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NATO seeks to shore up Russia“s neighbours as Moscow attacks Ukraine on multiple fronts

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2022-11-30T09:38:28Z

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday (November 27) that Russia would surely launch new missile attacks on his country, and warned defence forces and citizens should be prepared to work together to withstand the consequences.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russian forces were trying to advance in the northeast and east and “planning something” in the south, while NATO sought on Wednesday to reassure other countries that fear destabilisation from Moscow.

Ukraine’s General Staff said its forces had repelled six Russian attacks in the past 24 hours in the eastern Donbas region, while Russian artillery had relentlessly shelled the right bank of the Dnipro River and Kherson city further south.

Winter weather has hampered fighting on the ground, and Zelenskiy has told Ukrainians to expect a major Russian barrage this week on Ukraine’s stricken electricity infrastructure, which Moscow has pounded roughly weekly since early October.

He said the Russian military was attacking the Donbas regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east as well as Kharkiv in the northeast, where Ukraine pushed back Russian forces in September.

“The situation at the front is difficult,” he said in his nightly video address. “Despite extremely large losses, the occupiers are still trying to advance” in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv. And “they are planning something in the south,” he said, without elaborating.

Reuters could not independently verify the latest battlefield reports.

Foreign ministers from the NATO alliance, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, were set to focus on helping fragile countries concerned about their own stability amid an energy crisis prompted by the Ukraine war.

Moldova, Georgia and Bosnia are all “facing pressure from Russia” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

The ministers began their two-day meeting in Bucharest on Tuesday with pledges both to help Ukrainians cope with what the defence alliance’s chief said was Moscow using winter weather as “a weapon of war” and to help sustain Kyiv’s military campaign.

“In a nutshell: Patriots (missile defence systems) and transformers (for our energy needs) are what Ukraine needs the most,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters on the sidelines of the NATO meeting.

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy head of Moscow’s security council and a prominent hawk, warned NATO against providing Ukraine with Patriot systems and denounced the Atlantic alliance as a “criminal entity” for delivering arms to what he called “Ukrainian fanatics”.

Stoltenberg said allies were discussing providing Patriot units but that they would need to be maintained and provided with ammunition, which was a “huge challenge” in itself.

Washington pledged $53 million to buy power grid equipment and U.S. President Joe Biden said providing more military assistance was a priority. Republicans, who take control of Congress’ House of Representatives in January, have talked about pausing the funding, which has exceeded $18 billion.

In Kyiv, snow fell and temperatures were expected to remain below freezing as millions in and around the capital struggled to heat their homes despite attacks on infrastructure that Kyiv and its allies say are aimed at harming civilians, a war crime.

Moscow has acknowledged attacking infrastructure, but says it aims to degrade Ukraine’s military, and that Ukrainians can end their suffering by accepting demands it has not spelled out.

DTEK, Ukraine’s biggest private electricity producer, said that Kyiv, where nearly 1 million people were without power on Tuesday, would see more emergency power cuts on Wednesday.

“We are trying to get back to scheduled outages as soon as possible, but depending on the situation in the power system, the information may change several times a day,” it said.

The European Union said it aimed to use proceeds from investing Russian assets it has frozen to help compensate Ukraine for the damage Moscow has inflicted, and proposed the establishment of a court to try “Russia’s crime of aggression”.

Russia says the freezing of assets is illegal, denying that the invasion, which it calls a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbour, amounts to illegal aggression.

The governor of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, Yaroslav Yanushevych, said on the Telegram messaging app that electricity had been restored to half of the regional capital as of Tuesday night. The city had been left without power when Ukraine regained control of it on Nov. 11 after Russian forces retreated across the Dnipro River.

Further east, in the Zaporizhzhia region, a gas distribution facility was damaged when hit by a Russian missile overnight, resulting in a fire which left three streets without gas, governor Oleksandr Starukh said on Telegram on Wednesday.

Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the southern Dnipropetrovsk region, said Nikopol and Marganets – across the Dnipro river from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station – were shelled by Russian Grad multiple rocket launchers and heavy artillery early on Wednesday.

Ukrainian forces struck a power plant in Russia’s Kursk region on Tuesday, causing some electricity outages, Roman Starovoyt, the governor of the region, said.

Early on Wednesday a large oil storage tank was on fire in Russia’s Bryansk region bordering Ukraine’s northeast, a local governor said. There were no reported casualties, he added, without commenting on the cause of the blaze.

A senior U.S. military official said on Tuesday that Russia’s missile barrages included unarmed cruise missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads, fired at targets in Ukraine to try to deplete Kyiv’s stocks of air defences.

The worst barrage so far was on Nov. 23. It left millions of Ukrainians shivering in cold and darkness. At the start of this week, Zelenskiy predicted another, at least as damaging, soon.

There are no political talks to end the war. Moscow has annexed Ukrainian territory which it says it will never relinquish; Ukraine says it will fight until it recovers all occupied land.

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SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB Healthcare workers treat a wounded Ukrainian serviceman in a pre-hospital medical aid centre, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Donetsk region, Ukraine November 22, 2022. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS

A wounded Ukrainian serviceman is moved in a pre-hospital medical aid centre, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Donetsk region, Ukraine November 22, 2022. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS

Ukrainian servicemen prepare fire with a Bureviy multiple launch rocket system at a position in Donetsk region, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine November 29, 2022. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS

Ukrainian servicemen fire with a Bureviy multiple launch rocket system at a position in Donetsk region, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine November 29, 2022. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS

People charge their electronic devices at a railway station after Russia’s military retreat from Kherson, Ukraine November 29, 2022. REUTERS/Anna Voitenko

People charge their electronic devices at a railway station after Russia’s military retreat from Kherson, Ukraine November 29, 2022. REUTERS/Anna Voitenko

A view shows the city without electricity after critical civil infrastructure was hit by Russian missile attacks, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine November 23, 2022. REUTERS/Vladyslav Sodel/File Photo

Ukrainian service members fire a shell from an M777 Howitzer at a front line, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Donetsk Region, Ukraine November 23, 2022. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS

A Ukrainian service member covers his ears as a shell is fired from an M777 Howitzer at a front line, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk Region, Ukraine November 23, 2022. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Serhii Nuzhnenko via REUTERS

A view shows remains of MLRS shells used by Russian troops for military strikes of the city and collected by sappers in Kharkiv, Ukraine November 29, 2022. REUTERS/Vitalii Hnidyi

Local residents stand in line to fill up bottles with fresh drinking water after critical civil infrastructure was hit by Russian missile attacks in Kyiv, Ukraine November 24, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

People use their mobile phone lamps to look at items at a sporting goods store during a power outage, after critical civil infrastructure was hit by a Russian missile attacks in Ukraine, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, November 26, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/File Photo

Local residents charge their devices, use internet connection and warm up inside an invincibility centre after critical civil infrastructure was hit by Russian missile attacks in Kyiv, Ukraine November 24, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
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