Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to the UN Security Council on Wednesday to take steps to stop Russian airstrikes targeting vital infrastructure that has again been submerged Ukrainian cities plunge into darkness and cold as winter sets in.
“Today is only one day, but we have received 70 missiles. This is the Russian formula for terror,” Zelenskyy said via video link to the council chamber in New York.
He said hospitals, schools, transport infrastructure and residential areas had all been hit.
“When we have the temperature below zero, and millions of people without energy supply, without heat, without water, this is a blatant crime against humanity,” he told the meeting in New York.
In his speech, Zelenskyy called for the adoption of a UN resolution condemning energy terrorism. Ukraine is waiting to see “a very firm response” to Wednesday’s airstrikes from the world, he added.
The Council is unlikely to take any action in response to the appeal, as Russia is a veto-wielding member. However, Zelenskyy called for Russia to be denied a vote on any decision regarding its actions.
“We cannot be hostages to an international terrorist,” he said. “Russia is doing everything to turn an energy generator into a more powerful tool than the UN Charter.”
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya responded by complaining that it was against Council rules for Zelenskyy to appear via video and rejecting what he called “reckless threats and ultimatums” from Ukraine and its supporters in the West.
Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on Thursday 24 November
Germany’s Merkel says she was powerless to arrange Ukraine talks ahead of war
Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she aimed to convene European talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin the year before he invaded Ukraine.
However, she believed that there was no possibility of influencing the Russian president at the end of her term.
That’s what Merkel told Germany Spiegel magazine she and French President Emmanuel Macron wanted the Council of Europe to discuss the end of The Minsk Protocol with Putin.
The 2015 agreement between Kiev and Moscow aimed to resolve the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region.
“But I no longer had the strength to push through, because after all everyone knew: she is leaving in the fall,” Merkel told Spiegel.
US President Joe Biden discussed the issue with the Russian leader in June 2021, but the Europeans never got around to it.
Merkel herself said during her farewell visit to Moscow in August 2021: “The feeling was very clear: ‘In terms of power politics, you are finished.’ For Putin, only power counts’.
Moscow issues Russian passports to thousands in illegally annexed Ukrainian regions
Moscow has issued more than 80,000 Russian passports to residents of Ukrainian territories illegally annexed by Moscow, Russian news agencies quoted an Interior Ministry official as saying.
Russia illegally annexed the Ukrainian territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in September, saying large majorities favored joining Russia in sham referendums.
“Since the addition … of the four regions to the Russian Federation, and in accordance with the law, more than 80,000 people have received passports as citizens of the Russian Federation,” said Valentina Kazakova, an Interior Ministry official.
EU lawmakers repay an 18 billion euro loan to Ukraine
European Union lawmakers on Thursday backed an 18 billion euro ($18 billion) loan to Ukraine to help keep its public services running.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola wrote on Twitter that the loan was approved “at record speed”, proof she says EU support for Ukraine is only getting stronger.
In a statement, the European Parliament said the money would be used to support essential public services, including hospitals, schools and providing housing for displaced people. It will also help to ensure macroeconomic stability and the restoration of critical infrastructure destroyed in Russian attacks.
“The 18 billion euros will cover about half of the estimated 3-4 billion euros of monthly funding Ukraine needs in 2023,” it said.
The loan still needs to be approved by the European Council, which represents the EU’s 27 national governments.
Since the start of the war, the EU and its member states have provided 19.7 billion euros to support Ukraine.
Poland urges Germany to send Patriot missile launchers to Ukraine
Poland has asked Germany to send air defense systems, it offered Warsaw, to Ukraine.
“After further Russian missile attacks, I asked Germany to have the Patriot batteries offered to Poland transferred to Ukraine and deployed on its western border,” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak wrote on Twitter.
“This will protect Ukraine from further deaths and blackouts and will increase security on our eastern border.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to Warsaw Vasyl Zvarych thanked Blaszczak and said on Twitter that Ukraine needs as many air defense weapons as it can get.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said so on Monday Berlin offered Eurofighters and Patriot missiles to Warsaw to help secure its airspace.
But after Russia’s heavy barrage of fire on Ukraine on Wednesday, Polish leaders said it would be better if the defense systems were located in western Ukraine.
“It would be best for Poland’s security if Germany handed over the equipment to the Ukrainians, trained Ukrainian teams, with the proviso that the batteries would be located in the west of Ukraine,” said the head of Poland’s ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, apparently referring to. to Patriot missiles.
Lambrecht said Thursday that the issue must be discussed “with NATO and with our allies.”
The EU is working “at full speed” on the 9th set of sanctions against Russia
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU is currently working on its 9th set of sanctions against Russia for its war in Ukraine.
“We are working hard to hit Russia where it hurts to blunt even more of its capacity to wage war against Ukraine, and I can announce today that we are working full speed ahead on a 9th sanctions package,” von der Leyen said at a press conference on Thursday.
“We will not rest until Ukraine is victorious [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his illegal and barbaric war,” added.
Ukraine expects nuclear power plants to be back online
Ukraine expects three of its own nuclear power plants that was shut down due to Russian missile attacks on Wednesday to resume operations on Thursday evening, Reuters reported, citing Energy Minister Tyske Galushchenko.
“We expect that in the evening the nuclear power plants will start working and supply energy to the network, and this will significantly reduce the (energy) deficit,” he said in remarks on national television.
Power restored in some regions
Emergency technicians were able to partially restore power in 15 administrative regions of Ukraine, the deputy head of the presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said on Wednesday evening.
In Kiev, services such as hospitals were back online. Tymoshenko said power would be restored to private customers next time.
Around 2,750 so-called “invincibility centers” went into operation across the country, providing free heating, electricity, water, internet and telephone services to citizens.
UN welcomes prisoner exchange
A recent prisoner exchange between Kiev and Moscow is a welcome development amid a sea of ”dark news,” UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo said Wednesday night.
DiCarlo told the UN Security Council that both sides should continue to release prisoners and follow international humanitarian law regarding prisoners of war.
Her comments came as Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, shared a photo of 35 Ukrainian soldiers and one civilian returning from Russian custody.
Kyiv residents stay overnight without power
About 80% of households in Kiev were without electricity and running water on Wednesday night after Russia’s bombardment of civilian infrastructure.
“Today’s rocket attack has led to the disconnection of nuclear power plants from the majority of heat and water plants,” the Ministry of Energy said on Facebook
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that “all municipal services were working to restore power and water supply to Kyiv as soon as possible.”
Kyiv is home to more than 3 million people.
American twins ‘rescued’ from Russia
A US group announced Wednesday that it “saved” two born babies born to a surrogate mother in St. Petersburg.
The mother used to live in Donbas, but fled to Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. She gave birth in St. Petersburg in early September.
Florida-based Project Dynamo – which was founded to help evacuate US troops and allies from Afghanistan last year – said the American parents contacted them after they failed to get the twins home from a Russian orphanage.
Project Dynamo told the AFP news agency that the US embassies in Moscow and Tallinn were helping with the operation, but did not provide further details. The US State Department confirmed it is “aware of this information” but chose not to comment for privacy reasons.
US citizenship is automatically granted to children of US couples, including children born abroad to surrogate mothers, provided at least one parent is biologically related to the baby.
German deputy foreign minister accuses Russia of ‘state terrorism’
German Minister for Europe and Climate Anna Lührmann has told DW that Russia’s missile attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure amounted to “state terrorism.”
“It’s clear that Putin wants Ukraine to sink into cold and darkness this winter,” she told DW’s Nick Connolly during a visit to Kiev amid the latest wave of Russian airstrikes.
“Ukrainians are facing all this with great bravery and we are here to help them face these challenges,” she said.
Lührmann, one of three deputies under Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said she had come to Ukraine with an additional €55 million ($57.3 million) in aid, including generators, which will arrive in the next few days.
“Ukraine has our full solidarity. I believe that it is not only Ukraine that will benefit from membership of the EU, the EU will be a better place with Ukraine as a member,” she added.
Macron: Russian attacks are ‘war crimes’
French President Emmanuel Macron has joined the chorus of European leaders and senior officials in condemning Russia’s latest attack on energy infrastructure.
“Any attack against civilian infrastructure constitutes a war crime and must not go unpunished,” Macron said.
He announced an aid conference to be held in Paris in December to raise money for the winter months. It follows a similar conference to raise money for Moldova earlier this week.
The French president said he intends to establish a direct line of contact regarding the fate of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Ukraine is struggling to meet demand for electricity, and continued threats to the plant pose a serious health and environmental risk.
Macron added: “The Russian strategy is to demoralize people on the ground.”
More coverage of the war in Ukraine
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said that it was clear Russia was fighting a losing battle in Ukraine. Meanwhile, France’s Emmanuel Macron is preparing to resume “direct contact” with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Germany’s “ring exchange” of tanks to avoid directly arming Ukraine got off to a slow start. But some experts see it as the prelude to a shift in German security policy.
rm, lo,zc, dh/rt (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)