Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the United Nations Security Council to act against Russia over air strikes on civilian infrastructure that again plunged Ukrainian cities into darkness and cold as winter sets in.
Russia unleashed a missile barrage across Ukraine on Wednesday, killing 10 people, forcing shutdowns of nuclear power plants and cutting water and electricity supply in many places.
"Today is just one day, but we have received 70 missiles. That's the Russian formula of terror. This is all against our energy infrastructure... Hospitals, schools, transport, residential districts all suffered," Zelenskiy said via video link to the council chamber.
Ukraine was waiting to see "a very firm reaction" to Wednesday's air strikes from the world, he added.
The council is unlikely to take any action in response to the appeal since Russia is a member with veto power.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russian President Vladimir Putin was "clearly weaponising winter to inflict immense suffering on the Ukrainian people."
The Russian president "will try to freeze the country into submission," she added.
Russia's U.N. ambassador Vasily Nebenzya responded by complaining that it was against council rules for Zelenskiy to appear via video, and rejected what he called "reckless threats and ultimatums" by Ukraine and its supporters in the West.
Nebenzya said damage to Ukraine's infrastructure was caused by missiles fired by Ukrainian air defence systems that crashed into civilian areas after being fired at Russia's missiles, and called on the West to stop providing Kyiv with air defence missiles.
The capital city of Kyiv was one of the main targets on Wednesday of the missile strikes. "Today we had three hits on high-rise apartment buildings. Unfortunately 10 people died," said Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky. Reuters was unable to independently verify the report.
Explosions reverberated throughout Kyiv as Russian missiles bore down and Ukrainian air defence rockets were fired in efforts to intercept them. Air raid sirens also blared across the country in a nationwide alert.
"Our little one was sleeping. Two years old. She was sleeping, she got covered. She is alive, thanks be to God," said a man who gave his name as Fyodr, walking away from a smouldering apartment building that was hit in Kyiv, dragging a suitcase.
All of the Kyiv region, where over 3 million people live, lost electricity and running water, Kyiv's governor said. Much of Ukraine suffered similar problems and some regions implemented emergency blackouts to help conserve energy and carry out repairs.
Early on Thursday, Zelenskiy said power and other services were being reconnected in more areas. "Energy specialists, municipal workers, emergency crews are working around the clock," he said in a video address.
In the Lviv region in the country's west, 90% of electricity was restored while in Odesa on the Crimean Peninsula, water and heat were fully reinstated, though only 10% of people had power again, Zelenskiy said.
Other regions were in varying stages of recovery. Only about 20% of electricity users in the Kyiv region were back online. "In Kyiv, the situation is very difficult," the president said. "We expect a result...before lunch."
Since October, Russia has acknowledged targeting Ukraine's civilian energy grid far from front lines as a Ukrainian counter-offensive has recaptured territory from Russian occupiers in the east and south.
Moscow says the aim of its missile strikes is to weaken Ukraine's ability to fight and push it to negotiate. Kyiv says the attacks on infrastructure amount to war crimes, deliberately intended to harm civilians and to break the national will.
That will not happen, Zelenskiy vowed in an earlier video address posted on the Telegram messaging app.
"We'll renew everything and get through all of this because we are an unbreakable people," he said.
With the first snow of Ukraine's generally frigid winter falling, authorities worry about the impact of power cuts on millions of people.
Zelenskiy on Tuesday announced special "invincibility centres" would provide citizens with electricity, heat, water, internet, mobile phone links and a pharmacy, free of charge and around the clock. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential administration, said on the Telegram messaging app that 2,750 of the centres were in operation on Wednesday night.
In addition, Europe's biggest cities will donate power generators and transformers.
A series of Russian battlefield setbacks in the east and south included a retreat earlier this month from the key southern city of Kherson.
Ground battles continue to rage in the east, where Russia is pressing an offensive along a stretch of front line west of the city of Donetsk, which has been held by its proxies since 2014.
Moscow says it is carrying out a "special military operation" to protect Russian speakers in what Putin calls an artificial state carved from Russia. Ukraine and the West call the invasion an unprovoked land grab.
Western responses have included billions of dollars worth of financial aid and state-of-the-art military hardware for Kyiv and waves of punitive sanctions on Russia.
** Germany was initially in favor of Ukraine being quickly overrun by Russia rather than putting up a long fight, due to economic concerns, former British prime minister Boris Johnson claimed on Monday.
Speaking to CNN Portugal, Johnson noted that before Moscow launched its military operation in late February, several Western nations had “very different perspectives” on the brewing conflict.
According to the former prime minister, “the German view was at one stage that if it were going to happen, which would be a disaster, then it would be better for the whole thing to be over quickly, and for Ukraine to fold.” He added that this attitude was supported by “all sorts of sound economic reasons”.
Johnson went on to say that the French leadership was “in denial right up until the last moment” on Russia’s plans to send troops into Ukraine, while the Italian authorities were “simply saying that they would be unable to support” the position embraced by other Western countries, given their “massive” dependence on Russian energy.
Russia has no doubt that there will be a successful outcome of its special military operation in Ukraine, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday.
The Kremlin spokesman was asked by reporters whether he agreed that the future of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) depends on the success of the Russian special operation in Ukraine.
"We can agree with this with the reservation that the future and the success of the special operation are not in doubt," he said.
** Russia will continue actions to impair Ukraine’s military potential until Kiev takes a realistic position at talks, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya said on Wednesday.
According to the Russian diplomat, Russian forces are targeting "Ukraine’s infrastructure facilities in response to flooding that country with Western weapons and the reckless calls on Kiev to defeat Russia."
"One of the goals of the special military operation is to undermine the Ukrainian army’s combat capabilities. And it will be attained to military means until the Kiev regime takes a realistic position, which will make it possible to discuss and try to settle those problems, which have prompted us to launch the special military operation," he said at a UN Security Council meeting.
"So far, what we hear from Zelensky and his allies cannot be interpreted as readiness for peace but is rather a language of reckless threats and ultimatums. Kiev’s Western sponsors only encourage such an irresponsible course, since they are interested in a war on the Ukrainian territory until the last Ukrainian as it makes its possible for their defense sector to derive colossal profit and test NATO weapons," Nebenzya said. "This way, Western countries are seeking to establish their geopolitical hegemony at the expense of the lives ordinary Ukrainians."
On October 4, Zelensky endorsed Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council resolution on the impossibility of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. On October 31, the Russian leader said that he saw no possibility of discussing any agreements with Ukraine as long as it shows no willingness to do that. However, Putin stressed, Moscow’s good will for talks is unchanged.
On February 24, Putin launched a special military operation in Ukraine in response to a request for help from the heads of the Donbass republics. After that, the West imposed sweeping sanctions against Russia and beefed up arms supplies to the Kiev regime worth tens of billions of dollars.
** Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday that contrary to the expectations of "enemies," Russia has sufficient inventories of weapons to continue strikes.
"Enemies continue to carefully count our launches and our stockpiles. They should know better than to hope for a depletion of our resources," he said on Telegram on Wednesday. "To be continued. There’s enough for everyone!"
Medvedev said he had traveled to the state-owned company Region where he discussed "a ramping up of supplies of high-precision weapons to the Russian armed forces." The official also posted a video filmed inside the workshops that shows bombs and torpedoes.
The company, which was established in 1969, is one of Russia’s largest developers of torpedoes and bombs.