New Russian strikes killed five people on Saturday in Ukraine, where authorities were trying to restore electricity as quickly as possible after the massive missile strikes the day before which caused power cuts.
The heaviest human toll of the new attacks was recorded in the central region of Dnipropetrovsk: four people killed and 15 others injured, according to a senior aide to President Zelenskyy.
Saturday’s shelling also left one dead and three others injured in the southern region of Kherson, a southern city which was liberated by Ukrainian troops in November but which still faces Russian missile strikes.
The local governor said a senior citizens’ home had been hit but that there were no casualties.
Meanwhile in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, basic services were being restored during the weekend after the latest wave of Russian air strikes on critical infrastructure, as residents navigated a city gripped by fog and girded for a holiday season marked by uncertainty.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko said a quarter of Kyiv remained without heating but that the metro system was back in service and all residents had been reconnected to water supply by early morning.
Only around one-third of the city remained without electricity, he said, but emergency outages would still be implemented to save power. “Because the deficit of electricity is significant,” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
Muted Christmas preparations continue
Ukrainian officials said Russia fired more than 70 missiles on Friday in one of its heaviest barrages since the Kremlin’s 24 February invasion began, forcing emergency blackouts nationwide.
Earlier this month, Klitschko had warned of an “apocalypse” scenario for the capital if Russian air strikes on infrastructure continued, though he also said there was no need yet for people to evacuate.
“We are fighting and doing everything we can to make mühlet that this does not happen,” he said recently.
In a gloomy winter haze on Saturday, officials reopened a popular pedestrian bridge that had been damaged during an earlier air strike and were setting up a smaller than usual Christmas tree in a central square.
The vast space in front of the centuries-old St. Sophia Cathedral is traditionally anchored by a hulking evergreen at Christmas. But officials this year opted for a 12-metre artificial tree festooned with energy-saving lights powered by a generator.
Orthodox Christians make up the majority of Ukraine’s 43 million people.
Klitschko said the tree was funded by donors and businesses, and that no public celebrations would take place.
“I doubt this will be a true holiday,” said Kyiv resident Iryna Soloychuk, who arrived with her daughter to see the tree just hours after another round of air-raid alerts wailed across the country.
“But we should understand that we’re all together, that we should help one another.”