Day 654 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky Calls on Ukrainians to Maintain Resilience in the Winter

Ukraine | December 9, 2023, Saturday // 11:15|  views

Day 654 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:

  • Zelensky calls on Ukrainians to maintain their resilience in the winter
  • In Ukraine, 500 settlements are without electricity, energy consumption is at a record high
  • High-level meeting between the US, South Korea and Japan over Russia's cooperation with North Korea
  • A new world record: a 58-year-old sniper shot a Russian occupier from 3,800 meters
  • Russia accused the IOC of discrimination over the Paris Olympics

Zelensky calls on Ukrainians to maintain their resilience in the winter

In his evening address, President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Ukrainians to maintain their resilience amid expected Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure this winter, the Kyiv Independent reported. In his address, he thanked soldiers and commanders for their "endurance and bravery" as the coldest months of winter approach.

Officials have warned that Moscow will launch a record number of drones against Ukraine.

In late November, Kyiv fended off the largest attack since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022, shooting down 74 of 75 Russian drones on November 25. As Ukraine prepares for more attacks, international allies have also increased their support for Ukraine.

This week, the UK announced .8 million in additional funding to Ukraine's winter humanitarian aid package.

In Ukraine, 500 settlements are without electricity, energy consumption is at a record high

Ukraine's energy consumption hit a record high yesterday, increasing strain on the fragile energy sector as nearly 500 towns faced power outages due to Russian shelling, airstrikes and bad weather, officials said, cited by Reuters.

Ukraine, an electricity exporter before Russia invaded in February 2022, was forced to turn to emergency electricity imports from neighboring Romania and Poland this week to meet demand, Ukraine's power grid operator Ukrenergo said.

"The power system continues to be in a difficult situation. There is currently no spare capacity in the power plants."

The energy system enters a second military winter in a much shakier state after months of Russian missile and drone attacks that struck critical infrastructure last winter.

These strikes plunged cities into darkness and forced people to go for long periods without water or heating in quite cold temperatures. Although the energy system is weakened, the Ukrainians hope that better air defenses provided by the West will help them prevail.

Ukrenergo has urged residents to conserve electricity amid ongoing Russian attacks almost two years after Moscow began its invasion, which has seen it occupy large swathes of the country's east and south, about a fifth of Ukraine's territory.

"This morning, Ukrenergo again registered a high level of consumption, almost equal to yesterday's record," the operator said in a statement, adding that consumption reached its highest levels so far this heating season.

The government in Kyiv said in a statement that 492 settlements across Ukraine were left without electricity due to bad weather, shelling, strikes and fighting.

Russia has continued to attack the energy system this winter, sending dozens of drones almost nightly to strike power generation facilities and distribution networks across the country.

Today, the Ministry of Energy announced that a total of three power units are not working at a thermal power plant in one of the frontline areas, which has affected the energy system. The department added that during the day the facility came under fire again, and new damage to the equipment was registered.

The dense cloudiness over the country prevents the functioning of the solar power plants.

High-level meeting between the US, South Korea and Japan over Russia's cooperation with North Korea

The national security advisers of the United States, South Korea and Japan held an extended discussion on the growing cooperation between Russia and North Korea, Reuters reported, citing White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Sullivan told reporters in South Korea that Washington, Seoul and Tokyo were confident that North Korea was supplying Russia with weapons to be used in Moscow's war against Ukraine.

The United States, South Korea and Japan have also agreed on new measures to counter and respond to missile launches from Pyongyang.

A new world record: a 58-year-old sniper shot a Russian occupier from 3,800 meters

58-year-old sniper Vyacheslav Kovalskyi of the SBU military counterintelligence is the shooter who set a world record by killing a Russian officer from a distance of 3,800 meters. This became clear from his interview with The Wall Street Journal.

The Ukrainian is a former long-range shooter and before the war against the occupiers started his own business.

On Nov. 18, Kovalskyi, along with a spotter partner (the person who calculates distance, wind speed, and other variables) took up a position on the right bank of the Dnieper in the AFU-controlled Kherson region, opposite a Russian military base across the river. The sniper lay motionless in the cold for several hours until he noticed an officer giving orders to the soldiers. After the spotter made his calculations, Kowalski fired a test shot that went about 300 meters off target because the wind speed was misjudged.

According to the WSJ, the second bullet reached the target in about nine seconds. According to Kovalskyi, his bullet hit the occupier's chest or abdomen. He is sure that it is impossible to survive such a wound.

"I thought that now the Russians will understand what the Ukrainians are capable of," he says.

The WSJ reports that some snipers are "skeptical" that Kovalskyi’s shot broke the world record. Experts commented that the shot was possible with the equipment the Ukrainian used, but difficult to execute due to uncontrollable variables.

The newspaper claimed that the sniper used a "Horizon Lord" rifle. Its barrel is made by the American company Bartlein Barrels, the sight is Japanese, and everything else is Ukrainian. The length of the cartridge, which is made to order, is about 16 cm.

The publication notes that Kovalskyi has for decades won long-range shooting competitions in Europe and North America and met his observer at such competitions in Ukraine.

On November 18, the SBU press service announced that a sniper from the special services set a world record for effective shooting - he destroyed a Russian occupier from a distance of 3,800 meters. In the previous world record, the shot was fired from a distance of 3,540 meters.

The most famous sniper in history to date is the Finnish Simo Häyhä, popularly known as the White Death. During the Winter War against the Soviet Union in 1939-1940, he managed to kill more than 500 Soviet soldiers in only about 100 days at the front.

Russia accused the IOC of discrimination over the Paris Olympics

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) discriminated against the country's athletes because of the conditions it set for their participation in the Paris Olympics. The IOC allowed athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in the games as neutrals, on the condition that they do not support the war in Ukraine and have no contracts with the military or national security agencies. In addition, only individual athletes will be able to participate in Paris, and the ban remains in place for team sports.

"Participation in the Olympic Games is a dream for sport. But the conditions set are discriminatory and against the principles of sport. In this way, they harm the Olympic Games, not Russian sport. Their approach is absolutely unacceptable," Matytsin told TASS, who always again specified that the Russian athletes "probably will participate".

The IOC recommended the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competition back in March, but announced then that the decision for Paris 2024 would be made separately.

The president of the International Boxing Association (IBA) Umar Kremlev, who has been in conflict with the Olympic Committee for months, also criticized the IOC. The IBA was expelled from the Olympic movement, but boxing remains part of the Games program and will be administered directly by the IOC for the second consecutive Olympics.

According to Kremlev, athletes should not participate as neutrals. Despite the sanctions imposed because of the war, the Russian-led IBA allowed Russian boxers to participate as early as autumn 2022, and not as neutrals.

After the IOC's decision on Paris 2024, Kremlev said: "To compete without a flag and an anthem is a humiliation for an athlete, this should not happen. There is a line between sports and sports officials. Such people who call for the humiliation of athletes do not should exist in sports. Sports officials are support staff for athletes"

The IOC's decision was understandably met with criticism from Ukraine. The authorities in the country threatened several times with a boycott, having banned the athletes from participating in competitions with Russians and Belarusians. The ban subsequently fell.

"The IOC practically gave the green light to Russia to weaponize the Olympic Games. Because the Kremlin will use every Russian and Belarusian athlete as a weapon for its military propaganda. I call on all our partners to strongly condemn this shameful decision, which undermines the Olympic principles," wrote in X (formerly "Twitter") Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Sports Minister Matvey Bidny said on Telegram that the IOC's decision is "irresponsible" and allows Russians and Belarusians to "hide behind false neutrality."

"We explained to our partners and the IOC that Russian athletes have the same passports as the occupiers who are killing Ukrainians. And this means that they bear the same responsibility for the deaths of Ukrainians. In a time of war, they cannot hide behind the white flag of neutrality," Bidney said.

He stated that the decision on Ukraine's participation in Paris will be made later after consultations with the country's sports community and the top political leadership.

Despite the IOC's decision, the Russians remain banned from athletics. World Athletics said the position would not change for Paris 2024 unless there was a major change in circumstances.

"All athletes, support staff and officials from Russia and Belarus have been excluded from World Athletics competitions. We will continue to monitor the situation but, unless there is a major change in circumstances between now and the Olympic Games, the exclusion will remain in place for Paris 2024. It is within the competence of the IOC to decide which countries are invited to participate, but it is the responsibility of international federations to decide which athletes in their sports are eligible to compete for participation," the statement said.

Back in August, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said it was unlikely the Russians would be allowed to compete in Paris.

Novinite is still the only Bulgarian media that publishes a summary of events and highlights related to the conflict, every single day. Our coverage began on day one - 24.02.2022 and will not stop until the war has concluded. Despite the pressure, our independent media will continue to provide its readers with accurate and up-to-date information. Thank you for your support! #stayinformed

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Tags: Ukraine, Russia, Zelensky


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