Zelensky tells Ukrainians to brace for ‘enemy’ Putin’s winter attacks

Volodymyr Zelensky has warned Ukrainians to prepare for an increase in Russian attacks on the country’s infrastructure.

The war-time president said his country could suffer attacks similar to the ones carried out by Vladimir Putin’s troops last year.

About 10 months into Russia’s invasion, a string of attacks were carried out on power stations and other plants linked to the energy network, prompting rolling blackouts in widely separated regions.

“We are almost halfway through November and we must be prepared for the possibility that the enemy may increase the number of drone or missile strikes against our infrastructure. Russia is preparing for winter,” the Ukrainian president said in his nightly address on Sunday.

“And in Ukraine, all our attention should be focused on defence, on response to terrorists, on everything Ukraine can do to make it easier for our people to get through this winter and to increase the capabilities of our troops.”

The warning comes shortly after Russian forces attacked Kyiv in the first missile attack on the capital in nearly seven weeks.

Strong explosions were heard, said Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko, adding that air defence systems were able to intercept the missiles, according to preliminary information. No casualties were reported.

Russian strikes during last year’s winter offensive had left millions with no water and electricity in sub-zero temperatures. Moscow has already struck Ukrainian infrastructure 60 times in recent weeks, said Ukrainian officials.

Energy minister German Galushchenko on Saturday, however, said Ukraine will have enough energy resources to get through winter.

“The question is how much future attacks can affect supplies,” he said.

Mr Zelensky also praised “heroic” efforts of troops defending Avdiivka, under pressure from attempted Russian advances since mid-October. The fighting has reduced much of the coking plant hub to a ghost town.

While the attacks on Avdiivka slowed down in the past day, they are likely to intensify in the coming days, a military spokesperson said.

“The enemy suffered significant losses the day before yesterday and has to regroup,” Oleksandr Shtupun, spokesperson for the southern group of forces, told national television. The number of infantry attacks were half of levels seen earlier in the week, he said.

Moscow’s forces were “more active in the Bakhmut sector and trying to recover lost positions”, said General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the head of Ukraine’s ground forces.

Russian accounts of the fighting on Sunday said its forces had repelled five Ukrainian attacks near Bakhmut.