Russia’s drone strikes have left the Ukrainian port of Odessa in the dark, officials say — as one prominent Russian blogger asserted some military officers are fuming over President Vladimir Putin’s lousy war execution.
About 1.5 million people in Odessa had no electricity after Iranian-made drones hit two energy facilities, knocking out power to all non-critical infrastructure. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged the situation in the region was “very difficult.”
“Unfortunately, the hits were critical, so it takes more than just time to restore electricity… It doesn’t take hours, but a few days, unfortunately,” Zelensky said Saturday in his nightly address.
The latest power outage comes as Russia, since October, has increasingly targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with missiles and drones.
A spokesperson for Odessa’s regional administration said the lights would be back on “in the coming days,” though complete restoration could take two or three months.
The spokesperson, Serhiy Bratchuk, said an earlier Facebook post – now deleted — from the region’s administration advising some people to evacuate was being investigated by Ukrainian security services as “an element of hybrid war” by Russia.
“Not a single representative of the authorities in the region made any calls for the evacuation of the inhabitants of Odessa and the region,” Bratchuk said.
Kyiv has slammed Russia for launching hundreds of Iranian-supplied drones in Ukraine, calling them war crimes because of the way civilians have been affected. Russia claims its attacks do not target civilians.
Tehran has also denied supplying drones to Moscow, which Kyiv and Western allies assert is a lie.
As the fighting rages on, some Russian officers involved in the war are unhappy with military leaders and Putin, a Russian blogger said after he made a trip to the conflict zone.
Igor Girkin, a nationalist and ex-Federal Security Service officer, said there is some discontent with the top brass.
Girkin, who helped Russia annex Crimea in 2014, said “the fish’s head is completely rotten” and that the Russian military needed an overhaul with the addition of competent people who could lead a winning military campaign.
He also claimed some military mid-levels were candid about their disdain for Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu — and even Putin.
“It is not just me… people are not blind and deaf at all: people at the mid-level there do not even hide their views which, how do I put it, are not fully complimentary about the president or the defense minister,” Girkin said in a scathing 90-minute video.
The US on Nov. 9 estimated Russia and Ukraine each had more than 100,000 soldiers killed or injured in the conflict that began in February.
On Sunday, the body of one Russian fighter killed in the war was returned to his native Zambia. The remains of Lemekani Nyirenda, who was studying nuclear engineering in Russia before joining the military, arrived at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka.
Lemekani, 23, was convicted of drug trafficking in April 2020 and given a harsh nine-year prison sentence before he was pardoned through special amnesty on the condition he fight for Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.
Zambia’s government wants more answers from Russian authorities about Lemekani’s death.
“We were told that on August 23 he was conditionally pardoned and was allowed to participate in a special military operation in which he was killed in September,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Stanley Kakubo said in a statement. “We then demanded that officials provide details, not just of his recruitment.”
With Post wires