Russia-Ukraine war live: more than 1,000 Ukrainian towns and villages without electricity | Ukraine

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More than 1,000 Ukrainian towns and villages without electricity, power grid operator says

Ukraine’s power grid operator said severe winter weather has left more than 1,000 towns and villages without electricity in nine regions, as the energy system has been weakened by Russian strikes, Reuters reports.

Ukrenergo, the state-owned electricity transmission system operator, said electricity consumption was at this week’s highest levels as temperatures fell to about -15 C in many parts of the country.

“The consumption level continues to grow due to the considerable drop in temperature across the country,” it wrote on Telegram.

Ukraine had to import electricity from neighbouring Romania and Slovakia to be able to meet the demand, Ukrenergo said.

It said that electricity consumption this morning was already 5.8% higher than the day before.

“As of this morning due to bad weather – strong winds, ice power was cut off in 1,025 settlements,” it added.

Ukrenergo said the power system was already working at maximum capacity and urged residents to save electricity as much as possible.

The power grid operator said that Ukrainian thermal power plants were still recovering from Russia’s strikes last winter, adding that solar power plants could not work at full capacity due to dense clouds and bad weather.

About 10 months into the full-scale invasion, Russia made waves of attacks on power stations and other plants linked to the energy network, prompting rolling blackouts in widely disparate regions.

Key events

Hungary indicates it may unblock EU aid for Ukraine if approved annually – reports

Hungary has indicated that it might lift its veto over EU aid to Ukraine if the funding is reviewed each year, Politico reports.

Viktor Orbán blocked a €50bn EU aid package for Ukraine last month, with the Hungarian prime minister refusing to green light funding to help Ukraine’s government over the next four years.

Three EU diplomatic sources said Budapest indicated it might withdraw its opposition if the European Council unanimously approves the funding on a yearly basis, meaning Orbán could extract concessions from the bloc.

Viktor Orbán attends the EU leaders summit, in Brussels on 26 October 2023.
Viktor Orbán attends the EU leaders summit, in Brussels on 26 October 2023. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

In its Brussels Playbook briefing, Politico wrote:

Budapest indicated that it might lift its veto provided that the European Council unanimously approves the funding on a yearly basis, according to three EU diplomats.

In practical terms, this would give Orbán the power to block EU funding to Ukraine every year – or gain concessions from Brussels for withholding his veto.

Hungary formulated this proposal during a meeting of the EU’s 27 budget experts on Friday and in a written document to the Belgian Council presidency.

The plan would see the EU handing out €12.5bn in grants and loans to Ukraine every year, according to a diplomat with knowledge of the proceedings.

This would add up to €50bn over four years, which is the amount proposed by the European Commission in its midterm budget review.

Russia hit multiple settlements in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region over the past 24 hours, injuring two civilians, the region’s governor, Oleh Syniehubov, has said.

In the village of Dvorichna, a Russian attack at 17:30 injured a 57-year-old man and a 63-year-old woman, the governor wrote on Telegram.

He said that more than 15 settlements were targeted in Russian artillery and mortar strikes, including Vesele, Dvorichna, Synkivka, Petropavlivka, Ivanivka and Berestovka.

Russia’s national elections commission has registered the Communist party’s candidate to compete with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, in the March election, the Associated Press reports.

Nikolai Kharitonov, a member of the lower house of parliament, joins two other candidates who were approved for the ballot last week.

He has opposed some of Putin’s domestic policies but not Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Although the Communist candidate typically gets the second-highest vote tally, Kharitonov does not present a significant challenge to Putin. As the party’s candidate in the 2004 election, he tallied just 13.8%.

The commission last week approved Leonid Slutsky of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and Vladislav Davankov of the New People Party for the March 15-17 vote.

Nikolai Kharitonov attends a ceremony at the Central Election Commission in Moscow, Russia.
Nikolai Kharitonov attends a ceremony at the Central Election Commission in Moscow, Russia. Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/EPA

Putin has dominated Russia’s political system and the media for the past two decades, jailing prominent opposition politicians, such as Alexei Navalny and Ilya Yashin, who could challenge him on the ballot.

Putin has won previous elections by a landslide, but independent election watchdogs say they were marred by widespread fraud.

Putin’s long-term spokesperson in a previous interview said: “Putin will be re-elected next year with more than 90% of the vote”.

Russia to do ‘everything’ to minimise Ukrainian shelling of Belgorod, Kremlin says

The Kremlin has said the Russian military would do everything in its power to tackle an increase in Ukrainian shelling of the border city of Belgorod.

Belgorod is just over half an hour’s drive from the border with Ukraine, making it a vital stop in Russian supply lines. The city has come under extensive shelling and drone attacks for months.

“Of course, our military will continue to do everything in order to minimise the danger at first and then eliminate it entirely,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was quoted by AFP as telling reporters.

He accused the Ukrainian military of firing on civilian targets in the centre of the urban hub of about 340,000 people with weapons supplied by European countries.

As we mentioned earlier, the head of the region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said on Tuesday morning that three people in the region had been injured by debris from downed Ukrainian weapons.

He said yesterday that Russia had evacuated about 300 residents of Belgorod because of strikes by Kyiv, representing the largest evacuation of a major Russian city since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

The Kremlin has declined to comment on US and Ukrainian statements that Russia had fired North Korean missiles at Ukrainian targets in recent days, Reuters reports.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the allegations when asked about them by journalists in a call.

He claimed that Ukraine had repeatedly struck civilian targets inside Russia using missiles produced by “Germany, France, Italy, the United States and other countries”.

A senior adviser to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said on Friday that Russia hit Ukraine last week with missiles supplied by North Korea for the first time during its full-scale invasion.

Dmytro Chubenko, spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office in the Kharkiv region, said the missile, one of several that hit the city of Kharkiv on 2 January, was visually and technically different from Russian models.

“The production method is not very modern. There are deviations from standard Iskander missiles, which we previously saw during strikes on Kharkiv. This missile is similar to one of the North Korean missiles,” Chubenko told the media as he displayed the remnants.

The death toll from a Russian missile attack against the western Ukrainian region of Khmelnytskyi on Monday has risen to three after another body was found by rescuers, Oleksandr Symchyshyn, the mayor of Khmelnytskyi, has said.

Regional officials said on Monday that two people had been killed and critical infrastructure hit in Khmelnytskyi after a Russian missile strike.

Posting on Telegram earlier this morning, Symcyshyn said:

Unfortunately, as a result of rescue operations, one more dead person was found. Male born in 1955. Sincere condolences to the family.

As a result of the terrorist attack, three people died (men born in 1947, 1964, 1955) and two were injured.

Across Ukraine, four people were reported to have been killed by Russian strikes on Monday.

Ukraine has been repelling huge Russian cyber-attacks on state payment systems for the second week in a row, senior lawmaker Danylo Hetmantsev said on Tuesday.

Hetmantsev, who is heading the parliamentary committee for finances, taxes and customs, wrote on Telegram that Russian hackers tried to destroy systems vital for the Ukrainian budget payments. He said the attacks were succesfully repelled.

Ukrainian shelling injured three people in the Russian region of Belgorod late on Monday evening, officials said.

Belgorod is just over half an hour’s drive from the border with Ukraine, making it a vital stop in Russian supply lines. The city has come under extensive shelling and drone attacks for months.

Ukrainian attacks on Belgorod on 30 December killed 25 people, local officials said.

“The city of Belgorod was shelled again last night, and people were injured,” governor Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on Telegram.

“Now there are three people in intensive care, all of them have undergone surgeries. Doctors assess their condition as stable and severe.”

Damaged cars after shelling in Belgorod, Russia, on 5 January 2024
Damaged cars after shelling in Belgorod, Russia, on 5 January. Photograph: Belgorod Mayor Valentin Demidov Handout/EPA

Ukraine has deficit of anti-aircraft guided missiles, air force says

Ukraine has a deficit of anti-aircraft guided missiles, air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat has been quoted as saying.

“Ukraine has spent a considerable reserve on those three attacks that took place,” Ihnat told Ukrainian TV, according to Reuters. “It is clear that there is a deficit of anti-aircraft guided missiles.”

US Congress last month failed to approve $50bn (£39bn) in security aid for Ukraine as negotiators fell short of a deal.

Ukraine is separately waiting to receive a €50bn (£43.5bn) package from the EU, delivery of which has looked uncertain after Hungary blocked the EU from approving the aid.

Ihnat said he hoped delays over western aid packages would be resolved soon as Ukraine depended on western supplies for a range of defensive needs.

“We have more and more western equipment today and, accordingly, it needs maintenance, repair, updating, replenishment, and corresponding ammunition,” he said.

The comments come after the New York Times reported on Saturday that White House and Pentagon officials warned the supply of Patriot interceptor missiles could soon be unsustainable, with one missile reportedly costing between $2m and $4m each.

Conscription law will not include women, says Ukrainian MP

Ukraine’s draft legislation on military mobilisation will not conscript women or introduce a lottery, a lawmaker said late on Monday. Parliament’s security committee is due to vote today on what to do with the bill.

“I can definitely say that there will be no lottery for conscription, no mobilisation of women,” said Yehor Chernev, the deputy chair of the parliamentary committee on national security, defence and intelligence. “There will be no unconstitutional positions.”

Tens of thousands of men volunteered to fight for Ukraine in the first months after Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, but enthusiasm has waned 22 months later, prompting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to consider a new law.

Proposed changes to rules on army mobilisation that would enable Kyiv to call up more people and tighten sanctions against draft evasion have faced public criticism. The parliament’s human rights commissioner said some of the proposals were unconstitutional. The European Business Association said on Monday in a statement on its website that after reviewing the earlier proposed draft law it had concerns about several proposed provisions, including risks of corruption.

The security, defence and intelligence committee has been reviewing proposed changes to the bill since Thursday. On Tuesday, it will either approve the proposed changes or send the bill back to the government for revisions.

“We have worked on the draft law on a clause-by-clause basis,” said Roman Kostenko, the secretary of the committee. He added the discussions involved hours of questioning top defence ministry and military officials.

If approved by the committee, the legislation will be debated and can change over two or three readings in parliament where approval is required. It then requires the signature of Zelenskiy to become law.


We are restarting our live coverage of the warn in Ukraine. Here are the main developments:

  • Russia targeted Ukraine with dozens of missiles, killing at least four civilians early on Monday, Ukrainian authorities said. Two people were killed in the western Khmelnytskyi region, local officials said. In Kryvyi Rih, a 62-year-old was reported to have been killed.

  • Elsewhere, the governor of the Kharkiv region said a 63-year-old woman was killed in a strike on a town south of Kharkiv. Ukrainian forces destroyed 18 out of 51 missiles launched during the wave of Russian airstrikes on Monday, Ukraine’s air force said.

  • Ukraine’s draft mobilisation law will not conscript women or introduce a lottery, according to Yehor Chernev, deputy chairman of parliament’s defence and security committee, which is is due to consider the law on Tuesday.

  • The British former defence secretary Ben Wallace warned his successor, Grant Shapps, that the UK was at risk of “falling behind” in its military support for Ukraine, because ministers had yet to announce a military aid budget for 2024-5.

  • A section of railroad near the city of Nizhny Tagil in Russia’s Urals region was hit by a “bang”, Tass and RBC news agencies reported. Baza, a Russian media outlet, said the blast on the railway took place close to the station of San-Donato, near an oil depot.

  • The Swedish prime minister announced that Sweden – despite not yet being a full member of Nato – will send troops to Latvia next year as part of a Canadian-led force to deter Russian attack.

  • In the Russian-occupied Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine, a Russian warplane accidentally released a bomb on the town of Rubizhne, said Leonid Pasechnik, the Moscow-appointed regional occupation head. He reportedly said the bomb, an FAB-250 that carries a high-explosive warhead, did not cause injuries. His comments could not be independently verified.

  • Ukraine has exported 15m tonnes of cargo through its Black Sea shipping corridor, including 10m tonnes of agricultural goods, the deputy prime minister for restoration, Oleksandr Kubrakov, has said.

  • “Indiscriminately striking” civilians is a war crime because it violates international humanitarian law, Pope Francis was quoted as saying in a speech referencing conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.

  • Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, said that Russia has “left people homeless” through its attacks on Ukraine, a reality of war she says “can only be changed by weapons”.

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