January 27, 2023

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Russian drones destroy the power grid in Odessa, Ukraine, leaving 1.5 million people without electricity. From Reuters

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¬©Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A vendor waits for customers at a small shop lit with candles during a power outage after critical civilian infrastructure was hit by Russian missile strikes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues December 5, 2022. 2/ 2

By Nick Starkov

KIEV (Reuters) – All non-critical infrastructure at Ukraine’s port of Odessa was without power after Russia used Iranian-made drones to hit two power plants, leaving 1.5 million people without power, officials said on Saturday.

“The situation in the Odessa region is very difficult,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his nightly video address.

“Unfortunately, the hits were critical, so it takes more than just time to restore power… It doesn’t take hours, just a few days, unfortunately.”

Since October, Moscow has been targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with large waves of missile and drone attacks.

Norway sent $100 million to help restore Ukraine’s power system, Zelenskyy said.

Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odessa regional administration, said power supply to the city’s population will be restored “in the coming days,” while it could take two to three months for the grids to be fully restored.

Bratchuk said a previous Facebook post (NASDAQ:) by the region’s government advising some people to consider evacuation was investigated by Ukraine’s security services as an “element of hybrid warfare” by Russia.

This post has since been deleted.

“Not a single representative of the authorities in the region has demanded the evacuation of residents of Odessa and the region,” Bratchuk said.

Odessa had a population of more than a million before the Feb. 24 invasion, which Russia describes as a “special military operation” to “denazify” its smaller neighbor.

Kiev says Russia fired hundreds of Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones at targets in Ukraine, calling the attacks a war crime due to their devastating impact on civilian life. Moscow says its attacks are militarily legitimate and did not target civilians.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office said two power plants in the Odessa region were hit by Shahed-136 drones.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Facebook that 15 drones had been launched against targets in the southern regions of Odessa and Mykolaiv and 10 were shot down.

Tehran denies supplying the drones to Moscow. Kiev and its western allies say it’s a lie.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday it understood Iran’s military support to Russia was likely to increase in the coming months, including possible deliveries of ballistic missiles.