KYIV: Tens of thousands of residents have been evacuated from an area around the strategic city of Kherson as heavy fighting and attacks on power infrastructure continue, Moscow-appointed authorities in southern Ukraine said Thursday. Kherson governor Vladimir Saldo said more than 70,000 residents from the area had been moved. Ukraine has pushed ahead with an offensive to reclaim Kherson that was captured by Russian forces during the first days of the conflict.
Members of the regional administration were included in the evacuation, deputy governor Kirill Stremousov said. Monuments were also removed along with the remains of Grigory Potemkin, the Russian general who founded Kherson in the 18th century that had been kept at the city's St. Catherine's Church.
Fighting has intensified around Kherson, where Ukrainian forces are attacking Russia's foothold on the west of the Dnieper River that divides the country, as well as in parts of the eastern Donetsk region, while Russian maintained attacks on energy infrastructure ahead of the winter. A Russian drone attack early Thursday hit an energy facility, causing a fire, said Oleksiy Kuleba, governor of the Kyiv region.
"The Russians are using drones and missiles to destroy Ukraine's energy system ahead of the winter and terrorize civilians," Kuleba said in televised remarks.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy publicly thanked the country's power workers for maintaining the electricity supply as authorities have ordered rolling blackouts in many parts of the country and urged households to limit consumption. "I thank all the workers in the energy sector: our rescuers, repair crews, officials from local government, and private companies who work diligently to maintain our energy system despite all the threats," Zelenskyy said in his nightly address late Wednesday.
In a likely response to the Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, the head of the port city of Sevastopol in the Russian-annexed region of Crimea said a power plant just outside the city had suffered minor damage in a drone attack.
Mikhail Razvozhayev said a drone hit a transformer and sparked a fire but did not affect its overall operation and did not interrupt the electricity supply.
Annexed by Russia in 2014, Crimea - a region slightly larger than Sicily - has faced drone attacks and explosions. In a major setback for Russia, on Oct. 8, a powerful truck bomb blew up a section of a strategic bridge linking Crimea to Russia's mainland. The war in Ukraine and the resulting energy crisis is likely to cause global demand for fossil fuels to peak or flatten out, according to a report released Thursday by the Paris-based International Energy Agency, largely due to the fall in Russian exports. "Today's energy crisis is delivering a shock of unprecedented breadth and complexity," the IEA said, releasing its annual report, the World Energy Outlook.
The shock to governments, the report said, was forcing advanced economies to accelerate structural changes toward renewable energy sources.