Ukraine Reports More Russian Strikes on Energy Infrastructure
Ukraine’s state energy company said Thursday it was limiting electricity use in multiple regions of the country after Russian attacks overnight targeting energy infrastructure.
Ukrenergo said damage from the strikes included equipment in the central part of the country. It said restrictions on power use are necessary to avoid network overloads and to make it easier to fix damaged facilities.
The new attacks on Ukrainian energy sites came as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked workers in the energy sector for their efforts to stabilize the power grid.
“No matter what the enemy does, our task is to break its plans and protect Ukraine. And this is not just someone’s task, it concerns not only energy workers or anyone else. Conscious energy consumption is now needed by all Ukrainians,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Wednesday.
A Russia-installed official in Crimea said Thursday an overnight drone attack targeted a thermal power plant in the Russia-annexed peninsula.
The official said there was no threat to the power supply there and that there were no casualties.
The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday remotely observed exercises by its strategic nuclear forces that are meant to simulate a response to a “massive nuclear strike.”
Russian state television showed video of Putin observing the drills on a huge television screen, with comments from military leaders. In the broadcast, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the drills involved a nuclear submarine, long-range aircraft and multiple practice launches of ballistic and cruise missiles.
The White House said Tuesday that Russia had given notice it was going to stage the annual exercises, called “Grom” or “Thunder.” They come as NATO began its own annual nuclear exercise, known as “Steadfast Noon,” on Monday.
For several days, Russian officials have alleged that Ukraine is planning to develop and use a so-called dirty bomb in its conflict with Russia.
Dirty bombs combine conventional explosives with radioactive material and are designed to spread radioactivity that can cause massive death and contamination.
The U.N. Security Council discussed Russia’s allegations at a closed-door meeting Tuesday.
Ukraine and its Western allies have strongly denied the allegations, and suspect they are being made as a pretext for some type of escalation in the war in Ukraine.
Speaking from alliance headquarters in Brussels Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the accusations “absurd” and “blatantly false,” and he warned Russia not to use false pretexts to escalate the war.
U.S. President Joe Biden issued a similar warning Tuesday. When asked by a reporter if he thought Russia was using the dirty bomb allegations to set up a “false flag” operation and deploy a dirty bomb of its own, he said, “Russia would be making an incredibly serious mistake for it to use tactical nuclear weapons.”
Biden met Wednesday with Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the White House. Herzog had indicated he planned to share intelligence with the U.S. president about Iranian drones being used by Russian forces in Ukraine.
Herzog’s office said Israel has images showing similarities between drones shot down in Ukraine and those Iran tested in 2021. Ukraine and its Western partners have said Russia’s recent use of drones to attack Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, involves Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones.
Iran has denied supplying them to Russia, and Russia has denied using them in Ukraine. Kyiv has asked the U.N. to send experts to examine the debris, and the United States, Britain, France and Germany have also written to the U.N. supporting an investigation.
Russia called another meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to discuss whether the U.N. secretariat has the authority to send experts to Ukraine under the U.N. Charter and Security Council Resolution 2231, which restricts transfers of certain items to and from Iran.
“The secretariat needs to respond to requests of member states, but to act on the basis of a clear explicit mandate and the U.N. Charter, not on the basis of the desires of certain countries,” Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said of Ukraine and the Western states’ letters.
Iran’s envoy said his country has taken a neutral position on the war and has consistently advocated for peace.
“Iran has never provided the parties with weapons for use in the Ukraine conflict, either before or after the conflict,” Ambassador Amir Saeid Iravani told council members.
The U.N.’s top lawyer told the council that the secretary-general is tasked with reporting twice a year on the implementation of Resolution 2231, including findings and recommendations.
“Absent further guidance by the Security Council, the secretary-general will continue to prepare these reports in the manner that they have been prepared to date,” U.N. legal counsel Miguel de Serpa Soares told the council.
The U.N. has not said it would deploy experts to Ukraine and has only gone so far as to say it is ready to assess any information a member state provides it, as in past reports.
In 2017 and 2021, the U.N. investigated allegations that Iran supplied drones to Houthi rebels in Yemen, which were used in attacks on Saudi Arabia. Last year, the U.N. team went to Israel to inspect Iranian drones that had infiltrated Israeli air space.
“It is thus well-established that it is well within the authority of the secretary-general to investigate allegations of violations of Resolution 2231,” U.S. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood said.
Russia has called for yet another council meeting Thursday to discuss its debunked claims that Ukraine and the United States are planning to infect migratory birds, bats and even mosquitos with lethal pathogens, and then deploy them to infect Russian troops and/or civilians.
VOA’s U.N. Correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report. Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.