Ukraine news: Russia’s power grid strikes target west, claims Putin ally

The Kremlin’s air strikes on civilian infrastructure are aimed at stemming western weapon supplies to Ukraine, according to Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat made the unusual claim hours after Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said around six million Ukrainians were facing winter without power after two month of strikes on energy infrastructure across the country.

Kyiv and western allies have accused Russia of resorting to attacks on the everyday lives of ordinary Ukrainians in an attempt to break the invaded country’s spirit.

Mr Lavrov today countered these accusations, claiming: “We attack energy facilities that make it possible for west to pump weapons into Ukraine.”

The west has been feeding Ukraine weapons throughout the war, lately turning towards the supply of air defence systems to counter the Russian strikes which have rained on cities all over the country, far from the front lines of the war in the south and east.

Last night, the governor of Kherson said the region’s recently liberated capital city had lost power after heavy shelling from Russian forces.

Key Points

  • Russia claims power grid strikes aimed at stopping western support

  • Air raid sirens ring across Ukraine

  • Around six million still living without electricity, says Zelensky

  • Blinken says ‘brutalisation of Ukraine’s people barbaric’

  • Aerial photos show Russian positions in battered Donetsk

Thursday 1 December 2022 03:32 , Arpan Rai

Good morning, welcome to our coverage of the Ukraine war on Thursday, 1 December.

Blinken says ‘brutalisation of Ukraine’s people barbaric’

Thursday 1 December 2022 04:05 , Arpan Rai

US secretary of state Antony Blinken has accused Vladimir Putin of focusing “his ire and his fire” on besieged Ukraine’s civilian population, warning Moscow that its strategy will fail to drive a wedge between Ukraine’s supporters.

“Heat, water, electricity ... these are President Putin’s new targets. He’s hitting them hard. This brutalisation of Ukraine’s people is barbaric,” Mr Blinken told a news conference in Bucharest following a two-day Nato meeting.

Western allies pledged support to Moldova, Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina yesterday at the Nato foreign ministers meeting amid the threat from Russia, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and ministers said.

In response, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Nato was “absolutely not interested in a political and diplomatic solution in Ukraine”.

Ukraine readying 'more powerful' countermeasure, says Zelensky

Thursday 1 December 2022 04:31 , Arpan Rai

Volodymyr Zelensky has said that his administration is trying to assess Russia’s intentions and readying a countermeasure as Ukraine’s eastern region is once again witnessing a fierce battle.

“The main issues are the Donetsk region, Luhansk region, Kharkiv region, Zaporizhzhia region, Kherson region, Crimea, frontline territories and our state border. We are analysing the intentions of the occupiers and are preparing a countermeasure - an even more powerful countermeasure than now,” Mr Zelensky said in his address last night.

Ukraine is also considering the issue of providing for the military and supplying new equipment and ammunition, he said.

“I separately held a meeting on energy and communication issues. We record the results of what has already been done to protect our systems. We are preparing new solutions,” Mr Zelensky said.

The Ukrainian wartime president said that the country is also preparing new solutions to “prevent any opportunity for Russia to manipulate the internal life of Ukraine”, details of which they will provide details in due time.

Ukraine shot down 340 drones launched by Russia during war - officials

Thursday 1 December 2022 04:59 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine’s defence forces have shot down 340 of the roughly 400 Iranian Shahed drones launched by Russia during the war, Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yuriy Ignat said.

The drones have now become mainly absent from the Ukrainian skies, he added.

“We haven’t seen these Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles for about two weeks ... the first batch has probably already run out,” Mr Ignat said,

Ukraine ramps up security at embassies after letterbomb attack

Thursday 1 December 2022 05:21 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine has ordered a strengthening of security at its embassies around the world after a guard at the Ukrainian consulate in Madrid was injured in a letterbomb explosion.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba urged Spain to investigate the attack, adding that perpetrators “will not succeed in intimidating Ukrainian diplomats or stopping their daily work on strengthening Ukraine and countering Russian aggression”.

The letter, which arrived by ordinary mail and was not scanned, caused “a very small wound on the ring finger of the right hand” of the employee after he opened it in the garden of the embassy, Spanish government official Mercedes Gonzalez said.

Read full story here:

Ukraine ramps up security at embassies after letterbomb attack

Aerial photos show Russian positions in battered Donetsk

Thursday 1 December 2022 05:47 , Arpan Rai

Latest photos shared by the Ukrainian military have captured Russian fortifications around the Russian-held village Volodymyrivka near Bakhmut in Donetsk oblast.

The aerial view shows a vast swathe of land of intense fighting between Russian and Ukraine forces, with some visible fortifications erected around the village.

Russian soldiers have been trying to break through the Ukrainian defences in Bakhmut this month as they look to capture Donbas.

In the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, site of the heaviest fighting, Russian forces tried to make further advances and shelled several towns, including Bakhmut and nearby Soledar and Opytne, the general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said (Provided to RFE/RL by the Ukrainian military)
In the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, site of the heaviest fighting, Russian forces tried to make further advances and shelled several towns, including Bakhmut and nearby Soledar and Opytne, the general staff of the Ukrainian armed forces said (Provided to RFE/RL by the Ukrainian military)

Russia’s crimes will catch up with it eventually

Thursday 1 December 2022 06:18 , Arpan Rai

Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine has long since lost any semblance of being a struggle to liberate a sister people from “Nazi” rule, and degenerated into one where war crimes are the norm, and conventional military engagements more like the isolated exceptions to the general run of the fighting.

As the harrowing accounts of torture reported by The Independent’s Bel Trew highlight, Russia is conducting a war of terror against Ukrainian civilians.

The more it fails on the battlefield and is forced to retreat, the more it turns its attention to destroying civilian infrastructure, taking hostages, abducting people, and continuing to rape and murder anyone unfortunate enough to have been captured by Russia’s ill-disciplined forces.

Read The Independent’s editorial here:

Editorial: Russia’s crimes will catch up with it eventually

Around six million still living without electricity, says Zelensky

Thursday 1 December 2022 06:34 , Arpan Rai

Nearly six million Ukrainians are still enduring the Russian war without any electricity in most regions of the country and in Kyiv, Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday.

“The situation remains very difficult in the capital, as well as in the Kyiv, Vinnytsia, Lviv, Odesa, Khmelnytskyi and Cherkasy regions,” he said.

“Energy workers and utility workers, all our services are doing everything to stabilise the system and give people more energy for longer,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address.

He added that Ukrainians need to understand when and for what period of time they will be left without electricity.

“This is the responsibility of both the energy companies themselves and local authorities. People have a right to know. And to the extent that it is possible now, the predictability of life should be ensured. People see that in neighbouring houses or on nearby streets, for some reason, the rules regarding light are different. And there should be justice and clarity,” he urged.

Tanks, rocket launchers positioned further as war unravels in Donetsk

Thursday 1 December 2022 06:58 , Arpan Rai

Russian forces tried to advance in eastern Ukraine and trained tank, mortar and artillery fire on Kherson in the south, the Ukrainian military said.

Photos of the war-ravaged Donetsk show the battle’s frontlines as Ukrainian tanks penetrate deeper into the conflict zone.

A Ukrainian tank rolls on a road near Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region on Wednesday amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine (AFP via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian tank rolls on a road near Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region on Wednesday amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen warm themselves next to their tank at a position near Bakhmut, Donetsk region (AFP via Getty Images)
Ukrainian servicemen warm themselves next to their tank at a position near Bakhmut, Donetsk region (AFP via Getty Images)
A BM-21 ‘Grad’ multiple rocket launcher fires towards Russian positions on the front line near Bakhmut, Donetsk region over the weekend (AFP via Getty Images)
A BM-21 ‘Grad’ multiple rocket launcher fires towards Russian positions on the front line near Bakhmut, Donetsk region over the weekend (AFP via Getty Images)
Volunteer medics from PDMSh (the first volunteer mobile hospital) evacuating a wounded Ukrainian soldier from a stabilising mobile hospital in the vicinity of Bakhmut, Donetsk region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Monday (AFP via Getty Images)
Volunteer medics from PDMSh (the first volunteer mobile hospital) evacuating a wounded Ukrainian soldier from a stabilising mobile hospital in the vicinity of Bakhmut, Donetsk region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Monday (AFP via Getty Images)

Kherson power grid’s voltage collapses amid Russian shelling - official

Thursday 1 December 2022 07:07 , Arpan Rai

The voltage in Kherson power grid has collapsed today due to Russian shelling, regional officials said.

Kherson oblast governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said today that the voltage of the reclaimed city has disappeared after coming under constant shelling.

Kherson is among the areas witnessing heavy fighting in the war from Russian troops.

Russian attacks on power grid part of military doctrine - MoD

Thursday 1 December 2022 07:22 , Arpan Rai

Russia’s repeated attacks on Ukraine’s electricity distribution grid, primarily with cruise missiles, are likely the first example of the Kremlin attempting to implement the concept of a Strategic Operation for the Destruction of Critically Important Targets (SODCIT), the British defence ministry said today.

The move is a key component of the military doctrine Moscow has adopted in recent years, the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.

“Russia envisioned SODCIT as using long-range missiles to strike an enemy state’s critical national infrastructure, rather than its military forces, to demoralise the population and ultimately force the state’s leaders to capitulate,” it added.

The ministry pointed out that these strikes continue to cause power shortages resulting in indiscriminate, widespread humanitarian suffering across Ukraine.

“However, its effectiveness as a strategy has likely been blunted because Russia has already expended a large proportion of its suitable missiles against tactical targets,” the ministry said.

And as for Ukraine, which has successfully mobilised for nine months, “material and psychological effect of the SODCIT is likely less than if it was deployed in the initial period of a war”, the defence ministry claimed.

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Putin pays tribute to dead Chinese leader

Thursday 1 December 2022 07:44 , Liam James

Vladimir Putin paid tribute to Jiang Zemin, the recently deceased 97-year-old former leader of China.

The Russian leader praised the former Chinese Communist Party chair as “an authoritative politician and wonderful person” as he offered the “most sincere sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased, as well as to the friendly people of China.”

Mr Jiang was in power from 1989 to 2000 and co-signed a still-outstanding treaty of friendship between China and Russia with Mr Putin, then in his first term as president.

The Chinese leader oversaw a decade of rapid growth, while Russia was itself embracing markets after the fall of the Soviet Union.

“A crucial period in China’s modern history and its great achievements in economic and social development, as well as the strengthening of international positions, are inseparably linked with the name of this outstanding statesman,” Mr Putin said.

Zemin welcomes Putin to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, 18 July 2001 (AP)
Zemin welcomes Putin to the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, 18 July 2001 (AP)

US moves to seize oligarch cash, after EU calls for money to be spent in Ukraine

Thursday 1 December 2022 08:06 , Liam James

Prosecutors on Wednesday moved to confiscate $5.4m (£4.4m) from a US bank account belonging to Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev, after he was accused of financing separatists in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Reuters reports.

Federal prosecutors in New York said in court papers seen by the news agency they were entitled to the money because Mr Malofeyev sought to transfer it to a business partner, in violation of US sanctions.

The civil forfeiture complaint marks the latest push in Washington to seize control of wealthy Russians’ assets, a strategy being worked on across governments of allied countries.

European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen yesterday said allies could seize frozen assets – citing figures of €300bn in Russian foreign reserves and €19bn of oligarch assets – and use them to fund the rebuilding of war-battered Ukraine.

US approves $1.2bn missile launcher contract for Ukraine

Thursday 1 December 2022 08:33 , Liam James

The US Army awarded a $1.2bn (£1bn) contract to Raytheon Technologies Co for advanced missile systems to be sent to Ukraine, the Pentagon said.

Raytheon will provide six National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (Nasams), which help defend from missile and drone attacks, on top of two already received by Ukraine.

“Nasams are just the latest in the diverse set of air-defense capabilities we are delivering to Ukraine,” said Bill LaPlante, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.

These six Nasams systems were part of the fifth Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) package which was announced on 24 Augusts and had a total value of $2.98bn, according to an Army Statement.

Ukraine is due to have eight Nasams (pictured) from the US (Ovelse Seapie)
Ukraine is due to have eight Nasams (pictured) from the US (Ovelse Seapie)

Russia condemns Germany for declaring Stalinist famine a genocide

Thursday 1 December 2022 08:55 , Liam James

Russia accused Germany of trying to whitewash its Nazi past after the German parliament voted to recognise the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine as a genocide imposed by the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin.

In what came to be known as the Holodomor, millions of Ukrainians starved to death after Stalin ordered the seizure of grain and livestock from farms recently brought under state control.

The Kremlin this morning rejected the claim that this was a genocide and said millions of people across other parts of the Soviet Union also suffered.

“There is another attempt to justify and push forward a campaign – being planted in Ukraine and sponsored by the west – to demonise Russia and to pit ethnic Ukrainians against Russians,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The Germans are trying to rewrite their history ... downplay their own guilt and muddy the memory of the unprecedented nature of the countless crimes committed by Nazi Germany during World War Two,” it added.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Germany for its recognition and, writing on Twitter in German, said: “The truth always wins”.

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Third letter bomb found in Spanish air base

Thursday 1 December 2022 09:15 , Liam James

Spanish security forces found a third suspected explosive device hidden in an envelope mailed to the Air Force base located in Torrejon de Ardoz outside Madrid, the defence ministry said this morning.

At the time of the ministry’s statement, police were still analysing the parcel, which followed after two letter bombs on Wednesday, one of which was addressed to the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid.

The second was addressed to a weapons manufacturer in Zaragoza, northern Spain.

Russia claims power grid strikes aimed at stopping western support

Thursday 1 December 2022 10:02 , Liam James

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that the Kremlin’s relentless bombing of civilian infrastructure was in order to hold up western munitions.

The strange claim from Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat came after Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said around six million Ukrainians were facing winter without power after two month of strikes on energy infrastructure across the country.

Kyiv and western allies have accused Russia of resorting to attacks on the everyday lives of ordinary Ukrainians in an attempt to break the invaded country’s spirit.

Mr Lavrov today countered these accusations, claiming: “We attack energy facilities that make it possible for west to pump weapons into Ukraine.”

The west has been feeding Ukraine weapons throughout the war, lately turning towards the supply of air defence systems to counter the Russian strikes which have rained on cities all over the country, far from the front lines of the war in the south and east.

Sergei Lavrov at a press conference in April (Reuters)
Sergei Lavrov at a press conference in April (Reuters)

Kremlin denounces EU plans for war crimes probe

Thursday 1 December 2022 11:04 , Liam James

The Kremlin said it would not recognise the legitimacy of any war crimes tribunal staged by the European Union over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

European Commision president Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday the EU would try to set up a specialised court, backed by the United Nations, to investigate and prosecute possible war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.

“As for attempts to establish some kind of tribunal: they will have no legitimacy, will not be accepted by us and we will condemn them,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters this morning.

Ukraine and western allies have alleged Russia of numerous war crimes over ten months of war, including in the briefly-occupied town of Bucha, which was found strewn with civilian corpses after a rout of Russian forces.

The International Criminal Court is investigating the situiation in Ukraine since the war, while several NGOs have been gathering alleged evidence of war crimes by Russian troops.

Russia’s Lavrov says Nato directly involved in Ukraine war

Thursday 1 December 2022 11:40 , Liam James

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov delivered a news conference earlier in which he made several wild statements regarding the war in Ukraine [see 10.02 post].

One of the more striking was his claim that Nato, in paticular the US, was directly participating in the war because of its support for Ukraine.

In defending Russia’s debilitating attacks on energy infrastructure, Mr Lavrov said: “We disable energy facilities that allow you [the west] to pump lethal weapons into Ukraine to kill Russians.

“So don’t say that the US and Nato are not participants in this war – you are directly participating. Including not only the supply of weapons, but also the training of personnel – you train the [Ukrainian] military on your territory.”

Russian troops leaving towns across river from Kherson, says Ukraine

Thursday 1 December 2022 12:20 , Reuters

Ukraine’s military said Russia had pulled some troops from towns on the opposite bank of the Dnipro River from Kherson city, the first official Ukrainian report of a Russian withdrawal on what is now the main front line in the south.

The statement gave only limited details and made no mention of any Ukrainian forces having crossed the Dnipro. Ukrainian officials also stressed that Russia had intensified shelling across the river, knocking out power again in Kherson where electricity had only begun to be restored nearly three weeks after Russian troops vacated the city and fled across the river.

Since Russia abandoned Kherson last month, nine months into its invasion of Ukraine, the river now forms the entire southern stretch of the front.

Russia has already told civilians to leave towns within 15 km of the river and withdrew its civilian administration from the city of Nova Kakhovska on the river bank. Ukrainian officials have previously said Russia pulled back some artillery near the river to safer positions further away, but until now had stopped short of saying Russian forces were quitting towns.

Serhiy Siryi stands by his destroyed house in the village of Posad Pokrovske on the outskirts of Kherson, after the departure of Russian troops (Getty)
Serhiy Siryi stands by his destroyed house in the village of Posad Pokrovske on the outskirts of Kherson, after the departure of Russian troops (Getty)

Air raid sirens ring across Ukraine

Thursday 1 December 2022 12:45 , Liam James

Air raid alerts have been issued across all of Ukraine following warnings by Ukrainian officials that Russia was preparing a new wave of missile and drone strikes.

“An overall air raid alert is in place in Ukraine. Go to shelters,” the country’s border service wrote on Telegram.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky last night said Russia was thought to be “planning something in the south”, while Ukraine’s military said Moscow was moving troops from towns on the Dnipro river opposite the southern city of Kherson.

Letter bomb sent to Spanish prime minister after Ukraine embassy targeted

Thursday 1 December 2022 13:10 , Liam James

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez received a letter bomb which the interior ministry said was similar to those sent to the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid earlier this week, and other sites with links to Kyiv.

The explosive device addressed to Mr Sanchez’s office was one of five to be revealed by Spanish security services in less than 24 hours, though ministers said it was delivered last week on 24 November.

Officials ordered increased security in diplomatic and public buildings shortly before the ministry’s statement, while Wednesday’s embassy package led Kyiv to put all of its consulates around the globe on high alert.

Other letter bombs were delivered to the Ministry of Defence and an air force base in Torrejon de Ardoz outside Madrid on Thursday and Spanish weapons manufacturer Instalaza in Zaragoza on Wednesday.

Letter bomb sent to Spanish prime minister after Ukraine embassy targeted

White House and Kremlin discussing prisoner swaps, says Lavrov

Thursday 1 December 2022 13:37 , Liam James

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said that the White House and the Kremlin were discussing potential prisoner swaps.

Elizabeth Rood, the US charge d’affaires in Moscow, told Russia‘s state-owned RIA news agency that talks were continuing through the “designated channel” about a deal to free jailed Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.

But she said Moscow has not provided a “serious response” to any of Washington’s proposals.

Basketball star Griner was last month taken to a penal colony in the Russian region of Mordovia to serve a nine-year drug sentence after being arrested in February with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.

Whelan, a former US Marine, is serving 16 years in the same region on charges of espionage, which he denies.

Mr Lavrov’s deputy Sergei Ryabkov said on 18 November he was hopeful of agreeing a prisoner swap that could see the release of Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian weapons trafficker who is in prison in the US.

European security meeting overshadowed by Russian foreign minister

Thursday 1 December 2022 14:08 , Liam James

A meeting of Europe’s largest security organisation opened with strong denunciations of Russia’s war inUkraine.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has been a rare international forum – along with the United Nations – where Russia and western powers have been able meet to discuss security matters, and the meeting in Lodz, Poland, is the first high-level meeting of its kind since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Notably absent was Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who wanted to join the meeting but was banned by Poland, the current chair of the OSCE, from entering the country.

Mr Lavrov denounced the ban today, as he gave a rambling press conference that stole headlines as the OSCE met, with accusations of western plots against Russia.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign minister, said representatives at the OSCE would seek to devise a way for the nearly 50-year-old institution to “pave the way for a new security order in Europe, after Russia has completely broken the one we had”.

Borrell, left, with Polish foreign minister Zbigniew Rau at the OSCE in Lodz today (EPA)
Borrell, left, with Polish foreign minister Zbigniew Rau at the OSCE in Lodz today (EPA)

‘If you want to understand what Russia has done, come to Ukraine,’ Zelensky tells Musk

Thursday 1 December 2022 14:32 , Liam James

Volodymyr Zelensky rebuked Elon Musk‘s proposed peace plan and invited the billionaire to visit Ukraine to see the damage done to the war-torn country by Russian forces.

The Ukrainian president mocked Mr Musk’s peace deal at an event organised by The New York Times and asked him to visit the European country instead.

“I think that either someone has influence over him, or he somehow draws conclusions on his own,” Mr Zelensky said by video link at the summit.

He added: “If you want to understand what Russia has done here, come to Ukraine and you will see this with your own eyes.”

“After that, you will tell us how to end this war, who started and when we can end it.”

‘Come to Ukraine,’ Zelensky claps back at Musk

Jailed Belarusian protester 'out of intensive care’

Thursday 1 December 2022 14:49 , Reuters

Jailed Belarusian protest leader Maria Kolesnikova has been moved from intensive care to a different ward and her condition is improving, her political allies said on Thursday.

The diagnosis of the outspoken critic of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has still not been disclosed by the hospital where she underwent surgery on Monday, opposition politician Viktor Babariko’s Telegram account said.

Her father was told at the hospital that she had been able to eat, the Telegram account said. Her allies have said she may have a perforated ulcer according to unconfirmed information.

Reuters was unable to verify the condition of Kolesnikova.

She is one of the leaders of mass street protests against Lukashenko in 2020, who is now serving an 11-year sentence for what she said were trumped-up allegations of involvement in mass unrest.

US poses existential threat to Russia, says Putin’s leading diplomat

Thursday 1 December 2022 15:30 , Liam James

Vladimir Putin’s top diplomat claimed the US posed an existential threat to Russia through its support for Ukraine.

Sergei Lavrov, the Kremlin’s foreign minister who has a reputation for wild statements, used a press conference on Thursday to condemn Washington and Nato, while defending Russia’s bombing of Ukraine’s civil infrastructure.

He said the Kremlin’s assault on the Ukrainian power grid was aimed at cutting off the country’s supply of western arms, countering the view held by Kyiv and allies that knocking out heat and electricity for ordinary citizens was an attempt to break the national spirit.

His remarks came hours after Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said around six million Ukrainians were facing winter without power due to a two-month-long series of strikes on power plant, substations and transmission lines, among other key energy infrastructure.

On Wednesday night, the governor of Kherson said the region’s recently liberated capital city had lost power after heavy shelling from Russian forces.

US poses existential threat to Russia, says Putin’s leading diplomat

Ukrainian refugees in Wales must pay for food and washing, says government

Thursday 1 December 2022 15:52 , Liam James

Refugees who have fled war-torn Ukraine to live in Wales will have to start contributing towards the costs of meals and laundry, the Welsh government has announced.

The changes will see people having to contribute to some of their costs after a five-week settling in period.

After five weeks, refugees will either be in receipt of Universal Credit, assessed as ineligible due to savings or be employed, ministers said.

Further changes will see anyone refusing “two reasonable” offers of accommodation facing a weekly service charge of between £25-£37, depending on the household’s size.

Almost 3,000 people have travelled to Wales under the Homes for Ukraine scheme after fleeing Russia’s illegal invasion.

Update: US embassy targeted with letter bomb

Thursday 1 December 2022 16:20 , Liam James

Spanish police detonated a suspicious envelope discovered at the US Embassy in Madrid, hours after authorities revealed that prime minister Pedro Sanchez received the first in a series of letter bombs sent to sensitive sites around the country, some of them related to Ukraine.

Embassy staff said they were “grateful to Spanish law enforcement” for their help, as police cordoned off a wide area around the embassy in the Spanish capital’s centre.

Barely 24 hours earlier, Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid was targeted with an explosive package which injured a security guard when opened. Spain’s interior ministry later revealed that Mr Sanchez’s office had received a letter bomb last week on 24 November.

Officials ordered increased security in diplomatic and public buildings shortly before the ministry’s statement, while Wednesday’s embassy package led Kyiv to put all of its consulates around the globe on high alert.

Other letter bombs were delivered to the Ministry of Defence and an air force base in Torrejon de Ardoz outside Madrid on Thursday and Spanish weapons manufacturer Instalaza in Zaragoza on Wednesday.

Instalaza manufactures the C90 rocket launcher that Spain has sent Ukraine for its war effort and the air force base. The Torrejon de Ardoz letter was addressed to the air base’s EU Satellite Centre, which the bloc’s foreign minister Josep Borrell said was playing a strategic role in the Ukraine conflict. Spain’s El Mundo reports that the centre has provided intelligence to Kyiv.

Spanish police stand guard near the US embassy in Madrid this afternoon (AFP/Getty)
Spanish police stand guard near the US embassy in Madrid this afternoon (AFP/Getty)

Kyiv mayor tells residents to prepare for major blackout

Thursday 1 December 2022 16:46 , Reuters

Kyiv’s mayor told residents to stock up on water, food and warm clothes in case of a total blackout caused by Russian air strikes, and said residents should consider staying with friends in the outskirts of the capital if they could.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned that the temperature in homes could drop rapidly in the event of “a blackout and the destruction of infrastructure and a total absence of electricity, water supply, drainage and heat supply”.

“The temperature in the apartments may not differ much from the outside temperature,” the former boxing champion told a security forum in Kyiv, where temperatures are around -4C.

“I appeal to the people ... to have a supply of technical water, drinking water, durable food products, warm clothing.”

Power units at several power stations across Ukraine had to conduct emergency shutdowns this week after a spate of Russian missile strikes.