He made this claim on Tuesday, Nov. 22, through of a video message shown during a meeting of the Association of French Mayors.
"Now, on the eve of winter, we are facing one of the greatest threats since the beginning of all-out war," said Zelensky. "The Kremlin has set the task of continuing the attacks on energy facilities – to turn the cold of winter into a weapon of mass destruction."
In response to Ukrainian saboteurs targeting civilians and non-military infrastructure deep within Russia's borders, the Russian armed forces attacked the Ukrainian energy infrastructure, notably power plants.
In an address to the Ukrainian parliament, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal noted that Russian strikes target the substations and networks that transport the electricity from power plants and other energy production facilities to Ukrainian homes and businesses.
"Because of this, it is sometimes impossible to transport large amounts of electricity to certain regions or districts," he said. Shmyhal's claim was supported by Maksym Timchenko, CEO of Ukraine's largest private energy industry investor, DTEK.
"These strikes are not aimed at generating facilities to prevent us from producing electricity but at connection systems tied to the Ukrainian energy system," said Timchenko. "I think the Russian military [consults] their power engineers and they explain how to cause maximum harm to the energy system."
The World Health Organization said at least 10 million Ukrainians – around a quarter of the pre-war population – currently have no power. The Ukrainian government added that it has "70 maintenance crews and over 1,000 qualified specialists" working non-stop to conduct repairs where necessary.
In his appeal to the French mayors, Zelensky easily pivoted from warning about Russian attacks to using these incidents to garner sympathy and potentially more aid. (Related: Head of France's main electricity grid operator warns energy shortages will force nation to ration electricity this winter.)
"In order to get through this winter and not allow Russia to turn the cold into a tool of terror and subjugation, we need many things," said Zelensky. He urged the French mayors group to send generators, financial and logistical support for de-mining operations and other equipment to help Ukraine's emergency services and medics.
"For us, this is not just a matter of equipment. For Ukraine, this is protection against terror," he added. "I call on you to be very concrete with your help and to support our towns and communities against terrorism."
In a separate statement, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba noted that what the country needs above all is not equipment to help civilians survive in the winter, but weapons to keep the war going.
"Weapons remain a top priority for diplomats. With the shift of the aggressor state to missile terror against our town and people, this work has become even more urgent," said Kuleba.
Learn more about how the coming winter will affect different nations at PowerGrid.news.
Watch this clip from NewsMax discussing how Ukrainian forces are striking non-military targets in internationally-recognized Russian territory, forcing the Kremlin to retaliate by targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure.