Ukrainian War: Snowy Kyiv struggles with power cuts, Russia ‘can leave’ Zaporizhzhia, exodus from Kherson

1. Half of Ukraine’s regions grapple with power outages as snow blankets Kyiv

Snow fell in Kyiv and temperatures hovered around zero on Sunday as millions of people in and around the Ukrainian capital grappled with disruptions to electricity supplies and central heating caused by waves of strikes Russian airlines.

Repair teams across the country have worked to restore the heat, electricity and water services that were destroyed.

Ukrenergo, the state-owned electricity grid operator, said on Sunday that power generators were now supplying around 80% of demand, up from 5% on Saturday. The capacity shortfall stood at 20%, he added.

But he also said power generators are still unable to restore full power supply and have no choice but to conserve energy by imposing blackouts.

A senior official from YASNO, which supplies energy to Kyiv, said the situation in the city had improved but was still “quite difficult”, adding that residents should have at least four hours of electricity a day.

Moscow has targeted vital infrastructure with airstrikes that have caused widespread power outages and killed civilians. Fresh strikes last Wednesday caused the worst damage so far in the nine-month conflict.

Millions of Ukrainians were left without light, water or heating even as temperatures fell below zero degrees Celsius.

David Arakhamiya, the leader of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s party, predicted that Russia would carry out further attacks on infrastructure and said the coming week could be “really difficult”.

Zelenskyy said on Saturday evening that there were restrictions on the use of electricity in 14 of Ukraine’s 27 regions, including Kyiv and its surroundings. He warned that increased consumption will lead to more breakdowns.

Meteorologists were expecting continuous snowfall in Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million before the war, until mid-week, while temperatures were expected to remain below zero.

2. Signs that Russia may leave the Zaporizhzhia plant, says Ukraine’s nuclear chief

The head of Ukraine’s nuclear energy company said on Sunday there were signs that Russian forces may be preparing to leave the vast Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant they seized in March shortly after their invasion.

Such a move would be a major change on the battlefield in the partially occupied southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia, where the frontline has barely moved for months. The repeated bombardments around the plant raised fears of a nuclear disaster.

“In recent weeks, we are indeed receiving reports that signs have emerged that they may be preparing to leave (the factory),” Petro Kotin, director of Energoatom, told national television.

“Firstly, there are a huge number of reports in the Russian media that it would be worth leaving (the plant) and perhaps handing over control to (the International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA),” he said, referring to the United Nations nuclear watchdog. “It looks like they’re packing up and stealing everything they can.”

Russia and Ukraine, which were the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986, have for months repeatedly accused each other of bombing the Zaporizhzhia reactor complex, which no longer produces energy .

Asked if it was too early to talk about the departure of Russian troops from the factory, Kotin said on television: “It’s too early. We don’t see it now, but they are preparing ( from).”

The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, met a Russian delegation in Istanbul on November 23 to discuss setting up a protection zone around Europe’s biggest power plant. to prevent a nuclear disaster. Russian media quoted a government minister as giving a positive response in principle.

On Friday, the IAEA said Ukraine’s three nuclear power plants in government-controlled territory had been reconnected to the grid, two days after a barrage of Russian missiles forced them to close for the first time in 40 years.

3. Residents flee Kherson amid constant Russian bombardment of the liberated city

Fleeing Russian bombing, civilians fled the southern Ukrainian city on Saturday, which they had celebrated taking over a few weeks earlier.

A line of trucks, vans and cars, some towing trailers or carrying pets and other belongings, stretched for a kilometer or more on the outskirts of Kherson.

Days of heavy shelling by Russian forces have prompted a bittersweet exodus. Many civilians were happy that their town had been retaken, but lamented that they could not stay.

“It’s sad that we’re leaving our house,” Yevhen Yankov said, as the van he was in drove up. “Now we are free, but we have to leave, because there are shellings and there are deaths among the population.”

Sticking her head out from behind, Svitlana Romanivna added: “We went through real hell. Our neighborhood was burning, it was a nightmare. Everything was in flames.

In recent days, Ukraine has faced an avalanche of Russian artillery fire and drone attacks, with the shelling particularly heavy in Kherson.

Often the barrage has largely targeted infrastructure, following Russian setbacks on the battlefield, although many civilian casualties have been reported.

At least 32 people in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine have been killed by Russian shelling since the withdrawal of pro-Moscow forces two weeks ago, Ukraine’s police chief said on Saturday.

Galina Lugova, head of the city’s military administration, said in an interview on Sunday that evacuation trains had been lined up and bomb shelters set up in all parts of the city with stoves, beds, first aid kits and fire extinguishers.

“We are preparing for a winter in difficult conditions, but we will do everything to keep people safe,” Lugova said. Her biggest concern, she said, was “the shelling, which is intensifying every day. Shelling, shelling and shelling again.

Emilie Fourrey, emergency project coordinator for the aid group Doctors Without Borders in Ukraine, said an evacuation of 400 patients from the psychiatric hospital in Kherson, located near both a power plant and the front line, had started on Thursday and was expected to continue for years to come. days.

4. A winter war is looming, military analysts predict

Analysts have predicted that the wintry weather – bringing with it frozen terrain and grueling combat conditions – could have a growing impact on the direction of the conflict that has raged since Russian forces invaded Ukraine more than a decade ago. nine months.

But at the moment both sides were mired in heavy rain and muddy conditions on the battlefield in some areas, experts said.

The Institute for the Study of War, a think tank that closely monitors developments in Ukraine, said reports from both sides indicated heavy rain and mud had had an impact – but more frost. wide expected along the front lines in the coming days could play a role.

“It is unclear whether either side is actively planning or preparing to resume major offensive or counter-offensive operations at this time, but the weather factors that have hampered these operations will begin to lift.” , he said in a note published on Saturday.

The ISW said Russian forces were digging further east of the city of Kherson, from where they were expelled by Ukrainian forces more than two weeks ago, and continuing “routine artillery fire ” on the Dnipro river.

In the eastern region of Donetsk, five people have been killed in shelling over the past day, according to Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko. Night shelling was reported by regional leaders in the Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions in the west.

Kharkiv Governor Oleh Syniehubov said one person was killed and three injured in the northeastern region.

5. 144 million euros raised under the “Grain from Ukraine” program, according to Zelenskyy

President Zelenskyy said around $150m (€144m) had been raised under the “Grains of Ukraine” program following Saturday’s food security summit in Kyiv .

Several European Union leaders were in the Ukrainian capital for an ‘International Food Security Summit’ to discuss the country’s food security and agricultural exports, as well as the 90th anniversary of the Soviet era famine known as the Holodomor.

A UN-brokered deal with Turkey has allowed safe exports of Ukrainian grain to the Black Sea amid wartime disruptions that have affected traffic.

“The total amount we have raised for ‘Grain from Ukraine’ is already around 150 million dollars. The work continues,” Zelenskyy said in his evening televised address.

“We are preparing up to 60 ships. All together, we are not content to send Ukrainian agricultural products to the countries that are suffering the most from the food crisis. We reaffirm that hunger must never again be used as a weapon.

Ukraine has accused the Kremlin of using the same “genocidal” tactics it used against it in the 1930s under Josef Stalin.

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