Ukraine Latest: Russian Shelling Blamed for Blackouts in East

·8 min read

(Bloomberg) -- President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russian shelling knocked out electricity in parts of eastern Ukraine as his troops advanced further in the region of Kharkiv, the country’s second-biggest city.

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A commander estimated that Ukraine has recaptured more than 3,000 square kilometers (1,158 square miles) with its counteroffensive in September. Ukraine took the town of Izyum and surrounding areas, a national guard serviceman said on national television.

France said President Emmanuel Macron called on Russia’s Vladimir Putin to remove weaponry around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant during a call on Sunday. Putin has consistently blamed Ukraine for shelling around the site.

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Key Developments

  • Russian Defenses Crumble as Ukraine Retakes Key Territory

  • Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant is Shut Safely After Power Restored

  • Macron Urges Putin to Remove Weapons From Around Nuclear Plant

  • US Sees Economic Reasons for Russia to Comply With Oil-Price Cap

  • Ukraine Military Breakthrough in North Threatens Russian Grip

On the Ground

It’s Day 200 of Russia’s invasion. Kyiv’s forces are pushing back the Kharkiv in the north, and have recaptured at least 2,000 square kilometers -- possibly much more -- in the past week. Izyum appears to be the latest city retaken by Ukraine. Ukrainian aviation delivered 23 strikes and destroyed Russian missile complexes, military bases, airplanes and other vehicles. Russian forces continue shelling at territories liberated by the Ukrainian army along the contact line. In the southern Kherson region, Russian troops retreated from several settlements, Ukraine’s General Staff said Sunday night: “As a result of successful counteroffensive in Kharkiv direction, Russian troops are hastily leaving their positions.”

(All times CET)

Warner Says Western Intelligence Has Helped Ukraine (9:05 p.m.)

US and UK intelligence agencies have been working with Ukraine in a way that has “really kept the Russians a little bit -- and Putin in particular -- on his back heel,” US Senator Mark Warner said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“This kind of collaboration shows the strength of our combined military and intel,” the Virginia Democrat and chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said.

Ukrainian forces have advanced rapidly into the Kharkiv region, retaking large areas seized by Russia at the start of the war.

Ukraine Blames Russian Shelling for Loss of Power (8:42 p.m.)

Russian forces shelled critical infrastructure, causing blackouts in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions and in parts of the Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Sumy regions, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.

“Not a single military object, only the aim to leave people without lights and heat,” Zel said in a Twitter post. Oleh Synyehubov, the top regional official in the Kharkov region said some water supplies were affected.

Putin, Macron Speak on Nuclear Plant Safety (4:23 p.m.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron had “a detailed and frank exchange of views” by telephone on Sunday, including the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Russia and Ukraine continue to swap blame on who’s responsible for regular shelling around the facility. Putin again blamed Ukraine, according to Sunday’s Kremlin readout, warning of potential “catastrophic” outcomes.

Macron “insisted on the need to ensure the safety” at the atomic facility, his office said in a statement. He told Putin that Russian forces should withdraw weapons from the site and that safety recommendations from the UN’s nuclear agency be followed up on.

France, Romania to Team Up on Ukrainian Grain Exports (3 p.m.)

France and Romania will sign an agreement on additional exports of Ukrainian grain to Europe and developing countries, said French Transport Minister Clement Beaune.

“Tomorrow I will sign an agreement with Romania that will allow Ukraine to get even more cereals out of the country,” Beaune told France Inter radio.

Ukraine has shipped more than 2.6 million tons of agricultural commodities from three Black Sea ports since striking a safe-transit deal with Russia in June. Russia’s invasion had previously blocked the ports, forcing Ukraine to make smaller shipments by rail and river.

Read more: Romania Reopens Soviet-Era Rail Line to Aid Ukraine Grain Sales

Greece Says Gas Supplies Ready for Winter (2:26 p.m.)

Greece has done what’s necessary to secure adequate energy supplies for the winter, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told reporters on Sunday. That includes a worst-case scenario under which Russia stop providing gas through the Turkstream pipeline, he said.

Mitsotakis said use of lignite coal for one or two years is a temporary measure, and that when gas prices stabilize it won’t make economic sense to continue with coal.

Politicians Pile on Pressure for More German Weapons Donations (1:33 p.m.)

Several German politicians criticized the Social Democrat-led government for being too slow to support recent advances by Ukraine’s troops with additional weaponry.

“Ukraine needs weapons enabling its forces to liberate and defend areas occupied by Russia,” SPD lawmaker Michael Roth told Funke media group.

His comments were echoed by the Green Party and the liberal FDP, who along with the SPD comprise Germany’s ruling coalition. Recent military advances by Ukraine should encourage more offers of vehicles, artillery and gear, the Greens’ Agnieszka Brugger said. The FDP’s Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann said Germany must act now and supply whatever’s easily at hand.

Russia Holds First Regional Elections Since Invasion (11:32 a.m.)

Russia is holding its first regional elections since President Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine in February.

The major parties don’t oppose the war, but voting against the ruling United Russia is one of few ways left to express disagreement with the Kremlin. Putin has stepped up efforts to crack down on dissent since the war started, with opponents jailed or driven into exile.

The independent monitoring group Golos, deemed a “foreign agent” by the Russian government, recorded possible violations at polling stations including in Moscow and Krasnodar region on Sunday.

Ukraine Says It Retook 3,000 Square Kilometers (11:21 a.m.)

Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhnyi said Sunday that Ukraine’s army has returned more than 3,000 square kilometers of land to the nation’s control since the beginning of September.

“We are starting to advance not only to the south and to the east in the Kharkiv areas but also to the north. Fifty kilometers is left until we reach the state border,” Zaluzhnyi said on Telegram.

Separately, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s army had liberated another settlement in region -- Chkalovske, about 60 km southeast of the city of Kharkiv. “We will expel occupants from every Ukrainian town and village,” he said.

Ukraine’s Advance on Izyum is Key, ISW Says (10:23 a.m.)

Ukrainian forces have advanced by up to 70 kilometers (43 miles) through Russian lines in the Kharkiv region, the Institute of the Study of War said on its website.

Russian forces “are hurriedly fleeing” to avoid encirclement around Izyum, which will likely be captured within 48 hours by Ukrainian army, the US-based think tank said.

The liberation of Izyum “would be the most significant Ukrainian military achievement since winning the battle of Kyiv in March,” ISW said.

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Reactor Shut Down Safely (8:12 a.m.)

The last operating unit at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine, occupied by Russian troops since March, has been safely shut down after a power failure ended.

The No. 6 generator will be cooled and preserved after the plant was reconnected to the grid, the Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom said. One of several transmission lines destroyed by recent shelling was restored late Saturday. The company used power from the national grid to cool the unit and put it in the safest possible mode.

The UN’s atomic agency on Friday warned of the dangers posed by the loss of power at the plant, now seen as a war prize for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for shelling in the vicinity of the plant.

Read more: Russian-Occupied Reactor at Increased Safety Risk, UN Warns

Zelenskiy Says Ukraine, Allies Face Hardest Winter (10 p.m.)

Ukraine and European allies should brace for a difficult winter amid the energy shortages engineered by Russian President Vladimir Putin and pressure to cut aid to Kyiv, Ukraine’s president said.

“It is the most difficult winter for the whole world,” Volodymyr Zelenskiy said at the Yalta European Strategy Conference in Kyiv organized by Ukrainian businessman Victor Pinchuk. He termed choking off energy to Europe Putin’s “last argument.”

Zelenskiy urged Ukraine’s allies to expand offers of anti-missile systems to protect the country’s energy infrastructure, which he predicted would be a target for Russian troops, and acknowledged the risk of foreign aid to Ukraine fading over time.

US Concerned About Russia-China Ties (10 p.m.)

The US is closely watching the deepening economic ties between Russia and China, said Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser to President Joe Biden.

China hasn’t provided material support to Russia, “something we were concerned about,” Sullivan told the Yalta European Strategy Conference in Kyiv by video. The US hasn’t seen any major Chinese policy decision to “flatly violate US sanctions and export controls at systematic level,” he said.

Washington is watching “steps that China is taking through market transactions to provide services to Russia,” he said.

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