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KYIV – Ukrainian officials say “infamous” Russian missile strikes on civilian energy sites caused power outages across the country, leaving more than a million homes without electricity, while Russian authorities ordered residents to leave Kherson “immediately” ahead of an expected effort by Kyiv forces to retake the crucial southern city.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Telegram on October 22 that Russia carried out a “massive attack” against Ukraine overnight and that “the aggressor continues to terrorize our country”.

“At night, the enemy launched a massive attack: 36 rockets, most of which were shot down… These are despicable strikes on critical objects. Typical terrorist tactics,” he wrote. “The world can and must stop this terror.”

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Zelenskiy’s office, said the Ukrainian Air Defense Forces had shot down 18 missiles.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said a number of missiles were shot down as they approached the capital.

“Several rockets flying towards Kyiv were shot down in the area by air defense forces. Thanks to our defenders!” said Klitschko.

There was no immediate word on deaths related to the missile attacks, but officials said several people were injured.

It was not possible to verify the reports on both sides.

Faced with continued Russian strikes, Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba again urged Ukraine’s Western allies to speed up the delivery of modern air defense systems.

“We intercepted some, others hit targets. Air defense saves lives. [Western] capitals, there should not be a single minute delay in the decision on Ukraine’s air defense systems,” kuleba said.

Local officials said power plants were hit in Odessa, Kirovohrad and Lutsk regions, while other regions reported power problems.

“Another rocket attack by terrorists who are fighting against infrastructure and civilians,” wrote the chief of staff of the Ukrainian president, Andriy Yermak, on the Telegram application.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told a government meeting that from October 10 to 20, Russian strikes damaged more than 400 facilities in 16 regions of Ukraine, including dozens of energy facilities.

“The Russian military has identified our energy sector as one of the main targets of its attacks,” Shmyhal said Oct. 21.

“Russian propagandists and officials speak openly about the purpose of all these attacks: Ukraine, according to them, should be left without water, without light, without heating,” he said.

Meanwhile, Russian-appointed authorities in the occupied and illegally seized region of southern Kherson on October 22 ordered some 60,000 residents of the region’s main eponymous city to leave “immediately” in the face of the counter-offensive. advance of Kyiv.

“Due to the tense situation at the front, the increased danger of massive shelling of the city and the threat of terrorist attacks, all civilians should immediately leave the city and cross to the left bank of the Dnieper,” the statement said. region supported by Russia. authorities said on social media.

Officials based in Russia are moving people out of the strategic city in what they call an evacuation but Ukrainian officials call deportations.

The order came despite a claim by the Russian Defense Ministry on Oct. 22 that its forces had prevented an attempt by Ukraine to breach its Line of Control at Kherson.

“All attacks were repelled, the enemy was pushed back to their initial positions,” the Defense Ministry said, adding that the Ukrainian offensive was launched towards the settlements of Piatykhatky, Suhanove, Sablukivka and Bezvodne, on the west bank of the Dnieper.

The ministry statement said Russian forces also repelled attacks in the eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.

The city of Kherson, which had a population of 280,000 before the war, was one of the first urban areas occupied by Russia at the start of the invasion.

Zelenskiy’s office said 88 settlements in the southern Kherson region and 551 settlements in the northeast Kharkiv region have been “vacated”, while the counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces in the Kherson region continues.

Ukraine attempts to push Russian forces in Kherson east across the Dnieper. Russian soldiers on the west bank, where the city of Kherson is located, are said to be about to be cut off from supply lines and reinforcements.

Natalya Humenyuk, spokeswoman for the Southern Ukrainian Operational Command, said the Ukrainian army struck the Antonivskiy bridge over the Dnieper in the city of Kherson during a nighttime curfew put in place by Russian authorities to avoid civilian casualties.

“We are not attacking civilians and settlements,” Humenyuk told Ukrainian television.

The Ukrainian strikes rendered the Antonivskiy Bridge unusable, prompting Russian authorities to set up ferry crossings and pontoon bridges to move civilians and transport supplies.

Russia has sent thousands of newly mobilized soldiers to strengthen the defense of Kherson, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said October 21.

On October 21, Zelenskiy again urged the West to warn Russia not to blow up a dam at the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric power station on the Dnieper, as this could flood settlements towards Kherson.

Zelenskiy said Russian forces had placed explosives inside the dam, which holds a huge reservoir, and planned to blow it up.

“Now everyone in the world must act strongly and quickly to prevent another Russian terrorist attack. To destroy the dam would mean a full-scale disaster,” he said in his evening speech.

With reporting from Reuters, AFP, AP and the BBC
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