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Live: Russian strikes on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine may constitute war crimes, says France

Issued on: 17/11/2022 – 07:28

Firefighters work to put out a fire at energy infrastructure facilities in the Kyiv region, which was damaged by Russian missile strikes on November 15, 2022. © Handout via Reuters

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Russian strikes targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine could constitute war crimes and perpetrators will be held to account, the French foreign ministry said on Thursday, as Russian air strikes once again targeted Ukraine’s energy facilities. Follow our live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+1). 


6:45pm: Kherson is ‘the most heavily mined part of Ukraine’

Reporting from around 20 kilometres outside Kherson city, FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago says demining teams are working overtime to make the area safe. There are “thousands upon thousands of mines, tripwires and unexploded ordnance were left after the Russians retreated”, explained Shrago. “Kherson is for now the most heavily mined part of Ukraine.”


4:07pm: Zelensky hails ‘important’ Malaysian Airlines MH17 decision

Reacting to a on the 2014 Malaysian Airlines downing, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said it was “important”. But he added that “those who ordered” the attack must now face trial.

“Punishment for all Russian atrocities – both present and past – will be unavoidable,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter.

Zelensky comments came shortly after an Amsterdam court found two Russian former intelligence officers and a Ukrainian separatist leader guilty of murder in the downing of Flight MH17, which killed all 298 people on board. A fourth suspect on trial was acquitted.

Important court decision in The Hague. First sentences for the perpetrators of downing. Holding to account masterminds is crucial too, as the feeling of impunity leads to new crimes. We must dispel this illusion. Punishment for all RF’s atrocities then & now is inevitable.

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa)

3:45pm: France says Russian strikes on civilian infrastructure could constitute war crimes

France has condemned Russian strikes on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure “in the strongest terms” and warned that they could constitute war crimes.

“These strikes have again deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure, affecting the electricity supply to homes in Ukraine,” said a French foreign ministry spokeswoman. “These strikes against civilian targets may constitute war crimes for which the perpetrators will be held accountable,” she added.

The statement came as Russian airstrikes targeted Ukraine’s energy facilities again Thursday as the first snow of the season fell in Kyiv, a harbinger of the hardship to come if Moscow’s missiles continue to take out power and gas plants as winter descends.

2:52pm: Blinken says Russia bears ultimate responsibility for deadly Poland blast

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said Russia was ultimately responsible for the “tragic incident” in Poland, where missiles killed two people in a village near the Ukrainian border.

Addressing reporters at an Asia-Pacific summit in Bangkok, Blinken said that he had spoken again with his Ukrainian counterpart on the investigation into the blast, but added: “Whatever its final conclusion, we already know the party ultimately responsible for this tragic incident – Russia.”

The US has said the explosions were likely caused by a stray Ukrainian air defence missile, Kyiv has questioned the assessment.

11:43am: Ukraine will probably get access to blast site, Polish official says

Ukraine is likely to get the access it has demanded to the site in southeastern where a missile killed two people, the Polish president’s top foreign policy adviser said on Thursday.

Warsaw says evidence from the scene points to the explosion being caused by a Ukrainian air defence missile that went astray, something Kyiv denies saying it has evidence of a “Russian trace” in the blast.

Polish President said on Wednesday that access to the site of the explosion would require the agreement of both countries leading the investigation, Poland and the United States.

“A Polish-American investigating team is on site,” Duda’s adviser Jakub Kumoch told private broadcaster TVN 24.

11:23am: Erdogan says confident US, Russia won’t use nukes

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that neither the United States nor Russia planned to use , following a meeting of their respective spy chiefs in Turkey.

“Let me say this, according to information I received from my intelligence chief, neither of the sides will use nuclear weapons as of now,” Erdogan was quoted as telling journalists in Indonesia where he attended the G20 summit.

11am: Erdogan says Russian grain could be exported as flour to Africa via Turkey

Turkish President said Russian grain exports could be processed into flour in Turkey and then shipped to Africa to help relieve shortages there.

Speaking on his flight back from the G20 summit in Bali, Erdogan said Russian grain was meant to be delivered to countries such as Mali, Djibouti, Sudan and Somalia free of charge.

“We will also contribute to the free delivery of this (Russian grain)… We already have such an agreement. Hopefully, this wheat will come to us (Turkey) and be turned into flour in our country and sent (to Africa) in this form. It will offer a significant relief to them (countries in Africa),” Erdogan said.

10:56am: Russia’s use of landmines in Ukraine poses threat, monitor says

Russia’s use of in Ukraine, including newly produced models, threatens to overturn progress made on the issue over the past 25 years, a monitor said Thursday.

Moscow has been developing new antipersonnel mines and has used ones made as recently as 2021 in its war in Ukraine, the Landmine Monitor said.

The monitor said the use of landmines in Ukraine, as well as mines used in Myanmar, marred the 25th anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty, which was created in Ottawa in 1997.

Its annual report identified 277 civilian casualties of mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in Ukraine in the first nine months of 2022 – a near fivefold increase on the 58 recorded in 2021.

“At least seven types of antipersonnel mines have been used by Russian forces in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24,” it said.

10:32am: Ukraine says Russia ‘bears full responsibility’ for missile blast in Poland

Ukraine said Thursday that Russia was ultimately responsible for a deadly missile blast in Poland this week, after Washington said it was likely fired by Ukrainian air defence.

“We share the view that Russia bears full responsibility for its missile terror and its consequences on the territory of Ukraine, Poland and Moldova,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter, announcing he had spoken by telephone with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

I had a call with right during another massive missile attack on Ukraine this morning. We share the view that Russia bears full responsibility for its missile terror and its consequences on the territory of Ukraine, Poland, and Moldova. 1/2

— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba)

8:50am: Russian missile strikes target Ukrainian gas production facilities

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said new Russian missile strikes on Thursday targeted production facilities and a missile plant, Interfax Ukraine news agency reported.

“Missiles are flying over Kyiv right now. Now they are bombing our gas production (facilities), they are bombing our enterprises in Dnipro and Yuzhmash (missile factory),” it quoted him as telling a conference.

8:15am: Ukrainian minister says Black Sea grain deal to be extended by 120 days

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said on Thursday the Black Sea grain export agreement reached in July would be extended by 120 days. The minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, gave no further details.

His remarks could not immediately be confirmed independently.

The July deal has helped stave off a global food crisis by allowing the export of and fertilisers from several of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that had been blockaded by Russia.

“#BlackSeaGrainInitiative will be prolonged for 120 days,” he wrote on Twitter, calling it “another important step in the global fight against the (global) food crisis.”

7:36am: Russian missile hits Odesa, Ukrainian authorities say

‘s southern port city of Odesa was struck by a Russian missile on Thursday morning, Ukrainian authorities said.

Ukrainian media also reported a series of blasts in the city of Dnipro.

6:47am: Russia’s media watchdog blocks Novaya Gazeta website

Russia’s watchdog blocked access to the website of independent news site Novaya Gazeta on Thursday.

Novaya Gazeta suspended publication on its website, social media and in print in March in response to strict new censorship laws introduced by Russia.

In July, the Roskomnadzor media regulator also blocked a new Novaya Gazeta website that was launched in Europe by staff affiliated with the newspaper, and in September a court revoked Novaya Gazeta’s media license.

6:32am: Biden disputes Zelensky’s statement that missile that landed in Poland wasn’t Ukrainian

US President on Thursday disputed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s statement that a missile that landed in Poland on Tuesday, killing two people, was not of Ukrainian origin.

“That’s not the evidence,” Biden told reporters at the White House upon returning from a trip to Asia.

6:01am: Ukrainian investigators find bodies with signs of torture in Kherson

Investigators in ‘s southern Kherson region have uncovered 63 bodies with signs of torture after Russian forces left the area, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky was quoted as saying early on Thursday.

“Now, 63 bodies have been discovered in Kherson region, but we must understand that the search has only just started so many more dungeons and burial places will be uncovered,” Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted Monastyrsky as telling national television.

Monastyrsky said law enforcement bodies had uncovered 436 instances of war crimes during Russia’s occupation. Eleven places of detention had been discovered, including four where torture had been practiced.

“Investigators are currently examining them and setting down every instance of torture. Exhumations are also taking place of the bodies of those who were killed,” Monastyrsky told national television, according to Interfax.

Andriy Kovalenko, a prosecutor in the Kherson regional prosecutor’s office, told the New York Times that testimony had been gathered on 800 detentions by Russians in the region. He said that the most common types of abuse inflicted on detainees were electric shocks, beatings with plastic or rubber nightsticks, and suffocation by pinching the breathing hose on a gas mask placed over a prisoner’s head.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS and AFP)

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