Drones struck inside Russia’s border with Ukraine Tuesday in the second day of attacks exposing the vulnerability of some of Moscow’s most important military sites, observers said. Ukrainian officials did not formally confirm carrying out drone strikes inside Russia, and they have maintained ambiguity over previous high-profile attacks. But Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia was likely to consider the attacks on Russian bases more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) from the border with Ukraine as “some of the most strategically significant failures of force protection since its invasion of Ukraine.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian authorities will “take the necessary measures” to enhance protection of key facilities. Russian bloggers who generally maintain contacts with officials in their country’s military criticized the lack of defensive measures. A fire broke out at an airport in Russia’s southern Kursk region that borders Ukraine after a drone hit the facility, the region’s governor said Tuesday. In a second incident, an industrial plant 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the Ukrainian border was also targeted by drones, which missed a fuel depot at the site, Russian independent media reported. “They will have less aviation equipment after being damaged due to these mysterious explosions,” said Yurii Ihnat, spokesman for the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “This is undoubtedly excellent news because if one or two aircraft fail, then in the future, some more aircraft may fail in some way. This reduces their capabilities.” Moscow blamed Kyiv for unprecedented attacks on two air bases deep inside Russia on Monday. The attacks on the Engels base in the Saratov region on the Volga River and the Dyagilevo base in the Ryazan region in western Russia were some of the most brazen inside Russia during the war. In the aftermath, Russian troops carried out another wave of missile strikes on Ukrainian territory struck homes and buildings and killed civilians, compounding damage done to power and other infrastructure over weeks of missile attacks. Approximately half of households in the Kyiv region remain without electricity, the regional governor said Tuesday, while authorities in the southern Odesa say they have managed to restore power to hospitals and some vital services. In a new display of defiance from Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to an eastern city near the front line. Marking Ukraine’s Armed Forces Day, Zelenskyy traveled to the eastern Donetsk region and vowed to push Russian forces out of all of Ukraine’s territory. “Everyone sees your strength and your skill. ... I’m grateful to your parents. They raised real heroes,” Zelenskyy said Tuesday in a video address to Ukrainian forces from the city of Sloviansk, a key Ukrainian stronghold in the east. Read more: Russia claims Kyiv hit its air bases, fires more missiles The Tu-141 Strizh (Swift) drone entered service with the Soviet air force in the 1970s and was designed for reconnaissance duties. It can be fitted with a warhead that effectively turns into a cruise missile. Unlike modern drones, it can only stay in the air for a limited amount of time and fly straight to its designated target. Its outdated technology makes it easily detectable by modern air defense systems and easy to shoot down. Another Soviet-built drone in the Ukrainian armed forces’ inventory, the Tu-143 Reis (Flight) has a much shorter range of about 180 kilometers (about 110 miles). A Russian pro-war blogger posting on the Telegram channel “Milinfolive” on Monday hit out at Russian military leadership, alleging that incompetence and lack of proper fortifications at the airbases made Ukrainian drone strikes possible. Russia’s Defense Ministry said three Russian servicemen were killed and four others wounded by debris, and that two aircraft were slightly damaged. After Ukrainian forces took control in November of the major Russian-occupied city of Kherson, neither side has made significant advances. But Ukrainian officials have indicated that the country plans to pursue counteroffensives during the winter when frozen ground is conducive to moving heavy equipment. Kherson city is still being hit by Russian rocket attacks but if Ukrainian forces establish firm control there it could be a bridgehead for advancing toward Crimea. Pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov said the latest strikes by Ukraine “have raised questions about security of Russian military air bases.” The Engels base hosts Tu-95 and Tu-160 nuclear-capable strategic bombers that have been involved in strikes on Ukraine. Dyagilevo houses tanker aircraft used for mid-air refueling. In a daily intelligence update on the war in Ukraine, Britain’s Defense Ministry said the bombers would likely be dispersed to other airfields. Speaking in a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Peskov said that “the Ukrainian regime’s course for continuation of such terror attacks poses a threat.” Read more: Russia rains missiles on recaptured Ukrainian city Peskov reaffirmed that Russia sees no prospects for peace talks now, adding that “the Russian Federation must achieve its stated goals.” Russia, meanwhile, maintained intense attacks on Ukrainian territory, shelling towns overnight near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that left more than 9,000 homes without running water, local Ukrainian officials said. The towns lie across the Dnieper River from the nuclear plant, which was seized by Russian forces in the early stages of the war. Russia and Ukraine have for months accused each other of shelling at and around the plant. The head of Ukraine’s northern Sumy region, which borders Russia, said that Moscow launched over 80 missile and heavy artillery attacks on its territory. Governor Dmytro Zhyvytsky said the strikes damaged a monastery near the border town of Shalyhyne. Ihnat, the Ukrainian air force spokesman, said the country’s ability to shoot down incoming missiles is improving, noting there had been no recent reports of Iranian-made attack drones being used on Ukrainian territory.
Even as Ukraine celebrates recent battlefield victories, its government faces a looming challenge on the financial front: how to pay the enormous cost of the war effort without triggering out-of-control price spikes for ordinary people or piling up debt that could hamper postwar reconstruction. The struggle is finding loans or donations to cover a massive budget deficit for next year — and do it without using central bank bailouts that risk wrecking Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia. Economists working with the government say that if Ukraine can shore up its finances through the end of next year, it is Russia that could find itself in financial trouble if a proposed oil price cap by the U.S., European Union and allies saps Moscow’s earnings. Here are key facts about Ukraine’s economic battle against Russia: HOW HAS UKRAINE BEEN PAYING FOR ITS DEFENSE SO FAR? In the first days of Russia’s invasion, the Ukrainian government turned to foreign help that came at irregular intervals. When it didn’t have enough, the central bank bought government bonds using newly printed money. The alternative would have been to stop paying people’s pensions and state salaries. READ: Russia rejects pullout from Ukraine as condition for talks Economists say printing money — while a badly needed stop-gap measure at the time — risks letting inflation get out of control and collapsing the value of the country’s currency if it continues. Ukraine has painful memories of hyperinflation from the early 1990s, economist Nataliia Shapoval said. As a child, she watched her parents use large bundles of bills for everyday purchases as the currency lost value day by day, before being replaced by today’s hryvnia. “Ukraine has been through this, so we know what inflation that is out of control looks like, and we don’t want this again,” said Shapoval, vice president for policy research at the Kyiv School of Economics. “The government and the central bank are already on the slippery slope by printing so much.” Price stability and the ability to pay pensions have enormous impact on ordinary people and society at a time when Russia is trying to demoralize the population by knocking out power and water heading into winter. With inflation already high at 27%, price hikes have made it hard for lower-income people to afford food. Bread that used to cost the equivalent of 50 U.S. cents has doubled, said Halyna Morozova, a resident of Kherson, a recently liberated southern city. “It is very depressing, and we are nervous. We were living on old stocks (of food), but now the light is turned off, the refrigerator doesn’t work and we have to throw away the food,” the 80-year-old said recently. She said the Russians kept paying her Ukrainian pension in rubles but since they started to withdraw in October, she has received nothing. She’s counting on the government to return any pension money that was lost, she said. Tetiana Vainshtein, also in Kherson, says natural gas is too expensive to keep her home heated. “I am cold. I like warmth, and I’m terribly cold,” the 68-year-old said. Bank closures during the Russian occupation kept her from getting her pension cash, forcing her to carefully ration every hryvnia for food, she said. HOW MUCH SUPPORT DOES UKRAINE NEED? President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Ukraine needs $38 billion in outright aid from Western allies like the U.S and 27-nation EU, plus $17 billion for a reconstruction fund for war damage. READ: Official says over 10,000 Ukrainian troops killed in war Economists associated with the Kyiv School of Economics say a lower overall total of $50 billion from donors would be enough to get Ukraine through the year. Defense spending is six times higher in the 2023 budget recently passed by the Ukrainian parliament compared to last year. Military and security spending will total 43% of the budget, or an enormous 18.2% of annual economic output. The 2.6 trillion hryvnia budget has a yawning 1.3 trillion hryvnia deficit, meaning the government needs to find $3 billion to $5 billion a month to cover the gap. Recent attacks on energy infrastructure since the budget passed will only increase the financing need because repairs can’t wait for postwar reconstruction and will hit this year’s budget. HOW COULD FINANCES AFFECT THE OUTCOME OF THE WAR? Despite Western sanctions, Russia’s economy has fared better than Ukraine’s because high oil and natural gas prices have bolstered the Kremlin’s budget. Plans by the EU and allies in the Group of Seven democracies to place a price cap on Russian oil sales aim to change that. The Kyiv school economists say “by the middle of next year, we believe that the economic situation will shift strongly in Ukraine’s favor, making strong partner support particularly important over the period until that point.” HOW MUCH FINANCING DOES UKRAINE HAVE ALREADY? The U.S. has been the leading donor, giving $15.2 billion in financial assistance and $52 billion in overall aid, including humanitarian and military assistance, through Oct. 3, according to the latest available data compiled by the Ukraine Support Tracker at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. EU institutions and member countries have committed $29.2 billion, though “many of their pledges are arriving in Ukraine with long delays,” said Christoph Trebesch, who heads the tracker team. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has proposed 18 billion euros in no-interest, long-term loans for next year, which still need approval from member governments. The U.S. will likely contribute more as well. Ukraine, however, is appealing for grants over loans. If all the financing comes as loans, debt would rise to over 100% of annual economic output from around 83% now and 69% before the war. That burden could hold back spending on the war recovery. The $85 billion in total global assistance to Ukraine, according to the Ukraine Support Tracker, is less than 15% of the support European governments have pledged to shield consumers from high energy costs resulting from Russia’s natural gas cutbacks. To get loans, the commission proposed requiring Ukraine to improve its record on corruption. Since 2014, Ukraine has raised its score on Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index from 26 to 32 out of 100 — not great, but improving. U.S. officials have praised Ukraine’s online procurement platform for introducing transparency in government contracts — one big source of corrupt dealings and collusion — and saving $6 billion. The prospect of EU membership also gives Ukraine incentive to clean up corruption. COULD THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND HELP? The IMF has given Ukraine $1.4 billion in emergency aid and $1.3 billion to cushion the shock from lost food exports. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told The Associated Press that the Washington-based fund is working on more assistance in cooperation with the Group of 7 wealthy democracies, chaired this year by Germany. “We are on the way to come up with a sound and sizable program for Ukraine,” she said, “with the support specifically of the G-7 and the German leadership.” However, for a larger loan program of $15 billion to $20 billion, it goes against IMF practices to lend money where the debts are not sustainable, and the war raises questions about that. The organization has been reluctant to lend to countries that don’t control their territory, a condition Ukraine does not yet meet. The IMF “would have to seriously twist its existing framework or change it to provide substantial sums,” said Adnan Mazarei, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and former deputy director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia department. As a prelude to a possible assistance package, the IMF is holding a four-month period of consultation and enhanced monitoring of Ukrainian economic policies to help Kyiv establish a track record of good practice. That could build confidence for other donors to step in.
Shelling by Russian forces struck several areas in eastern and southern Ukraine overnight as utility crews continued a scramble to restore power, water and heating following widespread strikes in recent weeks, officials said Sunday. With persistent snowfall blanketing the capital, Kyiv, Sunday, analysts predicted that wintry weather — bringing with it frozen terrain and grueling fighting conditions — could have an increasing impact on the direction of the conflict that has raged since Russian forces invaded Ukraine more than nine months ago. But for the moment, both sides were bogged down by heavy rain and muddy battlefield conditions in some areas, experts said. After a blistering barrage of Russian artillery strikes on at least two occasions over the past two weeks, infrastructure teams in Ukraine were fanning out in around-the-clock deployments to restore key basic services as many Ukrainians dealt with only a few hours of electricity per day — if any. Ukrenergo, the state power grid operator, said Sunday that electricity producers are now supplying about 80% of demand. That’s an improvement from Saturday’s 75%, the company says. The Institute for the Study of War, a think tank that has been closely monitoring developments in Ukraine, said reporting from both sides indicated that heavy rain and mud have had an impact — but wider freezing expected along the front lines in coming days could play a role. Read more: Most Ukrainians left without power after Russian strikes “It is unclear if either side is actively planning or preparing to resume major offensive or counter-offensive operations at that time, but the meteorological factors that have been hindering such operations will begin lifting,” it said in a note published Saturday. ISW said Russian forces were digging in further east of the city of Kherson, from which they were expelled by Ukrainian forces more than two weeks ago, and continued “routine artillery fire” across the Dnipro River. In the eastern Donetsk region, five people were killed in shelling over the past day, according to governor Pavlo Kyrylenko. Overnight shelling was reported by regional leaders in the Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk areas to the west. Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov said one person was killed and three wounded in the northeastern region. A day earlier, a long column of cars, vans and trucks caravanned away from the recently liberated city of Kherson after intense shelling in recent days and amid concerns more pummeling from the Russian forces nearby could loom again in coming days. Read more: Civilians escape Kherson after Russian strikes on freed city “The day before yesterday, artillery hit our house. Four flats burned down. Windows shattered,” said city resident Vitaliy Nadochiy, driving out with a terrier on his lap and a Ukrainian flag dangling from a sun visor. “We can’t be there. There is no electricity, no water, heating. So we are leaving to go to my brother.”
Fleeing shelling, civilians on Saturday streamed out of the southern Ukrainian city whose recapture they had celebrated just weeks earlier. The exodus from Kherson came as Ukraine solemnly remembered a Stalin-era famine and sought to ensure that Russia's war in Ukraine doesn’t deprive others worldwide of its vital food exports. A line of trucks, vans and cars, some towing trailers or ferrying out pets and other belongings, stretched a kilometer or more on the outskirts of the city of Kherson. Days of intensive shelling by Russian forces prompted a bittersweet exodus: Many civilians were happy that their city had been won back, but lamented that they couldn't stay. “It is sad that we are leaving our home,” said Yevhen Yankov, as a van he was in inched forward. "Now we are free, but we have to leave, because there is shelling, and there are dead among the population.” Read more: NATO vows to aid Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes’ Poking her head out from the back, Svitlana Romanivna added: “We went through real hell. Our neighborhood was burning, it was a nightmare. Everything was in flames.” Emilie Fourrey, emergency project coordinator for aid group Doctors Without Borders in Ukraine, said an evacuation of 400 patients of Kherson's psychiatric hospital, which is situated near both an electrical plant and the frontline, had begun on Thursday and was set to continue in the coming days. Ukraine in recent days has faced a blistering onslaught of Russian artillery fire and drone attacks, with the shelling especially intense in Kherson. Often the barrage has largely targeted infrastructure, though civilian casualties have been reported. Repair crews across the country were scrambling to restore heat, electricity and water services that were blasted into disrepair. Russia has ratcheted up its attacks on critical infrastructure after suffering battlefield setbacks. A prominent Russian nationalist said Saturday the Russian military doesn't have enough doctors, in what was a rare public admission of problems within the military. In the capital Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy oversaw a busy day of diplomacy, welcoming several European Union leaders for meetings and hosting an “International Summit on Food Security” to discuss food security and agricultural exports from the country. A deal brokered by the U.N. and Turkey has allowed for safe exports of Ukrainian grain in the Black Sea amid wartime disruptions that have affected traffic. “The total amount we have raised for ‘Grain from Ukraine’ is already about $150 million. The work continues," Zelenskyy said in his nightly TV address. “We are preparing up to 60 ships. All of us together do not just send Ukrainian agricultural products to those countries that suffer the most from the food crisis. We reaffirm that hunger should never again be used as a weapon.” Read more: Bombed, not beaten: Ukraine’s capital flips to survival mode The prime ministers of Belgium, Poland and Lithuania and the president of Hungary were on hand, many others participated by video. Zelenskyy said more than 20 countries supported the summit. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Ukraine — despite its own financial straits — has allocated 900 million hryvna ($24 million) to purchase corn for countries including Yemen, Sudan, Kenya and Nigeria. Our food security summit was supported by more than 20 countries. The total amount we have raised for ‘Grain from Ukraine’ is already about 150 million US dollars. The work continues. We are preparing up to 60 ships. All of us together do not just send Ukrainian agricultural products to those countries that suffer the most from the food crisis. We reaffirm that hunger should never again be used as a weapon. The reminder about food supplies was timely: Ukrainians were marking the 90th anniversary of the start of the “Holodomor,” or Great Famine, which killed more than 3 million people over two years as the Soviet government under dictator Josef Stalin confiscated food and grain supplies and deported many Ukrainians. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz marked the commemoration by drawing parallels with the impact of the war on Ukraine on world markets. Exports from Ukraine have resumed under a U.N.-brokered deal but have still been far short of pre-war levels, driving up global prices. “Today, we stand united in stating that hunger must never again be used as a weapon,” Scholz said in a video message. “That is why we cannot tolerate what we are witnessing: The worst global food crisis in years with abhorrent consequences for millions of people – from Afghanistan to Madagascar, from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa.” He said Germany, with the U.N.'s World Food Program, will provide an additional 15 million euros for further grain shipments from Ukraine. Scholz spokes as a cross-party group of lawmakers in Germany are seeking to pass a parliamentary resolution next week that would recognize the 1930s famine as “genocide.” Last year Ukraine and Russia provided around 30% of the world’s exported wheat and barley, 20% of its corn, and over 50% of its sunflower oil, the U.N. has said. In a post on the Telegram social network on Saturday, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said more than 3,000 specialists for a local utility continued to work “around the clock” and had succeeded in restoring heat to more than more than 90% of residential buildings. While about one-quarter of Kyiv residents remained without electricity, he said water serviced had been returned to all in the city. The scramble to restore power came as Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo met Saturday with Zelenskyy in Kyiv. “This might be a difficult winter,” he said, alluding to Belgium's contributions of generators, and support for schools and hospitals in Ukraine, as well as military aid such as “fuel, machine guns, propelled artillery and so on.” “And by standing here, we hope that we provide you hope and resilience in fighting through this difficult period.”
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 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."
Russia has targeted Ukraine’s battered power infrastructure with another barrage of strikes, forcing the country’s last three fully functioning nuclear power plants to disconnect from the grid and leaving “the vast majority of electricity consumers” without power, the Energy Ministry says. In a Facebook post Wednesday, the ministry said that power workers are working to restore supplies, “but given the extent of the damage, we will need time.” THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A punishing new barrage of Russian strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure on Wednesday caused power outages across large parts of the country as well as neighboring Moldova, adding to damage to Ukraine’s power network and misery for civilians as winter begins. Multiple regions reported attacks in quick succession. In several regions, authorities reported strikes on critical infrastructure. Officials in Kyiv said that three people were dead and nine wounded in the capital after a Russian strike hit a two-story building. Russia has been pounding the power grid and other facilities with missiles and exploding drones for weeks. The new strikes piled further intense stress on an energy system that is being damaged faster than it can be repaired. Before the latest barrage, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had said that Russian strikes had already damaged around half of Ukraine’s infrastructure. Rolling power outages have become the horrid new normal for millions and the latest barrage affected water supplies, too. Ukrainian officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is hoping that the misery of unheated and unlit homes in the cold and dark of winter will turn public opinion against a continuation of the war but say it’s having the opposite effect, strengthening Ukrainian resolve. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Wednesday that “one of the capital’s infrastructure facilities has been hit” and there were “several more explosions in different districts” of the city. He said water supplies were knocked out in all of Kyiv. There were power outages in parts of Kyiv, while power was out in the wider Kyiv region, in the northern city of Kharkiv, the western city of Lviv, the northern Chernihiv region and in the southern Odesa region. In Moldova, Infrastructure Minister Andrei Spinu said that “we have massive power outages across the country,” whose Soviet-era energy systems remain interconnected with Ukraine. There was a similar outage in Moldova on Nov. 15. The country’s pro-Western president, Maia Sandu, said in a statement that “Russia left Moldova in the dark.” She said that the future of Moldova, a country of about 2.6 million people, “must remain toward the free world.” Read more: Strike on Ukrainian maternity hospital kills 2-day-old baby Power also was out in most parts of the western Khmelnytskyi region, governor Serhii Hamalii said on Telegram. He added that a nuclear power plant in the region was disconnected from the Ukrainian electricity grid. The latest onslaught came hours after Ukrainian authorities said an overnight rocket attack destroyed a hospital maternity ward in southern Ukraine, killing a 2-day-old baby. Following the overnight strike in Vilniansk, close to the city of Zaporizhzhia, the baby’s mother and a doctor were pulled alive from the rubble. The region’s governor said the rockets were Russian. The strike adds to the gruesome toll suffered by hospitals and other medical facilities — and their patients and staff — in the Russian invasion that will enter its tenth month this week. They have been in the firing line from the outset, including a March 9 airstrike that destroyed a maternity hospital in the now-occupied port city of Mariupol. First lady Olena Zelenska wrote on Twitter that a 2-day-old boy died in the strike and expressed her condolences. “Horrible pain. We will never forget and never forgive,” she said. Photos posted by the governor showed thick smoke rising above mounds of rubble, being combed by emergency workers against the backdrop of a dark night sky. The State Emergency Service said the two-story building was destroyed. Medical workers’ efforts have been complicated by the succession of Russian attacks in recent weeks on Ukraine’s infrastructure. The situation is even worse in the southern city of Kherson, from which Russia retreated nearly two weeks ago after months of occupation — cutting power and water lines. Many doctors in the city are working in the dark, unable to use elevators to transport patients to surgery and operating with headlamps, cell phones and flashlights. In some hospitals, key equipment no longer works. “Breathing machines don’t work, X-ray machines don’t work ... There is only one portable ultrasound machine and we carry it constantly,” said Volodymyr Malishchuk, the head of surgery at a children’s hospital in the city. On Tuesday, after strikes on Kherson seriously wounded 13-year-old Artur Voblikov, a team of health staff carefully maneuvered the sedated boy up six flights of a narrow staircase to an operating room to amputate his left arm. Read more: Deadly missile strike adds to Ukraine war fears in Poland Malischchuk said that three children wounded by Russian strikes have come to the hospital this week, half as many as had previously been admitted in all of the nine months since the invasion began. Picking up a piece of shrapnel that was found in a 14-year-old boy’s stomach, he said children are arriving with severe head injuries and ruptured internal organs. Artur’s mother, Natalia Voblikova, sat in the dark hospital with her daughter, waiting for his surgery to end. “You can’t even call (Russians) animals, because animals take care of their own,” said Voblikova wiping tears from her eyes. “But the children ... Why kill children?” The European Parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed a resolution labeling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism for its invasion of and actions in Ukraine. The nonbinding but symbolically significant resolution passed in a 494-58 vote with 48 abstentions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the vote. “Russia must be isolated at all levels and be held accountable in order to end its longstanding policy of terrorism in Ukraine and across the globe,” he wrote on Twitter. After Wednesday’s strikes, senior Zelenskyy aide Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram: “The terrorists immediately confirm that they are terrorists — they launch rockets. Naive losers.”
An overnight rocket attack destroyed a hospital maternity ward in southern Ukraine, killing a 2-day-old baby, Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday. Ukraine's first lady said the attack caused “horrible pain,” vowing that “we will never forget and never forgive." The baby’s mother and a doctor were pulled alive from the rubble in Vilniansk, close to the city of Zaporizhzhia. The region's governor said the rockets were Russian. The strike adds to the gruesome toll suffered by hospitals and other medical facilities — and their patients and staff — in the Russian invasion that will enter its tenth month this week. They have been in the firing line from the outset, including a March 9 airstrike that destroyed a maternity hospital in the now-occupied port city of Mariupol. “At night, Russian monsters launched huge rockets at the small maternity ward of the hospital in Vilniansk. Grief overwhelms our hearts — a baby was killed who had just seen the light of day. Rescuers are working at the site,” said the regional governor, Oleksandr Starukh, writing on the Telegram messaging app. First lady Olena Zelenska wrote on Twitter that a 2-day-old boy died in the strike and expressed her condolences. “Horrible pain. We will never forget and never forgive,” she said. Photos posted by the governor showed thick smoke rising above mounds of rubble, being combed by emergency workers against the backdrop of a dark night sky. Read more: Deadly missile strike adds to Ukraine war fears in Poland The State Emergency Service initially said a baby was killed and that a new mother and a doctor were pulled from the rubble, and that they were the only people in the ward at the time. The service specified in a follow-up post on Telegram that the rescued woman was the newborn’s mother. The emergency service said the two-story building was destroyed. Vilniansk is in the Ukrainian-held north of the Zaporizhzhia region, and is about 500 kilometers (300 miles) southeast of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. Other parts of Zaporizhzhia are Russian-held and it is one of four Ukrainian regions that Russia illegally annexed in September after internationally condemned sham referendums. Medical workers' efforts have been complicated by unrelenting Russian attacks in recent weeks on Ukraine's infrastructure that officials say have caused huge damage to the power grid. The situation is even worse in the southern city of Kherson, from which Russia retreated nearly two weeks ago after months of occupation — cutting power and water lines. Many doctors in the city are working in the dark, unable to use elevators to transport patients to surgery and operating with headlamps, cell phones and flashlights. In some hospitals, key equipment no longer works. “Breathing machines don’t work, X-ray machines don’t work ... There is only one portable ultrasound machine and we carry it constantly,” said Volodymyr Malishchuk, the head of surgery at a children’s hospital in the city. On Tuesday, after strikes on Kherson seriously wounded 13-year-old Artur Voblikov, a team of health staff carefully maneuvered the sedated boy up six flights of a narrow staircase to an operating room to amputate his left arm. Malischchuk said that three children wounded by Russian strikes have come to the hospital this week, half as many as had previously been admitted in all of the nine months since the invasion began. Picking up a piece of shrapnel that was found in a 14-year-old boy’s stomach, he said children are arriving with severe head injuries and ruptured internal organs. Artur's mother, Natalia Voblikova, sat in the dark hospital with her daughter, waiting for his surgery to end. “You can’t even call (Russians) animals, because animals take care of their own,” said Voblikova wiping tears from her eyes. “But the children ... Why kill children?” In the northeastern city of Kupiansk, two civilians were killed and two more were wounded by Russian shelling on Wednesday morning, a regional official said. A nine-story residential building and a clinic were damaged, and a 55-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man died, Kharkiv governor Oleh Syniehubov said on Telegram. Read more: Russian missiles cross into Poland during strike on Ukraine, killing 2 Kupiansk was an early prize of Ukraine’s lightning offensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region in September and, like other recaptured settlements, has seen repeated shelling by Russian forces which many Ukrainian officials describe as retaliation. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that “the terrorist state continues to fight against civilians and civilian objects.” ”The enemy has once again decided to try to achieve with terror and murder what he wasn’t able to achieve for nine months and won’t be able to achieve,” he said on Telegram.
Ukrainian authorities have begun evacuating civilians from recently liberated sections of the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, fearing that a lack of heat, power and water due to Russian shelling will make living conditions too difficult this winter. The World Health Organization concurred, warning that millions face a “life-threatening” winter in Ukraine. Authorities urged residents of the two southern regions, which Russian forces have been shelling for months, to move to safer areas in the central and and western parts of the country. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said Monday that the government will provide transportation, accommodations and medical care for them, with priority for women with children, the sick and elderly. Vereshchuk last month asked citizens now living abroad not to return to Ukraine for the winter to conserve power. Other officials have suggested that residents in Kyiv or elsewhere who have the resources to leave Ukraine for a few months should do so, to save power for hospitals and other key facilities. The WHO delivered a chilling warning Monday about the energy crisis' human impact on Ukraine. “This winter will be life-threatening for millions of people in Ukraine,” said the WHO’s regional director for Europe, Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge. “Attacks on health and energy infrastructure mean hundreds of hospitals and healthcare facilities are no longer fully operational, lacking fuel, water and electricity.” Read more: Shells hit near nuclear plant; blackouts roll across Ukraine He warned of health risks such as respiratory and cardiovascular problems from people trying to warm themselves by burning charcoal or wood and using diesel generators and electric heaters. The evacuations are taking place more than a week after Ukraine recaptured the city of Kherson, on the western bank of the Dnieper River, and surrounding areas in a major battlefield gain. Since then, heading into the winter, residents and authorities alike are realizing how much power and other infrastructure the Russians damaged or destroyed before retreating. Ukraine is known for its brutal winter weather, and snow has already covered Kyiv, the capital, and other parts of the country. Russian forces are fortifying their defense lines along Dnieper River's eastern bank, fearing that Ukrainian forces will push deeper into the region. In the weeks before Ukraine's successful counteroffensive, Russian-installed authorities relocated tens of thousands of Kherson city residents to Russian-held areas. On Monday, Russian-installed authorities urged other residents to evacuate an area on the river's eastern bank that Moscow now controls, citing intense fighting in Kherson's Kakhovskiy district. Russia has been pounding Ukraine’s power grid and other infrastructure from the air for weeks, causing widespread blackouts and leaving millions of Ukrainians without electricity, heat and water. Read more: Deadly missile strike adds to Ukraine war fears in Poland Deadly missile strike adds to Ukraine war fears in Poland To cope, four-hour or longer power outages were scheduled Monday in 15 of Ukraine's 27 regions, according to Volodymyr Kudrytsky, head of Ukraine’s state grid operator Ukrenergo. Ukrenergo plans more outages Tuesday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian missile strikes have damaged more than 50% of the country’s energy facilities. Zelenskyy on Monday repeated his calls for NATO nations and other allies to recognize Russia as a terrorist state, saying its shelling of energy facilities was tantamount “to the use of a weapon of mass destruction.” Zelenskyy also again urged stricter sanctions against Russia and appealed for more air defense aid. “The terrorist state needs to see that they do not stand a chance,” he told NATO’s 68th Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Madrid in a video address, after which he said the body approved the terrorist designation. Also Monday, Zelenskyy and his wife made a rare joint public appearance to observe a moment of silence and place candles at a Kyiv memorial for those killed in Ukraine's pro-European Union mass protests in 2014. As bells rang in a memorial tribute, Ukraine's first couple walked under a gray sky on streets dusted with snow and ice up to a wall of stone plaques bearing the names of fallen protesters. Their visit coincided with fresh reminders Monday of more death and destruction on Ukrainian soil. At least four civilians were killed and eight more wounded in Ukraine over the past 24 hours, the deputy head of the country’s presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said Monday. A Russian missile strike in the northeast Kharkiv region on Sunday night killed one person and wounded two as it hit a residential building in the village of Shevchenkove, according to the region's governor. One person was wounded in the Dnipropetrovsk region, where Russian forces shelled the city of Nikopol and surrounding areas, Gov. Valentyn Reznichenko said. Nikopol lies across the river from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. In the eastern Donetsk region, which Moscow partially controls, Russian forces shelled 14 towns and villages, the region’s Ukrainian governor said. Heavy fighting was taking place near the Ukrainian-held city of Bakhmut, where a school was damaged. In Makiivka, which is under Russian control, an oil depot was hit and caught fire. Russian-installed authorities said more than 105,000 people in the province’s capital, Donetsk, were left without electricity on Monday after Ukrainian shelling damaged power lines. One person was killed, officials said, and 59 miners were trapped underground after power was cut to four coal mines. In the neighboring Luhansk region, most of which is under Russian control, the Ukrainian army is advancing towards the key cities of Kreminna and Svatove, where the Russians have set up a defense line, according to Luhansk’s Ukrainian Gov. Serhiy Haidai. “There are successes and the Ukrainian army is moving very slowly, but it will be much more difficult for Russians to defend themselves after Svatove and Kreminna (are retaken)," Haidai told Ukrainian television. Britain's Defense Ministry said retaining control of Svatove should be a political priority for Russia but that “both Russian defensive and offensive capability continues to be hampered by severe shortages of munitions and skilled personnel.” In another development, the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency said its inspectors on Monday reported that weekend shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, had not damaged key equipment and they had identified no nuclear safety concerns. The six reactors, which are all shut down, are stable, and the integrity of spent and fresh fuel, along with stored radioactive waste, was confirmed, the IAEA said, adding that staff are repairing damage to other equipment. As they have for months, Kyiv and Moscow blamed each other for the shelling of the Russian-occupied power station, and again the IAEA didn't comment on who was responsible.
Since the invasion of Ukraine more than eight months ago, Poland has aided the neighboring country and millions of its refugees — both to ease their suffering and to help guard against the war spilling into the rest of Europe. But a missile strike that killed two men Tuesday in a Polish village close to the Ukrainian border brought the conflict home and added to the long-suppressed sense of vulnerability in a country where the ravages of World War II are well remembered. “The thing that I dread most in life is war. I don’t want to ever experience that,” said Anna Grabinska, a Warsaw woman who has extended help to a Ukrainian mother of two small children. One of the men killed in Przewodow was actively helping refugees from Ukraine who had found shelter in the area. NATO and Polish leaders say the missile was most likely fired by Ukraine in defense against a Russian attack. Now shaken Poles fear for their future, and political commentators warn that the strike should not be allowed to hurt relations with Ukraine, which have recently grown closer through Poland’s solidarity. “There is fear, anxiety for what will happen the next night or the next day,” villager Kinga Kancir said. When Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, millions of Poles dropped what they were doing to help. They took time off work and rushed to the border to offer strangers rides in their cars and places in their homes. They stood in the cold and served soup. Polish mothers left baby prams at a railway station at the border for fleeing Ukrainian mothers they would never meet. People acted on humanitarian impulse, but their generosity was also a conscious contribution to the Ukrainian war effort. By keeping Ukrainian women and children safe, the Poles ensured more men could fight Russian forces. Poland has a long history of conflict with Moscow. Russia was one of the three powers that divided Poland in the 18th century and — jointly with Austria and Prussia — erased it from Europe’s maps for more than 100 years, brutally suppressing drives for freedom. After World War II, Poland was an unwilling part of the East Bloc and remained under Moscow’s domination for over four decades, until the Poles peacefully toppled the communist government. In their current solidarity with Ukraine, many Poles put aside historical grievances rooted in ethnic conflict, including oppression of Ukrainians by Poles and a brutal massacre by Ukrainians of some 100,000 Poles during World War II in regions not far from Przewodow. Read more: Poland, NATO say missile strike wasn't a Russian attack The Polish government offered temporary accommodations and financial aid to refugees and gave money to Poles who housed them. The refugees also receive access to free state medical care, school for their children and help finding jobs. The war changed a lot for Poland too. It drew the world’s attention to Warsaw, where top leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden came to show their support for Ukraine and for Poland’s aid efforts. The conflict has strengthened Poland’s ties with its NATO allies, especially with the U.S., which sent thousands of troops to southeast Poland, close to the Ukrainian border, as Poland became a conduit for weapons sent from the West to Ukraine. The world’s humanitarian and medical efforts also pass through Poland. Russia’s aggression has pushed Warsaw to increase the country’s defense budget and spend billions of dollars on weapons from the U.S. and South Korea. Poland is also actively supporting Ukraine’s aspirations to strengthen its ties with the West and become part of the European Union. But as the war has dragged on, some Poles have become exhausted. Many are tired of hosting strangers in their homes and paying skyrocketing energy costs. They complain that Ukrainians have taken jobs from Poles and left some families without places in public kindergartens. The huge demand for housing has pushed up rents in big cities. As winter approaches, there are concerns that the grumbling could grow louder. The deputy editor of Rzeczpospolita, a major daily newspaper, voiced concerns that bitterness over the missile deaths could become a pretext to weaken Poland’s commitment to Ukraine or to drive a wedge between the two neighbors. “Unfortunately, there are already voices that would like to use this tragedy to make Poland and Ukraine quarrel. And that would be absolutely against our national interest,” Michal Szuldrzynski wrote in an opinion piece published Thursday. Read more: Russian missiles cross into Poland during strike on Ukraine, killing 2 “By defending their independence, Ukrainians defend the West, including Poland. Therefore, our response to the tragedy in Przewodow should be not sulking at Ukraine, but even stronger support to increase its chances of driving the aggressor out of its country,” Szuldrzynski wrote. A spokesman for Poland’s main ruling party, Radoslaw Fogiel, on Thursday reiterated Poland’s support for Ukraine and stressed that responsibility for the war rests entirely with Russia. Fogiel warned that any discord between Warsaw and Kyiv would be in Moscow’s interests. Polish President Andrzej Duda visited the site of the missile strike and talked to investigators. “There is a war across our border. Russia fired hundreds of missiles, Ukraine was defending itself. Nobody wanted to hurt anyone in Poland,” Duda said. “This is our common tragedy.” In Przewodow, a farming community of some 500 people about 6 kilometers (4 miles) from the border with Ukraine, villagers were in shock when the missile killed two employees of a grain-drying facility, men they had known, at least by sight. “Today we have a new situation that is very hard for us, and especially difficult for our children,” said Ewa Byra, the director of the village school. The children kept asking: “Are we safe here so close to the border?” and “Are our parents safe?” Byra told The Associated Press. The primary school suspended classes and offered psychological counseling for families. “There is sadness because two people were killed here, and that is not a regular thing to happen in such a small village,” observed Kancir, 24, a mother of two small children who said one of the men who was killed lived just across the road from her apartment building. The two men, ages 60 and 62, shared the same first name: Bogdan. One was the husband of a school staff member, and the other the father of a recent pupil. One was a warehouseman at the grain-drying facility; the other was the tractor driver. One of them helped bring food and clothes to Ukrainian refugees and drive them to local offices to help them with the paperwork, said Stanisław Staszczuk, the county secretary. In the aftermath, villagers are intimidated by the huge police presence in their usually quiet home. “It is very hard to accept this, what happened, because it has always been quiet, quiet. Nothing was ever going on here, and all of a sudden there is a world sensation,” Kancir said.