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UKRAINE UPDATE: 24 NOVEMBER 2022

Russia knocks out power for millions amid freeze; Pentagon spells out latest $400m in weapons

Russia knocks out power for millions amid freeze; Pentagon spells out latest $400m in weapons
Fire and rescue workers attend a building hit by a missile in central Kyiv on 23 November 2022. (Photo: Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)

A barrage of Russian missile strikes against Ukrainian energy facilities prompted the country’s grid operator to halt three nuclear power plants and enact emergency blackouts amid below-zero temperatures.

‘Energy terror continues,” Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Telegram. “We will withstand. They won’t break us.”

The president of the European Parliament said that a pro-Kremlin group had claimed responsibility for a cyberattack against the legislature. The body had earlier in the day adopted a non-binding resolution to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.

Key developments

On the ground

Aside from the attacks against energy infrastructure across Ukraine, Russian forces hit a maternity ward in the Zaporizhzhya region with missiles overnight, killing a newborn, Governor Oleksandr Starukh said on Telegram. Ukraine said the eastern front was at the centre of Russia’s attacks, especially in Bakhmut and Avdiyivka.

Strikes in Kyiv and Vyshhorod, north of the capital, killed at least eight people and wounded more than 30, officials said. Ukraine shot down five drones and 51 of 67 missiles fired by Russia, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, Ukraine’s chief commander, said on Telegram. 

Russian oil flows resume through Ukraine’s part of Druzhba pipeline

Oil flows through Ukraine’s section of the southern leg of Russia’s Druzhba pipeline system into Europe resumed, after a halt for several hours amid Russian strikes on critical infrastructure.

The disruption on Wednesday came just hours after Ukraine’s grid operator deliberately shut off power in every district while authorities from cities across the nation reported blackouts and halted mass transport lines following a fresh barrage of Russian missile attacks.

The resumption of flows was confirmed by Igor Dyomin, a spokesman at Transneft, which operates the system in Russia.

 

 

 

Pentagon spells out latest $400m in weapons 

The Pentagon said the latest $400-million to be drawn down from existing inventories to arm Ukraine includes more munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (Nasams). Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week that the two systems already in operation in Ukraine had been 100% effective.

The new package authorised by President Joe Biden includes 150 heavy machine guns with thermal imagery sights to counter Russian attack drones, ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (Himars) and precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds, mortar rounds, more than 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and additional Harms air-dropped missiles designed to attack Russian ground radar.

EU Parliament hit by cyberattack after Russia vote 

The website of the European Parliament suffered a cyberattack, making it inaccessible for several hours on Wednesday, its president, Roberta Metsola said in a tweet. She added that a pro-Kremlin group claimed responsibility.

The attack followed the adoption of a non-binding resolution to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. The Parliament didn’t formally connect the two events.

Russia is short of munitions, says US defence chief

Russia’s stock of precision-guided artillery munitions “has been significantly reduced” and can’t be rapidly replenished because of trade restrictions on computer chips, Austin told reporters who travelled with him to Cambodia.

“We’ll see if they’re able to go back on the offensive or it’s going to be a break in time before they’re able to regenerate the capability they think they need,” he said, adding that he hadn’t seen evidence of additional large-scale Russian troop mobilisations so far.

Moldova restores power after nationwide blackout 

All of Moldova, including the capital, Chisinau, and the pro-Russia separatist territory of Transnistria, was briefly without power, according to Maciek Wozniak, a Polish adviser to the Moldovan state utility Energocom. For about two hours there were “no water and phone lines” or working traffic lights, he said in a text message exchange.

The cause was probably a domino effect from Russian missile strikes around the Ukrainian city of Odesa that had shut down the region’s grid, according to Wozniak, including a high-voltage line from Romania that since last month has carried most of Moldova’s electricity.

Ukraine halts nuclear power plants on grid damage 

Ukrainian power company Energoatom said it disconnected its South Ukrainian, Rivne and Khmelnytska nuclear plants from the power grid after Russian missile strikes damaged power lines and the plants had no place to transmit power.

Energoatom said on Telegram that the units would be reconnected once the grid is back to normal.

IMF and Ukrainian authorities reach staff-level pact 

Ukraine reached a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund that may open a path to a financial lifeline as the war-battered nation seeks as much as $20-billion to shore up its reserves and budget needs. 

The deal between Kyiv and the Washington-based lender is a so-called staff-level agreement aimed at establishing a full lending programme to unlock billions in financing next year if the government meets conditions, according to the lender’s statement on Wednesday.

The four-month programme “will provide an anchor for macroeconomic policies and catalyse donor support”, Gavin Gray, who led the IMF mission, said in a statement.

All Ukrainian regions have emergency power cuts  

Grid operator Ukrenergo said that emergency power cuts were being enacted in all regions after the widespread Russian attacks on infrastructure.

Ukrenergo, commenting in a statement on Facebook, said power cuts were needed to prevent further technical failures in the energy system after severe damage from repeated strikes since mid-October.

Russian missile hits infrastructure facility in Kyiv

A missile fired by Russian forces hit a piece of infrastructure in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram, without elaborating.

Following blasts in Kyiv, power momentarily shut off in part of the city before coming back on, according to witnesses. Emergency services were deployed to the sites, Klitschko said.

European Parliament declares Russia state sponsor of terrorism  

The European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, to pave the way for President Vladimir Putin and his government to be held accountable for war crimes before an international tribunal. 

The resolution calls on EU member states to swiftly complete work on a ninth sanctions package against Moscow.  

European bank helps to shore up critical industries 

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is giving a €50-million guarantee to back lending to critical industries in Ukraine. The lender was issuing risk-sharing instruments to three local banks and a leasing company.

EU considers imposing price cap of $65-$70 on Russian oil  

The EU, in coordination with G7 nations, is discussing capping the price of Russian crude oil at between $65 and $70 a barrel, according to people familiar with the matter. 

EU considers imposing price cap of $65-$70 on Russian oil

Kyiv may face worst winter since World War 2, says mayor  

Kyiv authorities may have to evacuate parts of the city if the energy crisis worsens, Mayor Vitali Klitschko told Germany’s Bild newspaper.

The capital has to prepare for the worst scenario which would involve a wide-reaching blackout when temperatures drop further, Bild cited Klitschko as saying. “We won’t just take our things and flee to the West, like Putin wants,” he said. 

Germany pledges support until war ends  

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his government will support the administration in Kyiv until Russia’s war is over. 

“We will stick to this course — in solidarity with our closest allies — until this senseless, brutal, criminal war ends,” he told the lower house of Parliament in Berlin. “Russia must finally stop this war!” 

 

 

 

UK delivers helicopters, pledges artillery rounds  

The UK said it completed its first delivery of helicopters to Ukraine and pledged an additional 10,000 artillery rounds, the Ministry of Defence said.

An undisclosed number of Sea King helicopters had been delivered to Ukraine to provide search and rescue capability, according to a statement from the ministry. It comes after Britain’s Royal Navy provided 10 weeks of Sea King training for 10 Ukrainian crews in the UK.

Nato allies test air and missile defence capabilities 

Nato allies tested their air and missile defence capabilities in Romania on Wednesday, simulating an attack by a fighter jet and using a French Mamba surface-based system to repel it.

The exercise comes a week after a missile landed on Polish soil, killing two, that was probably the result of Ukrainian forces fending off a barrage of missile attacks from Russia.

Putin meets fertiliser tycoon Mazepin 

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Dmitry Mazepin, an investor in the Uralchem-Uralkali fertiliser group, to discuss fertiliser shipment  issues, state television reported. 

Mazepin asked the president to help to restart ammonium fertiliser shipments via Ukraine’s Odesa port as part of a grain shipment deal that was extended last week. DM

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