LVIV/KYIV – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy cautioned on Sunday that Russia was “planning new strikes” on his country, urging defense forces and citizens to be prepared to withstand a new week of strain on the power grid amid freezing temperatures.
Moscow has targeted vital infrastructure in recent weeks, sparking power outages and killing civilians. Strikes last Wednesday caused the worst damage so far in the nine-month conflict, leaving millions without light, water or heat as temperatures fell below 32 Fahrenheit.
“We understand that the terrorists are planning new strikes. We know this for a fact,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on Sunday. “And as long as they have missiles, they, unfortunately, will not calm down.”
The coming week could be as difficult as the previous one, he added.
There was no response from Moscow to Zelenskiy’s claims.
In Kyiv, snow fell and temperatures hovered around freezing on Sunday as millions in and around the Ukrainian capital struggled with disruptions to electricity supply and central heating caused by the waves of Russian air strikes.
City authorities said workers were close to completing restoration of power, water and heat, but high consumption levels meant some blackouts had been imposed.
The Kremlin last week denied its attacks on Ukraine’s electricity network were aimed at civilians, but said Kyiv could “end the suffering” of its population by meeting Russia’s demands to resolve the conflict.
Russia annexed swaths of Ukraine’s east and south in September and President Vladimir Putin said Moscow’s territorial demands are non-negotiable. After the annexation, Zelenskiy said he would not negotiate with Moscow and that Ukraine’s territorial integrity cannot be negotiated.
Sunday was relatively calm with no devastating attacks on Kyiv or other major cities. Ukraine’s central army command said Russian forces launched four missile attacks and fired multiple times on civilian objects in the Dnipropetrovsk region.
The situation, however, remained intense along front lines in various parts of Ukraine, particularly in the eastern Donetsk region, Zelenskiy said.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said in its daily update on Monday that Ukrainian forces had repelled Russian attacks in several areas, including Bakhmut and Avdiivka, in the Donetsk region over the past 24 hours.
Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said heavy fighting was also going on in the northeastern Kharkiv region, near areas recaptured by the Ukrainian army in September and October.