War-battered Ukraine on Saturday strived to restore electricity to its critical infrastructure and heating systems after a new wave of Russian air strikes compromised the power grids in major cities.
Ukraine’s national energy provider Ukrenergo said its systems have lost over 50% of their capacity after Russian strikes on Friday targeted the “backbone networks and generational facilities.”
Russia fired 74 missiles on Friday, 60 of which were shot down by anti-aircraft defenses, according to the Ukrainian army.
Ukrenergo went on to warn that the extent of the damage in the north, south and center of the country meant it could take longer to restore supplies than after previous attacks.
Meanwhile Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko said that only a third of the capital’s residents had functional heat or water.
As of early Saturday morning, the capital city’s metro and water systems were back in service. Heating has been restored to half the city while electricity returned to two-thirds.
Emergency crews pulled the body of a toddler from the rubble of an apartment building in the central city of Kryvyi Rih that was hit by a Russian missile.
Local authorities said four people were killed and 13 injured — four of them children.
Here are the other main headlines from the war in Ukraine on December 17.
Zelenskyy: Ukraine urgently needs air defense systems
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has reiterated his demand for the delivery of air defense systems in the wake of Friday’s missile bombardment by Russia on Kyiv and 14 other regions.
In a video message on Saturday evening, Zelenskky urged the West to “increase the pressure” on Russia, adding that Kyiv urgently needs anti-aircraft missiles.
Kyiv has repeatedly called for the advanced Patriot air defense system despite hesitancy from NATO.
According to media reports, the US now wants to send one Patriot missile system to Ukraine but there has been no formal confirmation.
Russia: Strikes disrupted foreign arms supply to Ukraine
Russia says it achieved its goals during Friday’s wave of missile attacks on Ukraine, halting the movement of foreign weapons and ammunition.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that Ukraine’s “military command systems, the military-industrial complex and their supporting energy facilities” had been “hit with a mass strike with high-precision weapons.”
“As a result of the strike, the transfer of weapons and ammunition of foreign production was disrupted, the advancement of reserves to areas of hostilities was blocked and Ukrainian defense enterprises for the production and repair of weapons” had been “halted.”
Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov also said his country’s forces destroyed Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance groups and a camp of foreign mercenaries in eastern Donetsk.
Ukrainian military figures, however, said their troops had prevented Russian soldiers from breaking through their line of defense.
Report: Russian oligarchs file lawsuits to fight EU sanctions
Russian oligarchs and business owners have filed 61 lawsuits with the European Court of Justice against EU-imposed sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This was reported by the German tabloid Bild on Saturday.
Grigory Berezkin and Gennady Timchenko — Kremlin oligarchs — are seeking compensation for “non-material damage” they allegedly suffered due to the sanctions, the report said, citing documents available on the court’s website.
To be sure, Berezkin is only seeking a symbolic payment of €1 ($1.05), arguing that he does not support the Russian Federation government. He claims his reputation has taken a serious hit and that “there is no material link between him and Russia’s policy in Ukraine,” according to his case file.
Timchenko, on the other hand, is looking for €1 million in compensation.
Other prominent plaintiffs include the former owner of the English football club Chelsea, Roman Abramovich, and Mikhail Fridman, founder and manager of the large financial group Alfa Group.
Putin mulls Ukraine plans with military commanders
Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked the commanders of his armed forces for proposals on how they think Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should proceed, according to reports by Russian news agencies.
He sought their strategies during a visit to the headquarters of Russia’s joint task force on military operations in Ukraine.
“We will listen to the commanders in each operational direction, and I would like to hear your proposals on our immediate and medium-term actions,” TASS quoted Putin as saying.
Since October, Russia changed its military strategy in Ukraine and has pursued an aerial assault on energy-linked infrastructure facilities, after suffering a series of defeats on the ground. Meanwhile, Ukraine has admitted that its air forces are not as sophisticated as Russia’s and has sought support from other European nations.
Moldova hails a deal to reduce Russia’s gas reliance
Moldova said it has reached a short-term energy deal with a domestic supplier to help cut its dependence on Russian natural gas.
Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said state gas firm Moldovagaz would buy 100 million cubic meters of gas from domestic supplier Energocom this month.
“Since last year, we have promised to make reserves and find an alternative to stop being dependent on a single source. I managed to do it,” Spinu wrote.
It would be the first time that Moldova, a former Soviet republic of 2.5 million, has not consumed any of the gas it has bought from Russia, he wrote on his Telegram channel.
It was unclear where Energocom was buying the alternative supply but the firm stores gas at facilities in Ukraine and Romania
Moldova is currently sending the gas bought from Russian state giant Gazprom to the Kremlin-loyal breakaway region of Transdniestria on the left bank of the Dniester River in exchange for electricity.
mm, mk/jcg (Reuters, AFP, dpa)