UKRAINE UPDATE: 7 November 2022

Warnings of war fatigue; claim of strike on key Kherson dam

Warnings of war fatigue; claim of strike on key Kherson dam
A Ukrainian soldier at a position in the northern Kherson region, 6 November 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Hannibal Hanschke)

Russian news agencies, citing local officials, said Ukraine struck the Kakhovka dam north of Kherson with a missile on Sunday, without causing major damage. There was no comment from Kyiv.

Ukraine has for weeks accused Russian forces of planning to blow up the Kakhovka dam and flood the surrounding region to slow a Ukrainian counteroffensive around Kherson.

The White House is privately suggesting Ukraine’s president indicate an openness to talks with Russia as a way to help Volodymyr Zelensky’s government address war support fatigue among some allies, the Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the effort.

Officials in Kyiv sought to provide reassurance after a New York Times report that a total evacuation from the capital is being considered. For now, Ukraine’s grid operator said it was limiting power supplies to the capital and seven northern and central regions because of damage from ongoing Russian bombardment of electrical infrastructure. Russia said the annexed southern city of Kherson lost power after Ukrainian strikes.

Key developments

On the ground

Russian troops, after months of setbacks, intensified their efforts to capture territory near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. The strategic value of the heavily bombarded town is unclear. Kremlin forces continued to set up defensive positions along the left bank of the Dnipro River, according to the Institute for the Study of War, as the situation in Kherson remains in the balance.

Kyiv’s troops continue to target Russian logistics and transportation equipment in the Kherson region. Ukraine’s southern operational command said Russian forces have destroyed dozens of civilian ships as part of their retreat to prevent Kyiv’s military from potentially using them. Separately, Russian occupying forces continue to forcibly evacuate the population from the temporarily occupied territories of the Kherson region to Crimea and beyond, Ukrainian officials said. Russian media reported that 10 towns and villages in the Kherson region, including Kherson itself, were left without electricity after “sabotage.”

Kyiv must set own course on talks: German president

It’s not up to Germany to “decide in Ukraine’s place” if or when to start negotiations with Russia, said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “Ukraine must say when it wants to hold such negotiations, when it considers them promising,” Steinmeier told ARD public television.

Diplomatic efforts shouldn’t have the purpose of endorsing Russia’s “violation of borders,” said Steinmeier, a former foreign minister. His comments came as the Washington Post reported that the US is privately pressing Kyiv to show an openness to talks as “war fatigue” sets in among some allies.



No grounds for evacuation, Kyiv’s mayoral office says

The situation in Kyiv is under control, the mayoral office said on its website, hours after a New York Times report that contingency plans are being made for a possible mass evacuation if power fails completely following recent repeated Russian missile strikes on key infrastructure.

“There are no grounds to talk about evacuation now,” said Roman Tkachuk, Kyiv’s municipal security chief. “Yes, we work on different plans, we train people to act and be prepared. It is important to avoid chaos and minimise risks for people.”

Zelensky, European Commission’s Von der Leyen speak on financial support

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday, focusing on ensuring financial support for Ukraine in the months ahead, on the Black Sea grain initiative, and on sanctions.

Von der Leyen said she would propose an EU financial package this week of up to €1.5-billion a month, totalling up to €18-billion, to help cover Ukraine’s financing needs for 2023, according to a readout.

The support in the form of highly concessional long-term loans, with coverage of the interest costs, would also work to support Ukraine’s reforms and its path towards EU membership, according to the readout.

Kakhovka dam above Kherson hit by Ukraine, Russian media says

The Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River was hit on Sunday by a Ukrainian strike from US-donated HIMARS rockets, according to Russia’s state-run Tass news agency. The damage was termed non-critical.

There was no comment from Ukraine on the claim, which couldn’t be verified.

Ukraine’s president has accused Russian forces, which captured the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant in February, of mining the dam and preparing to blow it up to create catastrophic flooding and slow down a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Ukraine’s environmental losses estimated at $37bn so far

“Even this insane amount does not reflect the real picture,” the Accounting Chamber, an audit body of the Ukrainian parliament, said on Facebook as it estimated environmental losses at 1.35 trillion hryvnia ($37-billion).

The amount of harmful emissions from forest fires, fuel burning and blazes at industrial companies has exceeded 67 million tons this year, compared with annual 2.2 million tons in two previous years, the chamber said.

A total of three million hectares or one-third of Ukraine’s total forested areas have been affected, and losses were termed irreversible, in some cases. About a third of Ukrainian territory requires mine clearing, which may take at least 10 years.

Kyiv mayor urges residents to stock up on essentials

Speaking on television on Saturday night, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said he was “asking everyone to stock up on drinking water, technical water, power banks, food, warm clothes,” and that the city is “making calculations for different scenarios”.

The former heavyweight boxing champion spoke as The New York Times reported that Ukraine’s capital is planning for a potential total evacuation if power and water supplies are cut off.

“I am asking people to prepare for a bad scenario in case of total cut-off of water and power supply,” he said, adding that Russia, through its ongoing airstrikes on key infrastructure, is “doing everything to deprive the city of electricity and water.”

Ukraine deputy PM vows to ‘keep fighting’

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister told an Italian newspaper that “there is no peace because Russians do not want it,” and that if Europe should “betray” its support for Ukraine, the entire Western world would be at risk.

“The only way to reach peace in this phase is to keep fighting,” Iryna Vereshchuk told Corriere Della Sera in an interview published on Sunday. “If we stop fighting, we will disappear as people and as a nation.”

Her comments came as The Washington Post reported that the US is privately pressing Kyiv to show an openness to talks with Russia as “war fatigue” sets in among some allies.



US seeks Ukraine signal on negotiations: Washington Post

The Biden administration is prodding Ukrainian leaders to signal openness to negotiations with Russia as a way to help the government in Kyiv address war support fatigue among some of its allies, The Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the discussions.

The people described it as a calculated attempt to maintain international support for Ukraine’s war effort, rather than pressure for Ukraine to negotiate, according to the Post.

One official told the newspaper that “Ukraine fatigue is a real thing” for some allies.

Ukraine to boost maritime drone power, Zelensky says

Ukraine’s government is seeking to replenish its maritime drone fleet to boost its defences in the Black Sea, President Volodymyr Zelensky said, a week after a drone strike on Russia’s new Black Sea fleet, possibly including the frigate Admiral Makarov.

“Next week, we will launch another fund-raising direction — we will raise funds for a fleet of marine drones,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address. He didn’t elaborate on the proposed source of funding.

Addressing the Iranian foreign minister’s earlier comment that Tehran “gave a limited number of drones to Russia months before” the war, Zelensky said Ukraine shoots down “at least 10 Iranian drones every day.”

US envoy says Iran’s drone account ‘not true’

Robert Malley, the US special envoy for Iran, said on Twitter that an Iranian claim that its drones were provided to Russia before the war in Ukraine began is false.

“Also not true — Iran didn’t give a limited number of drones before the war. They transferred dozens just this summer & have military personnel in occupied Ukraine helping Russia use them against Ukrainian civilians. Confronted with evidence, they need a new policy, not a new story,” Malley’s tweet said. DM


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