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Ukraine updates: Power returns to nuclear plants

Published November 25, 2022last updated November 25, 2022

Four nuclear plants in Ukraine again have access to electricity. However, over a dozen regions in Ukraine are still struggling without water and electricity due to Russian strikes on infrastructure. DW has the latest.

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant
IAEA chief Grossi concluded his inspection visit after power was restored to four Ukrainian nuclear plantsImage: Stringer/AA/picture alliance

Ukraine's four operational nuclear power plant sites now all have access to the national grid once more, a group of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors concluded on Friday following an inspection visit.

Earlier this week, the four sites lost off-site power amid Russia's intensified strikes targeting infrastructure.

In a statement, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said Friday that the external power connection to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant was re-established one day after it was disconnected. 

Although the plant, which is Europe's largest, remains in shutdown mode, safety and security functions depend on access to outside electricity. 

The nuclear power plants in Zaporizhzhia, Rivne, South Ukraine, and Khmelnytskyi had been disconnected from the grid and "forced to rely on emergency diesel generators for the electricity they needed to ensure their continued safety and security," Grossi said earlier.

Power has also been restored to Rivne, South Ukraine, Khmelnytskyy and Chornobyl, Grossi said.

His statement comes after the IAEA concluded a week-long safety and security expert mission at the latter site.

"The mission will help pave the way for upgrades and improvements of the plant's nuclear security systems," Grossi said.

Meanwhile, Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear energy company, backed an IAEA protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant.

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on Friday, November 25:

Ukrainian government evacuates civilians from Kherson

The Ukrainian government has begun to evacuate civilians from the southern city of Kherson, which was recently retaken by Ukrainian troops after months of Russian occupation.

According to the Infrastructure Ministry, 100 people were taken by train to Khmelnytsky in western Ukraine. Among them were 26 children and six sick people, it said.

Under pressure from a Ukrainian counterattack, Russian troops, who had invaded and captured the city in early March, withdrew from Kherson in mid-November.

However, the Russians maintain positions on the other bank of the river Dnipro and fire artillery from there. Russian shelling on Kherson killed 15 civilians on Friday, officials said.

In addition, Kherson's infrastructure has been destroyed to such an extent that the Ukrainian government has recommended citizens temporarily leave the regional capital.

'More than 6 million' Ukraine households are still without electricity — Zelenskyy

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that over 6 million households in the country are still affected by power cuts, two days after targeted Russian strikes on Ukraine's energy infrastructure.

"As of this evening, blackouts continue in most regions (of Ukraine) and in Kyiv. In total, more than six million subscribers," Zelenskyy said in his daily address, adding that the number of affected households has reduced "by half" since Wednesday.

Zelenskyy said that some 600,000 subscribers were experiencing power cuts in the capital Kyiv with the Odesa, Lviv, Vinnytsia and Dnipropetrovsk regions also among the worst affected.

The systematic and targeted Russian attacks over recent weeks have brought Ukraine's energy infrastructure to its knees as winter approaches, spurring fears of a health crisis and a further exodus from the war-torn country.

EU to help Ukraine restore energy

The European Commission said it was stepping up efforts to support Ukraine in restoring and maintaining power and heating. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU was preparing to deliver large donations to Ukraine from EU countries and from the Commission's reserves.

"The European Commission is additionally working on a new energy hub in Poland to allow donations from third parties and help with their delivery to Ukraine in a coordinated fashion, particularly with our G7 partners," she said.

The EU will also provide transformers and generators to Ukraine, von der Leyen added. 

Moscow slams European Parliament 'terror' label 

After EU lawmakers overwhelmingly backed a resolution naming Russia a "state sponsor of terrorism" over its war on Ukraine, Russia's Foreign Ministry said the move was an "unfriendly step."  

This "has nothing to do with the real situation in the fight against international terrorism," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also claimed that the move was part of a "campaign carried out by the West against our country."

Many Ukrainian regions remain without electricity and running water

Fifteen regions in Ukraine were struggling with water supply problems after repeated Russian strikes against civilian and energy infrastructure.

Ukrenergo, which oversees Ukraine's national power grid, said only half of Ukraine's power demands were being met.

In the capital, Kyiv, half of the households still had no electricity on Friday. However, one-third of the city's households were heated again, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram. The water supply in Kyiv had also been fully restored.

In the rest of the country, the picture looked bleaker, 15 regions were struggling with water supply problems President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a nightly address on Thursday evening.

"Together we endured nine months of full-scale war and Russia has not found a way to break us, and will not find one," he said.

The World Health Organization has warned the attacks on infrastructure could have "life-threatening" consequences and estimated that millions could leave their homes as a result.

Russia now openly admits it is targeting Ukraine's utilities.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov, however, claimed they were linked to Ukraine's military command and control system and that the aim was to disrupt the flows of Ukrainian troops, weapons and ammunition to the front lines.

UN human rights chief Volker Turk said the Russian strikes on critical infrastructure were problematic. 

"Millions are being plunged into extreme hardship and appalling conditions of life by these strikes," Turk said in a statement. 

"Taken as a whole, this raises serious problems under international humanitarian law, which requires a concrete and direct military advantage for each object attacked," he added.

Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko has said more Western support is needed to help it meet its growing reconstruction costs following the escalation of Russian missile attacks.

Ukraine to evacuate Kherson hospital

Ukrainian forces are evacuating Kherson hospital patients due to Russia's continuous shelling on the region, Kherson's Governor Yaroslav Yanushevich said on Friday.

In a Telegram message, Yanushevich said that all the children who were receiving treatment at the Kherson Regional Clinical Hospital were transported to Mykolaiv, nearly 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Kherson. 

Authorities also evacuated patients at the Kherson regional institution for psychiatric care, the governor added. As long as attacks on Kherson continue, 100 people will be sent to Odesa to receive treatment.

"I would like to remind that all residents of Kherson region who wish to evacuate to safer regions of Ukraine can apply to Kherson Regional Mental Health Center," Yanushevich said in his message.

Putin tells mothers of soldiers fighting in Ukraine he shares their pain

Russian President Vladimir Putin told a select group of mothers of soldiers who had been fighting in Ukraine the entire Russian leadership shared their suffering.

"I would like you to know that, that I personally, and the whole leadership of the country: we share your pain," Putin told the small group at the gathering at the Kremlin.

"We understand that nothing can replace the loss of a son, especially for a mother," Putin said, breathing heavily, and frequently clearing his throat. "We share this pain."

The mothers listened to Putin's remarks but their own comments were not immediately shown in the recorded television clip.

Some relatives who did not get an invite dismissed the meeting as a publicity stunt.

"The president will meet with some mothers pulled out of his pocket, who will ask the right questions and thank him," said Olga Tsukanova, an activist mother whose son in is deployed in Ukraine.  "As usual," she added.

Anger and concern have built across Russia after Putin called up 300,000 reservists as part of a mobilization in September.

Moscow still downplays the war describing it as a "special military operation."

Russia last publicly disclosed its losses on September 21, when Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said 5,937 Russian soldiers had been killed, a number far below most international estimates.

Germany considering Polish push for Patriot delivery to Ukraine

Germany said it was discussing Warsaw's request to deliver Patriot missiles destined for Poland to Ukraine instead.

Berlin initially insisted the missiles were only to be deployed within NATO.

It has since softened its stance after NATO's chief suggested the military alliance might not oppose such a move.

"We are talking with our allies about how to handle Poland's... suggestion," a German government spokesperson told reporters in Berlin on Friday.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said such deployments should be decisions for individual nations, taking into account rules around final users.

"The specific decisions on specific systems are national decisions," he told reporters in Brussels.

The Polish president said it would be better for Poland's security if they were on Ukrainian territory near the border.

"From a military point of view, it would be best if they were located in Ukraine to also protect Polish territory, then they would protect both Ukraine and Poland most effectively," Andrzej Duda told a news conference in Kaunas, Lithuania.

"But the decision rests with the German side."

Infografik PATRIOT Flugabwehrraketensystem EN

UN calls on Russia and Ukraine to issue clear instructions on POWs

UN human rights chief Volker Turk said the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has noted, "there have been numerous allegations of summary executions by both parties of prisoners of war and others no longer participating in the fighting."

He described the latest series of videos circulating on Russian social media showing Ukrainian forces trying to capture a group of Russian soldiers who were then killed as, "highly likely to be authentic."

Ukraine previously said it would investigate the video but that it was "very unlikely" it showed what Moscow claimed.

Turk called on Moscow and Kyiv to issue clear instructions to their forces on the treatment of prisoners of war.

“Order your troops to treat those who surrender and those they detain humanely," he said.

Stoltenberg assures Ukraine of NATO's continued support

NATO will not let down in its support of Ukraine and also ramp up non-lethal aid for the country its Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

"NATO will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We will not back down," he said

Stoltenberg was briefing reporters in Brussels ahead of a foreign ministers' meeting of the alliance in Bucharest next week.

He said there would be no lasting peace in Ukraine if Russia won the war.

Zelenskyy urges Europeans to remain united against Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Europeans to remain united against Russia's war.

"There is no split, there is no schism among Europeans and we have to preserve this. This is our mission number one this year,"

Zelenskyy told delegates at a conference in Lithuania via a video link.

"Europe is helping itself. It's not helping Ukraine to stand against Russia, this is helping Europe to stand against Russian aggression," he added.

He urged Europe to limit the price of Russian oil, amid differing opinions in the EU over plans to cap the prices.

"The price cuts are very important. We hear about [proposals to set the cap per barrel at] $60 or $70. Such words sound more like a concession [to Russia],", Zelenskyy said.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has called on the European Commission to ramp up sanctions imposed on Russia. On Thursday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc was working on a ninth set of sanctions against Russia.

UK pledges further financial support for Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has pledged millions of pounds in further support for Ukraine.

He met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv on Friday.

Cleverly also condemned Russia for its "brutal attacks" on civilians, hospitals, and energy infrastructure.

He said the UK would ensure Ukraine has the practical help it needs through the winter.

Cleverly's visit comes just days after new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made his first visit to Kyiv during which he vowed to continue the firm support for Ukraine that Britain provided under his predecessors.

IIHF condemns Russian Ice Hockey Federation for 'propaganda' 

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) condemned the Russian Ice Hockey Federation (RIHF) after Russian clubs promoted messages supporting Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. 

The IIHF said it referred the case to a disciplinary board after the IIHF failed to stop "propaganda for the war in Ukraine by clubs and leagues under its jurisdiction." 

According to the IIHF, there were instances of posters, billboards and signs with political context at clubs and venues. 

The federation said those posters had pro-war messages and the signs held by fans at stadiums did not appear to be made by the fans themselves, suggesting heavily that those holding them were pressured to carry them. 

Shortly after Moscow launched its war on Ukraine in February, the IIHF suspended all Russian and Belarusian national teams and clubs from participation in every age category. 

More coverage of the war in Ukraine

DW's Ihor Burdyga hails from Kherson, which was under Russian occupation for months. Here you can read his description of life in his liberated hometown.

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak on Thursday said he asked the German government to deliver US Patriot missiles destined for Poland to Ukraine instead. But Berlin insisted the missiles are only to be deployed within NATO.

Germany's Minister of State for Europe Anna Lührmann told DW that Russia's continued airstrikes on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure amount to "state terrorism." Lührmann visited the country on Wednesday as part of a delegation of seven high-ranking European ministers.

War in Ukraine: Is Russia a terrorist state?

lo/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)