KYIV, Ukraine - Ukraine’s Air Defense Forces say Russia attacked several regions of Ukraine with missiles on Wednesday afternoon, again targeting the country’s battered power grid as winter weather approaches.
Authorities said Ukrainian soldiers shot down four Russian cruise missiles and 10 Iranian-made drones during the attack.
Air raid sirens rang out for more than three hours in Kyiv, sending many people into the capital’s subway stations for shelter.
Russian attacks have become part of daily life in the capital. Some people kept working on their computers underground, some took chairs and blankets with them.
The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, announced that the so-called heating season - when authorities pump heat to urban buildings - will begin on Thursday, several days earlier than usual.
Klitschko said the early step was being taken so that Kyiv residents do not overload the beleaguered power supply system by turning on electric heaters and air conditioning units.
- Russia tightens Ukraine energy squeeze; launches evacuation
- Russia’s Iranian drones complicate Israel’s balancing act
- Berlusconi says Russia’s Putin gifted him vodka, sweet note
- EXPLAINER: Killer drones vie for supremacy over Ukraine
- As Russia strikes power plants, Ukrainians brace for winter
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Norway’s domestic security agency has taken charge of an investigation into drone sightings near key infrastructure sites, after the airport in the country’s second-largest city briefly closed Wednesday after locals spotted at least one drone.
Hedvig Moe, deputy chief at PST, the intelligence agency’s acronym, said there was “an elevated intelligence threat from Russia” and that “Russia is in a pressed situation as a result of the war and is isolated by sanctions” over its war in Ukraine.
”We are in a tense security-political situation, and at the same time a complex and unclear threat picture that can change in a relatively short time,” she said.
Also, a man with dual Russian and British citizenship was jailed for two weeks on suspicion of flying drones on Norway’s Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, news reports said.
Under Norwegian law, it is prohibited for aircraft operated by Russian companies or citizens “to land on, take off from or fly over Norwegian territory.” Norway is not a member of the European Union but mirrors its moves.
KYIV, Ukraine - Thousands of residents were hastily leaving the Russian-occupied city of Kherson on Wednesday on ferries and buses after local Russian-backed authorities announced a mass evacuation.
Konstantin, a city resident who asked for his last name to be withheld for security reasons, said “thousands of people have lined up in a queue expecting to leave.”
“It looks more like a panic rather than an organized evacuation — people are buying the last remaining groceries in grocery shops and are running to the Kherson River port, where thousands of people are already waiting,” Konstantin told the AP. ”(The Russian-backed authorities) are just taking people away and are not saying where exactly.”
Konstantin described columns of military vehicles driving around the city and civilian trucks carrying archives of documents belonging to Russian-installed government to the left bank of the Dnieper River.
“Mostly it’s the pro-Russian officials, state employees, families with children and the elderly who are fleeing,” Konstantin said. “People are scared by talks of explosions, missiles and a possible blockade of the city.”
An operator of a hotline Russian-installed officials in Kherson set up said “the shelling of the city could start in the coming hours.”
Kherson’s Russian-appointed governor Vladimir Saldo said that entry to Kherson will be closed for at least seven days.
MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin is imposing martial law in the four regions that Moscow recently annexed from Ukraine.
He also granted emergency powers to the heads of other Russian regions Wednesday.
Putin didn’t immediately spell out the measures that would be taken under the martial law. But Russian legislation envisages that it may involve restrictions on travel and public gatherings and tighter censorship, as well as giving broader powers to law enforcement agencies.
Putin didn’t spell out the extra powers to be given to the heads of Russian regions under his decree, in moves that were the latest sign that the fighting in Ukraine isn’t going his way.
The Russian leader also declared that a Coordination Committee will be set up to improve communication between various government agencies dealing with the fighting in Ukraine, which he continued to call the “special military operation.”
The upper house of the Russian parliament is set to approve Putin’s decision later Wednesday.
MOSCOW - The Russian military claims it has defeated a Ukrainian attempt to seize control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that Ukrainian forces early Wednesday used 37 boats in an attempted landing to take over the plant located on the left bank of the Dnieper River.
He said that Russian forces thwarted the attack and destroyed the landing party.
Konashenkov’s claim couldn’t be independently confirmed. Ukrainian officials made no immediate comment.
The Zaporizhzhia plant, which is Europe’s largest nuclear facility, was seized by Russian forces early during the conflict. It has seen relentless shelling in areas close to the plant, triggering fears of a possible nuclear catastrophe.
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has hinted at Tehran’s hand in supplying Russia with bomb-carrying suicide drones that Moscow’s forces are deploying in Ukraine.
Speaking to students in Tehran on Wednesday, Khamenei touched on Iran’s drone program.
“On building advanced missile and drone equipment, (our enemies) had said they are photoshopped when their photos were published,” Khamenei said. “Now they say that Iranian drones are very dangerous and ask why do you sell them.”
Iran has denied supplying Russia with drones, even though the ones now used on the battlefield have been identified by Ukraine and Western nations as Shahed-136 drones, a triangle-shaped drone previously attributed to Iran.
The leader of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard previously hinted that Tehran had sold weapons to world powers as well.
KYIV, Ukraine - A senior Ukrainian official is accusing Russian-installed officials of staging a “propaganda show” by evacuating civilians from occupied Kherson, painting Ukraine as the aggressor.
Kherson, with a capital of the same name, is one of four regions illegally annexed by Russia last month. Local officials loyal to Moscow are telling civilians to leave the city of Kherson because advancing Ukrainian forces will shell residential areas.
The head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, said Wednesday in a message on Telegram that “the Russians are trying to scare the people of Kherson with fake newsletters about the shelling of the city by our army.”
Yermak said it was “a rather primitive tactic, given that the (Ukrainian) armed forces do not fire at Ukrainian cities.”
MOSCOW - The top Russian military commander in Ukraine has acknowledged that his troops in the south have faced difficulties amid the recent Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Gen. Sergei Surovikin claimed in televised remarks Wednesday that Ukraine was pressing its offensive in the southern Kherson region without regard for casualties.
Surovikin claimed that the Ukrainian military could unleash massive rocket and artillery barrages on the city of Kherson as well as striking a dam in Kakhovka.
Surovikin described the situation for the Russian troops in the region as “quite difficult.”
Russian war bloggers have interpreted Surovikin’s statement as a warning about a possible Russian troop pullback from Kherson.
Ukrainian forces have relentlessly struck two main crossings across the Dnieper, making them inoperable and raising supply challenges for the Russian troops in Kherson and other areas on the right bank of the river.
Russian-installed authorities in occupied Ukraine reportedly are sending text messages urging residents of the southern city of Kherson to evacuate, amid the approach of Ukrainian forces.
Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported Wednesday that one message said “there will be shelling of residential areas by the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” though there was no independent verification of that claim. The message promised “buses starting from 7 a.m. … to the left bank” of the Dnieper River, toward Russia.
Kherson, with a capital of the same name, is one of four regions illegally annexed by Russia last month. It was one of the first Ukrainian cities seized in Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.
The region’s Moscow-appointed head, Vladimir Saldo, said Tuesday that Russian troops are building “large-scale defensive fortifications.”
On Friday, too, Saldo had urged Kherson residents to evacuate to Russia. Russian authorities are promising free travel and accommodation to those who leave.
Russian-backed officials have said evacuations from occupied territories are voluntary. In many cases, the only route out is to Russia.
KYIV, Ukraine - Ukrainian officials said Wednesday that Russian shelling has killed at least six civilians and injured 16 over the previous 24 hours.
The Ukrainian president’s office said the Russian army attacked nine southeastern regions of Ukraine using drones, rockets and heavy artillery. It said the attacks focused on the destruction of energy facilities.
In Kryvyi Rih, there is no electricity in several districts of the city, several pumping stations of local water utilities have been cut off power, resulting in water shortages, according to a report by the president’s office.
Four cities were attacked around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Residential buildings in Nikopol, Marhanets, Chervonohryhorivka, located on the opposite bank of the Dnieper, were damaged.
The mayor of Enerhodar, Dmytro Orlov, said that as a result of the shelling in the city where the workers of the nuclear power plant live, electricity and water were partially lost.
Fighting for Bakhmut, in the eastern Donetsk region, is also continuing, with four cities along the front line under fire.
The Mykolaiv region was attacked by the Iranian kamikaze drones, of which The Ukrainian army shot down more than a dozen, preventing any damage.
KYIV, Ukraine - Russia’s military is pressing on with its strategy of targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, leaving people without power in scores of cities and towns as the war approaches its eight-month milestone.
Shelling overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning in Energodar, the closest city to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, knocked out the power and water supply in some of the city’s districts.
Early reports said the shelling damaged one of the city’s electrical substations, Energodar’s mayor Dmytro Orlov said.
Critical infrastructure was attacked with Russian S-300 missiles in the Zaporizhzhia region, according to Regional Governor Oleksandr Starukh.
Russian forces also heavily shelled two areas in the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, taking out the power supply in several towns and villages.
In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged people to use power sparingly.
“Anyone and everyone who follows this simple rule for peak hours is helping the entire country,” he said.
KYIV, Ukraine - Russian ground forces have conducted limited attacks in border areas in the northern Kharkiv region.
Ukrainian forces on Wednesday reported repelling the Russian offensives in small settlements about 50 kilometers outside the regional capital, Kharkiv, close to the Russian border.
The small-scale ground attacks suggest that Moscow may “retain territorial aspirations” in the Kharkiv region despite taking massive losses in Ukraine’s counteroffensive last month, according to analysts from the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.
“The nature of this limited incursion is unclear, but it may suggest that Russian troops are continuing offensive operations near the border,” the analysts said. “Considering the current, constantly degrading state of Russian offensive capabilities in Ukraine, Russian troops are very unlikely to make any gains in this area.”
KYIV, Ukraine - Ukrainian soldiers have shot down 13 Iranian-made drones over the southern Mykolaiv region.
That’s according to the Ukrainian Air Force, which said Russian forces launched attacks in two waves on Tuesday night.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Ukrainian soldiers who shot down some of the missiles and Iranian-made drones targeted to damage energy facilities.
Zelenskyy highlighted that the German IRIS-T system is already integrated into Ukrainian’s air defense system and “showed itself well” in fending off Russian attacks.
Gen. Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday that the situation in the southern Kherson region was “very difficult,” and that civilians from some areas should be evacuated ahead of an expected Ukrainian offensive.
Surovikin alleged that Ukraine planned to attack infrastructure, including a dam at a hydroelectric plant.
“Therefore, first of all, the Russian army will ensure the safe, already announced departure of the population under the relocation program being prepared by the Russian government,” Surovikin said.
As for the city of Kherson, he said, “I will say this again: It is already very difficult as of today.”
It was one of the clearest acknowledgments yet by Russia that it was evacuating civilians in occupied territories because of advancing Ukrainian troops. Kherson is one of four regions illegally annexed by Russia last month.
Regional head Vladimir Saldo said Tuesday that residents of Berislav, Belozersky, Snigiryovsky and Alexandrovsky were to be moved across the Dnipro River, away from Russian troops building “large-scale defensive fortifications.”
Saldo urged residents to stay calm and said they would “remain under the reliable protection of the Russian army.”
On Friday, too, Saldo had urged Kherson residents to evacuate to Russia. Russian authorities promised free travel and accommodations to those who left. Russian-backed officials have said evacuations from occupied territories are voluntary. In many cases, the only route out is to Russia.
Russian-installed officials in the southern region of Kherson, one of four regions that Moscow illegally annexed last month, announced Tuesday there would be an “organized transfer of civilians” out of four towns ahead of an expected Ukrainian offensive.
Regional head Vladimir Saldo urged calm and said the Kherson residents would “remain under the reliable protection of the Russian army.”
But he said the Russian army was building “large-scale defensive fortifications,” and cited particular danger from flooding from a dam release. Residents of Berislav, Belozersky, Snigiryovsky and Alexandrovsky were to be moved across the Dnieper River, away from the fighting, he said.
Ukrainians troops have been pushing deeper into Kherson, and on Friday, Saldo had urged residents to evacuate to Russia. Russian authorities have promised free travel and accommodations to those who left.
The evacuation was called “voluntary” but there was no option presented to evacuate to Ukrainian-held territory.
Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.