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Under Missile Strikes, Ukrainians Haul Water, While Surgeons Work in the Dark

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Kyiv, UKRAINE — In a crowded operating room, surgeons made a long incision down the middle of the child’s chest, cutting the sternum to widen the ribcage and reach the heart. Then the lights went out.

On Wednesday night, generators kicked in to keep life support running, and nurses and surgical assistants guided surgeons with flashlights over the operating table to save the child’s life in near-complete darkness. helped.

“So far we are on our own,” said Boris Todorov, director of the Heart Institute, a clinic in Kyiv. “But it’s getting harder every hour. We’ve had no water for hours. We continue to do emergency surgery only.”

In an increasingly devastating campaign to attack Ukrainian civilians by cutting off electricity and water supplies, Russia this week hit the Ukrainian populace with a wave of missile strikes, one of the most devastating in weeks. . Ukrainian technicians and paramedics worked frantically to restore services on Thursday in conditions of snow, freezing rain and power outages. And across the country, people have dealt with deprivation.

As surgeons wore headlamps to work in the dark, miners were pulled out from deep underground with manual winches. Residents of high-rise apartments carried buckets and bottles of water to climb the stairs of buildings where elevators had stopped, while shops and restaurants turned on generators and lit candles to continue business.

Ukrainians have rallied against Russia’s efforts to undermine their resolve in the worsening cold weather, but on Thursday night millions of thousands of At least 10 people died on Wednesday, according to Ukrainian officials. With each missile hit, repairs become more difficult, power outages last longer, and the danger to civilians increases.

Ukraine’s energy minister, Herman Garshchenko, admitted that “the situation is difficult across the country.” By 4 a.m., he said, engineers had “integrated the energy system” and were able to power critical infrastructure facilities.

Wednesday’s barrage, which injured dozens, appeared to be one of the most devastating attacks in weeks. Since his Oct. 8 explosion on the Kerch Strait Bridge, which links occupied Crimea with Russia, the Russian military has fired about 600 missiles at power plants, hydroelectric facilities, pumping and processing facilities, and surrounding high-voltage cables. fired. Ukrainian officials say nuclear power plants and critical substations power tens of millions of homes and businesses.

Wednesday’s strike shut down all Ukraine’s nuclear power plants for the first time, depriving the country of one of its most important sources of energy. But the energy minister said the authorities hoped the power plant would be up and running again soon, adding: “The deficit will be reduced.”

The Kremlin denied on Thursday that the attack had targeted civilians. According to Russia, spokesman Dmitri S. Peskov said, “We are talking about infrastructure targets directly or indirectly related to Ukraine’s military potential.” news agency.

He said that the Ukrainian leadership “has every chance to bring the situation back to normal, to settle the situation in a way that meets the demands of the Russian side, and thus to end the suffering in Ukraine.” added. peaceful population. ”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has rejected proposals for a ceasefire or peace talks at this point, saying that Moscow’s war objectives have not changed and that a moratorium on hostilities will give the Russian army time to regroup from its recent setback. He said he would just give.

In mid-October, President Vladimir V. Putin said attacks on nearly a dozen Ukrainian cities were in retaliation for the truck bombing of the Kerch Bridge, and since then Russian forces have increasingly targeted civilian infrastructure. rice field.

But the hail of missile attacks has hampered Russia’s sustained struggle on the battlefield as Russian ground forces withdrew from thousands of square miles of northeastern Ukraine in September and from major cities in the south in November. In an attempt to strengthen its front on the ground, including poorly trained and recently mobilized conscripts, the Russian military has used long-range missiles as a means of deflecting domestic criticism and inflicting pain in defense. relied on attacks.

Ukraine has responded to the strike with Western-supplied weapons and is asking for more help. Ukrainian air defenses shot down 51 of 67 Russian cruise missiles launched Wednesday and five of 10 drones, said Ukrainian military commander-in-chief General Valery Zaruzhny. Stated.

Mr Zelensky addressed an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday night, denouncing what he called a Russian terrorist operation.

“If a Russian missile strikes an energy facility resulting in freezing temperatures outside and tens of millions of people without access to electricity, heat and water, it is a clear crime against humanity.”

The Biden administration’s efforts to deplete Russia’s war funding will see whether his new appeal moves diplomats from the European Union to a final agreement to help limit Russia’s revenues from oil. It remained unknown on Thursday.

Officials from the 27 EU member states met late Wednesday night to determine the maximum price traders, shippers and other companies in the supply chain could pay for Russian oil sold outside the block. A decision could not be made. This policy must be implemented before the EU bans oil imports from Russia on December 5th.

The embargo only applies to the 27-country block. Therefore, to further limit Russia’s economic interests, the group wants to cap how much buyers outside the region pay for Russian oil. must be below the quoted price. Russia has repeatedly said it will ignore the policy, but analysts say it will be difficult to implement.

EU ambassadors have been asked to set prices between $65 and $70 per barrel and to be flexible in enforcing restrictions.

The Russian oil price benchmark, known as the Ural Blend, has traded between $60 and $100 a barrel over the past three years. Over the past three months, prices have hovered between $65 and $75 per barrel, suggesting that EU policies will do little to ease the global cost of living crisis anytime soon. increase.

As EU residents prepare for a winter of high energy prices and possible rationing, Ukrainians are increasingly suffering from prolonged power outages and water shortages as a direct result of the war. increase.

About one in four homes in Kyiv still had no electricity on Thursday afternoon, and more than half of the city’s residents had no running water, according to city officials. City officials said services were gradually being restored, adding they were confident the pumps supplying water to about 3 million residents would be restored by the end of the day.

But the blackout created a potentially dangerous situation across the country. The scenes in Kyiv’s hospitals mirror those in medical facilities around Ukraine, vividly demonstrating the chain of toll Russian attacks are inflicting on civilians far from the front lines.

Kirilo Tymoshenko, deputy director of the Ukrainian President’s Office, said at lights out that two kidney transplants had been performed at the Cherkasy Regional Cancer Center in central Ukraine. He said the generator was switched on and the transplant was successful.

Christopher Stokes, head of Ukraine’s Doctors Without Borders, said strikes on infrastructure “put millions of civilians at risk”. People who live without heat or clean water are more likely to need medical care, but it can become a vicious circle, making it even harder to provide.

“Energy cuts and water cuts will also affect people’s access to healthcare as hospitals and health centers struggle to run,” he said.

Mark Santora Kyiv, Ukraine, and Thomas Gibbons Neff When Natalia Yermak Originally from Dnipro, Ukraine.Report contributor Matina Stevis-Gridnev from Brussels, Jim Tankersley When Allan Lapeport from Washington and Alan Juhas from New York.

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