Ukraine war: Zelenskyy expects more attacks and nuclear plant still under Russian control

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By Euronews  with AFP, AP, Reuters
Ukrainian military's Grad multiple rocket launcher fires rockets at Russian positions in the frontline near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine
Ukrainian military's Grad multiple rocket launcher fires rockets at Russian positions in the frontline near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine   -  Copyright  Credit: AP

1. Zelenskyy warns Ukraine could suffer more Russian attacks this week

Ukrainian officials have warned that they are expecting to face a new wave of Russian missile strikes in the next few days.

"The coming week could be as difficult as last week," President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Sunday.

Previous missile strikes on Ukrainian territory have targeted the country's energy infrastructure, causing massive water and power cuts.

"Our defence forces are preparing, the whole state is preparing," Zelenskyy said. "And as long as they have missiles, they, unfortunately, will not calm down."

"We are working out all the scenarios, including with Western partners," he added, calling on Ukrainians to pay attention to anti-aircraft warnings.

Millions of people -- including most of the capital Kyiv -- were left without power last week as winter temperatures set in.

According to the national operator Ukrenergo, around 27% of households are still facing electricity shortages while emergency power cuts are still in force throughout the country.

The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, has traded barbs with Ukraine's president over how to help residents withstand power cuts.

Zelenskyy had noted last week that many in the capital had complained about the city's measures following Russia's attacks, but Klitschko said 430 "warming centres" were already helping residents cope and said any dispute was "senseless" amid Russia's military campaign.

"I do not want to become involved in political battles, particularly in the current situation," Klitschko said in a video posted on Telegram.

Ukraine's military says a Russian warship carrying "eight Kalibr-type missiles" has now appeared in the Black Sea.

"It is highly likely that the beginning of the week will be marked by such an attack," said Natalia Goumeniouk, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian army's southern command.

"This indicates that preparations are underway," she told Ukrainian television on Monday.

The Kremlin last week denied that its attacks on Ukraine's electricity network were aimed at civilians, but said Kyiv could "end the suffering" of its population by meeting Russia's demands to resolve the conflict.

2. Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant remains under Russian control, says Moscow

Europe's largest nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine remains under Russian control, according to authorities installed by Moscow.

Authorities in the nearby city of Enerhodar said on Monday that Russian forces still occupy the facility in Zaporizhzhia.

The head of Ukraine's state-run nuclear energy company has suggested there were signs that Russian forces might be preparing to vacate the vast plant which they seized in March, soon after invading Ukraine.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said late on Sunday that he had no doubt that Russian forces would leave the plant, where Ukrainian staff from Enerhodar are still operating.

But the Russian-installed administration Enerhodar said the claims were "not true".

"The media are actively spreading fake news that Russia is allegedly planning to ... leave the [plant]," a statement on Telegram read.

"There's no need to look for signs where there are none and cannot be any," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in a briefing on Monday.

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of shelling the Zaporizhzhia site amid fears of a nuclear catastrophe.

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wants to create a protection zone around the nuclear power station.

Zaporizhzhia was one of four Ukrainian regions annexed by Moscow in September. Kyiv and its Western allies condemn the move as illegal.

AP Photo/Leo Correa, File
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, pictured from the Dnipropetrovsk region.AP Photo/Leo Correa, File

3. Intense fighting continues in eastern Ukraine

The eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk -- another annexed by Russia -- has been at the centre of recent battles.

After Russia withdrew its forces from the southern city of Kherson, it moved soldiers to the Donbas region.

Ukraine's President Zelenskyy has noted that the situation remains tense and "very difficult" along various front lines, even though no devastating attacks were reported on Sunday.

The General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces claimed on Monday that Ukrainian forces had repelled Russian attacks in several areas, including Bakhmut and Avdiivka.

Ukraine's military also said that its forces had destroyed six units of Russian military equipment and wounded around 30 soldiers near Enerhodar. The battlefield claims could not immediately be verified.

Analysts have predicted that the upcoming winter could have an increasing impact on the direction of the war.

“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,” the Institute for the Study of War said over the weekend.

Despite leaving Kherson city, Russian forces have dug in on the east bank of the River Dnipro and are now shelling the city from across the river.

At least 32 people in the Kherson region have been killed by Russian attacks since the withdrawal on November 11.

The Russian-backed administration in Nova Kakhovka, a town near Kherson, also reported that one civilian was killed and another wounded in Ukrainian shelling on Sunday night.

4. US considers sending 100-mile strike weapon to Ukraine

The US is reportedly considering a Boeing proposal to supply Ukraine with cheap, precision bombs fitted onto abundantly available rockets.

The weapons -- known as Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB) -- would allow Kyiv to strike far behind Russian military lines.

The artillery could be delivered to Ukraine as early as spring 2023, according to the Reuters news agency.

The US and its western allies are struggling to meet Ukraine's demand for military equipment as the war drags on beyond nine months.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine drove up demand for American-made weapons and ammunition, now including GLSDB.

The US and the UK committed the most direct military aid to Ukraine until early October, according to a Kiel Institute for the World Economy tracker. 

Meanwhile, Eastern and Central Europe's arms industries are reportedly producing guns, ammunition, and other military supplies at a pace not seen since the Cold War.

Former Warsaw Pact countries see helping Ukraine as a matter of regional security.

5. Ukrainian grain exports fall in November

Fewer than 3 million tonnes of grain will leave Ukraine in November, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said late on Sunday.

A Turkish and UN-brokered deal aimed at easing global food shortages has been extended for four months, allowing Ukrainian agricultural products to transit from three Black Sea ports.

But Kyiv has accused Russia of trying to slow down ship inspections, slowing the number of exports.

Ukraine and Russia had agreed that teams would check the vessels to ensure no barred people or goods were arriving at or departing from Ukrainian ports.

Around 4.2 million tonnes of grain left Ukrainian ports in October, Kubrakov wrote on Facebook.

He added 77 ships were queuing to pass the inspection in Turkey while the three Black Sea ports use up to only 50% of their capacity.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin said in September that Russia and the developing world had been "cheated" by the UN-brokered Ukrainian grain export deal.

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hosted a summit in Kyiv with allied nations to launch a plan to export €144 million worth of grain to countries most vulnerable to famine and drought.

6. Gazprom says no future gas cuts planned for Moldova

Gazprom has stated that it will not further reduce natural gas to Moldova, despite previous threats.

The Russian energy giant had threatened to cut supplies last week after claiming that bills went unpaid and that flows crossing through Ukraine were not making it to Moldova.

Moldova and Ukraine hit back at Gazprom’s claim that Russian gas was being stored in Ukraine, saying all supplies that Russia sends through the war-torn country get “fully transferred” to Moldova.

“The volumes of gas that Gazprom refers to as remaining in Ukraine are our savings and reserves stored in warehouses in Ukraine,” Moldovan Infrastructure Minister Andrei Spinu said last week.

“These volumes were and will be fully paid for by our country.”

On Monday, Gazprom wrote on Twitter that Moldovagaz had now paid the outstanding bills for November

Moldova, which had relied entirely on Russia for natural gas, is facing an acute energy crisis after Moscow dramatically reduced supplies in October and halved them in November.

Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure also have triggered massive blackouts in several Moldovan cities.

The European Union has pledged €250 million in aid to Moldova, while an international aid conference in Paris last week also raised more than €100 million to support the country through the energy crisis.