President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday that more than 1.5 million people in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa and the surrounding region had no electricity, and he described the situation as very difficult.
All non-critical infrastructure in Odesa was left without power after Russia used Iranian-made drones to hit two energy facilities, Ukrainian authorities said, adding it could take months to repair the damage.
“As of now, the city is without electricity,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential administration, said on messaging app Telegram.
Only critical infrastructure, including hospitals and maternity wards, had access to electricity.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to keep battering Ukraine’s energy grid despite an outcry against the attacks that have plunged millions into cold and darkness as temperatures dipped.
The regional administration said people who relied solely on electricity to power their homes should consider leaving.
Officials said Russian strikes hit key transmission lines and equipment in the early hours of Saturday.
“According to preliminary forecasts, it will take much more time to restore energy facilities in the Odesa region than after previous attacks,” the administration said.
“We are talking not about days, but even weeks and possibly even two to three months,” it said in a Facebook post.
Odesa, Ukraine’s largest port city, had a population of over 1 million before Russia’s February 24 invasion.
Kyiv says Russia has launched hundreds of Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones – rebranded as Geran-2 – at targets in Ukraine. Kyiv describes the attacks as war crimes due to their devastating effect on civilian life.
In a video address, Zelenskyy said there was a significant shortfall in the amount of power being generated.
Ukraine’s armed forces said on Facebook that 15 drones had been launched against targets in the southern regions of Odesa and Mykolaiv, and 10 had been shot down.
Tehran denies supplying drones to Moscow after the war began in late February.
Britain’s defence ministry said on Saturday that it believed Iran’s military support for Russia was likely to increase in the coming months, including possible deliveries of ballistic missiles.