Day 275 of the Invasion of Ukraine: In the Cold No Electricity and No Water - New Strikes in Kyiv and Kherson
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Ukraine: Cold, without electricity and water. New strikes in Kyiv, Kherson under fire
Much of Ukraine was left without heating, electricity and water after Russia's most devastating airstrikes on the power grid to date, and in Kyiv residents were warned to prepare for further attacks and stock up on water, food and warm clothes.
Moscow admits it is attacking key infrastructure, saying it aims to reduce Ukraine's combat capabilities and force it to negotiate. Kyiv claims that such attacks are a war crime, reports "Reuters".
Seen by satellite images captured by NASA, Ukraine has become a dark spot on the planet.
"Together we have endured nine months of full-scale war and Russia has not found a way to break us and will not," President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a late-night video address on Thursday.
Zelensky also accused Russia of relentlessly shelling Kherson, the southern Ukrainian city he abandoned earlier this month. The Russian attack on Thursday killed seven people and wounded 21, local authorities said.
The President stated that although electricity, heat, communications and water supply are gradually being restored, there are still water supply problems in 15 regions.
Ukrenergo, which controls Ukraine's national power grid, said that as of 7:00 p.m. Kyiv time (5:00 p.m. GMT) on Thursday, 50% of demand had not been met.
In the capital of three million people, 60% of the residents are without electricity at temperatures well below zero, announced Mayor Vitaly Klitschko.
"We understand that such missile strikes can be repeated. We must be ready for any development," he added, according to the Kyiv City Council.
Authorities have set up "invincibility centers" where people can charge phones, keep warm and get hot drinks.
"We are without electricity and food for the second day. More than 60 children are waiting for food and we cannot prepare anything until the power supply is restored," said a woman in one of these centers in Kyiv, quoted by Reuters.
Ukrainian officials said the reactor at one of the nuclear power plants, Khmelnytskyi, was brought back online late Thursday.
The huge plant in Zaporizhzhia, located in Russian-controlled territory, was switched back on earlier on Thursday, Ukrainian nuclear company Energoatom said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Kyiv was to blame for Ukrainians suffering because it refused to give in to Moscow's demands, which he did not specify. Ukraine says it will stop fighting only when all Russian forces leave.
Representatives of the authorities responsible for nuclear energy claim that a power outage could disrupt the operation of cooling systems and lead to a nuclear disaster, Reuters recalls.
Electricity and water supply in Ukrainian cities affected by Russian attacks is being restored
Ukrainian authorities are restoring electricity and water supplies to cities hit by massive Russian missile fire yesterday. According to Kyiv data, up to 50% of the country's energy needs cannot be met.
About 70% of households in Kyiv were left without electricity and water last night, and the reactors of three nuclear power plants in the country were shut down. The mayor of the capital, Vitaliy Klitschko, did not rule out the worst possible scenario, in which the city would be completely without electricity, heating and water.
Energy operator Ukrenergo is concentrating on rebuilding key infrastructure, but repairs are taking longer. According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, the situation is most severe in 15 regions of the country.
"Restoration continued throughout the day. We are gradually restoring electricity, heating, water supply and communications. At the moment there are water problems in 15 regions. The most difficult situation is in Kyiv, Kirovohrad, Dnipropetrovsk, Lviv, Poltava and Kharkiv."
Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said that the people should endure only 120 days, as long as winter lasts, because "Russia is waging an energy war against Ukraine." Vereshchuk also stressed that parts of Ukraine, such as the southern city of Kherson, are still under daily shelling.
Local authorities reported seven casualties from Russian artillery and salvo fire in the city.
Russia got back 50 prisoners of war in exchange with Ukraine
Russia got back 50 prisoners of war in exchange with Ukraine. Freed Russian servicemen will be transported to Moscow on specialized planes for treatment. This is the second such exchange between Kyiv and Moscow since the start of the conflict, with around 1,000 people exchanged so far.
Britain to Ukraine: Continue the counter-offensive in winter
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has openly urged Ukrainian troops to keep up the pace and continue their attacks on Russian forces during the winter months.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Wallace stated that “given the advantage that the Ukrainians have in training, equipment and quality of combat power against the demoralized, ill-trained, ill-equipped Russians, it is in Ukraine's interest to keep up the pace.”
According to him, the Ukrainians have "300 thousand." units of combat equipment such as for waging war in arctic conditions received from the international community. Wallace's comments came after experts warned that Ukraine could experience shortages of some weapons - such as missiles.
The suggestion that winter is a good time for a more active phase in hostilities as opposed to autumn conditions making it difficult to move forces is debatable. However, it is shared by expert organizations such as the Institute for the Study of War.
Wallace also praised the Ukrainians for their courage and skill, which surprised the world. He also highlighted the problems of the Russian army, giving an example of a Russian unit sent "without food and clothing" and with few weapons to the front. "Only a country that doesn't care about its people can send 100,000 of its people to either kill them, or for them to get wounded, or desert."
Wallace's interview came shortly before it was announced that Foreign Secretary James Cleverley would be in Ukraine on Friday and announce millions British pounds in aid to Kyiv ahead of winter. London is expected to allocate 3 million pounds for infrastructure and another 5 million - for the initiative of Kyiv to supply grain to countries threatened by famine.
The cabinet of Rishi Sunak, who only last month became the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has strengthened its commitment to Ukraine even more in recent days. Sunak visited Kyiv at the weekend, and this week Wallace announced that Britain was sending helicopters to the country for the first time. For six weeks, Ukrainians are trained to fly them and to maintain them. More ammunition for the artillery is also expected.
Over 15,000 people have been missing since the start of the war in Ukraine
More than 15,000 people have been missing since the start of the war in Ukraine, the International Commission on Missing Persons reported, as cited by Reuters.
The Hague-based organization, created after the wars in the Balkans in the 1990s, has opened an office in Kyiv to help Ukraine document and trace missing people.
Matthew Holliday, the organization's program director for Europe, said it was unclear how many people were interned, detained in Russia, how many were alive and how many died and were buried in makeshift graves.
The process of investigating the missing in Ukraine will continue for years after the fighting ends, Holliday said in an interview with Reuters. "The numbers are huge and the challenges facing Ukraine are huge," Holliday added.
Russia is ready to supply Serbia with additional quantities of gas at low prices
Russia is ready for talks on additional quantities of gas for Serbia, announced Ambassador Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko.
Russia's Gazprom is open to negotiations if Serbia needs additional quantities of Russian gas in the winter, he said, quoted by Anadolu Agency.
"The initial price, which refers to the previous basic quantities, remains the lowest that can now be set in Europe. This is a very important thing and my message is that whenever we talk about energy and gas, we do not forget that we have a major contract with a very low and favorable price," Kharchenko said.
Serbia is the only country in Europe that has not imposed sanctions against Russia.
On Wednesday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic received Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in the capital Belgrade, where the two discussed opportunities for cooperation in the field of natural gas and electricity.
Earlier, Vucic expressed a desire to discuss Serbia joining the Trans-Adriatic or Trans-Anatolian pipelines.
Serbia is working on new oil storage facilities and plans to build a new oil pipeline to Hungary to address the global energy crisis.
In early October, Vucic said that Serbia has warehouses full of nearly 380 million cubic meters of gas in Hungary. The new pipeline to Hungary will be up to 128 km long, which could cost up to 100 million euros.
Serbia currently has the lowest electricity price in the region and the deal could keep tariffs stable and prevent price increases. The price for Serbian households is $0.086 per kilowatt hour, while in Bosnia and Herzegovina it is $0.087. In Albania, it reached $0.097, in Montenegro - $0.105, in Croatia - $0.148, and in Rome - $0.545, according to data from Vucic.
EU excludes Russian gas from joint purchases
The energy ministers of the EU countries agreed to exclude Russian gas from joint purchase contracts, the volume of which in 2023 should be at least 15% of the volume of gas storages of the member states, or 13.5 billion cubic meters. This was stated in a statement by the European Commission, released after an informal meeting in Brussels. "The new rules will create opportunities for EU member states and their energy companies to jointly buy gas on world markets," the document states. The European Commission notes that countries are obliged "to purchase through this mechanism 15% of all the gas needed to fill their gas storages in 2023."
"Member countries emphasized that Russian gas will be excluded from joint purchases," the statement said. However, it does not specify the term "Russian gas". It is not yet clear whether gas produced in Russia and purchased by EU countries through one or more intermediaries will be considered Russian.
The European Commission will hire a mediator
In practice, the countries of the European Union have agreed that their gas companies will provide (the European Commission) with information about their gas needs. The European Union will hire an intermediary to calculate the total requests and seek proposals to meet this demand. Member countries will oblige companies to use the services of this intermediary to deliver the volume of gas they purchase up to 15% of their gas storage filling obligations in 2023,"the document says.
That decision will still require formal approval at a scheduled meeting of the EU's Energy Council in December, but Czech Industry Minister Jozef Sikelá, whose country holds the EU Council presidency, said after an informal EU meeting that discussion on the topic was over and approval will be without discussion.
In this way, the EU will actually oblige its gas companies to buy this volume of gas not directly on the market, but through the mediation of the European Commission, which was the practice of the community when purchasing vaccines against COVID-19 in 2020-2021. This decision means the countries of EU to delegate to the European Commission another part of their sovereign functions in the selection of suppliers of energy resources.
EU approves non-recognition of passports issued in annexed Ukrainian regions
The European Parliament approved an agreement with the Council of the EU on the non-recognition of passports issued in the former Ukrainian regions, as well as in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The decision was approved with 531 votes "in favor", 7 deputies were against, and 34 abstained, reported the Anadolu Agency.
According to the decision, the European Commission will have to draw up "a list of Russian travel documents, in particular passports, which should not be recognized" after consulting EU member states. But people coming to the EU to leave conflict zones can be admitted for humanitarian reasons.
Once adopted by the European Parliament and approved by the Council of the EU, the document will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and the corresponding legal act will enter into force the following day.
Merkel said she lacked the political power to influence Putin on Ukraine
Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she wanted to hold European talks with Vladimir Putin in the year before his invasion of Ukraine, but ultimately saw no opportunity to influence the Russian president at the end of her term, Reuters reported.
Merkel told Spiegel magazine in an interview published Thursday that she and French President Emmanuel Macron planned to hold an independent format of talks with Putin at the European Council in 2021, her final summer in office.
"But I no longer had the strength to push through this idea, because in the end everyone knew: she was leaving in the fall," added the former chancellor.
Merkel, who stepped down from politics after 16 years in power following German elections in September 2021, formally handed over the reigns to Olaf Scholz of the Social Democratic Party in December of that year.
US President Joe Biden met with the Russian leader in June 2021.
Recalling her farewell visit to Moscow in August 2021, Merkel, who is fluent in Russian, said: "The feeling was very clear: 'Your power in politics is now over'. For Putin, only power matters."
However, the former Conservative leader said of her departure from politics that it was "time for a new approach" due to her government's lack of progress not only on Ukraine but also on the conflicts in Moldova, Georgia, Syria and Libya.
The Kremlin said on Thursday that Kyiv could "end the suffering" of its population by meeting Russia's "demands" to resolve the conflict, which it called a special military operation against Ukrainian nationalists. It was not specified what those requirements were.
Ukraine says Russia's invasion is an unprovoked land grab that has killed thousands of civilians, destroyed cities and forced millions from their homes. Kyiv insists the conflict will only end when Moscow withdraws its forces from all of Ukraine, including areas it has occupied since 2014.
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