Ukrainian authorities are beginning to evacuate residents from recently liberated southern areas due to power and water cuts.
Ukrainian authorities have begun evacuate civilians from recently liberated parts of the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, fearing that a lack of heat, power and water due to Russian shelling will make conditions too unlivable this winter.
Authorities urged residents of the two southern regions, who have been shelled by Russian forces for months, to move to safer areas in the central and western parts of the country.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Monday that the government will provide transport, shelter and medical care for them, giving priority to women with children and the elderly.
The evacuations come more than a week after Ukraine recaptured the city of Kherson, on the west bank of the Dnieper River, and surrounding areas in a major battlefield victory.
Since then, heading into winter, residents and authorities have come to realize how much power and other infrastructure the Russians destroyed before retreating or had damaged in the past week.
Ukraine is known for its harsh winter weather and snow has already covered Kiev, the capital and other parts of the country.
Russia has been pounding Ukraine’s power grid and other infrastructure from the air for weeks, causing widespread blackouts and leaving millions of Ukrainians without electricity, heating and water.
According to Volodymyr Kudrytsky, head of Ukraine’s state-owned grid operator Ukrenergo, 15 of Ukraine’s 27 regions were scheduled to face power outages lasting four hours or more on Monday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says more than 50 percent of the country’s energy facilities have been damaged by Russian missile strikes.
No “security problems” in Zaporizhzhia
Meanwhile, the UN nuclear watchdog said there is no immediate nuclear safety or security concern at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, despite shelling over the weekend causing widespread damage.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has stationed four of its staff at Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, said on Sunday that there had been some of the heaviest shelling in recent months this weekend, though it added that important nuclear safety and security systems were not hit.
“She [IAEA experts] have been able to confirm that – despite the severity of the shelling – important equipment remained intact and that there were no immediate nuclear safety or security concerns,” the IAEA said in a statement on Monday.
“The status of the six reactor units is stable and the integrity of the spent fuel, fresh fuel and low, intermediate and high level radioactive waste in their respective storage facilities has been confirmed,” the IAEA said. “widespread damage across the site”.
That damage included “several impacts on the main road past the plant’s reactors,” shrapnel hitting a compressed air line, “minor visible damage to a sprinkler loading line,” and damage to the roof of what it called a dedicated auxiliary building.
“This is a major cause for concern, as it clearly demonstrates the sheer intensity of the attacks on one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants,” IAEA Chief Rafael Grossi said in the statement.
Grossi has been warning for months about the risk of a possible catastrophic accident as a result of the shelling and is urging a protection zone around the factory. The IAEA said it had “intensified its consultations on the protection zone” following this weekend’s shelling.