NATO is determined to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia for “as long as it takes” and will help the war-wracked country transform its armed forces into a modern army up to Western standards, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg vowed on Friday. Speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Romania next week, Stoltenberg urged countries that want to, either individually or in groups, to keep providing air defense systems and other weapons to Ukraine. NATO as an organization does not supply weapons. “NATO will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We will not back down,” the former Norwegian prime minister said. “Allies are providing unprecedented military support, and I expect foreign ministers will also agree to step up non-lethal support.” Stoltenberg said that members of the 30-nation security organization have been delivering fuel, generators, medical supplies, winter equipment and drone jamming devices, but that more will be needed as winter closes in, particularly as Russia attacks Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Read more: Poland, NATO say missile strike wasn't a Russian attack “At our meeting in Bucharest, I will call for more,” he said. “Over the longer term we will help Ukraine transition from Soviet era equipment to modern NATO standards, doctrine and training.” Stoltenberg said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba would join the ministers to discuss his country’s most pressing needs but also what kind of long-term support that NATO can provide. NATO’s top civilian official said the support will help Ukraine move toward joining the alliance one day. The Nov 29-30 meeting in Bucharest is being held almost 15 years after NATO promised that Ukraine and Georgia would one day become members of the organization, a pledge that deeply angered Russia. Also attending the meeting will be the foreign ministers of Bosnia, Georgia and Moldova – three partners that NATO says are coming under increasing Russian pressure. Stoltenberg said the meeting would see NATO “take further steps to help them protect their independence, and strengthen their ability to defend themselves.” Read more: Deadly missile strike adds to Ukraine war fears in Poland Since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion 10 months ago, NATO has bolstered the defenses of allies neighboring Ukraine and Russia but has carefully sought to avoid being dragged into a wider war with a major nuclear power. But Stoltenberg put no pressure on Ukraine to enter peace talks with Russia, and indeed NATO and European diplomats have said that Putin does not appear willing to come to the table. “Most wars end with negotiations,” he said. “But what happens at the negotiating table depends on what happens on the battlefield. Therefore, the best way to increase the chances for a peaceful solution is to support Ukraine.”
The death toll from an earthquake that struck Indonesia’s Java island early this week rose to 310 after rescuers found more bodies under landslides, an official said. At least 24 people remain missing. In devasted towns in western Java, residents gathered near badly damaged mosques for Friday prayers. Others held prayers along with rescuers between the tents at evacuation centers. Bodies were recovered Friday in two areas of mountainous Cianjur district where landslides triggered by Monday’s quake brought tons of mud, rocks and broken trees, said Henri Alfiandi, chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency. REad: 10 killed in apartment fire in northwest China's Xinjiang More than 1,400 rescuers have been searching through the rubble since the magnitude 5.6 quake, which injured more than 2,000 people. The head of the National Disaster Management Agency, Suharyanto, who uses one name, said rescuers will continue searching until rebuilding begins. “We will do it up to the last person. There is no reduction whatsoever, in strength, enthusiasm, or the equipment,” Suharyanto said. He said distribution of food and other aid is improving and is reaching more people in 110 evacuation locations. REad: Militants kill six police officers during ambush in northwest Pakistan The disaster agency said the earthquake damaged at least 56,000 houses and displaced at least 36,000 people. Hundreds of public facilities were destroyed, including 363 schools. An earthquake of that strength would not typically cause such serious damage. But Monday’s quake was shallow and shook a densely populated area that lacks earthquake-resistant infrastructure. Indonesia is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin known as the “Ring of Fire.”
Natalia Kristenko’s dead body lay covered in a blanket in the doorway of her apartment building for hours overnight. City workers were at first too overwhelmed to retrieve her as they responded to a deadly barrage of attacks that shook Ukraine’s southern city of Kherson. The 62-year-old had walked outside her home with her husband Thursday evening after drinking tea when the building was struck. Kristenko was killed instantly from a wound to the head. Her husband died hours later in the hospital from internal bleeding. “Russians took the two most precious people from me,” their bereft daughter, Lilia Kristenko, 38, said, clutching her cat inside her coat as she watched on in horror Friday as responders finally arrived to transport her mother to the morgue. “They lived so well, they lived differently,” she told The Associated Press. “But they died in one day.” A barrage of missiles struck the recently liberated city of Kherson for the second day Friday in a marked escalation of attacks since Russia withdrew from the city two weeks ago. Read: Bombed, not beaten: Ukraine’s capital flips to survival mode The city was shelled 17 times before midday Thursday, and strikes continued into the evening, killing at least four people and injuring 10, according to Kherson’s military administration. Soldiers in the region had warned that Kherson would face intensified strikes as Russian troops dig in across the Dnieper River. Scores of people were injured in the strikes that hit residential and commercial buildings, lighting some on fire, blowing ash into the air and littering the streets with shattered glass. The attacks wrought destruction on some residential neighborhoods not previously hit in the war that has just entered its tenth month. After Kristenko’s parents were hit, she tried to call an ambulance but there was no phone network, she said. Her 66-year-old father was clutching his stomach wound and screaming “it hurts so much I’m doing to die,” she said. He eventually was taken by ambulance to the hospital but died during surgery. On Friday morning people sifted through what little remained of their destroyed houses and shops. Containers of food lined the floor of a shattered meat store, while across the street customers lined up at a coffee shop where residents said four people died the night before. “I don’t even know what to say, it was unexpected,” said Diana Samsonova, who works at the coffee shop, which remained open throughout Russia’s occupation and has no plans to close despite the attacks. The violence is compounding what’s become a dire humanitarian crisis. As Russians retreated, they destroyed key infrastructure, leaving people with little water and electricity. People have become so desperate they’re finding some salvation amid the wreckage. Outside an apartment building that was badly damaged, residents filled buckets with water that pooled on the ground. Workers at the morgue used puddles to clean their bloody hands. Valerii Parkhomenko had just parked his car and gone into a coffee shop when a rocket destroyed his vehicle. “We were all crouching on the floor inside,” he said, showing the ash on his hands. “I feel awful, my car is destroyed, I need this car for work to feed my family,” he said. Outside shelled apartment buildings residents picked up debris and frantically searched for relatives while paramedics helped the injured. Read: After Russian retreat, Ukrainian military plans next move “I think it’s so bad and I think all countries need to do something about this because it’s not normal,” said Ivan Mashkarynets, a man in his early 20s who was at home with his mother when the apartment block next to him was struck. “There’s no army, there’s no soldiers. There are just people living here and they’re (still) firing,” he said. The government has said it will help people evacuate if they want to, but many say they have no place to go. “There is no work (elsewhere), there is no work here,” said Ihor Novak as he stood on a street examining the aftermath of the shelling. “For now, the Ukrainian army is here and with them we hope it will be safer.”
Yoo Young Yi’s grandmother gave birth to six children. Her mother birthed two. Yoo doesn’t want any. “My husband and I like babies so much … but there are things that we’d have to sacrifice if we raised kids,” said Yoo, a 30-year-old Seoul financial company employee. “So it’s become a matter of choice between two things, and we’ve agreed to focus more on ourselves.” There are many like Yoo in South Korea who have chosen either not to have children or not to marry. Other advanced countries have similar trends, but South Korea’s demographic crisis is much worse. South Korea’s statistics agency announced in September that the total fertility rate — the average number of babies born to each woman in their reproductive years — was 0.81 last year. That’s the world’s lowest for the third consecutive year. The population shrank for the first time in 2021, stoking worry that a declining population could severely damage the economy — the world’s 10th largest — because of labor shortages and greater welfare spending as the number of older people increases and the number of taxpayers shrinks. President Yoon Suk Yeol has ordered policymakers to find more effective steps to deal with the problem. The fertility rate, he said, is plunging even though South Korea spent 280 trillion won ($210 billion) over the past 16 years to try to turn the tide. Many young South Koreans say that, unlike their parents and grandparents, they don’t feel an obligation to have a family. They cite the uncertainty of a bleak job market, expensive housing, gender and social inequality, low levels of social mobility and the huge expense of raising children in a brutally competitive society. Women also complain of a persistent patriarchal culture that forces them to do much of the childcare while enduring discrimination at work. “In a nutshell, people think our country isn’t an easy place to live,” said Lee So-Young, a population policy expert at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs. “They believe their children can’t have better lives than them, and so question why they should bother to have babies.” Many people who fail to enter good schools and land decent jobs feel they’ve become “dropouts” who “cannot be happy” even if they marry and have kids because South Korea lacks advanced social safety nets, said Choi Yoon Kyung, an expert at the Korea Institute of Child Care and Education. She said South Korea failed to establish such welfare programs during its explosive economic growth in the 1960 to ’80s. Read: BGMEA calls on South Korea's Youngone to invest more in Bangladesh Yoo, the Seoul financial worker, said that until she went to college, she strongly wanted a baby. But she changed her mind when she saw female office colleagues calling their kids from the company toilet to check on them or leaving early when their children were sick. She said her male coworkers didn’t have to do this. “After seeing this, I realized my concentration at work would be greatly diminished if I had babies,” Yoo said. Her 34-year-old husband, Jo Jun Hwi, said he doesn’t think having kids is necessary. An interpreter at an information technology company, Jo said he wants to enjoy his life after years of exhaustive job-hunting that made him “feel like I was standing on the edge of a cliff.” There are no official figures on how many South Koreans have chosen not to marry or have kids. But records from the national statistics agency show there were about 193,000 marriages in South Korea last year, down from a peak of 430,000 in 1996. The agency data also show about 260,600 babies were born in South Korea last year, down from 691,200 in 1996, and a peak of 1 million in 1971. The recent figures were the lowest since the statistics agency began compiling such data in 1970. Kang Han Byeol, a 33-year-old graphic designer who’s decided to remain single, believes South Korea isn’t a sound place to raise children. She cited frustration with gender inequalities, widespread digital sex crimes targeting women such as spy cams hidden in public restrooms, and a culture that ignores those pushing for social justice. “I can consider marriage when our society becomes healthier and gives more equal status to both women and men,” Kang said. Read: Witnesses describe South Korean crowd surge as 'a hell' Kang’s 26-year-old roommate Ha Hyunji also decided to stay single after her married female friends advised her not to marry because most of the housework and child care falls to them. Ha worries about the huge amount of money she would spend for any future children’s private tutoring to prevent them from falling behind in an education-obsessed nation. “I can have a fun life without marriage and enjoy my life with my friends,” said Ha, who runs a cocktail bar in Seoul. Until the mid-1990s, South Korea maintained birth control programs, which were initially launched to slow the country’s post-war population explosion. The nation distributed contraceptive pills and condoms for free at public medical centers and offered exemptions on military reserve training for men if they had a vasectomy. United Nations figures show a South Korean woman on average gave birth to about four to six children in the 1950s and ’60s, three to four in the 1970s, and less than two in the mid-1980s. South Korea has been offering a variety of incentives and other support programs for those who give birth to many children. But Choi, the expert, said the fertility rate has been falling too fast to see any tangible effects. During a government task force meeting last month, officials said they would soon formulate comprehensive measures to cope with demographic challenges. South Korean society still frowns on those who remain childfree or single. In 2021 when Yoo and Jo posted their decision to live without children on their YouTube channel, “You Young You Young,” some posted messages calling them “selfish” and asking them to pay more taxes. The messages also called Jo “sterile” and accused Yoo of “gaslighting” her husband. Lee Sung-jai, a 75-year-old Seoul resident, said it’s “the order of nature” for humankind to marry and give birth to children. “These days, I see some (unmarried) young women walking with dogs in strollers and saying they are their moms. Did they give birth to those dogs? They are really crazy,” he said. Seo Ji Seong, 38, said that she’s often called a patriot by older people for having many babies, though she didn’t give birth to them for the national interest. She’s expecting a fifth baby in January. Read: Halloween tragedy: Many South Koreans angry, ashamed over safety failures Seo’s family recently moved to a rent-free apartment in the city of Anyang, which was jointly provided by the state-run Korea Land and Housing Corporation and the city for families with at least four children. Seo and her husband, Kim Dong Uk, 33, receive other state support, though it’s still tough economically to raise four kids. Kim said he enjoys seeing each of his children growing up with different personalities and talents, while Seo feels their kids’ social skills are helped while playing and competing with one another at home. “They are all so cute. That’s why I’ve kept giving birth to babies even though it’s difficult,” Seo said.
Why build a rooftop water tank in the shape of a Teletubby? Or go to the effort of installing a replica of the Eiffel Tower atop a semi-abandoned building? It’s often difficult to explain the proliferation of unusual artwork dotting the vast urban belt of some 11 million people outside Argentina’s capital of Buenos Aires. In this immense swath of tree-lined neighborhoods co-existing with areas of chaos — apparently built with little if any urban planning — many residents have erected grandiose, eyebrow-raising surprises. The creators are usually construction workers or shop owners, although some artists are seeking to leave their signature in their neighborhood. Pedro Flores defines the outskirts of Buenos Aires as a “post-apocalyptic paradise” close to the capital’s center. He and two friends run an Instagram account, “The Walking Conurban,” a play on the words “conurbano bonaerense,” as the roughly 40 municipalities are known in Spanish. The page publishes images daily of these suburbs, often tinged with a bit of magical realism: a dinosaur on the dirt streets of a poor neighborhood; two Minions dolls greeting people from a home; a Statue of Liberty in the middle of a pasture. Here are some of the works The Associated Press visited. THE EIFFEL TOWER On a rooftop at the corner of a street in the town of La Tablada stands a replica of the Eiffel Tower. Miguel Muñoz, 58, proudly explains how his father, a blacksmith, built it out of leftover iron with the guidance of brochures from the French embassy. “He gave it to me on my birthday, that’s why I don’t sell it,” Muñoz said.The tower is a symbol in the neighborhood. “I took it down once to paint it and the neighbors went crazy thinking someone had stolen it,” Muñoz said. Read: Argentina keen to exporting soybean, fertilizer to Bangladesh THE KETTLE On the terrace of a two-story house stands a large water tank in the shape of a kettle, like the ones used by Argentines to make their beloved tea-like infusions known as mate. It was built in 1957 by Italian immigrant Victorio Smerilli and some relatives. “They decided to do it as a replica of the ‘Victor’ kettle they sold in a store located downstairs in this same house,” said Gustavo Smerilli, the immigrant’s grandson. Adriana Paoli runs an art workshop in the building and she is pushing a project to restore the kettle. “If I say, ‘I have my workshop in the kettle,’ everyone knows the place,” she said. STATUE OF LIBERTY In the municipality of General Rodríguez, behind a humble house, a replica of a Statue of Liberty rises above a field where horses and cows graze. The 15-meter- (49-foot-) high structure is a leftover from the “Liberty Motocross” circuit operated there years ago, the caretaker of the property, Pablo Sebastián, said. GORILLA OF THE BOAT HOUSE Sitting peacefully on a rock, next to a door of a boat-shaped house in the town of San Miguel, the gorilla Pepe drinks from a mate gourd. The creator of the house and the gorilla statue is sculptor and painter Héctor Duarte, who died in 2020. Duarte’s family has received offers to buy the cement sculpture, but they refuse to sell. BUSTS OF EVITA AND JUAN PERÓN In the patio of the same house where Pepe the gorilla presides, Duarte’s busts of Juan Domingo Perón, three-time president of Argentina, and his wife, Eva María Duarte, can be seen embracing. Duarte’s family lends the sculptures out for official ceremonies. MONTE GRANDE WATER TANK The enormous water tank in Monte Grande’s main plaza became a work of art in 2020 when, at the municipality’s request, artist Leandro García Pimentel painted a mural on it depicting fire, earth, air and water. The water tank has become a meeting point and public ceremonies, and newlyweds pose in front of it for photos. Read: Bangladesh, Argentina to strengthen economic ties; MoU on FOC signed DINOSAUR On a street in front of bricklayer Daniel Niz’s house, in the poor Sol de Oro neighborhood in Ezeiza, a dinosaur greets visitors. “My son wanted a rubber (dinosaur) and it was expensive, so I decided to make this out of recycled things and materials,” Niz said. He previously had the dinosaur on a patio inside his house but he decided to put it outside so people could take photos of the 1.2-ton structure. HAND OF GOD WATER TANK A water tank made to look like a large hand holding a soccer ball stands on the roof of a house in the La Cumbre neighborhood on the outskirts of La Plata, recalling the famous goal Diego Maradona scored with his hand against England in the 1986 World Cup. It was designed by a deceased mason who was well known to locals. COLOSSEUM, TOWER OF PISA and ARCH OF TRIUMPH Replicas of these European masterworks in the municipality of Ituzaingó were carried out by artist and architect Rubén Díaz, who is considered a “generator of fantasies.” Díaz’s goal is in part to let his neighbors “travel” to places they would normally never see. The Colosseum, which is 200 square meters (2,153 square feet) and 8 meters (26 feet) high, recreates the Roman amphitheater. The Argentine version of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris is 11 meters (36 feet) high and has the late comedian Carlitos Balá immortalized on one side. Meanwhile, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is located in the front garden of a private property. Díaz has proposed building the Great Wall of China in 2023. HOMER’S GRILL Homer Simpson, the father from the TV series “The Simpsons,” smiles and holds up his thumb from atop the aluminum roof of a restaurant in the town of Ciudadela. On the front of the restaurant, which serves cuts of grilled meat, is the silhouette of Maradona running with a ball. TELETUBBY WATER TANK Po, the red Teletubby with the circular antenna, smiles as she surveys a long and busy highway. But Po isn’t just there for decoration — she is the lid of a building’s water tank in the town of Ciudadela. Read: Argentina plans to open Dhaka embassy Ignacio Castro, who rents the apartment just below the tank, said that when he was about to move in he found the head of the character of the famous children’s show in the kitchen. He gave it to his uncle but the owner of the building demanded it be returned. FIGURES OF IMMIGRANTS Also in Ciudadela, some 20 human-scale figures appear in a row in the entrance garden to the home of Antonio Ierace, an Italian immigrant who arrived in Argentina in 1949 and worked as a bricklayer. As a hobby, he designed statues dedicated to migrants, including a man carrying two suitcases, and homages to workers such as hairdressers and blacksmiths. HOUSE WITH THE TRANSFORMERS In the town of Adrogué, gardener Juan Acosta cuts the grass in his yard where there are six robots that resemble Transformers from the 1980s U.S. television program. Passersby can see the Transformers from the sidewalk. “Curious people take photos daily,” Acosta said of the robots made from recycled materials.
Reformist leader Anwar Ibrahim has won a hard-fought battle to become Malaysia’s new prime minister. But working with former foes to form a unity government as a polarized nation watches will immediately test his political mettle. There is no honeymoon period for Anwar, 75, who got straight down to work less than 24 hours after he was sworn in as the nation’s 10th leader. National television showed Anwar clocking in Friday morning at the government administrative capital of Putrajaya. His first test will be the construction of a Cabinet and the distribution of portfolios to appease the diverse members of his unity government. Anwar promised Monday that his Cabinet will be leaner compared to the previous, oversized administration, and said he will forego his salary as prime minister amid the country’s economic slowdown. He said new Cabinet members would be asked to cut their salaries, too. “My main priority now is the cost of living,” he told a news conference. Anwar pledged to work swiftly to find ways to help Malaysians struggling with rising food costs, a currency at its lowest point in over two decades and stagnating wages ahead of an expected economic slowdown next year. Read: Long-time reformist leader Anwar sworn in as Malaysian PM Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan, or Alliance of Hope, won 82 out of 222 seats in the Nov. 19 general election. To cobble a majority, he won support from two key rival blocs: the long-ruling National Front, which has 30 seats, and the Sarawak Parties Alliance with 23. Several smaller blocs have said they will also join. Former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Malay-centric National Alliance unexpectedly won 73 seats. Muhyiddin’s hard-line ally, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party that touts Sharia, took 49 seats to become the country’s single largest party in an indication of the rise of conservative Islam. Anwar’s victory with support from political rivals marked another “watershed moment that heralded a new era for Malaysian democracy,” said Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid, political analyst with the University of Science, Malaysia. It came on the back of his alliance’s stunning victory in 2018 polls, which ended the National Front’s 60-year grip on power and led to the country’s first regime change since independence from Britain in 1957. But the new government crumbled after power grab that led to turmoil and saw a total of three prime ministers in four years. Anwar was in prison at the time on a sodomy charge he said was politically motivated. Anwar fostered a conciliatory tone after his appointment, welcoming all parties to his government as long as they adhere to the basic rules of good governance, no corruption and a “Malaysia for all Malaysians.” Read: Reformist leader Anwar close to becoming Malaysia's next PM Analysts said the makeup of his Cabinet will provide a clearer picture of his policies going forward, as he puts flesh to bones on his campaign promises to clean up the government and heal deepening racial and religious gashes. His anti-corruption platform will be tested amid concerns that concessions will be made for some National Front leaders battling graft charges in return for their support. An ethnic Muslim, Anwar must also earn the trust of conservative Malays, who viewed him as too liberal and opted for Muhyiddin’s right-wing bloc in the contentious election. Police have tightened security and Anwar’s supporters have been told to hold off celebrations that may provoke Islamic supporters. In such a racially charged environment, Anwar’s aims — including replacing a decades-old affirmative action plan that gives privileges to Malays in jobs, education and housing — may be a minefield. Anwar has assured Malays that their rights under the constitution and the position of Islam as the national religion will be protected. But he stressed that other races must not be marginalized so that the country can be united. “Racial divide has been in existence in Malaysia since independence,” said political analyst Ahmad Fauzi. “Anwar will come up with his own formula to rein in the problem, but thinking that he’ll be able to extinguish it is to expect the impossible from him,” he added.
Western governments are aiming to cap the price of Russia’s oil exports in an attempt to limit the fossil fuel earnings that support Moscow’s budget, its military and the invasion of Ukraine. The cap is set to take effect on Dec. 5, the same day the European Union will impose a boycott on most Russian oil — its crude that is shipped by sea. The EU was still negotiating what the price ceiling should be. The twin measures could have an uncertain effect on the price of oil as worries over lost supply through the boycott compete with fears about lower demand from a slowing global economy. Here are basic facts about the price cap, the EU embargo and what they could mean for consumers and the global economy: WHAT IS THE PRICE CAP AND HOW WOULD IT WORK? U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has proposed the cap with other Group of 7 allies as a way to limit Russia’s earnings while keeping Russian oil flowing to the global economy. The aim is to hurt Moscow’s finances while avoiding a sharp oil price spike if Russia’s oil is suddenly taken off the global market. Insurance companies and other firms needed to ship oil would only be able to deal with Russian crude if the oil is priced at or below the cap. Most of the insurers are located in the EU or the United Kingdom and could be required to participate in the cap. Without insurance, tanker owners may be reluctant to take on Russian oil and face obstacles in delivering it. Read: After Russian retreat, Ukrainian military plans next move HOW WOULD OIL KEEP FLOWING TO THE GLOBAL ECONOMY? Universal enforcement of the insurance ban, imposed by the EU and U.K. in earlier rounds of sanctions, could take so much Russian crude off the market that oil prices would spike, Western economies would suffer, and Russia would see increased earnings from whatever oil it can ship in defiance of the embargo. Russia, the world’s No. 2 oil producer, has already rerouted much of its supply to India, China and other Asian countries at discounted prices after Western customers shunned it even before the EU ban. One purpose of the cap is to provide a legal framework “to allow the flow of Russian oil to continue and to reduce the windfall revenue for Russia at the same time,” said Claudio Galimberti, a senior vice president of analysis at Rystad Energy. “It is essential for the global crude markets that Russian oil still finds markets to be sold, after the EU ban is operative,” he added. “In the absence of that, global oil prices would skyrocket.” WHAT EFFECT WOULD DIFFERENT CAP LEVELS HAVE? A cap of between $65 and $70 per barrel could let Russia keep selling oil and while keeping its earnings to current levels. Russian oil is trading at around $63 per barrel, a considerable discount to international benchmark Brent. A lower cap — at around $50 per barrel — would make it difficult for Russia to balance its state budget, with Moscow believed to require around $60 to $70 per barrel to do that, its so-called “fiscal break-even.” However, that $50 cap would be still be above Russia’s cost of production of between $30 and $40 per barrel, giving Moscow an incentive to keep selling oil simply to avoid having to cap wells that can be hard to restart. Read: Most Ukrainians left without power after Russian strikes WHAT IF RUSSIA AND OTHER COUNTRIES WON’T GO ALONG? Russian has said it will not observe a cap and will halt deliveries to countries that do. A lower cap of around $50 could be more likely to provoke that response, or Russia could halt the last of its remaining natural gas supplies to Europe. China and India might not go along with the cap, while China could form its own insurance companies to replace those barred by U.S., U.K. and Europe. Galimberti says China and India are already enjoying discounted oil and may not want to alienate Russia. “China and India get Russia’s crude at a huge discount to Brent, therefore, they don’t necessarily need a price cap to continue to enjoy a discount,” he said. “By complying with the cap set by the G-7, they risk alienating Russia. As a result, we do believe that the compliance with the price cap would not be high.” Russia could also turn to schemes such as transferring oil from ship to ship to disguise its origins and mixing its oil with other types to skirt the ban. So it remains to be seen what effect the cap would have. WHAT ABOUT THE EU EMBARGO? The biggest impact from the EU embargo may come not on Dec. 5, as Europe finds new suppliers and Russian barrels are rerouted, but on Feb. 5, when Europe’s additional ban on refinery products made from oil — such as diesel fuel — come into effect. Europe will have to turn to alternative supplies from the U.S., Middle East and India. “There is going to be a shortfall, and this will result in very high prices,” Galimberti said. Read: Russia-Ukraine grain deal extended in win for food prices Europe still has many cars that run on diesel. The fuel also is used for truck transport to get a huge range of goods to consumers and to run agricultural machinery — so those higher costs will be spread throughout the economy.
Residents of Ukraine’s bombed capital clutched empty bottles in search of water and crowded into cafés for power and warmth Thursday, switching defiantly into survival mode after new Russian missile strikes a day earlier plunged the city and much of the country into the dark. In scenes hard to believe in a sophisticated city of 3 million, some Kyiv residents resorted to collecting rainwater from drainpipes, as repair teams labored to reconnect supplies. Friends and family members exchanged messages to find out who had electricity and water back. Some had one but not the other. The previous day’s aerial onslaught on Ukraine’s power grid left many with neither. Cafés in Kyiv that by some small miracle had both quickly became oases of comfort on Thursday. Oleksiy Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, awoke to find that water had been reconnected to his third-floor flat but power had not. His freezer thawed in the blackout, leaving a puddle on his floor. So he hopped into a cab and crossed the Dnieper River from left bank to right, to a café that he’d noticed had stayed open after previous Russian strikes. Sure enough, it was serving hot drinks, hot food and the music and Wi-Fi were on. “I’m here because there is heating, coffee and light,” he said. “Here is life.” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said about 70% of the Ukrainian capital was still without power on Thursday morning. As Kyiv and other cities picked themselves up, Kherson on Thursday came under its heaviest bombardment since Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city two weeks ago. The barrage of missiles killed four people outside a coffee shop and a woman was also killed next to her house, witnesses said, speaking to Associated Press reporters. Read: Ukraine to civilians: Leave liberated areas before winter In Kyiv, where cold rain fell on the remnants of previous snowfalls, the mood was grim but steely. The winter promises to be a long one. But Ukrainians say that if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intention is to break them, he should think again. “Nobody will compromise their will and principles just for electricity,” said Alina Dubeiko, 34. She, too, sought out the comfort of another, equally crowded, warm and lit café. Without electricity, heating and water at home, she was determined to keep up her work routine. Adapting to life shorn of its usual comforts, Dubeiko said she uses two glasses of water to wash, then catches her hair in a ponytail and is ready for her working day. She said she’d rather be without power than live with the Russian invasion, which crossed the nine-month mark on Thursday. “Without light or you? Without you,” she said, echoing remarks President Volodymyr Zelenskky made when Russia on Oct. 10 unleashed the first of what has now become a series of aerial attacks on key Ukrainian infrastructure. Western leaders denounced the bombing campaign. “Strikes against civilian infrastructures are war crimes,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov acknowledged Thursday that it targeted Ukrainian energy facilities. But he said they were linked to Ukraine’s military command and control system and that the aim was to disrupt flows of Ukrainian troops, weapons and ammunition to front lines. Authorities for Kyiv and the wider Kyiv region reported a total of 7 people killed and dozens of wounded. Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “We are conducting strikes against infrastructure in response to the unbridled flow of weapons to Ukraine and the reckless appeals of Kyiv to defeat Russia.” Read: Shells hit near nuclear plant; blackouts roll across Ukraine Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also sought to shift blame for civilian hardship on Ukraine’s government. “Ukraine’s leadership has every opportunity to bring the situation back to normal, has every opportunity to resolve the situation in such a way as to meet the demands of the Russian side and, accordingly, end all possible suffering of the civilian population,” Peskov said. In Kyiv, people lined up at public water points to fill plastic bottles. In a strange new war-time first for her, 31-year-old Health Department employee Kateryna Luchkina resorted to collecting rainwater from a drainpipe, so she could at least wash her hands at work, which had no water. She filled two plastic bottles, waiting patiently in the rain until they had water to the brim. A colleague followed behind her, doing the same. “We Ukrainians are so resourceful, we will think of something. We do not lose our spirit,” Luchkina said. “We work, live in the rhythm of survival or something, as much as possible. We do not lose hope that everything will be fine.” The city mayor said on Telegram that power engineers “are doing their best ” to restore electricity. Water repair teams were making progress, too. In the early afternoon, Klitschko announced that water supplies had been restored across the capital, with the caveat that “some consumers may still experience low water pressure.” Power, heat and water were gradually coming back elsewhere, too. In Ukraine’s southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region, the governor announced that 3,000 miners trapped underground because of power blackouts had been rescued. Regional authorities posted messages on social media updating people on the progress of repairs but also saying they needed time. Mindful of the hardships — both now and ahead, as winter progresses — authorities are opening thousands of so-called “points of invincibility” — heated and powered spaces offering hot meals, electricity and internet connections. More than 3,700 were open across the country of Thursday morning, said a senior official in the presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko. In Kherson, hospitals without power and water are also contending with the gruesome after-effects of intensifying Russian strikes. They hit residential and commercial buildings Thursday, setting some ablaze, blowing ash skyward and shattering glass across streets. Paramedics helped the injured. Read: Deadly missile strike adds to Ukraine war fears in Poland Olena Zhura was carrying bread to her neighbors when a strike that destroyed half of her house wounded her husband, Victor. He writhed in pain as paramedics carried him away. “I was shocked,” she said, welling with tears. “Then I heard (him) shouting: ’Save me, save me.”
A fire in an apartment building in northwestern China's Xinjiang region has killed 10 people and injured nine, authorities said Friday. The fire broke out Thursday night in the regional capital of Urumqi, where temperatures have dropped to below freezing after dark. The blaze took around three hours to extinguish. The injured were all expected to survive and the cause of the fire is under investigation, the local government said. Read more: 38 killed in factory fire in China The tragedy comes days after 38 people died in a fire at an industrial trading company in central China caused by welding sparks that ignited cotton cloth. Four people have been detained over the fire in the city of Anyang and local authorities ordered sweeping safety inspections. Aging infrastructure, poor safety awareness and, in some cases, government corruption has led to series of recent fires, explosions and building collapses around China, which continues to grapple with new COVID-19 outbreaks, prompting lockdowns and rigid travel restrictions affecting millions of people. Read more: Maldives fire: Identitties of Bangladeshi victims confirmed
The Ukrainian sniper adjusted his scope and fired a.50-caliber bullet at a Russian soldier across the Dnieper River. Earlier, another Ukrainian used a drone to scan for Russian troops. Two weeks after retreating from the southern city of Kherson, Russia is pounding the town with artillery as it digs in across the Dnieper River. Ukraine is striking back at Russian troops with its own long-distance weapons, and Ukrainian officers say they want to capitalize on their momentum. The Russian withdrawal from the only provincial capital it gained in nine months of war was one of Moscow's most significant battlefield losses. Now that its troops hold a new front line, the army is planning its next move, the Ukrainian military said through a spokesman. Ukrainian forces can now strike deeper into the Russian-controlled territories and possibly push their counteroffensive closer to Crimea, which Russia illegally captured in 2014. Russian troops continue to establish fortifications, including trench systems near the Crimean border and some areas between the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east. In some locations, new fortifications are up to 60 kilometers (37 miles) behind the current front lines, suggesting that Russia is preparing for more Ukrainian breakthroughs, according to the British Ministry of Defense. “The armed forces of Ukraine seized the initiative in this war some time ago," said Mick Ryan, military strategist and retired Australian army major general. "They have momentum. There is no way that they will want to waste that.” Crossing the river and pushing the Russians further back would require complicated logistical planning. Both sides have blown up bridges across the Dnieper. “This is what cut Russians’ supply lines and this is also what will make any further Ukrainian advance beyond the left bank of the river more difficult,” said Mario Bikarski, an analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit. In a key battlefield development this week, Kyiv’s forces attacked Russian positions on the Kinburn Spit, a gateway to the Black Sea basin, as well as parts of the southern Kherson region still under Russian control. Recapturing the area could help Ukrainian forces push into Russian-held territory in the Kherson region “under significantly less Russian artillery fire” than if they directly crossed the Dnieper River, said the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank. Control of the area would help Kyiv alleviate Russian strikes on Ukraine’s southern seaports and allow it to increase its naval activity in the Black Sea, the think tank added. Read more: After Russian retreat, the Ukrainian flag raised in retaken city Some military experts say there’s a possibility the weather might disproportionately harm poorly-equipped Russian forces and allow Ukraine to take advantage of frozen terrain and move more easily than during the muddy autumn months, ISW said. Russia’s main task, meanwhile, is to prevent any further retreats from the broader Kherson region and to strengthen its defense systems over Crimea, said Bikarski, the analyst. Ryan, the military strategist, said Russia will use the winter to plan its 2023 offensives, stockpile ammunition and continue its campaign targeting critical infrastructure including power and water plants. Russia's daily attacks are already intensifying. Last week a fuel depot was struck in Kherson, the first time since Russia withdrew. This week at least one person was killed and three wounded by Russian shelling, according to the Ukrainian president’s office. Russian airstrikes damaged key infrastructure before Russia left, creating a dire humanitarian crisis. Coupled with the threat of attack, that is adding a layer of stress, say many who weathered Russia’s occupation and are leaving, or considering it. Ukrainian authorities this week began evacuating civilians from recently liberated parts of Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, fearing lack of heat, power and water due to Russian shelling will make winter unlivable. Boarding a train on Monday, Tetyana Stadnik has decided to go after waiting for the liberation of Kherson. “We are leaving now because it’s scary to sleep at night. Shells are flying over our heads and exploding. It’s too much," she said. "We will wait until the situation gets better. And then we will come back home.” Others in the Kherson region have decided to stay despite living in fear. Read more: Russia says Kherson city withdrawal complete “I’m scared,” said Ludmilla Bonder a resident of the small village of Kyselivka. “I still sleep fully clothed in the basement."