ukrainians were temporarily without power due to Russian attacks.
“Tonight around 4.5 million consumers were temporarily disconnected from power consumption,” Zelenskiy said. “The very fact that Russia resorts to energy terrorism shows the weakness of our enemy. They cannot beat Ukraine on the battlefield, so they are trying to break our people that way.”
Russia has been targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure and other civilian buildings with missile, drone and artillery attacks for several weeks as part of a Ukrainian counteroffensive that has driven Russian troops from the northeast and pushed east and southeast.
Over the past few days, however, despite heavy fighting, there has been no significant change on the ground on Ukraine’s eastern and southern fronts, with preparations gearing up for a fight over the city. southern Kherson.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has accused Moscow of forcibly deporting Ukrainian citizens from Kherson to Russia.
“The Russian occupation administration has begun the massive forced relocation of Left Bank residents [of the Dnieper River] from the Kherson region… to the territory of temporarily occupied Crimea or the Russian Federation,” the ministry said in a statement on November 3.
Similar deportations are also being carried out by Russia in Zaporizhzhya, Luhansk and Donetsk regions, as well as in Crimea, the ministry said.
Russia proclaimed in September that it had seized the partially occupied Ukrainian regions of Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, Luhansk and Donetsk following referendums condemned by Kyiv and the West as shams.
Volodymyr Saldo, the Russian-appointed leader of Kherson, announced on October 31 an extension of what Russia called the evacuation of Ukrainian citizens. Saldo said it was moving people further into the region or into Russia because of the risks of a “massive missile attack”.
Just three days earlier, Russian officials had announced that the evacuation process in the Kherson region had been completed.
Kyiv reiterated on November 3 that it considered the decision a “deportation”. He also said that information continued to circulate about alleged exploitation of the Nova Kakhovska hydroelectric power station by Russian troops.
Zelenskiy had previously said Ukraine suspected Russia had mined the dam and power station units on the Dnieper, and that if it exploded, more than 80 settlements, including Kherson, would be in danger of flooding.
The Foreign Ministry statement also accused Russian troops of looting industrial, cultural, educational and medical institutions, as well as private homes and apartments.
Russian forces also removed roadblocks in Kherson. The head of the Kherson Regional Military Administration, Yaroslav Yanushevich, believes they did this to create the illusion that Russian forces left the city.
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It was also reported that the Russian flag was removed from the Kherson regional administration building. The head of the Joint Coordination Press Center of the South Ukrainian Defense Forces, Natalya Humenyuk, said it could be a provocation.
The loss of Kherson, which Russian troops captured in March in the early days of the war, would mark a significant retreat.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, asked to comment on the battlefield situation in southern Ukraine, said he believed Ukrainian forces in the Kherson region “have the ability” to resume the territory on the western side of the Dnieper and the city of Kherson to Russian troops.