As Russian strikes jeopardize energy grid, Ukraine tells refugees not to return this winter


Ukraine has asked refugees who fled the country as a result of The invasion of Russia not to return home this winter, after Russian drone and missile strikes threatened to overwhelm the country’s fragile electricity grid.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk advised Ukrainians in a video message on Tuesday “not to come back for now”.

“We have to survive this winter. (If people come back) the power grid could go down,” she said.

The warning comes later weeks of strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructurewhich caused power outages throughout the country and threatened a difficult situation Winter for those who still live there.

Russian missiles and Iranian-made drones have “destroyed more than a third” of Ukraine’s energy sector, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday at an international conference on Ukraine’s reconstruction.

“You see what Russia is doing. Everyone sees that,” Vereshchuk said. “Coming back now means exposing yourself, your children, your vulnerable loved ones to this.”

About 7.7 million people have fled Ukraine since the start of the war, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Most have resettled elsewhere in Europe, with Poland and Germany each recording the arrival of more than a million refugees.

Vereshchuk hinted that they might be welcome once the winter is over. “In the spring, I would really like us to work together to rebuild our Kharkiv region, the Kherson region and the rest of our cities and settlements here in Ukraine,” she said.

Vereshchuk added that she understands the situation could get worse, but no matter what, “we survive this winter and then we think about everything else.”

Power plants and other key sites have been the target of Russian airstrikes in recent weeks, which Moscow launched after seeing Kyiv forces regain ground in the northeast and south, bringing back the momentum of the ground war on Ukraine.

Addressing the Berlin meeting via video link, Zelensky said the attacks were intended to make it “more difficult for us to endure this winter”.

Speaking at the conference, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the strikes “pure acts of terror”.

Moscow was “deliberately carrying out targeted attacks against civilian infrastructure, with a very clear objective: to cut off men, women and children from water, electricity and heating as winter approaches”, it said. she declared. “These are pure acts of terror. Russia is trying to cripple Ukraine, but we won’t let that happen.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has called for a “new Marshall Plan” to rebuild Ukraine, aimed at planning and funding the post-war reconstruction effort.

“We don’t know when this war will end. But it will end,” Scholz said, adding that helping Ukraine recover would be “a challenge for generations” and would require “the combined strength of the entire international community.”

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