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Ukraine updates: 'Worst winter since WWII,' Kyiv mayor says

November 23, 2022

The Ukrainian capital is bracing itself for its worst winter in more than three-quarters of a century. Meanwhile, an infant has died after a Russian missile hit a hospital in Zaporizhzhya. DW has the latest.

A woman stands next to snow covered metal 'hedgehogs' on Kyiv's Maidan Square on November 19, 2022
Kyiv's mayor said he has confidence in the resilience of UkrainiansImage: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has given a bleak outlook for the Ukrainian capital's 3 million inhabitants, owing to the damage inflicted on the city's energy infrastructure by Russian shelling.

"This is the worst winter since World War II," Klitschko told the German newspaper Bild, in comments published on Wednesday.

Kyiv and its residents had to be ready for the "worst case scenario" of widespread power cuts at low temperatures, in which case parts of the capital would have to be evacuated, Klitschko warned. "But we don't want it to come to that!" the former professional boxer added.

Klitschko accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to intimidate people, forcing them out of the capital with attacks on civilian infrastructure.

"Putin wants to terrorize people, make them freeze, without light," as a way of putting pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Klitschko continued. "But that won't happen. My impression is that people will only get angrier, more determined. We will not die or flee as Putin wants."

Meanwhile, the Kyiv mayor has asked Germany to send generators, protective clothing and humanitarian goods, without delay.

Snow in a damaged building in Kyiv
Klitschko called on Germany for humanitarian aid to help people in Kyiv get through the winterImage: Oleksandra Butova/NurPhoto/imago

Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on Wednesday, November 23:

Poland asks Germany to send missile defense system to Ukraine

Defense minister of Poland, Mariusz Blaszczak has asked Germany to give its Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine rather than giving it to Poland. Germany had previously offered the US-made system to help secure Polish airspace.

"After further Russian missile attacks, I asked Germany to have the Patriot batteries offered to Poland transferred to Ukraine and deployed at the western border," Blaszczak said in a tweet.

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

Berlin's offer to Warsaw comes after a stray missile hit Polish territory last week, killing two people.

Air defense for Ukraine: A game changer?

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant running on emergency generators

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement that Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station had again been cut off from its external power supply. The plant was now relying on emergency diesel generators.

"The latest incident ... highlights the increasingly precarious and challenging nuclear safety and security situation," the IAEA said in a statement.

Zaporizhzhia is Europe's largest nuclear power plant and has -repeatedly- been cut off from its external power supply in recent months.

Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for shelling at or near the plant.

EU cities urged to donate power generators to Ukraine

Cities across Europe were urged to send spare generators to Ukraine to help the country through the winter in the face of Russia's attacks on electricity infrastructure.

Ukraine's power grid came under bombardment again as European Parliament president Roberta Metsola launched an appeal to get equipment to the EU's war-torn eastern neighbor.

"Ukrainians are currently without electricity as a result of Russia's attacks on critical civilian targeted infrastructure," Metsola said.

The mayor of the Italian city of Florence, Dario Nardella, who heads a network of local authorities in Europe, said he was looking to coordinate a group of 200 cities around the continent to send generators they have in storage to Ukraine.

"We've got the potential of sending several hundred, even industrial-sized, generators which will be able to produce quite a lot of power," Nardella said.

Scholz says Putin cannot win Ukraine war on battlefield

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has sharply condemned the targeted Russian bombing of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

"This bombing terror against the civilian population must stop immediately," he said.

According to Scholz, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown once again how ruthless he is in this war. "A war that he can no longer win on the battlefield, that much seems clear," said Scholz.

He also called on Putin to withdraw his troops and agree to peace talks with Ukraine.

Is Russia targeting Ukraine's hospitals?

Electricity restored in parts of Kyiv, residents tell DW

The situation in the Ukrainian capital was improving following airstrikes earlier on Wednesday, sources in Kyiv told DW.

According to Valentyna Butenko from the western part of Kyiv, the electricity in her building was cut off around 2 pm local time but recovered around 7 pm. The water supply and heating were also shut off and still not working.

Some parts of central Kyiv had uninterrupted electricity during the day, but no water supply.

Stanislav Shumlianskyi from Zhytomyr (120 kilometers west of Kyiv) told DW that he lost electricity, water, heating and mobile internet after the strikes. But by evening everything was restored except for the water supply.

Water and power cuts reported across Ukraine: Nick Connolly from Kyiv

Russia and Ukraine exchange prisoners

Ukraine has brought back 36 citizens from Russian captivity, one civilian and 35 military personnel, the head of President Zelenskyy's office, Andriy Yermak, said.

“Among them are defenders of Mariupol and Azovstal, as well as National Guardsmen captured at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the early days of the invasion,” he wrote on Twitter.

Russia's defence ministry also said that 35 servicemen who had been held captive in Ukraine were returned following talks, Russian news agencies reported.

Ukrainians are 'unbreakable', Zelenskyy says after strikes

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine would rebuild infrastructure damaged in Russian air strikes and praised the spirit of his people.

"We'll renew everything and get through all of this because we are an unbreakable people," he said in a brief video address posted to the Telegram messaging app.

"Today, the European Parliament recognized Russia as a terrorist state... And then Russia proved that all this is true by using 67 missiles against our infrastructure, our energy grid, and ordinary people," the Ukrainian president said.

According to Zelenskyy, Ukraine will request an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the latest Russian strikes against power-generating facilities.

"The murder of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure are acts of terror. Ukraine will continue to demand a decisive response from the world to these crimes," he said in a tweet.

Zelenskyy will address the emergency debate via video-link, two diplomats told AFP.

Russia rained down missiles across Ukraine, forcing shutdowns of nuclear power plants and killing civilians as Moscow pursues a campaign to plunge Ukrainian cities into darkness and cold as winter sets in.

US announces $400 million more in military aid for Ukraine

The United States pledged to give another $400 million (€386 million) in military aid for Ukraine to help it fight off the Russian invasion.

The package includes weapons, ammunition and air defense equipment from US stocks and one of the goals is to help Ukraine defend against steady Russian attacks on energy infrastructure, the State Department said.

Total US military assistance to Ukraine since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021 now stands at approximately $19.7 billion, the department added.

"We will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, so it can continue to defend itself and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table when the time comes," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement announcing the new assistance.

Russian air strikes on Kyiv kill three

At least three people were killed in Russian air strikes on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, including a 17-year-old girl, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

He also said that at least 11 Kyiv residents had been wounded.

Critical infrastructure was also partly damaged by Russian fire, Klitschko wrote on the Telegram news service. The aerial television, power grid and water supply were all affected across the city.

Power outages are reported in most Ukrainian regions. According to Ukraine's Energy Ministry, the vast majority of electricity consumers were "cut off."

3 Ukrainian nuclear plants disconnect power units from grid: Energoatom

The Ukrainian state-run nuclear energy firm Energoatom says the Rivne, Pivdennoukrainsk and Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plants have switched off their power units after Russian missile strikes across the country.

Energoatom said in a statement that the power units were working "without  generation into the domestic energy system." 

It said the emergency protection measure was activated "due to a decrease in frequency in the energy system of Ukraine."

Russia starts trial of dissident Ilya Yashin 

Moscow city councilor Ilya Yashin has gone on trial in a district court in the capital for denouncing Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Yashin, 39, an ally of jailed opposition figure Alexei Navalny, faces up to 10 years in prison for allegedly spreading fake information about the Russian army, which was made a crime by President Vladimir Putin shortly after the invasion began.

A video he released on YouTube in April in which he spoke about the "murder of civilians" in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, calling it a "massacre," led to his arrest earlier this year while he was walking in a park. He has continued his criticism since then while in detention.

In July, another Moscow councilor, Alexei Gorinov, was sentenced to seven years in prison for condemning Russia's invasion of its neighbor.

Moldova reports 'massive' blackouts

Moldova says that Russia's missile attacks on energy infrastructure in neighboring Ukraine have caused power outages across half its territory.

"Massive blackout in Moldova after today's Russian attack on Ukraine's energy infrastructure," Moldova's Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu, who also serves as the country's infrastructure minister, said on Twitter.

The local Interior Ministry in the breakaway Russian-backed region of Transnistria also reported blackouts.

Switzerland adopts 8th EU sanctions package

The Swiss government says it will impose an 8th package of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine in line with the European Union.

Switzerland has largely abandoned its traditionally neutral stance to global wars in the issue of sanctions on Moscow, though it still declines to allow Swiss-made arms to be sent to the conflict zone.

European Parliament designates Russia 'state sponsor of terrorism'

The European Parliament has recognized Russia as a "state sponsor of terrorism" because of its invasion of Ukraine.

"The deliberate attacks and atrocities carried out by the Russian Federation against the civilian population of Ukraine, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and other serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law amount to acts of terror," the resolution by EU lawmakers on Wednesday said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the resolution, saying on Twitter that Russia must be isolated at all levels "to end its long-standing policy of terrorism in Ukraine and across the globe."

The move is largely symbolic, as the EU does not have a legal framework in place to back it up. 

Five EU countries — Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — have already declared Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.

Infant dies after hospital strike

Overnight missile strikes from Russia that hit a hospital in the Zaporizhzhia region have killed a young child, the regional governor said on Wednesday.

"Pain floods our hearts — an infant who has just come into the world has been killed," the region's military governor, Oleksandr Starukh, wrote on Telegram.

Rescue workers are out in force in the small town of Vilnjansk, the site of the attack on the hospital, he said.

There were also Russian strikes in the neighboring regions of Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk.

Berlin braces for more Ukrainian refugees

UK says Russia nearly out of Iran-made weapons

Russia has "likely launched hundreds" of Iranian manufactured un-crewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) against Ukraine since September, the UK Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday.

"Russia has largely used these weapons against tactical military targets and the Ukrainian electricity grid," the ministry said in its daily update on the war, adding that Moscow has "likely very nearly exhausted its current stock, but will probably seek resupply."

Scholz on energy, Ukraine

The German parliament embarked upon its "general debate" on the budget for 2023 on Wednesday, with the energy crisis in Europe sparked by the war in Ukraine featuring heavily in discussions.

Germany has the energy situation "under control" and will emerge "stronger" from the crisis caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday.

"We are doing away with the failings of an energy and trade policy that has led us into one-sided dependence on Russia and China, in particular," Scholz told the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

'Europe has displayed considerable solidarity'

More coverage of the war in Ukraine

On Tuesday, Ukraine's security service (SBU) carried out a raid on a historic Orthodox monastery in Kyiv after the country's intelligence cited links between the Church and Russian agents.

dh,kb,jsi/sms,dj (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)