Ukraine Latest: Russia Knocks Out Power for Millions Amid Freeze

(Bloomberg) -- A barrage of Russian missile strikes against Ukrainian energy facilities prompted the country’s grid operator to halt three nuclear power plants and enact emergency blackouts amid below-zero temperatures.

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“Energy terror continues,” Andriy Yermak, the chief of staff to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said on Telegram. “We will withstand. They won’t break us.”

The president of the European Parliament said that a pro-Kremlin group had claimed responsibility for a cyberattack against the legislature. The body had earlier in the day adopted a non-binding resolution to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

Key Developments

  • Ukraine Blackouts Threaten Pipeline Bringing Gas to Europe

  • Russia Knocks Out the Power Keeping Millions of Ukrainians Warm

  • IMF Reaches Deal With Ukraine, Paving Way for Billions in Aid

  • Pro-Russia Group Claims Cyberattack on European Parliament

  • Russia’s Big Crude Oil Pipeline Via Ukraine Is Partly Halted

  • EU Set to Soften Russian Oil Price Cap Plan Before Approval

On the Ground

In addition to the attacks against energy infrastructure across Ukraine, Russian missiles killed 10 people in residential buildings, Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy said on Facebook. He said Russia has launched almost 600 missiles at Ukraine since Oct. 10. Russian forces hit a maternity ward in the Zaporizhzhia region with missiles overnight, killing a newborn, Governor Oleksandr Starukh said on Telegram. Ukraine said the eastern front was at center of Russia’s attacks, especially in Bakhmut and Avdiyivka.

(All times CET)

Zelenskiy Asks UN to Condemn ‘Energy Terror’ (11:30 p.m.)

Zelenskiy addressed the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday after Russia launched its latest massive missile assault.

“When it is freezing temperature outside and millions of people are cut off from electricity, heating and water as a result of Russia’s missile attack on energy facilities, it is a clear crime against humanity,” Zelenskiy told the gathering in a virtual appearance. “We are waiting for the world’s tough response to Russia’s terror. Ukraine proposes the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution on condemning any form of energy terror.”

Zelenskiy invited UN experts to inspect Ukraine’s infrastructure that has been hit by Russian missiles, or could become a target. “There is a need of fair assessment of damages. We need to record that those are strikes on that infrastructure that ensures lives of tens of millions of people,” he said.

White House Condemns Russia’s ‘Horrific Attacks’ (9:51 p.m.)

“As Russia struggles on the battlefield, it is increasingly turning to horrific attacks against the Ukrainian people with punishing strikes damaging energy grid infrastructure, and deliberately doing so as winter approaches,” Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the White House’s National Security Council, said in a statement.

“These strikes do not appear aimed at any military purpose and instead further the goal of the Putin regime to increase the suffering and death of Ukrainian men, women and children” she said. “It also shows Russia is willing to increase the risk of a nuclear safety incident that could not only further harm Ukraine but affect the entire region as well.”

Ukraine’s Economy May Fall 35% This Year, Deputy Economy Chief Says (8:43 p.m.)

Ukraine’s economy has demonstrated “huge flexibility” amid Russia’s invasion but still may fall by as much as 35% this year, Deputy Economy Minister Tetyana Berezhna said.

The decline may be deeper, depending on the impact of Russia’s continuing attacks on Ukraine’s energy facilities, she said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Canada.

“We will be watching at the attacks on infrastructure and I hope that the sanctions that the international governments will impose on Russia will stop Russia from attacking our infrastructure so we could stand on this number,” Berezhna said.

Russian Oil Flows Resumed Through Ukraine’s Part of Druzhba Link (7:02 p.m.)

Oil flows through Ukraine’s section of the southern leg of Russia’s Druzhba pipeline system into Europe resumed, after a halt for several hours amid Russian strikes on critical infrastructure.

The disruption on Wednesday came just hours after Ukraine’s grid operator deliberately shut off power in every district while authorities from cities across the nation reported blackouts and halted mass transport lines following a fresh barrage of Russian missile attacks.

The resumption of flows was confirmed by Igor Dyomin, a spokesman at Transneft PJSC, which operates the system in Russia.

Pentagon Spells Out Latest $400 Million in Weapons (5 p.m.)

The Pentagon said the latest $400 million to be drawn down from existing inventories to arm Ukraine includes more munitions for National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS.) Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said last week that the two systems already in operation in Ukraine have been 100% effective.

The new package authorized by President Joe Biden includes 150 heavy machine guns with thermal imagery sights to counter Russian attack drones, ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds, mortar rounds, more than 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition and additional HARMS air-dropped missiles designed to attack Russian ground radar.

EU Parliament Hit by Cyberattack After Russia Vote (4:59 p.m.)

The website of the European Parliament suffered a cyberattack, making it inaccessible for several hours Wednesday, its president, Roberta Metsola said in a tweet. She added that a pro-Kremlin group claimed responsibility.

The attack followed the adoption of a non-binding resolution to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. The parliament didn’t formally connect the two events.

US Defense Chief Says Russia Is Short of Munitions (4:29 p.m.)

Russia’s stock of precision-guided artillery munitions “has been significantly reduced” and can’t be rapidly replenished because of trade restrictions on computer chips, Austin told reporters who traveled with him to Cambodia.

“We’ll see if they’re able to go back on the offensive or it’s going to be a break in time before they’re able to regenerate the capability they think they need,” he said, adding that he hasn’t seen evidence of additional large-scale Russian troop mobilizations so far.

Moldova Restores Power After Nationwide Blackout (4:02 p.m.)

All of Moldova, including the capital Chisinau and the pro-Russia separatist territory of Transnistria, was briefly without power, according to Maciek Wozniak, a Polish adviser to the Moldovan state utility Energocom. For about two hours there was “no water and phone lines,” or working traffic lights, he said in a text message exchange.

The cause was likely a domino effect from missile Russian strikes around the Ukrainian city of Odesa that had shut down the region’s grid, according to Wozniak, including a high voltage line from Romania that since last month has carried most of Moldova’s electricity.

Ukraine Halts Nuclear Power Plants on Grid Damage (3:41 p.m.)

Ukrainian power company Energoatom said it disconnected its South Ukrainian, Rivne and Khmelnytska nuclear plants from the power grid after Russian missile strikes damaged power lines and the plants have no place to transmit power.

Energoatom said on Telegram that the units will be reconnected once the grid is back to normal.

Russia’s Big Crude Oil Pipeline Via Ukraine Is Partly Halted (3:38 p.m.)

The southern leg of Russia’s giant Druzhba oil pipeline to Europe was partly halted in Ukraine, according to Transneft, which operates the system in Russia. The leg feeds refineries in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Crude flows are for the time being continuing from Belarus to an intake point in Brody, Ukraine, but from that point there are no onward flows, Igor Dyomin, a Transneft spokesman, said by phone. If Ukraine doesn’t resume oil flows from Brody, then oil deliveries from Belarus will be halted as well, he added.

IMF and Ukrainian Authorities Reach Staff Level Pact (2:50 p.m.)

Ukraine reached a preliminary agreement with the International Monetary Fund that may open a path to a financial lifeline as the war-battered nation seeks as much as $20 billion to shore up its reserves and budget needs.

The deal between Kyiv and the Washington-based lender is a so-called staff-level agreement aimed at establishing a full lending program to unlock billions in financing next year if the government meets conditions, according to the lender’s statement on Wednesday.

The four-month program “will provide an anchor for macroeconomic policies and catalyze donor support,” Gavin Gray, who led the IMF mission, said in a statement.

All Ukrainian Regions Have Emergency Power Cuts (2:42 p.m.)

Grid operator Ukrenergo said that emergency power cuts were being enacted in all regions after the widespread Russian attacks on infrastructure.

Ukrenergo, commenting in a statement on Facebook, said power cuts were needed to prevent further technical failures in the energy system after severe damage from repeated strikes since mid-October.

Kyiv Mayor Says Russian Missile Hit Infrastructure Facility (2 p.m.)

A missile fired by Russian forces hit a piece infrastructure in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram, without elaborating.

Following blasts in Kyiv, power momentarily shut off in part of the city before coming back on, according to eye witnesses. Emergency services were deployed to the sites, Klitschko said.

European Parliament Declares Russia State Sponsor of Terrorism (12:44 p.m.)

The European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, to pave the way for President Vladimir Putin and his government to be held accountable for war crimes before an international tribunal.

The resolution calls on EU member states to swiftly complete work on a ninth sanctions package against Moscow.

EBRD Helps to Shore Up Critical Industries (12:35 p.m.)

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is giving a €50 million guarantee to back lending to critical industries in Ukraine. The lender was issuing risk-sharing instruments to three local banks and a leasing company.

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