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Ukraine war latest: SBU attack on energy facility in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast causes blackout

by Alexander Khrebet and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 15, 2023 10:29 PM 5 min read
View from a drone explosion of an attack by Ukraine's Security Service on an electrical substation in Russia's Belgorod Oblast on Oct. 15, 2023. (Screenshot)
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Key developments on Oct. 15:

  • SBU attacks on energy facility in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast cause blackout
  • Western countries lease air defense systems to Ukraine
  • Russian airstrikes on critical infrastructure cause partial blackouts in Kherson
  • Majority of Ukrainians turn away from Russian media, music, poll shows
  • Landmine explosions kill 2, injure 3, including children

Overnight Ukrainian drone attacks on an energy facility in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast caused blackouts in the area, a source in Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) confirmed to the Kyiv Independent on Oct. 15.

The attack was first reported the same day by the Ukrainska Pravda media outlet.

According to the source in the SBU, Russian military sites were connected to the energy facility, located in the village of Krasnaya Yaruga, which sits just north of the border with Ukraine’s northeastern Sumy Oblast.

The Russian Defense Ministry and Belgorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov claimed on Oct. 15 that Russian air defenses had intercepted 27 drones over the region.

The SBU source said the blackout in Belgorod Oblast is a “reality that is already knocking at (Russia’s) doorstep."

On Oct. 15, Russian forces struck energy infrastructure in the city of Kherson with two guided bombs, causing a partial blackout in the Ukrainian regional capital and disrupting water supplies, mobile service, and internet connection.

Power supply has since been restored in the city, according to local authorities.

Belogorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov also claimed on Oct. 15 that a Ukrainian artillery attack had caused blackouts in the villages of Vyazovoe and Repyakhovka. No casualties were reported.

Both Russian settlements sit right on the border with Ukraine and in proximity to Krasnaya Yaruga.

Meanwhile, Western partners leased Ukraine air defense systems for the cold months ahead, Yuri Ihnat, the Air Force's spokesperson, reported on Oct. 15.

"The fact that Ukraine can have these systems for use during the heating season is a significant and positive sign," he said.

The heating season in Ukraine lasts from mid-October till mid-April.

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Ukrainians turn away from Russian music, media

The majority of Ukrainians have stopped consuming Russian music and media products, including official and anti-government political content, according to a survey by Detector Media published on Oct. 15.

The group's latest poll showed that "from 68 % to 81% of respondents said they had completely abandoned Russian-made media products, including music and both official and the opposition's socio-political content," Halyna Petrenko, Detector Media's director, said.

Detector Media, a Ukrainian media watchdog, conducted a series of surveys – in 2020, 2021, and late 2022 to early 2023 –  on the media consumption habits of Ukrainians.

However, Petrenko said some entertainment content, such as Russian TV shows, can still be found in YouTube’s top-10 ranking recommendations, explaining this by the lack of comparable Ukrainian entertainment content due to insufficient funds in the sector.

Some 63% of respondents said they had started, or started more often, consuming content of Ukrainian origin. Around 48% said they became more interested in Ukraine's history and culture, the same number started consuming socio-political content of Ukrainian provenience, and 61% began listening more to Ukrainian popular music.

The latest findings also saw an increase in general media literacy among Ukrainians from 55% to 81% compared to the previous study.

The survey was conducted among 1,200 respondents, represented in terms of age, sex, and region, excluding residents of Russian-occupied territories.

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Landmines kill 2, injure 2, including children

A landmine explosion killed a 14-year-old boy and injured a 12-year-old boy while playing in a field in Mykolaiv Oblast, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko reported on Oct. 15.

Another deadly incident took place the same day in Chernihiv Oblast, where one local was killed and another injured by a landmine explosion in a local forest, according to the minister.

Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov later reported that a 14-year-old boy was injured after a mine detonated in the Izium community on Oct. 15.

The boy was reportedly hospitalized.

Ukraine is among the most-heavily mined countries in the world due to Russia’s war.  

Nearly one-third of its territory has been mined. It’s roughly 200,000 square kilometers or slightly more than 77,000 square miles, which is the size of the U.S. states of Nebraska or South Dakota.

Landmine explosions have killed 248 civilians and injured 525 others since February 2022, the minister said.

A day after Croatia and Ukraine signed an agreement on joint demining operations on Ukrainian territory, Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said on Oct. 11 that the International Donor Conference on Humanitarian Demining in Ukraine pledged almost 500 million euros ($530 million) to Ukraine in demining assistance.

"Almost a third of our territory (Ukraine) is at risk due to unexploded ordnances," President Zelensky said on Oct. 14. "It is obvious that global support is needed to clear our land of Russian mines."

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