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Ukraine updates: Zelenskyy urges UN to act over airstrikes

Published November 24, 2022last updated November 24, 2022

Missile attacks on Ukraine's battered power grid are an "obvious crime against humanity," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told the UN Security Council. DW has the latest.

A damaged residential building in the town of Vyshgorod on the outskirts of Kyiv
Burnt cars are seen in front of a damaged residential building, following a Russian strike in the town of Vyshgorod on the outskirts of KyivImage: GENYA SAVILOV/AFP

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appealed to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday to take action to stop Russian airstrikes targeting vital infrastructure that have once again plunged Ukrainian cities into darkness and cold as winter sets in.

"Today is just one day, but we have received 70 missiles. That's the Russian formula of terror," Zelenskyy said via video link to the Council chamber in New York.

He said hospitals, schools, transport infrastructure and residential areas had all been hit.

"When we have the temperature below zero, and millions of people without energy supplies, without heating, without water, this is an obvious crime against humanity," he told the meeting in New York.

In his speech, Zelenskyy called for the adoption of a UN resolution condemning energy terror. Ukraine is waiting to see "a very firm reaction" to Wednesday's airstrikes from the world, he added.

The Council is unlikely to take any action in response to the appeal since Russia is a member with veto power. However, Zelenskyy called for Russia to be denied a vote on any decision concerning its actions.

"We cannot be hostage to one international terrorist," he said. "Russia is doing everything to make an energy generator a more powerful tool than the UN Charter."

Russia's UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya responded by complaining that it was against Council rules for Zelenskyy to appear via video and rejected what he called "reckless threats and ultimatums" by Ukraine and its supporters in the West

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on Thursday, November 24:

Seven dead in Russian firing on Kherson

Russian shelling on the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson killed seven people on Thursday, according to regional authorities. 

The city, which was only recently retaken by Ukrainian troops, was shelled with artillery and multiple rocket launchers, regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said.

Some 20 people were injured and a high-rise building caught fire as a result of the shelling.

Under pressure from a Ukrainian counter-attack, Russian troops withdrew from Kherson in mid-November.

Zelenskyy praises Ukrainians' resilience after nine months of war

In his nightly video address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the Ukrainian people's resilience in withstanding Russian aggression. "We endured nine months of the full-scale war and Russia hasn’t found a way to break us. And it will not find it," he said.

"We must continue to hold on like this in the future! In unity and helping each other," Zelenskyy added.

He also said how difficult it was to restore electricity and water supplies after Wednesday's Russian rocket attack. According to the president, special attention is being paid to the communication system.

"No matter what the terrorists are planning, we have to preserve communication. Russia wants Ukrainians to not just find themselves without light and heat... Terrorists want to isolate us from each other so that we do not feel each other," Zelenskyy said.

He also added that only the liberation of Ukrainian land and reliable security guarantees for Ukraine can protect Ukrainians from any Russian escalations.

Patriot missiles meant for use in NATO territory, Berlin tells Warsaw

Berlin clarified Patriot missile defense systems for Poland are intended for use only within NATO.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said the "Patriots are part of NATO's integrated air defense, meaning they are intended to be deployed on NATO territory."

"Any use outside NATO territory would require prior discussions with NATO and the allies," she added.

Germany offered Poland its defense missiles to help secure its airspace after stray missiles crashed in Polish territory last week, but Polish defense minister said Wednesday he asked Germany to send the Patriot missiles to Ukraine instead, which is not a member of NATO.

Russia, Ukraine exchange of POWs

Russia and Ukraine on Thursday exchanged 50 captured service personnel each in the latest of a series of prisoner swaps.

"50 Russian servicemen who faced a fatal danger in captivity have been returned from the territory controlled by (Kyiv)," Russia's defense ministry said in a statement.

Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidential office, wrote on Telegram the Ukrainians include personnel evacuated from Azovstal, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and servicemen from Snake Island.

Germany's Merkel says she was powerless to arrange Ukraine talks ahead of war

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had aimed to convene European talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin the year before he invaded Ukraine.

She however felt there wasn't any possibility of influencing the Russian president at the end of her term in office.

Merkel told Germany's Spiegel magazine she and French President Emmanuel Macron wanted the Europe Council to discuss the end of the Minsk Protocol with Putin.

The 2015 agreement between Kyiv and Moscow had aimed to resolve the conflict in Ukraine's Donbas region.

"But I no longer had the strength to push through because, after all, everyone knew: she's leaving in autumn," Merkel told Spiegel. 

US President Joe Biden did discuss the issue with the Russian leader in June 2021, but the Europeans never got to it. 

Merkel said even during her farewell visit to Moscow in August 2021, "The feeling was very clear: 'In terms of power politics, you're through.' For Putin, only power counts."

Moscow issues Russian passports to thousands in illegally annexed Ukrainian regions

Moscow has issued more than 80,000 Russian passports to residents in Ukrainian territories illegally annexed by Moscow, Russian news agencies cited an official with the Interior Ministry as saying.

Russia illegally annexed the Ukrainian territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in September, saying huge majorities favored joining Russia in sham referendums.

"Since the addition ... of the four regions into the Russian Federation, and in accordance with the legislation, more than 80,000 people received passports as citizens of the Russian Federation," said Valentina Kazakova, an Interior Ministry official.

EU lawmakers back €18 billion loan to Ukraine

European Union lawmakers on Thursday backed an €18 billion ($18 billion) loan for Ukraine to help keep its public services going.

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola wrote on Twitter the loan was approved "in record speed," proof, she says that the EU's support for Ukraine is only growing stronger.

In a statement, the European Parliament said the money would be used to support essential public services including hospitals, schools and provide housing for relocated people. It would also help ensure macroeconomic stability and the restoration of critical infrastructure destroyed in Russian attacks.

"The €18 billion will cover roughly half of the estimated €3-4 billion monthly funding Ukraine needs in 2023," it said.

The loan must still be approved by the European Council, which represents the EU's 27 national governments.

Since the start of the war, the EU and its member states have provided €19.7 billion to support Ukraine.

Poland urges Germany to send Patriot missile launchers to Ukraine

Poland has asked Germany to send air-defense systems it offered to Warsaw to Ukraine.

"After further Russian missile attacks, I asked Germany to have the Patriot batteries offered to Poland transferred to Ukraine and deployed at its western border," Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak wrote on Twitter.

"This will protect Ukraine from further deaths and blackouts and will increase security at our eastern border."

Ukrainian Ambassador to Warsaw Vasyl Zvarych thanked Blaszczak, saying on Twitter that Ukraine needs as many air defense weapons as it can get.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Monday that Berlin offered Eurofighters and Patriot missiles to Warsaw to help secure its airspace.

But following Russia's heavy barrage of Ukraine on Wednesday, Polish leaders said it would be better if the defense systems were placed in western Ukraine.

"It would be best for Poland's security if Germany handed the equipment to the Ukrainians, trained Ukrainian teams, with the caveat that the batteries would be placed in Ukraine's west,'' the head of Poland's ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said, seemingly referring to the Patriot missiles.

Lambrecht said on Thursday the issue needs to be disucssed "with NATO and with our allies."

EU working 'at full speed' on 9th set of sanctions against Russia

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU is currently working on its 9th set of sanctions against Russia for its war in Ukraine.

"We are working hard to hit Russia where it hurts to blunt even further its capacity to wage war on Ukraine and I can announce today that we are working full speed on a 9th sanctions package," von der Leyen told a news conference on Thursday. 

"We will not rest until Ukraine has prevailed over [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his unlawful and barbaric war," added.

'Putin wants Ukraine to sink into cold and darkness'

Ukraine expects nuclear power plants back on line

Ukraine is expecting three of its nuclear power plants that were shut off due to Russian missile attacks on Wednesday to resume operations by Thursday evening, Reuters reported citing Energy Minister German Galushchenko.

"We expect that by evening the nuclear power plants will start working, providing energy to the network, and this will significantly reduce the (energy) deficit," he said in remarks on national television. 

Power restored in some regions

Emergency technicians were able to partially restore power in 15 administrative regions of Ukraine, the deputy head of the presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said on Wednesday night.

In Kyiv, services like hospitals were back online. Tymoshenko said power would be restored to private customers next. 

Around 2,750 so-called "invincibility centers" went into operation across the country, providing heating, electricity, water, internet and telephone services for citizens free of charge.

UN welcomes prisoner swap

A recent prisoner exchange between Kyiv and Moscow is a welcome development amid a sea of "dark news," the UN's political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo said on Wednesday night.

DiCarlo told the UN Security Council that both sides should continue to release prisoners and follow international humanitarian law in relation to prisoners of war.

Her comments came as Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidential office, shared a photo of 35 Ukrainian soldiers and one civilian returning from Russian custody.

Kyiv residents spend the night without power

Around 80% of households in Kyiv were without electricity and running water on Wednesday night following Russia’s bombardment of civilian infrastructure.

"Today's rocket attacks have led to nuclear power plants being disconnected from the majority of heating and water plants," the Energy Ministry said on Facebook

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that "all municipal services were working to restore power and water supply to Kyiv as soon as possible."

Kyiv is home to more than 3 million people.

Ukraine power outages: Nick Connolly reports from Kyiv

American twins 'rescued' from Russia

An American group announced on Wednesday that it "rescued" two babies born who were born to a surrogate mother in St. Petersburg.

The mother previously lived in the Donbas but fled to Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. She gave birth in St Petersburg in early September.

Florida-based Project Dynamo — which was founded to help evacuate American troops and allies from Afghanistan last year — said the American parents contacted them after they were unsuccessful in getting the twins home from a Russian orphanage.

Project Dynamo told the AFP news agency that the US embassies in Moscow and Tallinn assisted with the operation but did not provide further details. The US State Department confirmed it is "aware of this information" but chose not to comment for privacy reasons.

US citizenship is automatically granted to children of American couples, including children born abroad to surrogate mothers, provided at least one parent is biologically related to the baby.

German deputy foreign minister accuses Russia of 'state terrorism'

German Minister of State for Europe and Climate Anna Lührmann has told DW that Russia's missile attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure amounted to "state terrorism."

"It's clear that Putin wants Ukraine to sink into cold and darkness this winter," she told DW's Nick Connolly during a visit to Kyiv amid the recent spate of Russian airstrikes

"Ukrainians are facing up to all this with great bravery and we're here to help them meet these challenges," she said.

Lührmann, one of three deputies under Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said she had come to Ukraine with an additional €55 million ($57.3 million) worth of support, including generators that will arrive in the next few days.

"Ukraine has our full solidarity. I believe that it's not only Ukraine that would benefit for membership in the EU, the EU will be a better place with Ukraine as a member," she added.

Macron: Russian strikes constitute 'war crimes'

French President Emmanuel Macron has joined the chorus of European leaders and high-ranking officials in condemning Russia's latest attacks on energy infrastructure.

"Every strike against civilian infrastructure constitutes a war crime and must not go unpunished," Macron said.

He announced an aid conference to be held in Paris in December to raise money for the winter months. It follows a similar conference to raise money for Moldova earlier this week.

The French president said he intends to establish a direct line of contact regarding the fate of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Ukraine is struggling to meet electricity demands and continued threats to the facility pose a serious health and environmental risk.

Macron added: "The Russian strategy is to dishearten people on the ground."

More coverage of the war in Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said it was clear Russia was fighting a losing battle in Ukraine. Meanwhile, France's Emmanuel Macron is preparing to resume "direct contact" with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Germany's "ring exchange" of tanks to avoid directly arming Ukraine got off to a slow start. But some experts see it as the prelude to a shift in German security policy

rm, lo,zc, dh/rt (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)