Day 239 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Blackout across the Country after Russian Strikes on Energy Infrastructure

Ukraine | October 20, 2022, Thursday // 12:30|  views

Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:

Ukraine introduces electricity regime from today

In Ukraine, a blackout went into effect across the country today after a series of Russian strikes destroyed much of the country's energy infrastructure. The deportation of residents of the occupied Kherson region continues - it is believed that at the moment nearly 10 thousand people have been forced to cross to the left bank of the Dnieper River.

"Charge all your devices by 7 a.m." - the Ukrainian authorities turned to the citizens with this appeal. After that hour, the electricity regime came into force in the country. The reason - the series of airstrikes by Russia since the beginning of last week, as a result of which 30% of the critically important energy infrastructure was destroyed. About 1,000 settlements have been without electricity for several days now.

"We are working hard to keep the country safe, including protecting our airspace. We have successfully shot down 233 missiles in the past month, and 10 drones today alone. Unfortunately, our energy infrastructure has been seriously damaged. We are doing everything we can to restore it, but until that happens, we will have to introduce some restrictions. Please do not use electrical appliances if it is not absolutely necessary. Reduce your consumption so that we do not have to stay without electricity for a long time," urged President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The capital city of Kyiv remained in the dark last night, where shortly after 11:00 p.m. the power supply was stopped to avoid an accident. Mayor Vitaly Klitschko called on the capital's residents not to use electrical appliances, and shops and establishments not to include unnecessary screens, lighting and signs. Instead of trolleybuses, buses will be moving in the city today.

"I urge citizens to reduce electricity consumption as much as possible so that there is no breakdown in the network during peak hours. From 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. do not turn on electrical appliances - microwaves, kettles, air conditioners and stoves. Today we will launch central heating so you don't have to use appliances. Each of us can contribute so we can restore our energy grid," said Vitaliy Klitschko, Mayor of Kyiv.

Due to the lack of electricity, the Internet has also been stopped in some places in Ukraine.

US President Joe Biden described Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilians as a sign of weakness on the part of Russian President Putin.

"I think that Vladimir Putin himself has fallen into a very difficult situation. And now his only remaining weapon is the terror that he is trying to inflict on Ukrainian citizens. He wants to scare them into wanting to surrender. But they won't", thinks Biden.

At least 7 thousand people were deported from the occupied Kherson region. The administration of the district, appointed by Moscow, has already been moved to the left bank of the Dnieper. According to the rules of the martial law declared by Putin yesterday, the local government is taken over by the Russian troops.

The Russian administration has warned local residents that a large-scale offensive by Ukrainian forces is expected. Up to 60 thousand people will be evacuated in the next 6 days. People are taken out on buses and ferries. They are allowed to carry up to 50 kg of luggage.

Ukrainian representatives point out that the evacuation was forced. According to the UN, the deportation of civilians by occupation authorities is considered a war crime.

Russian central bank: Mobilization has affected the Russian economy

President Vladimir Putin's order to partially mobilize 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine has hit consumer confidence in business activity and is likely to weigh on the economy in coming months, economists at the Russian Central Bank said in a report.

"In September, the recovery of economic activity slowed down, and towards the end of the month the trend began to deteriorate slightly," said the report of the research department of the central bank, reported Bloomberg.

The "partial mobilization" drove more than 350,000 Russians out of the country and exacerbated an already acute labor shortage. It also "had a negative impact on consumer and business confidence," the report said.

"The shift in consumer sentiment amid growing uncertainty may temporarily slow the recovery in consumption early in the fourth quarter," the report said.

"The decline in the labor force following the partial mobilization could complicate companies' efforts to overcome supply constraints and limit the overall trend in economic activity in the coming months."

The document was prepared by the research department, but its conclusions do not always coincide with the bank's official position. It is expected to release an updated forecast for this year's contraction next week.

The report highlights other economic consequences of Putin's invasion of Ukraine. It is noted that the impact of American and European sanctions on the oil and high-tech sectors has not yet been felt.

The report also said that the flight of foreign companies from the Russian market after the invasion in February was creating inflationary pressures as supplies of basic consumer goods were insufficient.

Erdogan: We will build a gas hub with Putin, Europe can use Russian gas through Turkey

Moscow and Ankara have agreed on a gas hub, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a meeting of his Justice and Development Party.

"Now Europe is wondering how to get energy in the upcoming winter period. Thank God, we do not have such a problem. Also, in our last meeting with Mr. Putin, we agreed to create a gas hub in Turkey. As he announced, Europe can use Russian gas through Turkey," the Turkish leader said.

According to data from Rystad Energy, Gazprom's total exports to Europe, including Turkish Stream, fell to 70-80 million cubic meters per day as of September. In September 2021, this indicator was 380 million cubic meters per day. Today, Russia's share in gas purchases from the EU does not exceed 10%.

The Nord Stream gas pipeline became the target of a terrorist attack. It is not yet known whether it can be restored. On the Ukrainian route, 40-43 million cubic meters of gas are delivered to Europe every day through the Sudzha gas measuring station. Gazprom's demands for gas supply through the Sokhranivka gas measuring station were rejected by Kyiv.

Last Wednesday at the energy forum in Moscow, Vladimir Putin proposed the creation of a gas hub in Turkey. This will replace lost volumes from the Nord Stream gas pipeline, he said. It would make economic sense and be much safer, the president said.

Later, during the meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Putin noted that the creation of the hub would allow prices to be regulated calmly "at a normal, market level, without any political color."

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Russian leader, told RIA Novosti that Turkey's reaction was "very positive and interesting." The presidents have been instructed to work on this issue in detail and very quickly, the Kremlin spokesman added.

EP: 2023 EU budget should focus on Ukraine, energy and the pandemic

The European Union's budget for 2023 should focus on Ukraine, energy and the pandemic, MEPs decided at their meeting in a position voted by them. The total budget set by the European Parliament for next year is 187 billion and 300 million euros. This was announced by the Press Service of the EP.

Funding for key programs cut by the Union’s governments has been restored. More than 850 million euros have been added to better deal with the consequences of the war in Ukraine. There is a significant increase for Erasmus+ programmes, climate action and trans-European networks.

The amount approved by the MEPs exceeds by one billion and 700 million the amount proposed in the project of the European Commission. The vote kicks off three weeks of "conciliation" talks with the European Council to reach an agreement on next year's budget. After that, a vote by the Parliament and a signature by its President are required.

Escape from Kherson. The British services assume that the Russians will withdraw beyond the Dnieper

The Russian authorities have probably decided to abandon the occupied territories on the west bank of the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine, and the escape of the Russians from Kherson will be a serious challenge, as all permanent bridges in the area have been damaged, the Ministry of Defense of Great Britain believes in its report from Thursday.

The British services dwell on the video address of the operational commander of the Russian forces in Ukraine, General Sergey Surovkin, who emphasized to the Russian media on negative news about the "special military operation" and on the fact that the situation is severe enough, which in London is assessed as highly atypical. It probably indicates that the Russian authorities are seriously considering withdrawing their forces from the territories west of the Dnieper. In the message, Surovkin also spoke about the plans of the authorities to completely evacuate the population of Kherson, as specified, to ensure its safety.

According to British intelligence, a key task of any Russian withdrawal operation will be to get the army and equipment in good condition across the river up to 1,000 meters wide.

"With all permanent bridges severely damaged, Russia will rather try to rely heavily on the temporary barge it built not far from Kherson in recent days and on the military pontoon ferry connections that continue to operate in several locations." - noted the military department of Great Britain.

In a previous report, British intelligence said that the new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovkin, would be unlikely to achieve his goals as he would receive few resources.

The Ukrainian authorities view the evacuation of Kherson's civilian population as a deportation and an attempt to change the ethnic composition of the occupied territory.

The Russians are forcing all residents to evacuate, as, according to the rules published by TASS, each person has the right to take with them no more than 50 kilograms of luggage. The transfer of civilians across the river will take place from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. According to Moscow's collaborator, Governor Vladimir Saldo, about 7,000 people have already left the right bank of the Dnieper in an organized manner with the help of several boats. Each of them can take on board between 80 and 400 people. Saldo said that citizens can take animals with them, but did not specify whether they fall under the 50 kilogram baggage limit. The occupation authorities foresee the evacuation of 50-60 thousand inhabitants.

Against the background of the announcements of the British services and of Saldo himself, on Thursday morning the deputy governor Kirill Stremousov announced via TASS that "everything in Kherson is under control."

Russia will reassess its relationship with Guterres if the UN investigates whether its drones are from Iran

Russia will reassess its cooperation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres if he sends experts to Ukraine to investigate drones that Western powers say were made in Iran and used by Moscow in violation of a UN resolution, Reuters reported.

Speaking after a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on Moscow's use of drones, Russia's deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, urged Guterres and his officials to "refrain from participating in any illegitimate investigation".

"Otherwise, we will have to reassess our cooperation with them, which is hardly in anyone's interest. We don't want to do it, but we will have no choice," he told reporters.

Polanski gave no further details.

The Security Council met in response to Russia's use of drones in Ukraine, at the request of the United States, France and Britain. The three Western countries say the drones are Iranian, putting the Kremlin in violation of a 2015 UN resolution endorsing the Iran nuclear deal.

Tehran denies supplying the drones to Moscow, and Russia denies its forces used Iranian drones in Ukraine.

"Iran has obligations not to export these weapons," Britain's deputy UN ambassador James Kariuki tweeted after the meeting. "As a member of the United Nations, Iran has a responsibility not to support Russia's aggressive war."

This week, Ukraine invited UN experts to inspect some of the downed drones. Guterres reports twice a year to the Security Council - traditionally in June and December - on the implementation of the 2015 resolution. An assessment of the origin of the drones in Ukraine is likely to be included in the upcoming report.

"As a matter of policy, we are always ready to examine any information and analyze any information provided to us by member states," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday.

Both Iran and Russia say Guterres has no right to send experts to Ukraine to inspect the drones. In a letter to Guterres on Wednesday, Tehran's UN ambassador Amir Saeed Iravani said Ukraine's invitation to UN experts "lacks legal basis" and urged Guterres to "prevent abuse" of the resolution.

It imposes a conventional arms embargo on Iran that runs until October 2020. But Ukraine and Western powers say the resolution still includes restrictions on the export of missiles and related technology until October 2023 and covers the purchase of advanced military systems such as drones.

The UN Security Council has been unable to take any substantive action on the war in Ukraine because Russia has veto power over the 15-member body.

The grain export deal - threatened

Polyansky said he was not optimistic about renewing Ukraine's grain and fertilizer export deal, which will expire next month if not renewed.

The reason - Russian exports were hindered.

Asked whether Russian cooperation on the deal could be at risk if Guterres sends experts to Ukraine to look at the drones, Polyanski elaborated:

"For now I'm not making a direct connection".

Ukraine demanded Israel's Iron Dome. We will not give it, but we will help with something else - answered Ganz

Israel has no intention of providing Ukraine with weapons to help it in its war with Russia. But it will offer Kyiv help in developing an intelligent air threat warning system - Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in response to a request from Ukraine. Its foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said earlier that his country would formally ask Israel for its air defense system.

"Israel will not hand over weapons systems to Ukraine due to various operational considerations," Gantz said at a meeting with EU countries' ambassadors in Israel on Wednesday. But - the minister assured - Israel continues its policy of supporting Ukraine through humanitarian aid and delivery of life-saving and defense equipment.

As part of this assistance, Israel has asked Ukraine for data "that would allow us to help build and deliver an intelligent early warning system, similar to Israel's, against air and other threats."

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister formally requested from the Israeli Foreign Ministry air defense systems (ADF). These include Iron Beam, Iron Dome, Barak-8, Patriot, David's Sling, and the Strela anti-ballistic missile. Kuleba also demanded that Israel train Ukrainian forces in their use. He warns that Russia's use of Iranian drones in the war against Ukraine will enhance Iranian systems, increasing Iran's threat to Israel and the Middle East.

Israel is monitoring Iran's involvement in the war. We can clearly see that they are providing Russia with drones. It is possible that in the future Iran will also provide more advanced weapons. There is no doubt that Iran will lie about its ability to develop a nuclear weapon just as it has done in the past. That is why we need to raise the level of intelligence and operational cooperation between the countries” - Gantz also says.

He assures the ambassadors that Israel will continue to monitor the development of the war in Ukraine and its consequences for the region. "We have not allowed and will not allow our enemies to obtain modern weapons. We are prepared for any scenario due to the rapprochement between Iran and Russia as a result of the crisis in Ukraine," the Israeli defense minister said.

In relation to this position, Kuleba insisted on Tuesday that "if Israel's policy is indeed to consistently oppose Iran's destructive actions, then it is time for Israel to openly side with Ukraine."

A meeting between Prime Minister of Israel Yair Lapid and Kuleba is planned for today, where the Ukrainian demands will be discussed.

Gantz's remarks came amid a warning from Russia to Jerusalem earlier this week not to sell arms to Ukraine. On Monday, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that Israel's supply of military equipment to Ukraine would destroy relations between the two countries. Following this public comment, Gantz canceled a phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov scheduled for the same day.

Medvedev, who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, also commented that Israel's arming of Kyiv "would be a very reckless act."

An Israeli official told Haaretz that they believed Medvedev's remarks came after Israel's Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai called on authorities to send military equipment to Ukraine on Sunday.

Shai wrote:

"Iran is supplying ballistic missiles to Russia. Doubts about where Israel should stand in this bloody conflict are over. There is no more room for self-rule. The time has come to provide Ukraine with military aid, as the US and NATO do."

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Tags: Kherson, Ukraine, Russia, Zelensky


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