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Internet connectivity has weakened in multiple cities in Ukraine following the introduction of rolling blackouts by the national power company, according to Netblocks, an Internet monitoring group.
The blackouts, which were a result of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, are now applied throughout the nation from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time.
According to a tweet by NetBlocks, Kyiv’s connectivity fell to 81% of normal levels. The worst-hit cities were Bucha, Irpin and Brovary, where Internet access was below 70% of its ordinary levels, the organization said.
Some background: President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to Ukrainians to become careful about electricity consumption starting at 7:00 a.m. Thursday due to the damage caused to the nation's electricity grid.
And the national energy company, NPC Ukrenergo, on Wednesday called for the "understanding and support" of energy users as it announced restrictions.
"Unfortunately, according to new data, about 40% of the total infrastructure and our generating capacities are really seriously damaged," said Oleksandr Kharchenko, an adviser to Ukraine's energy minister.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Wednesday introducing martial law in four Ukrainian regions that Moscow claims to have annexed in defiance of international law: Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk.
The move drew criticism from Ukrainian officials and Western allies.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials announced scheduled blackouts nationwide after losing 40% of the country's power-generating capacity following Russian missile attacks.
Here are the latest headlines:
- Zelensky urges Ukrainians to conserve power: President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to Ukrainians to become careful about electricity consumption starting on Thursday from 7:00 a.m. local time. "Tomorrow it is very important that consumption is as conscious as possible. Then the schedules of stabilization outages will be shorter," he said. Ukraine suffered damage to its critical energy infrastructure following days of missile and drone strikes.
- Ukraine says martial law order is a "new state of terror:" Ukraine's foreign ministry condemned Moscow's declaration of martial law, calling it a "new state of terror." The move was an attempt "to suppress the resistance of the residents of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, who oppose the Russian occupation," it said in a statement Wednesday. "Putin's decree is null and void. It has no legal consequences for Ukraine and its citizens, as well as for the international community," the ministry added.
- EU working on new Iran sanctions, diplomat says: The EU is working on new sanctions against Iran due to the use of Iranian drones by Russia in Ukraine, a European diplomat told CNN. The EU efforts come as the UN Security Council was to discuss the deployment of Iranian drones during a closed-door meeting. The State Department said the US would welcome EU sanctions on Iran.
- Russia says it does not plan to close missions in the West: Moscow has no plans to close its diplomatic missions in Western countries, Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Ivanov said Wednesday. His remarks followed comments by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who said Tuesday there was no point in maintaining the country’s current level of diplomatic presence in the West.
Ukraine suffered new damage to its critical energy infrastructure, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Wednesday.
"Of course, we will do everything possible to restore normal energy capabilities of our country. But this requires time and our combined effort," he said.
Zelensky appealed to Ukrainians to become careful about electricity consumption starting on Thursday from 7:00 a.m. local time.
"Please do not turn on unnecessary electrical appliances. Please limit electricity consumption on those appliances that require a lot of energy," the president said, "Tomorrow it is very important that consumption is as conscious as possible. Then the schedules of stabilization outages will be shorter."
Zelensky also thanked Ukraine's armed forces for shooting down kamikaze drones and cruise missiles before they could reach their targets.
Over the last month, 233 'Shaheds' and dozens of missiles were shot down, he said, including 10 Iranian-made drones directed Wednesday at Kyiv.
Ukrainian energy officials on Wednesday said they had no choice but to introduce emergency and scheduled blackouts after losing at least 40% of the country's power generating capacity following days of devastating Russian cruise missile and drone strikes.
"Unfortunately, according to new data, about 40% of the total infrastructure and our generating capacities are really seriously damaged," Oleksandr Kharchenko, an adviser to Ukraine's energy minister, said
"Restoration and repair work is ongoing, but miracles are possible only to a certain extent," Kharchenko said in the statement broadcast on national television.
"Therefore, we should expect not only emergency but also scheduled outages today and tomorrow in order not to overload the grid," he added.
NPC Ukrenergo, Ukraine's national energy company, on Wednesday called for the "understanding and support" of its energy users as they have been forced to introduce consumption restrictions following the missile attacks.
Ukrenergo said the "consumption restrictions may be applied throughout Ukraine from 7:00 am to 22:00 pm" Thursday.
"The outages will be alternate — the duration of the outage is also determined by the regional power distribution company, but not more than 4 hours," the statement said.
"The enemy, who cannot compete with the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the battlefield, attacked the civilian energy infrastructure again. Therefore, tomorrow we will apply controlled and carefully calculated restrictions to consumers, which we must implement to make the system work in a balanced way," the power company said.
Ukraine's foreign ministry has condemned Moscow's declaration of "martial law" in the territories of Ukraine that are under Russian occupation, calling it a "new state of terror."
The move was an attempt "to suppress the resistance of the residents of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, who oppose the Russian occupation," said a statement released by Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday. "Putin's decree is null and void. It has no legal consequences for Ukraine and its citizens, as well as for the international community."
Despite not fully controlling the territories, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced earlier on Wednesday he has signed a decree introducing martial law in four Ukrainian regions the Kremlin has sought to annex, in violation of international law. The regions are Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk. Martial law will come into effect Thursday, according to the decree.
Ukraine called on its "international partners to strongly condemn the intention of the Russian occupation administrations under the guise of the so-called "martial law" to deprive residents of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine of even basic human rights, as well as to condemn their illegal plans to legalize looting, forced deportations and mobilization," the statement added.
The ministry said Ukraine would continue to liberate the occupied territories and rescue the Ukrainian people.
The Moscow-appointed head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) welcomed the announcement of martial law by Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling it "timely."
The local headquarters of the Territorial Defense will now have an opportunity to coordinate with Russian federal authorities, which will have a "positive impact on the situation," Denis Pushilin said in a video statement on his Telegram channel.
"This will not particularly and radically affect the restrictions on the freedoms of our residents, because we have been living under martial law for eight and a half years," he added.
Earlier on Wednesday, Putin announced martial law in the four Ukrainian regions he claims to have annexed: Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk.
United States response: President Joe Biden said Russia's martial law declaration reflects Putin's desperate predicament.
"What it reflects to me is, it seems his only tool available to him is to brutalize individual citizens in Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens, to try to intimidate them into capitulating. They're not going to do that," Biden said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s martial law orders in the areas Moscow claims to have annexed are “desperate tactics to try to enforce and control,” US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said Wednesday.
“It should be no surprise to anybody that Russia is resorting to desperate tactics to try and enforce control in these areas,” Patel said at a State Department briefing.
“The truth is that Russia is not wanted in these regions, and the people in Ukraine are rejecting Russia's illegal invasion and seizure by force of what is Ukrainian territory,” he said.
Patel stressed that “no matter what the Kremlin says or does, no matter what they try to enact via decree via paper or otherwise, Crimea, Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia are Ukrainian sovereign territory.”
“They have no legal claim whatsoever. There is no jurisdiction that they have over those territories. This is Ukraine's land and Russia has blatantly violated Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as violating UN Charter with their illegal acts,” he said.
The European Union is working on new Iran sanctions that could come as soon as this week due to the use of Iranian drones by Russia in Ukraine, a European diplomat told CNN.
These ongoing EU efforts come as the UN Security Council is set to discuss the Iranian drones during a closed-door meeting on Wednesday in New York. But diplomats caution that they do not expect that they could get new sanctions through the security council because they will be vetoed by Russia.
The State Department said the US would “welcome” EU sanctions on Iran for supplying drones to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said the US has been “coordinating closely with the EU” but would not get into details of those discussions.
“I would again note and reiterate that the United States itself continues to have tools at its disposal that are practical, that are aggressive, that are useful in holding Iran accountable,” said Patel, “and you have seen us take those actions as it relates to Iranian malign activity.”