UKRAINE: European leaders assembled to deliberate on the looming crisis of severe fuel shortage, and skyrocketing prices across the continent after Ukraine’s Zelenskyy warned of a difficult winter.
Zelenskyy has also reported progress and victories in a counter-offensive against Russian forces.
Zelenskyy thanked his troops in his nightly address on Sunday after they secured two settlements in the south and a third in the east, including an additional territory, claiming he had received “good reports” from his military commanders and head of intelligence.
Recent developments in Russia-Ukraine crisis
Earlier on Sunday, the Russia-Ukraine conflict saw a new development, working mainly in Ukraine’s favour. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, posted a visual which showed a fluttering Ukrainian flag atop a pole in a village in the southern area, which is the main focus of the counter-offensive.
“Vysokopillya. Kherson region. Ukraine. Today,” Tymoshenko wrote in a Facebook post over a photo of three soldiers on rooftops, one of them fixing a Ukrainian flag to a post.
Ukraine began its counter-attack agenda early last week, targeting mainly the south, especially the Kherson region, which had been annexed by the red army early in the conflict.
Zelenskyy’s remarks came a day after he warned Europeans that Russia was preparing “a decisive energy blow” during the cold months ahead.
Moscow has cited Western sanctions and technical issues for the reports of energy disruptions.
European countries who have supported Kyiv with diplomatic and military support, have accused Russia of misusing its energy stockpile and deliberately creating an energy vacuum.
Some analysts suggest the shortages and a surge in living costs as winter approaches risk sapping Western support for Kyiv as governments try to deal with disgruntled populations.
Separately, last week Moscow announced that it would close the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, its main channel to Germany, and G7 countries declared a price cap on Russian oil exports.
The Kremlin warned that it would stop selling oil to any countries that implemented the cap.
Russia isn’t a ‘reliable partner’: Germany
Moreover, Germany announced its lack of faith in Russia as a major oil exporter. Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday that his government had planned a total halt in gas deliveries in December while dealing with rising fuel prices.
“Russia is no longer a reliable energy partner,” Scholz told a news conference in Berlin.
Moscow did not take these remarks too well as former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused Germany of being an enemy of Russia. “In other words, it has declared a hybrid war on Russia,” he said.
In other news, the region around Europe’s biggest nuclear plant, Zaporizhzhia, was calm on Sunday, Russian authorities reported. Previously, a UN team of nuclear experts had dropped by the plant to assess any damage by shelling or possible traces of a disastrous radiation leak.
On Saturday, the last remaining main external power line was cut off. However, a reserve line continued supplying electricity to the grid, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.
Only one of its six reactors remained in operation, it said.
The “special military operation” launched in Ukraine by Russian president Vladimir Putin had centred mainly around the volatile Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, fuelling fears of a possible Chernobyl-like radiation “catastrophe”.
Sparking alarms in the international community, a UN team of nuclear experts, headed by IAEA director general Rafael Grossi, arrived at the plant site last week, to evaluate the physical conditions of the plant. Grossi later reported that the integrity of the plant had been “violated”.
While both Kyiv and Moscow trade blame for countless reports of shelling near the site, Russia has ardently refused to heed international calls to demilitarize the zone.
On other battlefronts, Ukrainian Telegram channels reported explosions at the Antonivsky bridge near the southern city of Kherson, which is occupied by Russian forces.
Ukrainian missiles have severely damaged the bridge over the past weeks. Still, Russian troops were trying to repair it or to set up a pontoon crossing or barges to maintain supplies to Russian units on the right bank of the Dnipro River.