Live reporting. Berny Torre. Nov 25
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Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska said her country was willing to endure years of power cuts if there was a chance of joining the European Union
Amid freezing conditions in Kyiv, she described the conflict as a war of world views, adding “without victory there can be no peace”.
At least half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure was destroyed by Russian strikes last month.
But Ms Zelenska said “we are ready to endure this” as she cited a recent poll where 90 per cent of Ukrainians said they were ready to live with electricity shortages for two to three years if they could see the prospect of joining the EU.
James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, who is on a visit to Ukraine, has announced a package of “hands-on” support to help the country through the winter, ahead of a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Kyiv’s mayor Vitali Klitschko has meanwhile warned of further attacks following a Russian strike that took out basic infrastructure and killed at least ten people in the capital earlier this week.
‘Seriously ill’ reservists sent to fight and dig trenches under fire, MoD says
Russian reservists with “serious, chronic health conditions” are fighting in Ukraine, with “particularly heavy casualties” in those digging trenches under fire around the city of Svatove, in the Luhansk region, according to the Ministry of Defence.
Reservists have also been killed in “large numbers” in frontal assaults into well-established Ukrainian defensive zones in the Donetsk region, around the city of Bakhmut, its daily intelligence briefing said.
“Two months after President (Vladimir) Putin announced a ‘partial mobilisation’, common themes are emerging in the experience of mobilised Russian reservists.
“Their deployment is often characterised by confusion over eligibility for service, inadequate training and personal equipment, and commitment to highly attritional combat missions.
“Most – though not all – mobilised reservists have previously served and numerous examples suggest that reservists are highly likely not having their medical status adequately reviewed and many are being compelled to serve with serious, chronic health conditions.
“Mobilised reservists have highly likely experienced particularly heavy casualties after being committed to dig ambitious trench systems while under artillery fire around the Luhansk Oblast town of Svatove.”
Boris Johnson made honorary citizen of Kyiv
Former PM Boris Johnson has been awarded the title of the honorary citizen of Kyiv.
Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko posted on Telegram: “The Kyiv City Council approved a decision to award Boris Johnson, a great friend of Ukraine, the title of honorary citizen of Kyiv.
“Boris visited the Ukrainian capital several times – both in peacetime and in the most dramatic time of our struggle against the Russian aggressor.
“Johnson has done and, I am sure, will continue to do everything possible so that Great Britain and world leaders provide the necessary assistance to Ukraine. We thank you for your support! We are waiting for you in Kyiv again to present this honorable award!”
Mr Johnson was previously given the title of Doctor Honoris Causa by The Academic Council of the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv.
Ukrainians in ‘survival mode’ as they crowd into cafes to stay warm
Residents of Ukraine’s bombed capital clutched empty bottles in search of water and crowded into cafes for power and warmth Thursday, switching defiantly into survival mode after new Russian missile strikes a day earlier plunged the city and much of the country into the dark.
In scenes hard to believe in a sophisticated city of 3 million, some Kyiv residents resorted to collecting rainwater from drainpipes, as repair teams labored to reconnect supplies.
Friends and family members exchanged messages to find out who had electricity and water back. Some had one but not the other. The previous day’s aerial onslaught on Ukraine’s power grid left many with neither.
Cafes in Kyiv that by some small miracle had both quickly became oases of comfort on Thursday.
Oleksiy Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, awoke to find that water had been reconnected to his third-floor flat but power had not. His freezer thawed in the blackout, leaving a puddle on his floor.
Millions without water and power
Ukraine today battled to get water and power to millions of people cut off after Russia launched dozens of cruise missiles that battered the country’s already crippled electricity grid.
The energy system in Ukraine is on the brink of collapse and millions have endured emergency blackouts over recent weeks.
The World Health Organization has warned of “life-threatening” consequences and estimated that millions could leave their homes as a result.
“The situation with electricity remains difficult in almost all regions,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday evening. “However, we are gradually moving away from blackouts – every hour we return power to new consumers.”
More than 24 hours after Russian strikes smashed Kyiv, mayor Vitali Klitschko said late Thursday that 60 percent of homes in the capital were still suffering emergency outages. Water services had been fully restored however, said city officials.
James Cleverly to meet Volodomyr Zelensky
James Cleverly has announced a package of “hands-on” support to help Ukraine through the winter while on a visit to the war-torn nation.
The Foreign Secretary was due to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky during his visit, which comes days after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak travelled to Kyiv.
Mr Cleverly announced the practical support as Ukraine’s power grid and other critical infrastructure has been pounded by Russian strikes, causing blackouts and leaving millions without heat, power or water as temperatures plummet.
The UK will send 35 more emergency vehicles, including 24 ambulances and six armoured vehicles, to the country.
The Foreign Secretary also announced a further £3 million for the rebuilding of local infrastructure including schools and shelters, as well as additional funding to support survivors of sexual assault.
Mr Cleverly said: “As winter sets in, Russia is continuing to try and break Ukrainian resolve through its brutal attacks on civilians, hospitals and energy infrastructure. Russia will fail.”