Ukraine draws parallel between Holodomor and Russian strikes

Ukraine’s government was still trying to restore power on Saturday as the country commemorated the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor, the devastating famine to which President Volodymyr Zelensky has compared the wave of Russian airstrikes targeting critical infrastructure that left millions of people cold and in the dark.

The Holodomor, which means “starvation” in Ukrainian, spread through Kazakhstan and southern Russia, but was hardest in Ukraine, where it left entire villages starving. Ukrainian historians argue that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin orchestrated a famine caused by the forced collectivization of farms by the Soviets to crush Ukrainian aspirations to independence.

Government officials on Saturday marked the anniversary of the 1932-33 famine – which is observed annually on the fourth Saturday in November – at a time when President Vladimir V. Putin is accused of using missile strikes on the Ukrainian power grid to freeze the country into submission. .

“Once they wanted to destroy us with hunger, now – with darkness and cold,” Zelensky said. said in a statement on Saturday. “We cannot be broken. Our fire will not go out. We will overcome death again.

The head of his office, Andriy Yermak, said that freedom had always been of paramount importance to Ukrainians and that in the 1930s “the Soviet authorities tried to destroy their will to resist – along with them”.

“Now, 90 years later, Russia has started a full-scale war against us and wants to stage Holodomor 2.0,” he said. wrote on Twitter.

His comments came as more than six million homes were still without power after another deadly barrage of Russian airstrikes this week that further damaged an already lame national network. That was down from 12 million on Wednesday night, the day of the strikes, Mr. Zelensky said.

Ukraine has struggled to restore power as weeks of Russian strikes have damaged infrastructure and made repairs more difficult. Waves of Russian assaults have damaged or destroyed around 40% of Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure, officials say, with some sites hit at least five or six times.

The southern city of Kherson, which Ukrainian forces recaptured two weeks ago, was without heat and electricity after the departure of Russian soldiers who blew up much of the area’s critical infrastructure. But authorities said on Saturday that electricity supplies had been restored, even as Russian forces continued to hammer the city with strikes from afar.

This week, Mr. Zelensky announced a national campaign to create “points of invincibility”, thousands of makeshift centers that would provide basic services – electricity, internet access, heat, water and more – in the event of prolonged blackouts.

“If massive Russian strikes take place again and it is understood that the electricity supply cannot be restored within a few hours, the work of the ‘points of invincibility’ will be activated,” he said. to the nation in his evening address tuesday. But on Friday, he acknowledged there were issues with the campaign, saying he was aware that not all cities had “done a good job” setting up the shelters.

He pointed the finger at Kyiv and its mayor in particular, saying some sites “still need improvement, to put it mildly”.

“People in Kyiv need more protection,” he said. in his late night speech. “I expect quality work from the town hall. He added: “Please be more serious.” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko did not immediately respond.

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