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Monday, May 20, 2024

Russia takes over Ukraine’s power grid in east

The Russian military has attacked power facilities in six regions with drones and missiles said the Ukrainian energy minister.

Russian missiles hit power facilities on Friday across Ukraine, where President Volodymyr Zelenskiy returned from a tour of Western capitals and Ukrainian officials said a long-awaited Russian offensive was underway in the east.

Ukraine’s armed forces said in an evening update that Russian forces fired more than 100 missiles throughout the country and staged 12 air and 20 shelling attacks. The Facebook post said 61 cruise missiles were destroyed.

Energy Minister German Galushchenko said Russia had hit power facilities in six regions with missiles and drones, causing blackouts across most of Ukraine.

In Washington, the White House said President Joe Biden would travel to Poland from Feb. 20-22 to show support for Kyiv ahead of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24 and make clear additional security assistance and aid will be coming from the United States.

“The president will make it very clear that the United States will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” said John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council.

International Monetary Fund staff will meet with Ukrainian officials in Warsaw next week, a source familiar with the plans said on Friday, as Ukraine presses for a multi-billion dollar borrowing program to cover its funding needs given Russia’s war.

Global ratings agency Moody’s on Friday downgraded Ukraine’s sovereign rating to Ca as it expects the war with Russia to create long-lasting challenges for the country. Moody’s website said the rating means debt obligations are “likely in, or very near, default.”

The latest Russian attacks came as Zelenskiy ended a tour of European allies where he was enthusiastically received but secured no public promises of the fighter jets he sought.

“London, Paris, Brussels – everywhere I spoke these past few days about how to strengthen our soldiers. There are very important understandings and we received good signals,” he said in his nightly video address.

“This concerns long-range missiles and tanks and the next level of our cooperation – fighter aircraft.”

Russia has repeatedly attacked civilian infrastructure far from the front lines, leaving millions of Ukrainians without power, heat or water for days at a time in the middle of winter.

The barrages have often followed Ukrainian diplomatic or battlefield advances.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said 10 Russian missiles had been shot down over the capital after sirens blared during the morning rush hour and weary civilians took shelter.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Ukraine was without 44% of nuclear generation and 75% of thermal power capacity.

Read more: US accuses Russia of violating treaty, Russia responds