European leaders sought to mitigate the impact of high energy prices across the continent after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned of a difficult winter despite reporting progress in a counter-offensive against Russian forces.
In Sunday’s late-night remarks, Zelenskyy thanked his forces for taking two settlements in the south and a third, along with additional territory in the east, citing “good reports” from his military commanders and intelligence chief.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the President’s Office, earlier released an image of soldiers raising the Ukrainian flag over a village he said is in the southern area that is the main focus of the counteroffensive.
“Vysokopillya. Kherson region. Ukraine. Today,” Tymoshenko wrote on Facebook over a photo of three soldiers on rooftops, one of whom is fastening a Ukrainian flag to a pole.
Ukraine launched the counteroffensive last week, targeting the south, specifically the Kherson region that Russia captured at the start of the conflict.
After intensive shelling by Ukrainian forces on groups of Russian troops in the region, the Russians have banned the movement of residents and banned them from crossing the Dnipro River, Ukraine’s General Staff said on Monday.
Russia has launched 25 missile strikes and more than 22 airstrikes on military and civilian targets in Ukraine in the past 24 hours, the statement added, and remains focused on gaining complete control of the Donetsk region.
Zelenskyy’s comments came a day after he warned Europeans that Russia was preparing “a decisive energy strike” in the coming cold months.
Moscow has cited Western sanctions and technical problems for the power cuts. European countries that have provided diplomatic and military support to Kyiv have accused Russia of arming the energy supply.
Some analysts say winter shortages and a rise in the cost of living threaten to weaken Western support for Kyiv as governments seek to appease disgruntled populace.
Last week Moscow said it would keep the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, its main gas route to Germany, closed, while the G7 countries announced a planned price cap on Russian oil exports.
The Kremlin said it will stop selling oil to nations that have introduced the cap.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday his government planned a complete halt to gas supplies in December and promised measures to lower prices and index social benefits to inflation.
“Russia is no longer a reliable energy partner,” said Scholz at a press conference in Berlin.
In response, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused Germany of being an enemy of Russia. “In other words, it has declared a hybrid war on Russia,” he said said.
On Sunday, Finland and Sweden announced plans to offer billions of dollars to energy companies to stave off impending bankruptcy amid the crisis.
Separately, the US Embassy in Moscow said John Sullivan, the ambassador appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2019, has left his post and is retiring. A State Department official said Sullivan had served a typical stint.
Russian authorities said the situation around the Russian-held Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was calm after UN inspectors said on Saturday it had once again lost external power.
Three powerful explosions were heard in Energodar, the curfew-hit town where the plant is located, but there were no immediate details of damage and casualties, Russia’s official TASS news agency said on Monday.
Ukrainian troops made two attempts to deploy strike teams near the city, sources said, adding that they used drones, heavy artillery and missile launch systems.
The last external main power line was cut, although a back-up line maintained power to the grid, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.
Only one of its six reactors remained operational, it said.
Russian troops seized the plant shortly after President Vladimir Putin sent his army across the border on February 24.
It has become a focal point of conflict. Each side has blamed the other for the shelling that has raised fears of a nuclear catastrophe.
Vladimir Rogov, a pro-Russian official in the Zaporizhia region, told Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda that there had been no shelling or incursions and that IAEA experts were expected to work at the facility until at least Monday.
Last week, an IAEA mission visited the facility, which is still operated by Ukrainian personnel, and some experts stayed there pending the release of an IAEA report.
Russia has resisted international calls to demilitarize the area.
On other fronts, Ukrainian Telegram channels reported explosions at Antonivsky Bridge near the Russian-held city of Kherson.
Ukrainian missiles have severely damaged the bridge in recent weeks, but Russian troops have attempted to repair it or set up a pontoon crossing or barges to keep supplies to their units on the right bank of the Dnieper River.
https://www.independent.ie/news/ukraines-president-volodymyr-zelensky-warns-of-tough-winter-reports-war-gains-41961195.html Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns of a harsh winter and reports war gains