About 4.5 million people were without electricity across the country, Zelenskyy said in his overnight address. Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko said 450,000 apartments in the capital alone had no electricity on Friday.
“I appeal to all residents of the capital: save as much electricity as possible, because the situation remains difficult!” the mayor wrote on Telegram. State grid operator Ukrenergo reported on Friday that an emergency outage would take place throughout Kiev.
Russia has repeatedly carried out missile and drone strikes on Ukrainian power plants, especially in recent weeks. In his speech, Zelenskyy described focusing on energy infrastructure as a sign of weakness.
“The fact that Russia is resorting to energy terrorism shows the weakness of our enemy,” he said. “They cannot beat Ukraine on the battlefield, so they are trying to break our people in this way.”
Zelensky’s spoke shortly after Moscow-appointed authorities in the occupied territories of southern Ukraine Kherson region said Russian troops were likely to leave the city of Kherson — a claim Ukrainian officials greeted with some skepticism.
The Kremlin-installed regional administration has already expelled tens of thousands of civilians from the city, citing the threat of increasing shelling as the Ukrainian military launches a counter-offensive to reclaim the region. Authorities removed the Russian flag from Kherson’s government building on Thursday.
Ukraine’s southern military spokeswoman Natalia Humeniuk said removing the flag could be a ruse “and we should not rush to rejoice”. She told Ukrainian television that some Russian soldiers are disguising themselves as civilians.
Neither party’s claims could be independently verified.
Elsewhere, Ukrainian officials reported shooting down drones launched by Russian forces: eight drones in the Nikopol area, which was also exposed to artillery shelling, and another drone over the western region of Lviv.
The commander of the Ukrainian armed forces, Valeriy Zaluzhny, said Russian forces had “tripled the intensity of hostilities on certain fronts” and carried out “up to 80 attacks a day”.
Zelenskyy’s office said on Friday that at least nine civilians have been killed and 16 injured by attacks in Ukraine in the past 24 hours.
The Russian army attacked four towns near the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant with drones and heavy artillery. The governor of Dnipropetrovsk province said on Friday that houses, cars and a gas pipeline had been damaged overnight in Chervonohryhorivka and the city was without electricity.
In the eastern province of Donetsk, the city of Pokrovsk was hardest hit, with rocket attacks damaging a school and at least 22 residential buildings, killing one civilian and injuring another six. Donetsk province governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said 12 towns and villages were shelled, including Bakhmut and Avdiivka, which have been particularly hard hit in recent weeks.
In the occupied Kherson province, the Ukrainian military shelled Russian bases and logistics facilities, destroying two ammunition warehouses, Ukrainian army officials said.
Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhya regions at the end of September and subsequently declared martial law in the four provinces.
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed Friday that there was still a steady stream of volunteers willing to join the Russian army, with 318,000 people already mobilized. Authorities previously said the goal was to mobilize some 300,000 reservists.
Putin said there are already 49,000 in the military and on combat missions, while the rest are still being trained. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that 87,000 had been deployed to Ukraine. The discrepancy could not be immediately reconciled.
When Russia announced mobilization in September, protests broke out in several regions and tens of thousands of Russians fled the country.
Putin also signed a law Friday permitting the military mobilization of people with waived or pending convictions for certain serious crimes, including those who have recently served prison terms for murder, theft and drug trafficking.
The Russian army said it hit a rocket engine plant in the town of Pavlohrad in Dnipropetrovsk province, as well as a plant producing rockets for multiple rocket systems in the northeastern city of Kharkov. Ukraine has not confirmed the attacks.
In the Black Sea, the Ukrainian Armed Forces said “grain corridors are continuing to function” according to plan. Russia on Wednesday agreed to rejoin a wartime deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey that would allow Ukrainian grain to be shipped to world markets. Moscow had suspended its participation in the grain deal this weekend, citing an alleged drone attack on its Black Sea fleet in Crimea.
As a condition of returning to the deal, Russia demanded that the grain be sent to poorer countries, arguing that most of it ended up in richer countries. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that during a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, he had discussed the issue of prioritizing less developed countries for grain shipments.
Erdogan said in a recent meeting with Putin he also discussed the possibility of sending the grain free of charge to countries facing famine.