November 24, 2022 08:08
Russia launched new airstrikes Wednesday against Ukraine's already-battered power grid, with Moscow's forces apparently intent on inflicting anguish on Ukrainians at the onset of winter.
Authorities in the capital, Kyiv, said three people were killed in a strike that hit a two-story building. Ukrainian officials reported power outages in numerous cities, including parts of Kyiv, and in neighboring Moldova.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko posted on Telegram that "one of the capital's infrastructure facilities has been hit," wounding one person. In the western city of Lviv, near the border with Poland, the mayor said the whole city had lost power, although there was no immediate information on how many targets had been hit. The latest Russian strikes followed repeated attacks on power facilities throughout Ukraine in recent weeks, causing widespread blackouts.
Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, Europe's largest, again lost access to external electricity and had to rely on emergency diesel generators for the power it needs for reactor cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi has often called -- to no avail -- for fighting to be halted near the nuclear plant, to avoid the possibility of a nuclear disaster.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had ordered the country's ambassador to the United Nations to request an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the latest attacks, and a meeting was set for later Wednesday. "Murder of civilians, ruining of civilian infrastructure are acts of terror," Zelenskyy said. "Ukraine keeps demanding a resolute response of international community to these crimes."
As the attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure continued, the United States announced that it is sending another $400 million worth of ammunition and generators to Kyiv, bringing the amount of U.S. support to more than $19 billion in assistance during the nine-month war.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials said overnight airstrikes by Russian forces hit a hospital maternity ward in southern Ukraine, killing a newborn baby and wounding its mother. Authorities said the missile destroyed the two-story building in the city of Vilniansk in the Zaporizhzhia region. The state emergency service said the baby's mother and a doctor were rescued from the rubble.
First lady Olena Zelenska expressed her condolences, saying on Twitter, "Horrible pain. We will never forget and never forgive." President Zelenskyy posted on Telegram that Russia "continues to fight against civilians and civilian objects," blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin. "The enemy has once again decided to try to achieve with terror and murder what he wasn't able to achieve for 9 months and won't be able to achieve. Instead, he will only be held to account for all the evil he brought to our country," Zelenskyy said.
President Zelenskyy posted on Telegram that Russia "continues to fight against civilians and civilian objects," blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin. "The enemy has once again decided to try to achieve with terror and murder what he wasn’t able to achieve for 9 months and won’t be able to achieve. Instead, he will only be held to account for all the evil he brought to our country," Zelenskyy said. The Ukrainian leader later welcomed a decision by the European Parliament to recognize Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism."
The resolution approved by EU lawmakers Wednesday cited "deliberate attacks and atrocities carried out by the Russian Federation against the civilian population of Ukraine, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and other serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law."
◆ Monastery Raid
Ukraine's security service said Tuesday it carried out a raid at a historic Russian Orthodox Christian monastery in Kyiv in order to counter suspected "subversive activities by Russian special services." The highly unusual raid took place at the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, after a priest spoke favorably about Russia at a recent service.
Ukrainian authorities said the search was prompted by suspicions of possible Russian covert operations. The Russian Orthodox Church has strongly supported Putin's invasion, while hundreds of Ukrainian Orthodox churches have cut their ties to the Moscow-governed branch of the church. The Ukrainian counterintelligence and counter-terrorism service said its agents were searching buildings for any hidden weapons or foreign citizens and potential intelligence.
In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Ukrainian authorities of "waging a war on the Russian Orthodox Church." He said the search was "another link in the chain of these aggressive actions against Russian Orthodoxy." Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church, has described Russia's invasion as a "metaphysical struggle" between Moscow and the West. He condemned Tuesday's search as "an act of intimidation."
The search follows a Nov. 12 service at the Pechersk Lavra complex where a priest was filmed talking about the "awakening" of Russia. Songs praising the "Russian world" were sung.
At the time, the Ukrainian security chief, Vasyl Maliuk, said, "Those who, in the conditions of a full-scale war unleashed by Russia against Ukraine, are waiting for the 'awakening of Mother Rus' should understand that this harms the security and interests of Ukraine and our citizens. And we will not allow such manifestations."
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