Russian drones crash the power grid in Odessa

(Reuters) – All non-critical infrastructure in the Ukrainian port of Odessa was without power after Russia used Iranian-made drones to hit two power facilities, officials said on Saturday, adding that it could take months to repair the damage.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said more than 1.5 million people in the southern port city and surrounding area do not have electricity, describing the situation as very difficult.

Since October, Moscow has been targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with waves of missile and drone strikes.

The regional administration said people who depend solely on electricity to power their homes should consider leaving. Officials said the Russian strikes hit major transportation lines and equipment in the early hours of Saturday.

“According to preliminary forecasts, it will take much longer to repair energy facilities in the Odessa region than in previous attacks,” the department said.

“We’re not talking about days, but even weeks and maybe two to three months,” she said in a Facebook post.

Odessa, Ukraine’s largest port city, had a population of over a million before the Russian invasion on February 24.

Kiev says Russia has launched hundreds of Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones on targets in Ukraine and describes the attacks as war crimes because of their devastating impact on civilian lives. Moscow claims to be militarily legitimate.

In a video address, Zelensky said there is a huge shortage in the amount of energy being generated.

The Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office said Shahed-136s bombed two energy facilities in the Odessa region.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Facebook that 15 drones had been fired at targets in the southern regions of Odessa and Mykolaiv, and that 10 drones had been shot down.

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Tehran denies supplying the drones to Moscow. Kyiv and its Western allies say this is a lie.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Saturday it believes Iranian military support to Russia is likely to increase in the coming months, including possible deliveries of ballistic missiles.

(Reporting by Max Honder and David Leungren). Editing by Ross Russell and Daniel Wallis

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