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Live updates: Ukraine faces attacks and blackouts as Russia's war continues

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure were aimed at creating a new wave of refugees.

Making a video speech to the Council of Europe, Zelensky said, “The current Russian leadership has ordered to turn the energy system itself into a battlefield. The consequences of this are again very dangerous for all of us in Europe.”

“The attacks of Russian cruise missiles and Iranian attack aircraft destroyed more than a third of our energy infrastructure,” he said. “So, unfortunately, we can no longer export electricity to help you maintain stability.”

The devastating Russian attacks on energy infrastructure have caused the country to lose at least 40% of its power generation capacity. Ukrainian officials warned earlier this week that both emergency and planned power outages would occur.

Zelensky added: “Russia is also provoking a new wave of immigration of Ukrainians to EU countries. Russia’s terror against our power plants aims to create as many electricity and heat problems as possible in Ukraine this autumn and winter, and to send as many Ukrainians to your country as possible.”

Critical barrage mined: Zelensky also claimed that Russia was laying the groundwork for a major disaster in southern Ukraine, and that Russian forces had excavated a critical dam and adjacent hydroelectric power station on the Dnipro river in the southern Kherson region.

“We have information that Russian terrorists removed the dam and units of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station,” Zelensky told the Council of Europe in a video speech.

“The dam of this hydroelectric power station holds approximately 18 million cubic meters of water.

“If Russian terrorists blow up this dam, more than 80 settlements, including Kherson, will be in the zone of rapid flooding. Hundreds of thousands of people could be victims. The water supply to much of southern Ukraine could be destroyed. This Russian terrorist attack could leave the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant without water for cooling – water for the ZNPP is taken from the Kakhovka reservoir. “

A satellite image shows a view of the Kakhovka dam in Kherson, Ukraine, on the right and the surrounding area on October 18.

CNN reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense to respond to the allegations.

The dam and hydroelectric power station are operating at much lower capacity since the area was captured by Russian forces in March. Ukrainian forces are located about 40 kilometers (more than 24 miles) north of the dam. Over the past four months, they have launched several attacks on the bridge that forms part of the dam to prevent the dam from being used by the Russian army.

Separately, Mykhailo Podolyak, chief adviser to the Office of the President of Ukraine, said on Twitter on Thursday that Russia plans to mine the dam and transformers in the region to stop the Ukrainian counteroffensive, forcing the deportation of Ukrainian civilians from Kherson and flooding the land. The land to the south and east of the river is low.

“Russia is preparing for a man-made disaster,” Podolyak said.

What pro-Moscow officials say: Vladimir Leontiev, the Russian-appointed head of the Nova Kakhovka administrative district, told Russian state media TASS that there is no point in Russia demolishing the dam of the power station.

“What’s the point of Russia destroying it now? Even from an official point of view, this is nonsense. This is absolutely nonsense,” Leontiev said.

“First of all, you need to think about who will benefit from this: it is in Ukraine’s interest to destroy the dam, the hydroelectric power station, disrupt the logistics, sow fear and panic, stop the possibility of water supply. According to TASS, the North Crimean Canal reaches the Crimean lands.

Tetyana Safonova, 61, sits with her cat Asya while looking at her mobile phone during a power outage in Borodyanka, Ukraine, October 20, 2022.

Cars are moving on a dark road during energy saving on Thursday, October 20, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.