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Russia 'wants to put Ukrainians into darkness'

Published November 3, 2022last updated November 3, 2022

Europeans have a moral obligation to support Ukrainians as Russia attacks civilian infrastructure as winter sets in, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told DW. Get the latest news on the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine Krieg l Stromausfall nach einem russischen Raketenangriff in Kiew
Attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure have led to blackouts across much of the country.Image: Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Months after starting its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has been unable to take control of its neighbor and is launching punishing attacks on civilian infrastructure ahead of a cold winter and working to undermine European unity and support for Ukraine, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told DW.

"Russia is destroying a country. The Russian army is unable to conquer it. Ukrainians are resisting and rejecting the invader," Borrell told DW on the sidelines of a G7 foreign ministers' meeting in the western German city of Münster. "You can destroy a country at hundreds of kilometers far away. Destroying mainly the electricity system. They want to put the Ukrainians into the darkness in the cold during the winter."

He added that another goal of Russia's ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine was to attempt to chip away at European unity.

Russia wants "European people to be weakened and in the winter not to be so ready to support the Ukrainians," Borrell said before insisting that European nations should see themselves as morally obligated to help Ukrainians with money as well as weapons.

"We have to support them," he said, adding that Ukrainians needed  "arms to defend and to reduce anti-Iranian weapons, to shut down the drones before the drones blow over their heads or their houses over their power stations. This is the moral duty of the Europeans."

With about 4 million Ukrainians fleeing to the EU, Borrell went on to accuse Russia of "trying to create political instability and they are trying to create migration waves because they know that the Europeans are very sensitive to migration."

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on Thursday, November 3:

Ukraine wary of Kherson 'retreat'

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday that it was now possible for Ukrainian troops to retake the strategic southern city of Kherson.

"On the issue of whether the Ukrainians can take the remaining territory on the west side of the Dnieper river and in Kherson, I certainly believe that they have the capability to do that," Austin said.

The secretary's remarks coincided with statements from Russian officials in the area that they would likely retreat to the eastern side of the Dnieper.

Such a move would signal one of Russia's most significant defeat since the invasion began.

However, Kyiv voiced concerns that the retreat was little more than a trap. Images of Kherson city hall without the Russian flag atop it could be part of a disinformation campaign, Ukrainian officials warned.

"We continue fighting, also in the Kherson direction, despite the fact that the enemy is trying to convince us that they are leaving the settlements and creating the effect of a total evacuation," said Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for the southern Ukrainian military command.

Nuclear watchdog finds no sign of 'dirty bomb'

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Thursday that inspectors had unfettered access and found no indication of undeclared nuclear activity and materials at three sites in Ukraine.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement that inspectors "completed their in-field verification activities at three locations in Ukraine at the request of the of the government of Ukraine."

The request to send teams of UN inspectors was issued after Russia made allegations that Kyiv was planning to deploy a so-called "dirty bomb" containing radioactive material.

"Our technical and scientific evaluation of the results we have so far did not show any sign of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at these three locations. Additionally, we will report on the results of the environmental sampling as soon as possible," Grossi said.

Grossi went on to say that the IAEA remained poised to conduct further verification activities in Ukraine if necessary.

UN says sees 'progress' on Russia fertilizer exports

Talks are underway to unblock exports of Russian fertilizer and made "important steps forward," a UN negotiators said Thursday before admitting considerable work remains.

UN trade negotiator Rebeca Grynspan told reporters in Geneva that significant progress was being made towards unblocking the situation with Russia's fertilizer exports.

"We are working very hard making that facilitation, [and] have concrete results," said Grynspan, head of the UN Trade and Development Agency (UNCTAD).

"We have made important steps forward, but there is still a road to be travelled, especially with respect to the fertilizer crunch that we are seeing in the world," she added.

Grynspan said fertilizer exports from Russia — the world's largest producer — face significant obstacles.

"We have been clarifying and engaging with the EU, the US and the UK to solve these problems," she said. "I think that we are making progress," she said, though adding that the negotiators had not made "all the progress that I would want to see right now."

Bulgarian lawmakers approve Ukraine military aid

The parliament in Bulgaria has voted in favor of sending military aid to Ukraine.
In a vote in the National Assembly, 175 voted yes with 49 voting no, while there was one abstention.

The government has a month to decide what weaponry Bulgaria can send without compromising Bulgarian national security.

Previously, Bulgaria had only agreed to repair Ukrainian equipment and had refused to send weapons, with President Rumen Radev warning it would make Bulgaria party to the war.

Hungary and Bulgaria have been the only EU member states to decline to give weaponry to Kyiv.

The pro-Russian nationalist Vazrazhdane Party called on its supporters to gather outside parliament to protest military aid for Ukraine, saying it "pushes the country into war."

UN: Ten million tons of grain shipped in deal    

Ships transported 10 million metric tons of grain and foodstuffs out of Ukraine as part of a deal with Russia, according to the United Nations.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday urged both sides to renew the agreement.

"The Black Sea Grain Initiative is making a difference," Guterres told journalists.
Russia suspended its role in the deal last week after drones targeted its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. Moscow rejoined the agreement when it said it received security guarantees for safe maritime passage in the region.

"The initiative is working. It is our collective responsibility to keep it working smoothly," said Guterres.

Russia and Ukraine swap 107 prisoners each

A prisoner exchange involving 214 captured personnel took place between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia's Defense Ministry said Ukraine had released 107 Russian servicemen.

At the same time, Ukraine's Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak said Russia had released 107 Ukrainian fighters, including 74 who had been involved in the defense of the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol.

"We managed to exchange seriously injured and bedridden [fighters] from Mariupol, from 'Azovstal', boys with shrapnel wounds to arms and legs, gunshot wounds to various parts of the body. There are people with amputated limbs and [those] who can't feel part of their face, [others] with infected wounds," Yermak said.

Russia summons UK envoy over drone attack

Russia has called on the UK envoy Thursday, claiming London had a hand in a Ukrainian drone attack on its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. 

"Such confrontational actions of the English carry a threat of escalation of the situation and could lead to unpredictable and dangerous consequences," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. 

British Ambassador Deborah Bonnert went to the Russian Foreign Ministry and had a conversation for about half an hour, according to Russian state news outlet TASS. She arrived at the building with protesters accusing the UK of being a "terrorist state." 

The UK has called Moscow's allegations regarding the drone attack "false claims of an epic scale." Russia has also accused London of being involved in explosions on the Nord Stream pipelines in September.  

Microsoft extends wartime assistance to Ukraine

Tech giant Microsoft announced that it will provide Ukraine with another $100 million (€101 million) in tech assistance, as Russia's invasion presses forward.

Ukraine will be able to to utilize the company's cloud and data centers across Europe through the end of 2023. 

"Part of what this war has shown is that one needs to move services to the cloud in a time of war to ensure their resilience and security," Microsoft Vice Chairman Brad Smith told journalists at the annual Web Summit tech meeting in Lisbon, Portugal.  

Smith said his company is pleased to take part in a "digital alliance of countries and companies and nonprofits standing together to support Ukraine." 

Zaporizhzhia plant again disconnected from power grid

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in southeastern Ukraine has been disconnected from its power grid again following Russian shelling, according to a Telegram post from plant operator Energoatom. 

The operator said the plant is currently reliant on diesel fuel. Energoatom said the generators have enough fuel to power the plant for only 15 days.

"The countdown has begun," Energoatom said, while adding that its options are limited to "maintain the ZNPP in a safe mode."

The company claimed that Russia bombed two of its power lines overnight. Energoatom believes said Moscow wants to repair the plant and then connect it to the Russian grid.

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed an order bringing the plant under Moscow's control, Ukrainian workers still operate the facility. The plant has been occupied by Russian forces since the early stages of the invasion.     

Melitopol witnesses explosions overnight

The Russian-occupied city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine experienced multiple explosions overnight, according to regional officials. 

Pro-Russian occupation representative Vladimir Rogov claimed on Telegram that Russian air defenses were shooting down a barrage of Ukrainian missiles.

Displaced Ukrainian Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov said a building with Russian employees inside was targeted.

The claims from the two sides have not been independently verified.

UN Security Council rejects Moscow-backed biological weapons resolution

The UN Security Council late on Wednesday rejected a resolution drafted by Russia to investigate its allegations that the US is developing biological weapons in Ukraine.

Russia and China were the only votes in favor of the investigation, while US, France and Britain, which all have veto powers, voted against. All 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council abstained.

Moscow had asked for a committee to investigate its allegations that Ukraine and the US are engaging in "military biological" activities outside the convention against the use of biological weapons. These claims were dismissed by the US and Ukraine as disinformation or even a possible precursor to a "false flag" operation by Russia.

Dmitry Polyanskiy, First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation, speaks at the United Nations Headquarters
Russia's deputy ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyansky expressed disappointment at the outcome of the voteImage: John Lamparski/NurPhoto/picture alliance

Russia circulated the draft resolution and a 310-page document to council members last week, alleging biological activities were taking place in laboratories in Ukraine with support from the US Defense Department.

Russia's deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, expressed disappointment at the outcome of the vote. 

"Western countries demonstrated in every way that the law does not apply to them," he said. "This is a usual colonial mentality that we're used to and we're not even surprised by it."

Russia plans to raise the issue again at the review conference of the Biological Weapons Convention, from November 28 to December 16 in Geneva.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield addressed the claims and said, "The US voted against this resolution because it is based on disinformation, dishonesty, bad faith and a total lack of respect" for the Security Council.

Both Western powers and Russia have faced considerable difficulty passing any resolutions on the conflict in Ukraine through the Security Council, given that at least four of the world's five veto holders have strong and conflicting opinions on it. 

Zelenskyy hails Russia's agreeing to resume grain export deal

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed Russia's decision to resume the deal to allow the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea on Wednesday.

Zelenskyy called it "a significant diplomatic result for our country and the whole world" in his nightly video address after the resuscitation of the deal reached between Kyiv and Moscow in July, mediated by Turkey and the UN.

The Ukrainian president said Russia's call for guarantees reflected "the failure of the Russian aggression."  After eight months of war, "the Kremlin is demanding security guarantees from Ukraine," he said.

Russia said it had pulled out of the accord over the weekend after an attack on its Black Sea fleet.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the reversal of the decision was influenced by the Ukrainian government's assurance that it won't launch strikes via the maritime corridor.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country had the right to walk out of the grain deal once again, should Ukraine violate its security guarantees.

About 14 million people forced from their homes: UNHCR

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has caused the biggest and fastest human displacement in decades, impacting about 14 million people, according to UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) director Filippo Grandi.

Speaking to the UN Security Council in New York on Wednesday, he called for "an end to this senseless war."

"Some 14 million people have been forced from their homes," since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Grandi said.

According to the UNHCR, more than 7 million Ukrainians have immigrated abroad — around 1 million of them to Germany. Grandi said the UN agency is getting ready for additional population movements both within and outside of Ukraine.

He warned that Ukrainians were poised to face "one of the world's harshest winters in extremely difficult circumstances," even as destruction of civilian infrastructure is "quickly making the humanitarian response look like a drop in the ocean of needs."

kb,ss/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)