Ukraine, expected blackouts until at least the end of March

The announcement of the main private energy supplier in the country, Yasno, following the attacks on the electricity grid. Media: Putin will meet Russian soldier mothers

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet the mothers of soldiers engaged in Ukraine in the coming days. This was revealed by the Vedomosti newspaper, which cited three different sources in the presidential administration, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to confirm or deny the news. In Russia, Mother’s Day is celebrated on November 27.

On the news front, agents of the Ukrainian police and the security services of the SBU raided an Orthodox Christian monastery in Kiev today, as part of operations against suspected “subversive activities of the Russian special services”. This was announced by the SBU, without specifying what was the result of the raid, which took place in the monastery of the caves in Kiev, the seat of the Ukrainian Orthodox church which has remained faithful to the Moscow Patriarchate.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government has offered residents of Kherson, the recently liberated Ukrainian city largely without electricity and running water, free evacuations to regions with better infrastructure, and free housing. “Given the difficult security situation in the city and infrastructure problems, it is possible to evacuate for the winter to safer regions of the country,” Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram.

BLACKOUT – Ukrainians will most likely have to live with blackouts until at least the end of March. This was announced by Sergey Kovalenko, head of the main private energy supplier in the country, Yasno, specifying that we are rushing to complete the repairs before the winter cold arrives. “I would like everyone to understand: most likely Ukrainians will live with blackouts at least until the end of March,” Kovalenko wrote in a post on his Facebook page. “The baseline scenario is that if there are no new attacks on the electricity grid, under current electricity generation conditions, the power deficit could be evenly distributed across the country. This means that the outages will be everywhere but less lasting. There there are also different predictions on the development of this situation but they completely depend on Russia’s attacks”. Half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been damaged by Russian attacks, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had announced, noting that millions of people are without electricity and water as winter approaches and temperatures drop below zero.

BLACK SEA ATTACK – For its part, British intelligence in its latest report on the situation on the ground reports that “on November 18, 2022, several Russian and Ukrainian media reported that there was a attack on an oil terminal in the port of Novorssiysk on Russia’s Black Sea coast“. “An important base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet (BSF) is located close to the oil terminal,” underlined the report, released by the London Defense Ministry. “BSF moved many of its submarine operations to Novorssiysk after its Sevastopol base in the Crimea came under fire from Ukraine during the summer. Russian commanders now likely fear threats to Novorssiysk-based flotilla of amphibious landing ships.

“These vessels are relatively vulnerable without escort and have taken on a larger role in supplying Russian forces in Ukraine since the Kerch Bridge was damaged in October. Full details of this incident are yet to emerge. However, any demonstration of the capability to threaten Novorssiysk would most likely present an additional strategic challenge for the Russian fleet. It would also further undermine Russia’s already reduced maritime influence in the Black Sea,” the report concludes.

RUSSIAN LOSSES – About 85,000 Russian soldiers have died in combat – 400 of them in the last 24 hours – since the start of the military offensive launched on February 24 by order of Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is confirmed by the latest balance sheet provided by the Ukrainian armed forces. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Army also indicated that 2,895 tanks, 1,882 artillery systems, 209 anti-aircraft defense systems and 395 self-propelled multiple rocket launchers were eliminated. In a message on Facebook, the General Staff specified that 278 planes, 261 helicopters, 1,537 drones, 480 cruise missiles, 16 boats, 4,393 vehicles and fuel tanks and 161 pieces of special equipment were also destroyed.

WAR CRIMES – The Russians have killed, tortured, and kidnapped Ukrainian citizens with a systematic pattern that could see senior perpetrators implicated in war crimes. The statement was made by US State Department Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack. There is growing evidence, she stressed, that the Russian invasion of Ukraine “was accompanied by systemic war crimes committed in every region where Russian forces were deployed.” Evidence from liberated areas reveals “deliberate, indiscriminate and disproportionate” attacks on the civilian population, abuse of civilians and prisoners of war in custody, forcible removal or filtering of Ukrainian citizens – including children – then transfer to Russia, similar killings to executions and sexual assaults. “When we see such systemic acts, including the creation of a vast filtering network, it is very difficult to imagine how these crimes could be committed without accountability up the chain of command,” said Van Schaack, quoted by the Guardian. Van Schaack represents the United States in global bodies investigating war crimes and other atrocities. Speaking to reporters, Van Schaack did not explicitly say whether President Vladimir Putin could be prosecuted for war crimes in Ukraine, but she assured that prosecutors “will follow the evidence where it leads”. Under international law, the accountability doctrine allows prosecutions to “go all the way up the chain of command,” she said. Van Schaak then announced that officials responsible for investigating human rights abuses were carefully evaluating a video that surfaced in recent days suggesting that Ukrainian troops may have killed Russian POWs.