Ukraine scrambles to restore power as Russia ‘weaponises winter’

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Ukrainian energy workers on Thursday raced to restore power after Russian missile strikes destroyed energy infrastructure across western Ukraine, leaving more than two thirds of Kyiv without power. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield has accused Moscow of “weaponising winter” and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for urgent UN action against the Russian “formula of terror”. Follow FRANCE 24’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).

10:12am: Ukraine nuclear plants reconnected to grid after strikes, says energy ministry

All three nuclear power plants still under Ukrainian control have been reconnected to the electricity grid, Ukraine’s energy ministry said Thursday, after Russian strikes a day earlier forced them to automatically disconnect.

“After yesterday’s massive shelling, energy workers were able to unify the power system and reconnect three nuclear power plants to the power grid by morning,” the ministry said on social media, adding that they should start supplying electricity by “this evening”.

10:02am: Russia says no contacts planned with United States

Russia is not planning contact with the United States and did not initiate contact with Washington at the G20 summit in Indonesia, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday.

He added that contacts with Washington happen over the phone but that they take place through diplomatic channels and not at a presidential level.

9:50am: Contacts with IAEA over Zaporizhzhia plant are ‘constructive’: Russia

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said contacts with the UN nuclear watchdog over safety at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant were “constructive” and showed some promise.

The Zaporizhzhia plant, which Russia seized shortly after its February 24 invasion, was again rocked by shelling last weekend, prompting renewed calls from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to create a protection zone around it to prevent a nuclear disaster.

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog met a Russian delegation in Istanbul on Wednesday to discuss safety at the plant, with both Ukraine and Russia accusing each other of shelling.

9:42am: Most Kyiv residents without power, heating, water supply

More than two thirds of the Ukrainian capital is still without power Thursday morning with residents struggling without electricity, heating and running water, a day after Russian missile strikes caused Kyiv’s biggest outages in nine months of war.

The temperature plunged below zero degrees Celsius overnight in a city that had 2.8 million residents before the war and where it has already snowed, leaving the streets icy.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said electricians and repair workers were doing everything to get the power back on “as fast as possible” but the recovery would depend largely on the overall energy “balance” of the nationwide grid.

Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko said three nuclear power stations that were switched off because of the attacks on Wednesday were expected to be back on line later on Thursday, and this would help ease supply problems.

12:47am: Zelensky appeals to UN Security Council over Russian strikes on infrastructure

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to the United Nations Security Council late Wednesday to take action to stop Russian air strikes targeting vital infrastructure that have once again plunged Ukrainian cities into darkness and cold as winter sets in.

Russia unleashed a missile barrage across Ukraine earlier in the day, forcing shutdowns of nuclear power plants and killing civilians in Kyiv. 

“Today is just one day but we have received 70 missiles. That’s the Russian formula of terror,” Zelensky said via video link to the council chamber in New York, adding that hospitals, schools, transport infrastructure and residential areas had been hit.

Ukraine is waiting to see “a very firm reaction” to Wednesday’s air strikes from the world, he added.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Putin was “clearly weaponising winter to inflict immense suffering on the Ukrainian people.”

The Russian president “will try to freeze the country into submission,” she added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

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by France24