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Zelenskiy warns of further attacks after massive Russian strikes targeting energy infrastructure

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. (The Presidential Office of Ukraine)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned of the possibility of “new terrorist attacks” by Russian forces following Russia’s recent strikes targeting energy infrastructure around the country.

Speaking during his nightly address to the nation on February 12, Zelenskiy said power workers had repaired much of the damage caused by Russian drone and missile strikes on February 10.

However, he added: “This is not yet a decisive victory on the energy front. Unfortunately, there may be new terrorist attacks from Russia” that could leave people without utilities during cold winter weather.

Russia has carried out repeated waves of attacks on Ukrainian energy and other utilities facilities in recent months in what critics have said is an attempt to demoralize civilians during winter by leaving them without light, heating, and water.

The February 10 strikes, which hit power facilities in six of Ukraine’s regions, came as Zelenskiy returned from a tour of Western European capitals in which he lobbied for more weaponry to help defend the country from the invasion launched by Russia nearly a year ago.

During his visits to London, Paris, and Brussels, Zelenskiy called for advanced weaponry, including longer-range missiles, fighter jets, and more tanks amid expectations of a new Russian offensive.

Intense fighting continues in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where Russian forces have been in engaged in a major push to take the strategic Donetsk region city of Bakhmut.

On February 12, Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed the private mercenary group had taken a village on the outskirts of Bakhmut and has vowed to take the city located along important highway routes.

February 24 will mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, which initially resulted in the occupation of large swathes of Ukrainian territory.

A Ukrainian counteroffensive in the fall saw Ukrainian forces recapture some occupied territory in the Donbas, a territory that is composed of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Russia has since been using Wagner and military troops in an effort to retake the entire territory.

Ukrainian officials expect a broad Russian offensive, which many observers believe has already begun, to focus on the Donbas, the Kharkiv region in Ukraine’s northeast, and the southeastern Zaporizhzhya region.

Kyiv maintains that Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes to take advantage of the new offensive to highlight battlefield success when he makes his state of the nation address on February 21, days before the anniversary of the invasion.

Russian forces had suffered more than 820 casualties per day over the past two weeks, according to the Ukrainian military, leading British intelligence to say the Russian military is suffering the greatest battlefield losses since the start of the war.

Much of the focus is on the well-fortified towns of Bakhmut and Vuhledar in the Donetsk region, where Russian forces are believed to have suffered major losses.

In the Luhansk region, Russian forces have targeted the towns of Bilohorivka and Kreminna near the territory’s western border with the Donetsk region.

On February 13, the Ukrainian military said it had repelled Russian attacks on Bakhmut, Bilohorivka, and Kreminna, and in the Zaporizhzhya region.

A statement by the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed forces said that Russian forces had launched four missile strikes and fired 85 rounds from multiple-rocket launchers over the previous 24 hours.