Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 274: Kiev mayor says 70% of residents without electricity

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine on February 24 after the Western-leaning Kiev government turned a deaf ear to Moscow’s calls for its neighbor to maintain its neutrality. In the middle of the mayhem, Moscow and Kiev are trying to hammer out a peaceful solution to the conflict. Follow the latest about the Russia-Ukraine conflict here:

Russia won’t supply gas to countries that agree to price cap: Kremlin

Russia does not plan to supply oil and gas to countries supporting a price cap on Russian oil, the Kremlin said, but will make a final decision once it analyses all the figures.

“As of now, we stand by President (Vladimir) Putin’s position that we will not supply oil and gas to the countries which would set (the cap) and join the cap,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told his daily call with reporters.

“But we need to analyse everything before we formulate our position,” he added.

G7 countries are considering putting a price cap on Russian oil at $65 to $70 a barrel.

UN data shows Ukrainian grain exports slowing

Ukraine’s grain exports are slowing down after the deal was extended last week, and one Ukrainian envoy has placed part of the blame on Russia’s reluctance to speed up ship inspections.

Since the agreement was extended beyond November 19, no more than five ships a day have departed from Ukraine, UN data show, down from previous weeks and months when up to 10 left the country.

UN spokeswoman Ismini Palla noted vessel flows were affected by past uncertainty over extending the deal, poor Istanbul weather conditions for inspections, and a rotation of new staff and inspectors at a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC).

US weapons stockpile affected by war: Report

With the US aiding Ukraine in the war with Ukraine, the Pentagon is rethinking its weapons stockpiles.

Much of Ukraine’s firepower is being supplied through US government-funded weapons pushed almost weekly to the front lines.

But, US defence production lines aren’t scaled to supply a major land war, with some lines, like the Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, previously shut down.

On Wednesday, the Joe Biden administration announced an additional round of aid that will provide 20 million more rounds of small arms ammunition to Kyiv.

“We’ve not been in a position where we’ve got only a few days of some critical munition left,” Pentagon comptroller Michael McCord told reporters this month, adding, “But we are now supporting a partner who is.”

The Pentagon this month announced a $14.4 million contract to speed production of new HIMARS to replenish its stocks.

“This conflict has revealed that munitions production in the United States and with our allies is likely insufficient for major land wars,” stated Ryan Brobst, an analyst at the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told the Associated Press.

Water is restored across Kyiv, but not at full capacity yet

The water supply has been returned to every district in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, mayor Vitalii Klitschko said on Telegram Thursday.

“Water supply has been restored in all districts of the capital,” he stated, adding, “But it will take some time for the water supply system to work at full capacity.”

“Currently, some consumers may still have low water pressure in the system, especially those Kyiv residents who live on the upper floors of high-rise buildings,” Klitschko added.

Water in Kyiv was suspended Wednesday after shelling in the region, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a post on Telegram.

Klitschko asked residents to “stock up on water” while experts tried to “return water to the homes of Kyiv residents.”

The Kyiv regional administration said Wednesday the entire Kyiv region – meaning millions of people – was completely without electricity and water was also badly disrupted after Russian missiles targeted critical infrastructure.

Ukraine could ‘end suffering’ by meeting Russia’s demands: Kremlin

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted Ukraine’s leadership could “end suffering” by meeting Russia’s demands to resolve the conflict.

Peskov was asked whether Russia was worried about the effect of its strikes on energy infrastructure, which have caused repeated mass blackouts across Ukraine.

Peskov stated Russia only attacked targets of military relevance, not “social” ones.

‘Real danger of nuclear, radioactive catastrophe’: Ukrainian energy chief

Russia caused a “real danger of a nuclear and radioactive catastrophe” by launching attacks, thereby disconnecting all of Ukraine’s nuclear reactors from the power grid for the first time in 40 years, according to Ukraine’s nuclear energy chief.

Petro Kotin, the head of nuclear power company Energoatom, stated the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant had been reconnected to the national power grid after Russian air attacks on Wednesday and that the backup diesel generators at the site had been turned off.

EU preparing new sanctions package on Russia

The European Union is preparing a ninth package of sanctions against Russia following Moscow’s latest barrage of strikes on Ukraine, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday.

“We are working hard to hit Russia where it hurts to blunt even further its capacity to wage war on Ukraine and I can announce today that we are working full speed on a ninth sanctions package,” von der Leyen told a news conference in Espoo, Finland.

Von der Leyen added she was “confident that we will very soon approve a global price cap on Russian oil with the G7 and other major partners,” after the West’s biggest economies agreed in September to impose a cap to reduce Moscow’s ability to fund its war.

“We will not rest until Ukraine has prevailed over Putin and his unlawful and barbaric war,” she continued.

Western sanctions are taking their toll on Russia, particularly as the cold winter months begin.

Western sanctions have also sharply curtailed Russia’s ability to replenish the munitions it is using in Ukraine, according to analysis from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence last month.

Kiev mayor reveals 70% of residents still without electricity

Over 70% of Kiev’s residents remain without electricity as of Thursday morning, water supply in the city has been partially restored, Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko reported.

“As of Thursday morning, 70% of Kiev remains without power,” the Ukrainian media outlet Strana quoted him as saying.

According to Klitschko, the electricity return to the capital depends on the resumption of balance in the Ukrainian power grid system.

Water supplies in the city have now been resumed on the left bank. Meanwhile, on the right bank, water should be available in the first half of the day, the mayor added.

Zelensky urges UNSC to support “peace formula” following missile strikes

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, urging the group to support the Ukrainian peace formula following a wave of Russian missile strikes that the president dubbed “the Russian formula of terror.”

“I emphasize yet again: it is high time to support the Ukrainian formula of peace. There should be no room for terror in the world,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky emphasized the need for “modern and effective air and missile defense systems” after detailing the series of Russian air strikes that destroyed critical facilities, including energy infrastructure, residential housing, and a hospital, where a newborn baby in the hospital’s maternity ward was killed.

This large-scale assault on energy infrastructure also led to widespread energy blackouts in Ukraine and neighboring Moldova, an act Zelensky stated was “analogous to using weapons of mass destruction.”

“When the temperature outside drops below zero and tens of millions of people are left without electricity, heat and water as a result of Russian missiles hitting energy facilities, that is an obvious crime against humanity,” he added.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield was one of several representatives to reiterate their support for Ukraine, with emphasis on condemning Russian attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure.

“Vladimir Putin’s motive could not be more clear and more cold-blooded. He is clearly — clearly —weaponizing winter to inflict immense suffering on the Ukrainian people. He has decided that if he can’t seize Ukraine by force, he will try to freeze the country into submission,” Greenfield noted.

Kremlin expresses faith in ‘success’ of its Ukraine offensive

The Kremlin has expressed faith in the “success” of its offensive in Ukraine as Russian attacks left the ex-Soviet country’s energy system in tatters.

“The future and the success of the special operation are beyond doubt,” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a visit to Armenia, using Moscow’s official term to describe its war.

Peskov, who accompanied President Vladimir Putin to the Armenian capital Yerevan, did not provide further details.

We can’t continue “counting on good luck” to avoid nuclear accident at Zaporizhzhia: IAEA director

Negotiations with Kyiv and Moscow on the establishment of a safety zone around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant continue — but in the meantime the director of the UN nuclear watchdog is warning about potential consequences.

“We cannot continue counting on good luck to avoid a nuclear accident,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi told CNN on Wednesday.

Grossi said negotiations are “moving forward” but “this is an active combat zone, therefore getting to agreed parameters for this is not such an easy thing to do.”

The IAEA director added he met with a Russian delegation in Turkey earlier Wednesday and spoke with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday.

“I am having consultations with both. I would not agree with the assessment that we are not making any progress, I think we are,” Grossi continued.

“Of course, we are talking about something which is very difficult. This is war. This is real war and the protection zone that I am proposing is precisely on the front line, on the line were both adversaries are in contact,” he noted.

“But we are moving forward I believe, and I hope that episodes as traumatic as the ones this past weekend may paradoxically help us move forward, in the sense that people need to realize that we cannot continue counting on good luck to avoid a nuclear accident,” he added.

When asked who is “playing with fire,” referencing Grossi’s own remarks from Sunday following powerful explosions that rocked the nuclear power plant Saturday and Sunday, Grossi said “it is very difficult for us to identify from inside the plant who is doing that,” adding “by the way, our main goal is to get this to stop, not to get into a game of attribution.”

Later on Wednesday, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant “once again lost access to external electricity” and was instead relying on its emergency diesel generators for the power it needs for reactor cooling and other essential functions, IAEA announced in a statement.

Biden administration condemns Russian strikes on Ukraine’s power infrastructure

The Joe Biden administration on Wednesday condemned Russian strikes on power generating infrastructure across Ukraine.

National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement that Russia “is increasingly turning to horrific attacks against the Ukrainian people with punishing strikes damaging energy grid infrastructure, and deliberately doing so as winter approaches.”

Watson added that the strikes “do not appear aimed at any military purpose,” but “instead further the goal of the Putin regime to increase the suffering and death” of Ukrainians.

The US also warned that the actions show “Russia is willing to increase the risk of a nuclear safety incident that could not only further harm Ukraine, but affect the entire region as well.”

Watson’s statement touted an additional $400 million security assistance package for Ukraine announced earlier Wednesday.

At least 7 dead from Russian strikes across Kyiv region: Officials

At least seven people were killed and 36 were wounded following a fresh wave of Russian strikes across Ukraine, according to officials.

Four died in the region of Kyiv, the head of Kyiv region military administration, Oleksii Kuleba, said in a Telegram statement.

In the city of Kyiv, three people were killed Wednesday, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a post on Telegram.

German chancellor says country’s energy security for this winter is “guaranteed”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday that Germany’s energy security for this winter season is “guaranteed” amid Europe’s energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“It is guaranteed because the German government took a courageous turn in direction and because households and companies across the country save energy,” Scholz told German lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin.

“Doing nothing would come at a very high price. That’s why we are doing away with the failings of an energy and trade policy that has led us into one-sided dependence on Russia and China in particular,” he added.

Scholz also stated that he shares the goal with French President Emmanuel Macron of a geopolitical Europe that is “significantly more capable of acting.”

Most Ukrainian power plants de-energized after Russian missile strike

The large-scale Russian missile assault on Ukrainian energy infrastructure Wednesday left most power plants de-energized and the vast majority of people without power, Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy said in a statement on Facebook.

“Today’s missile attack led to temporary de-energization of all nuclear power plants, and most thermal and hydroelectric power plants,” it noted.

“Power transmission facilities were also damaged. As a result, the vast majority of electricity consumers across the country were de-energized. There are emergency outages. The lack of electricity may affect the availability of heat and water supply,” it added.

Engineers were working to restore the power supply “as soon as possible” but the scale of the damage meant it “will take time,” the ministry announced.

Russia launched 70 missiles at Ukraine in large-scale attack: Ukrainian military

Russia launched 70 missiles at Ukraine on Wednesday in its latest “large-scale attack on crucial infrastructure facilities,” the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Telegram.

Fifty-one of the 70 missiles were intercepted, as well as five attack drones, the military’s statement read.

The missiles were launched from two small missile-carrying ships in — and aircraft over — the Black Sea; from TU-95MS missile carriers in Volgodonsk in southern Russia; and from the Caspian Sea.

US will provide $400 million in additional security assistance to Ukraine

The US will provide $400 million in additional security assistance to Ukraine, the White House announced Wednesday in a memo.

According to a statement from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the drawdown “includes additional arms, munitions, and air defense equipment from US Department of Defense inventories.”

A White House official stated that the package has “additional munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), 150 heavy machine guns with thermal imagery sights to counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS); additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), 200 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds,” and more.

Total US military assistance for Ukraine amounts to approximately $19.7 billion since the beginning of the Joe Biden administration, Blinken’s statement added.

“We will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, so it can continue to defend itself and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table when the time comes,” Blinken continued.

Power outages are affecting every region of Ukraine: Utility company

There are power outages across every region of Ukraine following a barrage of Russian missile strikes targeting the country’s critical infrastructure on Wednesday afternoon, national power supply company Ukrenergo announced in a statement posted to Facebook.

“The missile attack is still ongoing, but there are already hits on energy infrastructure facilities. Emergency outages are taking place in all regions,” it said.

“This is a necessary step to protect power grids from additional technological accidents and maintain the power system. Repair crews together with the units of the State Emergency Service will start repairing the damage immediately after the end of the air alert. But due to the frost and freezing rain in some regions, emergency repair works at the facilities damaged by terrorist missiles may take longer,” it added.

Ukrenergo advised everyone in Ukraine to make note of locations it described as “points of invincibility,” where “electricity, mobile communication and Internet, heating, water and first aid kits” would be available in the event of “significant” interruptions.

Kyiv regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said that a residential building in the district of Vyshgorod had been hit, as well as the village of Chabany. More than 20 people were injured, he added.

EU Parliament ‘a sponsor of idiocy’: Russia

The European Parliament, which on Wednesday adopted a non-binding resolution branding Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism”, should be designated a “sponsor of idiocy,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.

The EU’s legislative body passed the decision on Wednesday in a landslide vote in Strasbourg. The document was supported by 494 MEPs, with 58 votes against and 44 abstentions. The resolution merged drafts penned by three different factions of the European Parliament.

The labeling is the EU’s latest condemnation of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine. Some individual states, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and the Czech Republic, previously passed similar resolutions on a national level.

The move is largely symbolic, but the document urged member states to develop a new legal framework, which would allow the blacklisting, on terrorism grounds, not just individuals or organizations, but entire nations.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the news, declaring that Russia had to be “isolated at all levels and held accountable in order to end its long-standing policy of terrorism in Ukraine and across the globe.”

› Subscribe


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

More Articles