New York, 23 NOVEMBER 2022
Relentless, widespread attacks against civilians and critical infrastructure are continuing across Ukraine, with devastating consequences.
Overnight, a new wave of missile and drone strikes terrorized the people of Kyiv, Odesa, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, and Zaporizhzhia.
As Ukrainians desperately sought shelter from the bombing, they also had to contend with freezing temperatures. Indeed, these latest attacks renew fears that this winter will be catastrophic for millions of Ukrainians, who face the prospect of months of frigid weather with no heating, electricity, water, or other basic utilities.
According to initial media reports quoting local authorities, the strikes today killed or injured over 30 civilians as residential buildings were hit in Kyiv and in Chabany and Vyshhorod towns in the outskirts of the capital.
We have also seen reports of an overnight strike on a maternity hospital in the town of Vilnyansk in Zaporizhzhia region. A two-day-old baby was reportedly killed in that attack.
Even before the latest strikes, Ukrainian officials state that there were practically no large thermal or hydroelectric power plants left intact in Ukraine. Today’s barrage is likely to make the situation even worse.
Emergency shutdowns were introduced today in all regions of Ukraine, and regions like Lviv, Zaporizhzhia, Odesa and Chernihiv were reportedly completely disconnected from electricity.
In Kyiv, Darnyts’ka Thermal Power Plant was hit. All of Kyiv region was reportedly deprived of electricity and the approximately three million people of the capital were left without running water.
The Ladyzhyn Power Plant in Vinnytsia region also was hit.
Russian strikes also damaged energy infrastructure in Kremenchuk, Lviv and Odesa. Reports note that Odesa has no electricity nor running water.
Three nuclear power plants still operating – Rivne, South Ukraine, and Khmelnytskyi – were reportedly disconnected from Ukraine’s energy grid as a result of today’s attacks.
People in neighbouring Moldova are also likely to suffer consequences. Today’s strikes reportedly resulted in a blackout across Moldova – a country that is already suffering an energy shortage due to the war.
The World Health Organization warned this week of a ‘Life-Threatening’ Winter in Ukraine. We must ensure that the most vulnerable people in Ukraine are adequately protected and able to cope with the months ahead.
Humanitarian actors in Ukraine are working to support people facing the challenges imposed by the energy shortage. Over the past weeks, more than 430,000 people have received some sort of direct winter assistance, and nearly 400 generators have been distributed to ensure energy in hospitals, schools, and other critical facilities.
I will say it once again:, attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited under international humanitarian law. So are attacks against military objectives that may be expected to cause harm to civilians that would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.
The United Nations strongly condemns these attacks and demands that the Russian Federation immediately cease these actions. There must be accountability for any violations of the laws of war.
We also remain deeply concerned about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe.
The reported shelling at the plant over the weekend is reckless and deplorable.
The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed on Monday that – despite the severity of the shelling – key equipment remained intact and there were no immediate nuclear safety or security concerns.
This is the result of sheer luck. We do not know how long this luck will last. The world cannot afford another nuclear catastrophe.
Underscoring the risks of these attacks, just a couple of hours ago the IAEA reported that the plant has lost external electricity access and is relying on diesel generators to power cooling and essential nuclear safety functions. All military activities at, and around, the plant must cease immediately.
Amid the dark news of today, I want to mention a positive development. The parties today reported yet another prisoner exchange. Thirty-five Russian, and thirty-six Ukrainian prisoners were released.
We strongly encourage the parties to continue these releases and to ensure that they fulfill their obligations under international law, in particular, the third Geneva Convention.
The temperature in Kyiv right now is said to be -1 Celsius, with snow forecast.
The weather we have been both preparing for, and dreading, is now upon the people of Ukraine.
We must all work together to prevent a man-made humanitarian catastrophe this winter. The resulting shocks would exact a heavy price not only on Ukrainians, but on us all.
Immediate de-escalation is needed. We reiterate our call to all Member States and international organizations to support efforts to this end, with respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.
The United Nations will continue to do its part on the ground and remains ready to support all efforts towards peace – in line with the UN Charter and international law.