Ukraine war: The key developments you need to know for Saturday

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP, Reuters
Pallbearers carry the coffin of Boguslaw Wos, one of two Polish men killed in a missile explosion, in Przewodow, Poland, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022.
Pallbearers carry the coffin of Boguslaw Wos, one of two Polish men killed in a missile explosion, in Przewodow, Poland, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo

1. Electricity concerns as Russia's attacks plunge millions into darkness

Russia's sustained attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure have interrupted supplies to as much as 40% of the country's population at the onset of winter. 

Freezing temperatures are putting additional pressure on energy networks, grid operator Ukrenergo said.

“You always need to prepare for the worst. We understand that the enemy wants to destroy our power system in general, to cause long outages,” Ukrenergo’s chief executive Volodymyr Kudrytskyi told Ukrainian state television. 

“We need to prepare for possible long outages, but at the moment we are introducing schedules that are planned and will do everything to ensure that the outages are not very long.”

The capital of Kyiv is already facing a “huge deficit in electricity,” Mayor Vitali Klitschko told The Associated Press. Some 1.5 million to 2 million people -- about half of the city's population -- are periodically plunged into darkness as authorities switch electricity from one district to another.

“It’s a critical situation," he said.

Klitschko added that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military planners apparently are hoping “to bring us, everyone, to depression,” to make people feel unsafe and “to think about, ‘Maybe we give up.’” But it won't work, he said.

The power situation at critical facilities such as hospitals and schools in several areas have been stabilised, according to Ukrenergo.

Those facilities were targeted overnight in the northeastern Kharkiv region, where energy equipment was damaged, according to the local governor. Eight people including energy crews and police were injured trying to clear up the debris, he said.

Moscow’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy and power facilities have fueled fears of what the dead of winter will bring. Ukraine's energy infrastructure had again been targeted Thursday, two days after Russia unleashed a nationwide barrage of more than 100 missiles and drones that knocked out power to 10 million people.

Watch more on this story at the video above.

2. Spain to send generators to Ukraine to help ease electricity crisis

The Spanish government announced on Saturday that it will send 14 new electric generators to Ukraine, where Russian attacks on energy infrastructure are leaving many Ukrainians without electricity and hot water to spend the winter.

"(Friday) we sent a new package of 14 generators to face the winter which is proving to be very harsh and very difficult in Ukraine", said Spain's Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares.

The Ukrainian government had asked for “additional support” from the EU, estimating that almost half of the energy infrastructures have been put out of order by the massive Russian strikes which have targeted them since the beginning of October, while the first snows fell on the country on Thursday.

Madrid had already announced on 10 October 19 that five electricity generators would be sent to Ukraine.

Spain will also send 30 additional ambulances as well as police reinforcements to help the Ukrainian authorities investigate possible war crimes on its territory, Foreign Minister Albares said.

3. Ukraine's military is winning the war, says Canada's defence minister

Andrew Vaughan/AP
Defense Minister Anita Anand addresses the opening session at the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022.Andrew Vaughan/AP

Canada’s defense minister said that Ukraine’s military is winning the war and Russian President Vladimir Putin has only united NATO and renewed its purpose.

Defense Minister Anita Anand made the remarks at the annual Halifax International Security Forum which attracts defense and security officials from Western democracies.

“The spirit and determination of the Ukrainian people and President (Volodymyr) Zelenskyy continue to inspire us all. Ukraine’s armed forces are driven, disciplined, and better-trained - and they are winning,” Anand said.

Russia is facing mounting setbacks in nearly nine months of fighting. Moscow recently pulled troops out of the key city of Kherson in southern Ukraine. But Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy and power facilities have fueled fears of what the dead of winter will bring.

Anand said Putin wrongly assumed the Russian army would easily override the Ukrainians and that the West would sit back.

“Putin misjudged. Russia’s full-scale and unprovoked invasion has only strengthened NATO’s resolve and unity - and renewed its raison d’être,” she said.

4. Russia claims Ukraine committed war crimes

Moscow has accused Ukrainian soldiers of executing more than 10 Russian prisoners of war, accusing Kyiv of carrying out war crimes and the West of ignoring them.

The Russian defence ministry cited a video circulating on Russian social media which it said showed the execution of Russian prisoners of war. Reuters was unable to immediately verify either the video or the defence ministry's assertions.

"This brutal murder of Russian servicemen is neither the first, nor the only war crime," the ministry said.

"This is common practice in the Armed Forces of Ukraine that is actively supported by the Kyiv regime and blatantly ignored by its Western patrons."

There was no immediate response from Kyiv, which has said previously it would investigate any alleged abuses by its armed forces. Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of war crimes, which Moscow has denied.

The video shows what appear to be Russian soldiers lying down on the ground in Makiivka, in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, after surrendering to armed men with yellow bands on their arms.

Then automatic gunfire rings out and the video shows around 12 bodies. It was unclear when the video was filmed or who filmed it.

The Russian defence ministry said the video showed "the deliberate and methodical murder of more than 10 immobilised Russian serviceman by degenerate Ukrainian soldiers".

In a statement to Reuters, Marta Hurtado, a spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office said: "We are aware of the videos and we are looking into them. Allegations of summary executions of people hors de combat should be promptly, fully and effectively investigated, and any perpetrators held to account."

Earlier this week, the UN said it had spoken to Ukrainian prisoners of war, captured by the Russians, who reported suffering torture and ill-treatment. It said it had also documented cases of ill-treatment of Russian prisoners of war in Ukrainian facilities.

Matilda Bogner, head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, said the mistreatment of Ukrainian prisoners by Russians was "fairly systematic" while it was "not systematic" for Ukraine to mistreat Russian soldiers.

5. Weekend funerals for Polish men killed in missile strike

AP
A view of a vehicle carrying the coffin of Boguslaw Wos, one of two Polish men killed in a missile explosion in Przewodow, Poland, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022.AP

Two men killed by a missile that hit a southeastern Polish village will be buried this weekend, as residents struggle to come to terms with an incident that raised fears of the war in Ukraine spilling over the border.

Residents of Przewodow have been shaken by the explosion that cost the two men their lives and brought the most deadly conflict in Europe since World War Two to their doorsteps.

"I knew (both of the deceased) very well," said local priest Bogdan Wazny. "One lived near here in this old housing estate, and the other in the neighbouring village, which is 3.5 kilometers from the church...They were very kind people."

The first funeral took place on Saturday at noon local time, with the second funeral will take place on Sunday. 

Przewodow, a village of 440 people, has been the subject of global media attention since the two agricultural workers were killed at a grain-drying facility by what Warsaw and Western allies say was a stray Ukrainian air-defence missile.

Wazny said that when the media scrum had died down he and his parishioners would have time to reflect on their loss.

"When the journalists leave, when there are no cameras, we will certainly talk here amongst ourselves and pray quietly."

6. Moscow criticises Poland's visa ban on foreign minister

Raad Adayleh / AP
FILE: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a press conference in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.Raad Adayleh / AP

Russia has denounced as "provocative" a decision by Warsaw to refuse to issue a visa to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who wanted to attend a meeting of OSCE foreign ministers. 

"Poland's decision (...) is provocative and unprecedented," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Not only has Warsaw discredited itself in this way, but it has caused irreparable damage to the authority of the entire Organisation" for security and cooperation in Europe, the statement said.

Poland, which is organizing the ministerial meeting of the OSCE in early December, announced on Friday that it had refused entry into its territory to Mr. Lavrov.

"We expect the Russian Federation to choose the members of its delegation in accordance with the regulations in force," a source in this rotating annual presidency, currently held by Warsaw, told AFP.

According to her, the Russian delegation should not "include people sanctioned by the European Union (EU)" following the Russian offensive in Ukraine launched on 24 February 24, including Sergei Lavrov.

The meeting of the 57 Foreign Ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will take place on December 1 and 2 in Lodz, a city in central Poland.

The Russian delegation there will be led by Russian Ambassador to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich, according to Moscow.

The Vienna-based OSCE was founded in 1975 at the height of the Cold War to promote East-West dialogue.