Ukraine setting up 'invincibility centres' to help provide heat and water

FILE PHOTO: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visits Kherson, Ukraine November 14, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Ukrainians needing basic services if Russia knocks out power stations and other facilities this winter can turn to special "invincibility centres," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday.

Thousands of centres spread across the country will offer electricity, heat, water, internet service, mobile phone connections and a pharmacy, free of charge and around the clock.

Russian attacks have knocked out power for long periods to up to 10 million consumers at a time. Ukraine's national power grid operator said on Tuesday the damage was colossal.

"If massive Russian strikes happen again and it's clear power will not be restored for hours, the 'invincibility centres' will go into action with all key services," Zelenskiy said in a nightly video address.

"We must all be ready for any scenario, given the way that the terrorists are fighting against our people and what they are trying to do."

Zelenskiy said more than 4,000 centres had already been set up, with more being planned. He urged viewers to consult a website to determine their nearest centre.

Energy has become a focal point of Russia's campaign in Ukraine, with Zelenskiy and other officials urging Ukraine consumers to save electricity and shift use to off-peak hours.

"I am certain that by helping each other we will all be able to get through this winter together," he said.

Ukrainian authorities have already set up similar emergency services points in the city of Kherson, abandoned by Russian forces earlier this month, and crowds have gathered in the city centre to charge their mobile devices.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski; editing by David Ljunggren and Sandra Maler)

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