Day 271 of the Invasion of Ukraine: The IAEA warned Moscow that they are “Playing with Fire!
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Kyiv: The intense shelling of Ukrainian forces in Donbas is not slowing down
Ukraine reported heavy fighting in Luhansk region and accused Russian forces of another attack on civilians in Kharkiv region. In a number of Ukrainian regions, electricity problems continue due to the Russian strikes.
Ukrainian authorities reported that a residential building in the Kharkiv region was hit. One person died, another was seriously injured.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has defined as “on purpose” the strikes on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, for which the Ukrainian and Russian forces blame each other.
Electricity problems continue in Ukraine due to Russian attacks.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, described the attacks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Saturday and Sunday as deliberate, without specifying whether they were carried out by Russian or Ukrainian forces.
“Whoever is behind this must stop immediately”, Grossi urged. He noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin is familiar with the details of what is happening and indicated the need for a security zone around the site. The plant in southern Ukraine is under the control of the Russian army, the nuclear agency has two inspectors on site.
The head of state, Volodymyr Zelensky, said that the Russian army is continuing the intensive artillery shelling of the Ukrainian forces in the Donbas, almost 400 strikes were carried out yesterday alone. Russia has moved to Donetsk and Luhansk regions the forces it withdrew from Kherson earlier this month.
"We managed to alleviate the situation in some of the areas where we had real problems. We are doing everything possible and impossible to restore normal life in Odesa, Kharkiv and all our cities and municipalities".
Electricity supply remains problematic especially in northern and western Ukraine, as well as around the capital Kyiv after the attacks on energy facilities, Zelensky also said.
The Estonian government has announced it will provide 27 buses for Kyiv's public transport, and private donors have raised money for 13 power generators.
According to the "Washington Post", Russia has concluded an agreement with Iran, which will allow it within a few months to start mass production of combat drones of the Iranian model, used in the previous bombings of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities.
Zelensky: The Russians are shelling the front line with artillery
Russian forces are shelling Ukrainian positions with artillery, and yesterday alone in the eastern part of the country they fired almost 400 strikes, announced Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Reuters reported.
Earlier in November, Russia withdrew its forces from Kherson and transferred some of them to strengthening its positions in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
"The fiercest fighting, as before, is in Donetsk region. Although there were fewer attacks today due to the worsening weather, the intensity of Russian shelling unfortunately remains extremely high. In Luhansk region, we are slowly moving forward with combat. As of now from the beginning of the day in the eastern part of the country there were almost 400 artillery attacks," announced Zelensky.
According to him, the Ukrainian troops in the southern part of the country consistently and very calculatedly destroy the potential of the occupiers.
The deputy head of the administration of the Ukrainian president Kyrylo Tymoshenko announced late last night that Russian forces shelled a residential building in the Kherson region, in southern Ukraine.
"There may be people under the rubble. Emergency services are working at the scene," Tymoshenko wrote on Telegram. In the recently recaptured capital of the region, the city of Kherson, there is still no electricity, running water and heating.
Kyiv said on Saturday that around 60 Russian soldiers were killed in a long-range artillery attack in the south of the country, the second case in four days that Ukraine has claimed multiple casualties in a single attack.
The IAEA warned Moscow: You are playing with fire!
Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is under Russian control, was shelled on Sunday, prompting condemnation from the UN nuclear watchdog, which said such attacks risked a major catastrophe.
More than a dozen explosions rocked Europe's largest nuclear power plant on Saturday night and into Sunday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.
Moscow and Kyiv blamed each other for shelling the facility, as they have repeatedly done in recent months following previous explosions.
The head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, said that the news of the explosions was extremely disturbing.
"The explosions are at the site of this large nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable. Whoever is behind this must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you are playing with fire!" he said in a statement.
Citing information provided by the plant's management, the IAEA team on the ground reported damage to some buildings, systems and equipment, but so far none of it is critical to nuclear safety and security. The team plans to make an evaluation Monday, Grossi said in a statement released later today.
However, Russian nuclear operator Rosenergoatom said there would be limits on what the team could inspect.
"They interpret their mandate as having no restrictions. This is not the case," said Renat Karchaa, adviser to the CEO of Rosenergoatom.
"If they want to inspect a facility that has nothing to do with nuclear safety, they will be denied access."
Repeated shelling of the plant in southern Ukraine has raised concerns about the possibility of a major accident just 500km from the site of the world's worst nuclear accident, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant provided about a fifth of Ukraine's electricity before the Russian invasion and was forced to operate with backup generators several times. It has six water-cooled and water-moderated VVER-1000 B-320 reactors containing uranium 235, of Soviet manufacture.
The reactors are shut down, but there is a risk that the nuclear fuel will overheat if the cooling systems are cut off. Shelling repeatedly cut power lines.
Asked by French TV channel BFM if he planned to go to Zaporizhzhia, Grossi replied: "For sure," but did not give details.
"Washington Post": Russia will produce Iranian drones
Russian and Iranian representatives have agreed to manufacture hundreds of Iranian drones on Russian territory.
This is written in the "Washington Post", and the data is from the intelligence services of the USA and other Western countries. According to media sources, the agreement was reached in Tehran at the beginning of the month.
Key components and information are about to be transferred from Iran to Russia, and if that happens, the start of joint production is a matter of months.
The details were finalized earlier this month at a meeting of Russian and Iranian defense industry representatives in Tehran, according to security officials from the two countries who closely watched the process.
Such a move could also be important for Moscow as an opportunity to make up for a shortage of precision-guided munitions that are dwindling after nine months of war. It would also be a plus for Tehran, where authorities may hope to avoid sanctions if the drones are purely physically assembled in Russia.
A new phase
The drones that Russia used against Ukraine in the last months of the war are Iranian (according to the West, the UN and Ukraine). Many of the nearly 400 launched, as the "Washington Post" writes, were used to attack civilian infrastructure.
Iran strongly denied it at first, but frequent confirmations that Shahed-136 "kamikaze drones" were being sent against Ukrainian targets prompted the Islamic Republic to admit that it would not stand idly by if it found out that it was a fact. Then came the confirmation that drones were being delivered to Russia, but this was done before the start of the war.
The "hush-hush" (according to the newspaper) deal, if implemented, according to three interlocutors familiar with the matter, will be a new phase in the strengthening of the Russian-Iranian alliance, which has provided important assistance to Russia's war in Ukraine. "By acquiring its own assembly line, Russia could significantly increase its stockpile of the relatively cheap but highly destructive weapons systems that have changed the nature of the war in Ukraine in recent weeks."
Iran has long supplied various militias it supports - in Lebanon, Yemen and Syria - with similar technology. Until the war, however, this was not done for a country of the rank of Russia, the second military power in the world. According to the interlocutors of the newspaper, it is not known at the moment what assistance Tehran wants from Moscow in exchange for the deal.
Macron: Russia fuels anti-French propaganda in Africa with predatory ambitions
Russia is fueling anti-French propaganda in Africa that serves its predatory ambitions in troubled African countries where France has suffered military setbacks and a more tangible loss of influence in recent years.
This was announced yesterday by French President Emmanuel Macron during the summit of Francophone countries in Tunis. Macron was asked to comment on criticism that France is using its historical, economic and political ties to its former colonies to serve its own interests.
"This perception is fueled by others, it is political. I am not a fool, many influential people who sometimes speak on your programs are paid by the Russians. We know who they are," Macron replied, Reuters reported.
According to him, a number of forces that want to spread their influence in Africa do so to harm France and the French language, but above all to pursue certain interests.
France, the former colonial power for most West and Central African countries, has long-standing military ties across Francophone Africa, with French troops stationed in Mali for a decade as part of a counter-terrorism operation, Reuters noted.
"Newsweek": Prigozhin could become a threat to Putin
Former Kremlin adviser Sergei Markov described Yevgeny Prigozhin as "the voice of the people" because "he speaks the truth". Meanwhile, speculations that the businessman could become a threat to the rule of Russian President Vladimir Putin are growing, writes "Newsweek".
Nearly nine months after the start of the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military is desperately struggling to make gains in Ukraine. Instead, Kyiv vacated thousands of square kilometers of territory, prompting Putin's allies to openly condemn Russian military commanders.
Prigozhin, the founder of the private military company Wagner, has recently issued sharp criticism of military leaders and Russian oligarchs, sparking speculation that he may be seeking to consolidate power in Russia.
This Saturday, Markov praised Prigozhin in a Telegram post for calling on Russian billionaires to contribute more to the military campaign in Ukraine.
"Evgeny Prigozhin said that the Russian oligarchs should help the country more, help the special military operation. The Russian oligarchs did not earn their billions, but skilfully pocketed them during the division of the common Soviet property," writes Markov. "And now they are trying to change their citizenship to Israeli, Armenian or Uzbek and shelter these billions there. Thus Yevgeny Prigozhin becomes the voice of the people. Because he speaks the truth".
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote on October 24 that Prigozhin continued to gain power in Russia, noting that Wagner could "become a threat to Putin's rule". Ivan Klishch, a research fellow at the International Center for Defense and Security, previously told Newsweek that it was possible that Prigozhin would oppose Putin.
"He will likely aim to expand his influence in federal politics. In that sense, Putin will be obliged to please him. Otherwise, Putin risks alienating a powerful ally who may indeed turn against him or at least stop cooperating " Klitschko said earlier this month.
Prigozhin made an effort to appeal to Russian nationalists frustrated by the lack of progress in Ukraine.
"There has been no mobilization of the elites. The oligarchs and other representatives of the elite have always lived in boundless comfort and continue to do so. As long as their children do not fight, the country will not be fully mobilized," declared Klitschko, quoted by Meduza.
Newsweek reported он Friday that it had leaked emails from a source in Russia's Federal Security Service predicting an "imminent" Russian civil war amid rifts in the Kremlin.
"The service (FSB) is not ready for domestic terror and Prigozhin and Kadyrov believe that their time has come and their moment has come to shine. Both realize that if they stop fighting and start a dialogue, they will both cease to be needed for Putin," the source wrote.
Kyiv denies allegation of shooting of Russian prisoners
Ukrainian officials today rejected accusations that their soldiers shot Russian prisoners of war.
For several days, two videos have been circulating on Russian social networks, one of which shows the dead bodies of a dozen Russian soldiers in Ukraine, and the other shows Russian soldiers coming out of a house with their hands up and surrendering, lying facedown on the ground , while Ukrainian soldiers with assault rifles hold them at gunpoint. At one point, shots are heard and then the image in the clip is lost.
The Ukrainian side claims that one of the soldiers came out of the house with a weapon and that is why the Ukrainians fired. However, the authorities in Kyiv promised to investigate, declaring that they adhere strictly to the Geneva Convention, which deals with the treatment of prisoners of war.
Counselor in the Ukrainian presidential office Oleksiy Arestovich commented on the video in an interview with Russian lawyer and blogger Mark Feigin, published on November 19. He considers the story to be "part of the information and psychological operation of the Russian Federation" so that the Russians "don't want to surrender". Arestovic recalled that provocations during surrender are a war crime.
"If you decide to surrender and then suddenly draw your weapon, then you are not a hero, you are committing a war crime that is against the Geneva Convention. The same goes for other provocations - faking surrender or things like that that force the enemy to fire . Why is this a war crime? Because the consequences are severe," Arestovich was quoted as saying by Ukrainian news site Gordon.
According to him, if a prisoner shows aggression or makes a threat, he ceases to be considered a prisoner.
"What do they do in every army in the world when prisoners escape? They open fire on them," Arestovic said.
At the same time, the Ukrainian official agency "Ukrinform" reported that the Russian military, which is retreating in the Kherson region, is taking the stolen goods there with trucks. According to the agency, the looting reached such a scale that the occupying power was forced to react.
Yuriy Sobolevsky, First Deputy Chairman of the Kherson Regional Council, reported this in Telegram:
"The cases of robberies by Russian soldiers on the left bank (of the Dnieper) in the Kherson region reached such proportions that the occupation authorities were forced to prohibit the exit of trucks and special equipment from the territory of the Kherson region without a special permit," he writes.
Russian soldiers reportedly stole the most valuable exhibits from museums in Kherson, which was liberated by Ukrainian troops earlier this month. Russia withdrew its forces to the left, i.e. the eastern bank of the Dnieper.
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