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Ukraine war latest: Millions still without electricity after Russia's Nov. 23 mass strikes
Key developments on Nov. 24:
- Largest steel company suspends operation in Ukraine due to power outages.
- Ukrainian nuclear power plants begin resuming operations after Russia's Nov. 23 strikes.
- Russia attacks liberated Kherson Oblast almost every hour, says Zelensky.
- Ukraine brings back 50 prisoners of war from Russian captivity.
Power supply has been restored for up to 50% of consumers as of 7 p.m. on Nov. 24, a day after Russia's latest mass missile strike on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, state grid operator Ukrenergo reported.
"The consequences of yesterday's missile attack are felt by all regions of Ukraine. It is impossible to tell any terms of full recovery now," Ukrenergo said.
However, a "significant part" of thermal power plants and hydroelectric power plants are already operating, the company added.
Ukraine's nuclear energy company Energoatom reported that soft launch operations are being carried out at power units of three Ukrainian-controlled nuclear power plants – Rivne, South Ukraine, and Khmelnytskyi. The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant received power for its in-house needs, according to Energoatom.
"During the day, if the power system is ready, the units of these power plants will be connected to the power grid, and the supply of electricity for the needs of our citizens and the country's economy will be restored," the company said in a statement.
Khmelnytskyi Oblast Governor Serhii Hamalii said on Nov. 24 that the first reactor of the Khmelnytskyi plant has already been reconnected to Ukraine's power grid.
According to Deputy Head of the President's Office Kyrylo Tymoshenko, as of the afternoon of Nov. 24, all Ukrainian regions have been reconnected to electricity. Critical infrastructure sites are getting reconnected first. Restoring the power supply to households and businesses will take more time.
In Kyiv, 70% of consumers remained without power supply as of the early morning, Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported, adding that utility service employees "worked all night to restore the life support of the capital."
At the same time, the water supply has been restored everywhere in the city. Some consumers are still experiencing low water pressure in their households as it will take some time for the supply system to resume work at full capacity, Klitschko said.
Russia's mass strikes also caused most trains in Ukraine to run late for more than an hour because of power outages.
State railway operator Ukrzaliznytsia said on some routes, the delay reaches 10-13 hours. Emergency hubs with hot food and drinks, chargers, and areas for children have been set up at railway stations, the operator added.
The largest steel company, ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih, announced it had suspended operation in Ukraine due to power outages.
"The available amount of electricity is insufficient to support production even at 20% capacity level," the company said.
The company plans to return to normal operation immediately after the renewal of the energy supply.
Russia launched a mass missile strike on Ukraine on Nov. 23, killing civilians and damaging infrastructure across the country.
In Vyshhorod, Kyiv Oblast, Russia destroyed an apartment building, and the death toll reached six people, Kyiv Oblast Police Chief Andrii Nebytov said.
Thirty-six people were injured in Kyiv Oblast alone, Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said. The total number of wounded across the country is yet to be announced.
The attack also caused emergency blackouts in all Ukrainian regions and parts of neighboring Moldova. It was Russia's fifth large-scale air strike targeting Ukraine's energy infrastructure. The previous ones took place on Oct. 10, Oct. 17, Oct. 31, and Nov. 15.
Ukrainian Intelligence believes that Russian troops will continue to launch large-scale missile strikes on Ukraine in the future.
"But they need about a week to get ready for the next one," Andrii Yusov, a spokesman of the Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate, said on Nov. 24.
Russian reserves of high-precision weapons are exhausted, but the country still has many less accurate missiles left, according to Yusov.
He added that the frontline cities such as Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, and Kherson are primarily at risk because Russian S-300 missiles can still reach them.
Kherson under fire
President Volodymyr Zelensky said he receives reports on Russian attacks on liberated southern Kherson Oblast "almost every hour."
"Such terror began immediately after the Russian army was forced to flee from Kherson Oblast. This is the revenge of the losers," he said in his evening address on Nov. 24.
"Only the liberation of our land and reliable security guarantees for Ukraine can protect our people from any Russian escalations. We work with partners every day for this."
Zelensky added that soon there would be some "important news" without specifying the details.
Russian troops shelled the liberated southern city of Kherson 17 times on Nov. 24, leaving one civilian injured, Halyna Luhova, head of Kherson City Council, reported.
In the last four days, Russian forces shelled the city 62 times, according to Luhova.
Russian troops have repeatedly shelled the city on Nov. 21-22, targeting civilian infrastructure, according to the reports of local officials. The Kyiv Independent journalists on the ground confirmed hearing frequent sounds of shelling in the city.
Ukraine's Armed Forces liberated Kherson on Nov. 11 after eight months of Russian occupation.
On Nov. 24, Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin reported that Ukrainian authorities discovered nine torture chambers in liberated Kherson Oblast, as well as the bodies of 432 civilians killed during the Russian occupation.
Twelve prosecutorial groups are now working in Kherson Oblast to document and investigate Russian war crimes.
Kostin said that the work of prosecutors is threatened because many buildings in the area are mined, and Russian troops continue to attack the area with mortars.
Earlier on Nov. 18, Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian parliament's Commissioner for Human Rights, said that Russian forces were keeping children in torture chambers in Kherson Oblast.
Torture chambers have been discovered in multiple settlements after liberation from the Russian occupation in the past months.
Read also: How Russia organized its torture chamber network in Kharkiv Oblast.
Fifty Ukrainians were released in a prisoner exchange with Russia on Nov. 24, according to President's Office Head Andriy Yermak.
Among the exchanged prisoners of war were 19 defenders of Mariupol, including 12 who participated in the battle of the Azovstal steel plant, 15 people that were taken prisoner at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, and seven from the Zmiinyi (Snake) Island.
Yermak didn't provide details on the prisoners Ukraine gave up in return.
During the previous exchange on Nov. 23, Ukraine retrieved 36 POWs.
"We've managed to bring home those who spent eight months of the war in captivity," Yermak said then.
Since March, over 1,000 civilians and military personnel held in Russian captivity have been brought back home.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk, 2,500 Ukrainian prisoners of war were in Russian captivity as of late September.
Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Defense Ministry's Intelligence Directorate, said that Ukraine is continuing to negotiate an "all-for-all prisoner swap" with Russia, but the process takes a long time.
Read also: What it’s like to know your loved ones are in Russian captivity