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Zelensky pleads with Ukrainians to preserve energy as power system crippled

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is seen on a screen while delivering a speech as a NATO meeting is held in Madrid, Spain, November 21, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed to the nation to preserve energy as winter is on the horizon and the country will be facing power cuts at least until the end of March.

Zelensky accused Russia of inflicting "systematic damage to our energy system" by targeting the country's power-generating facilities.

"The systematic damage to our energy system from strikes by the Russian terrorists is so considerable that all our people and businesses should be mindful and redistribute their consumption throughout the day," Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

He made the remarks as authorities said millions of people, including in the capital, Kiev, could face power cuts at least until the end of March.

Ukraine's national grid operator Ukrenergo said Russian missile strikes had wreaked "colossal" damage to power facilities. Ukrenergo's chief Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said on Tuesday that practically no thermal or hydroelectric stations had been left unscathed, though he denied there was a need to evacuate civilians. "We cannot generate as much energy as consumers can use," Kudrytskyi told a briefing.

Russia has previously denied the remarks made by Ukrainian authorities that it is targeting civilian infrastructure, saying its forces only target military-linked facilities.

Ukraine health system facing darkest days: WHO

In a related development, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday that Ukraine's health system was "facing its darkest days in the war so far."

WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said the county's health system had "endured more than 700 attacks" and had become a "victim of the energy crisis."

Ukraine has been at war with Russia since February 24, when Russian President Vladimir Putin declared what he called "a special military operation" against Ukraine. The Russian president said the offensive was meant to "de-Nazify" Ukraine.

Ukraine receives $2.57 billion in aid from EU

Ukraine on Tuesday received a new 2.5-billion-euro (2.57-billion-dollar) tranche of financial support from the European Union (EU), according to Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal expressed gratitude to EU leaders, saying in a message on Twitter that the assistance marked "another step of solidarity."

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