Odesa, a port city in southern Ukraine, was attacked by Russian drones in the early hours of Saturday morning, leaving the city and its surroundings without power, according to local officials.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine stated that approximately 1.5 million people lacked electricity, and regional officials urged residents whose homes rely solely on electricity to evacuate.
In a Facebook post, they stated, "We are not talking about days" for the repairs to be made and the power to be restored, but weeks and possibly two to three months.
According to a Facebook post by the Ukrainian armed forces, fifteen drones were launched at Odesa and the surrounding area, and ten were destroyed. According to Reuters, the prosecutor general's office of Ukraine stated that the ones that made it through hit two power plants. The prosecutor's office noted that the drones were Shahed-136 drones manufactured in Iran.
Mayor of Odessa Gennadiy Trukhanov wrote on Facebook: "Due to the magnitude of the damage, all users in Odessa have been cut off from the power grid, with the exception of essential infrastructure."
On Friday and Saturday, the Ukrainian military General Staff reported approximately twenty airstrikes and over sixty rocket attacks across the country.
Oleksandr Shtupun, the spokesman for the General Staff, stated that more than twenty populated areas came under fire in the Bakhmut district, the site of the most intense fighting.
President Zelenskyy stated that the situation in several frontline cities in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk provinces "remains extremely difficult."
"Bakhmut, Soledar, Maryinka, Kreminna. There has been no habitable land in these areas that has not been destroyed by shelling and fire for a long time "In his nightly video address on Friday, Zelenskyy listed the hardest-hit cities.
According to The Associated Press, if Russian forces capture Bakhmut, they could cut Ukraine's supply lines and open a route to Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, two key Ukrainian strongholds in Donetsk. Russia has bombarded Bakhmut with rockets for more than half the year, and after Ukraine expelled them from Luhansk in July, moved troops there for a ground assault.
Moscow possesses "Bakhmut was another Donbas city that the Russian army burned to the ground, Zelenskyy said in his Friday evening address.
Moscow has been targeting Ukraine's power grid since October. Friday, Kyiv acknowledged that every thermal and hydroelectric power plant in the country had sustained damage.
Zelenskyy describes the attacks as war crimes against civilians, whereas Moscow asserts that they are legitimate from a military standpoint.
Ihor Klymenko, the head of the Ukrainian National Police, stated on Saturday that 47 thousand Russian war crimes had been documented in Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24. The number includes civilian torture, rape, and murder.
Saturday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated at an event in Potsdam, near Berlin, that Russian President Vladimir Putin is determined to conquer parts of Ukraine and is brutal without restraint. However, he added, it is still essential to maintain an open line of communication if an opportunity to end the war presents itself.
"We hold completely opposing viewpoints. Nonetheless, I will continue speaking with him because I want to experience the moment when we can escape this situation. And that cannot be achieved without communication "He stated, as reported by Reuters.
Scholz stated, "We have witnessed the brutality the Russian president is capable of." "In Chechnya, he essentially destroyed the entire nation. Alternatively, in Syria. There is no restriction there, it's that simple."
Scholz defended his government's plan to increase defense spending to the NATO target of 2% of gross domestic product. He stated that NATO nations must be so formidable that no one would dare attack them.
Russia-Iran military alliance
Iran has become one of Russia's leading military backers since the invasion of Ukraine, according to a Saturday tweet from the British Defense Ministry.
The ministry stated that Iran's support for Russia is likely to increase because "Russia is attempting to acquire more weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles. In exchange, Russia is likely to provide Iran with an unprecedented level of military and technical assistance, transforming their relationship."
Russian SS-26 Islander short-range ballistic missiles, which can carry a 500-kilogram warhead up to 500 kilometers, have likely been depleted, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. If Russia is successful in deploying a large number of Iranian ballistic missiles, it will likely use them to continue and expand its campaign of attacks against Ukraine's critical national infrastructure.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council of the White House, stated on Friday that the administration was gravely concerned about the "deepening and burgeoning defense partnership" between Iran and Russia and that the United States would use its tools to disrupt this partnership.
U.S. aid to Ukraine
According to a memo released by the White House on Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden authorized a new round of $275 million in military aid for Ukraine, including new capabilities to combat drones and bolster air defenses.
According to the memo, the shipment also includes rockets for High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers manufactured by Lockheed Martin, 80,000 155 mm artillery rounds, Humvee military vehicles, and approximately 150 generators.