© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visits Kherson, Ukraine November 14, 2022. Ukraine Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS
By Ronald Popeski
(Reuters) – Ukrainians in need of basic services should Russia shut down power plants and other facilities this winter can turn to special “invincibility centers,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday.
Thousands of centers across the country will offer electricity, heating, water, internet services, cell phone connections and a pharmacy, free of charge and 24 hours a day.
The Russian attacks have cut power for long periods to up to 10 million consumers at a time. The operator of Ukraine’s national electricity grid said on Tuesday that the damage was colossal.
“If massive Russian attacks happen again and it is clear that power will not be restored for hours, ‘invincibility centers’ will kick in with all key services,” Zelenskiy said in a nightly video address.
“We must all be prepared for any scenario given the way terrorists are fighting against our people and what they are trying to do.”
Zelenskiy said more than 4,000 centers have already been established, with more being planned. She urged viewers to consult a website to determine the nearest centre.
Energy has become a focal point of Russia’s campaign in Ukraine, with Zelenskiy and other officials urging Ukrainian consumers to conserve electricity and shift its use to off-peak hours.
“I am sure that by helping each other we will all get through this winter together,” he said.
Ukrainian authorities have already set up similar emergency service points in the city of Kherson, which was abandoned by Russian forces earlier this month, and crowds have gathered in the city center to recharge their mobile devices.