Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022

1. Ukraine promises free shelter to citizens ahead of the harsh winter

Ukraine has promised to provide free shelter to citizens evacuating ahead of a harsh winter and amid relentless Russian strikes.

Special “invincibility centers” will be set up across the country to provide electricity, water, internet and pharmacy, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a late-night video address on Tuesday.

Russia has targeted Ukrainian power plants in recent weeks, leaving millions of citizens without electricity.

The Ukrainian government has begun relocating citizens from recently recaptured cities to areas where heating and security problems are less acute.

The head of the national grid operator Ukrenergo described the damage to Ukrainian infrastructure as “colossal”.

“If massive Russian attacks are repeated and its clear strength is not restored within hours, the ‘invincibility centers’ will go into action with all key services,” Zelenskyy said.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said this week that about 8,500 electric generators are imported into Ukraine every day.

Authorities warned of power outages that could affect millions of people by the end of March and urged citizens to stock up on “warm clothes and blankets.”

Temperatures in Ukraine usually stay below freezing in winter, and snow has already fallen in many areas, including Kyiv.

The Kremlin stated that the attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure were the result of Kiev’s unwillingness to negotiate.

2. Baby killed in Russian attack on maternity hospital, says Ukraine

A newborn he was killed after a night rocket attack hit a hospital maternity ward in southern Ukraine, authorities said Wednesday.

The strike — which Kyiv blamed on Russia — hit a two-story building in the city of Vilniansk, near Zaporozhye. Russia has always denied that it targeted civilians.

The baby’s mother and the doctor were reportedly pulled alive from the rubble.

“At night, Russian monsters fired huge rockets at the small maternity ward of the Vilniansk hospital,” regional governor Oleksandr Starukh wrote on Telegram.

“Sadness overwhelms our hearts – a baby who has just seen the light of day has died. Rescuers are working on the scene.”

The state emergency services first said that the baby, the new mother and the doctor were the only people in the hospital ward at the time.

Zaporizhzhia is one of four Ukrainian regions illegally annexed by Russia in September after internationally condemned fake referendums.

“The terrorist state continues to wage war against civilians,” President Zelenskyy said on Telegram, adding that Russia would be responsible for the Vilniansk attack.

“The enemy has once again decided to use terror and murder to try to achieve what he failed to do in nine months”.

In the northeastern region of Kharkiv, another Russian rocket reportedly killed two people on Wednesday. Regional Governor Oleg Synegoubov said the victims were a 55-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man.

One person was hospitalized, and another was given first aid at the scene of the accident, he said, adding that the bomb hit a residential building and a hospital.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has so far recorded more than 700 attacks on Ukrainian health facilities since the beginning of the Russian invasion.

3. The UK sends its first helicopter to Ukraine since the Russian invasion

The United Kingdom has sent its first helicopter to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion on February 24.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said London plans to send two more aircraft in the coming months, as well as an additional 10,000 artillery rounds.

“Our support for Ukraine is unwavering. These additional artillery missiles will help Ukraine secure the land it has reclaimed from Russia in recent weeks,” Wallace said in a ministry statement.

“The first shipment of Sea King helicopters is arriving in Ukraine to provide critical search and rescue capabilities,” he added.

The UK is one of the biggest donors of military aid to Kiev, sending air defense systems and drones, but the delivery of the Sea King helicopters is the first time the UK has sent manned aircraft to Ukraine.

According to the statement, the British Army has trained 10 Ukrainian military teams and engineers to operate the helicopters.

The announcement comes after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visited Kyiv on Saturday and announced 57.4 million euros in military aid and 18.3 million euros in humanitarian aid.

The military aid is said to include “125 anti-aircraft guns and technology” to combat drones supplied to Russia by Iran.

The ministry also claimed that Russia had almost exhausted its current stockpile of Iranian-made weapons and would seek resupply.

4. Moldova promises to pay for Russian gas blocked in Ukraine

Moldova’s government said it would pay for natural gas supplied by Russia, but allegedly blocked in Ukraine.

Gazprom accused Kyiv of siphoning off 52.5 million cubic meters of gas intended for Moldova and threatened to start cutting supplies from Monday.

The Russian state energy giant has already halved its gas exports to Chisinau.

“To be clear, all the gas supplied to Moldova ends up in our country,” Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said on Wednesday.

“The quantities of gas referred to by Gazprom that remain in Ukraine are our reserves and are stored in warehouses in Ukraine,” he added.

“Our state has always paid these amounts and will continue to pay them in full.”

European countries regularly accuse Moscow of energy blackmail because of their support for Ukraine.

“This is not the first time that Russia has resorted to using gas as a tool of political pressure,” said Olha Belkova of the Ukrainian Gas Transmission System Operator.

“This is a gross manipulation of facts in order to justify the decision to further limit the amount of gas supply to European countries.”

Heading into winter when natural gas is needed to heat homes as well as generate electricity and run factories, any supply cuts could mean higher prices, fueling inflation.

Natural gas prices have fallen from peaks in August and European countries have managed to fill their storage capacity for the winter, but the crisis could worsen if the weather is colder than usual.

Moldova relied heavily on Russian energy before the war, and its Soviet-era energy systems remain interconnected with Ukraine.

The recent international aid conference in Paris raised more than 100 million euros to support Moldova through the energy crisis. Earlier this month, the European Union also pledged 250 million euros in aid to the country.