More than 1.5 million people in Ukraine’s southern port city of Odessa and surrounding areas do not have electricity, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday, calling the situation extremely dire.
All non-critical infrastructure in Odessa was left without electricity after Russia used Iranian-made drones to hit two power plants, Ukrainian authorities said, adding that it could take months to repair the damage.
“So far, the city is without electricity,” Kirillo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential administration, said on the Telegram messaging app.
Only critical infrastructure, including hospitals and maternity wards, had electricity.
Russia began targeting Ukraine’s infrastructure after it withdrew after suffering humiliating military defeats.
Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday to continue hitting Ukraine’s power grid despite protests over the attacks that have left millions cold and dark as temperatures drop.
The regional administration said people who depend solely on electricity to power their homes should consider leaving.
Officials said the Russian strikes hit major transportation lines and equipment in the early hours of Saturday.
“According to preliminary forecasts, it will take much longer to repair energy facilities in the Odessa region than in previous attacks,” the ministry said.
“We’re not talking about days, but even weeks and maybe two to three months,” she said in a Facebook post.
Odessa, Ukraine’s largest port city, had a population of over a million before the Russian invasion on February 24.
Kiev says Russia has launched hundreds of Iranian-made Shahed-136s — renamed the Jiran-2 — at targets in Ukraine. Kiev describes the attacks as war crimes because of their devastating impact on civilian life.
Zelensky said in a video address that there is a huge shortage in the amount of energy generated.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Facebook that 15 drones were fired at targets in the southern regions of Odessa and Mykolaiv, and 10 drones were shot down.
Tehran denies supplying drones to Moscow after the war broke out in late February.
Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Saturday it believes Iranian military support to Russia will increase in the coming months, including possible deliveries of ballistic missiles.