Ukrainians suffer in cold, darkness as Zelenskyy begs UN Security Council to punish Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is demanding that the United Nations punish Russia for airstrikes against civilian infrastructure, following a barrage of missiles that plunged cities into icy darkness.

With temperatures dropping below 0 degrees Celsius, authorities worked on Thursday to get the lights and heating back on.

Russia’s latest missile strikes killed 10 people and shut down all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants for the first time in 40 years.

Regional authorities in Kyiv said power had been restored to three-quarters of the capital by Thursday morning and water was working again in some areas.

Transport in the city was up and running again and buses replaced electric trams.

Authorities hoped to restart the three nuclear power plants in Ukrainian territory by the end of the day.

Since early October, Russia has launched major attacks on energy targets across Ukraine about once a week, firing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of missiles each time to knock out Ukraine’s power grid.

Moscow admits attacking basic infrastructure and says the aim is to reduce Ukraine’s ability to fight and force it into negotiations.

Kiev says the attacks are clearly intended to harm civilians, making them a war crime.

“Today is only one day, but we have received 70 missiles. That is the Russian formula of terror,” Zelensky told the UN Security Council chamber via video link at night.

“This all goes against our energy infrastructure.

Woman crying outside house damaged by airstrikes.
Ukraine says Russia’s recent attacks on infrastructure sites are clearly designed to harm civilians.

(AP: Efrem Lukatsky)

“Hospitals, schools, transportation, residential areas have all suffered.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov blamed Kiev for the Ukrainians’ suffering and said it refused to give in to Moscow’s demands, which he did not make clear.

Ukraine says it will not stop fighting until all Russian troops have left.

“What is there to talk about? I think the first step should come from them,” said 27-year-old Olena Shafinska as she stood in line at a water pump in a park in central Kiev.

“First of all, they should stop firing at us.”

People line up to fill the bottle with water from the tap in the park.
Kiev residents queue to fill water bottles as local authorities work to restore water infrastructure.(Reuters: Valentin Ogirenko)

For the first time, the Russian attacks forced Kiev to shut down the three nuclear power plants it still controls. The fourth, on Russian territory, was also supposed to activate reserve diesel power.

Nuclear officials say power cuts could disrupt cooling systems and trigger a nuclear disaster.

“There is a real danger of causing a nuclear and radiation catastrophe by shelling the entire territory of Ukraine with Russian cruise missiles and ballistic missiles,” said Petro Kotin, head of Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom.

“Russia must answer for this shameful crime.”

Kiev residents charge their devices and warm up in the tent.
Kiev residents charge their devices, connect to the Internet and warm up in invincibility centers.(Reuters: Valentin Ogirenko)

US says Putin is weaponizing winter

Winter has arrived abruptly in Ukraine and temperatures have dropped well below freezing in the capital, a city of 3 million people.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russian President Vladimir Putin “clearly weaponized winter to inflict immense suffering on the Ukrainian people”.

The Russian president “will try to freeze the country into submission,” she said.

There was no prospect of action by the UN Security Council, where Russia has a right of veto.

Moscow’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said it was against council rules for Zelensky to appear via video, rejecting what he called “reckless threats and ultimatums” from Ukraine and its supporters in the West.

He blamed the damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure on Ukraine’s air defense missiles and said the West should stop supplying them.

Local residents stand near apartment buildings destroyed by shelling.
Residents of the town of Vyshhorod, near Kiev, stand by their residential building destroyed by recent Russian missile attacks.(Reuters: Gleb Garanich)

Ukrainian authorities said three apartment buildings were hit on Wednesday, killing 10 people.

“Our little one slept. Two years old. She slept, she got covered,” said a man who gave his name as Fyodr, dragging a suitcase as he walked away from a smoldering apartment building in Kiev.

“She’s alive, thank God.”

Also in the capital, performers and staff members of Kiev’s National Academic Operetta Theater bid a tearful farewell to 26-year-old ballet dancer Vadym Khlupianets who was killed fighting Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.

Winter to test both sides at war

The first winter of the war will test whether Ukraine can continue its campaign to retake territory, and whether the Russian commanders can keep their invasion forces supplied and find a way to halt Kiev’s momentum.

Now that Russia has withdrawn, it has a much shorter line to defend to hold the conquered country, with more than a third of the front now blocked by the Dnipro River.

“Ukraine’s capabilities will grow slowly, but a continued maneuver east of the Dnipro River and into Russian-occupied Donbas will prove much more difficult fighting,” Mark Hertling, a former commander of US ground forces in Europe, wrote. on Twitter.

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