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Live: Fresh Russian strikes batter Ukraine energy grid as first snow falls

Issued on: 18/11/2022 – 06:46Modified: 18/11/2022 – 07:14

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv on September 8, 2022. © Genya Savilov, AP

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Fresh Russian strikes hit cities across Ukraine on Thursday, crippling the country’s energy infrastructure and plunging millions into darkness as winter looms and temperatures drop. Follow our live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+1)


9:35am: Traces of explosives found at Nord Stream pipelines, Sweden says

Investigators have found traces of explosives at the site of the damaged Nord Stream pipelines, confirming that sabotage had taken place, a Swedish prosecutor said on Friday.

Swedish and Danish authorities are investigating four holes in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which link Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea and have become a flashpoint in the Ukraine crisis.

Denmark last month said a preliminary investigation had shown that the leaks were caused by powerful explosions.

8:32am: Russia hopeful of US prisoner swap including arms dealer Bout

Russia hopes it can make a prisoner swap with the United States that would include convicted Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, known as the “Merchant of Death”, a deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying on Friday.

“The Americans are showing some external activity, we are working professionally through a special channel designed for this,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying on Friday by Interfax.

“It is undeniable that Viktor Bout is among those who are being discussed, and we certainly count on a positive result,” Ryabkov said.

8:14am: Where’s Putin? Leader leaves bad news on Ukraine to others

When Russia’s top military brass announced in a televised appearance that they were pulling troops out of the key city of Kherson in southern Ukraine, one man missing from the room was President Vladimir Putin.

As Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Sergei Surovikin, Russia’s chief commander in Ukraine, stiffly recited the reasons for the retreat in front of the cameras on November 9, Putin was touring a neurological hospital in Moscow, watching a doctor perform brain surgery.

Later that day, Putin spoke at another event but made no mention of the pullout from Kherson -– arguably Russia’s most humiliating withdrawal in Ukraine. In the days that followed, he hasn’t publicly commented on the topic.

Putin’s silence comes as Russia faces mounting setbacks in nearly nine months of fighting. The Russian leader appears to have delegated the delivery of bad news to others – a tactic he used during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kherson was the only regional capital Moscow’s forces had seized in Ukraine, falling into Russian hands in the first days of the invasion. Russia occupied the city and most of the outlying region, a key gateway to the Crimean Peninsula, for months.

7:07am: Pope Francis says Vatican ready to mediate end of Ukraine war

reiterated on Friday the Vatican was ready to do anything possible to mediate and put an end to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the pontiff said in an interview with Italian daily La Stampa.

Asked whether he believed reconciliation between Moscow and Kyiv was possible, the pontiff called on everyone not to give up.

“But everyone must commit to demilitarising hearts, starting with their own, and then defusing, disarming violence. We must all be pacifists. Wanting peace, not just a truce that may only serve to rearm. Real peace, which is the fruit of dialogue,” he told the paper.

6:01am: Ukraine war is Asia’s problem too, Macron says

French President on Friday urged Asian countries to join the “increasing consensus” against the conflict in Ukraine, telling them the war was “your problem” too.

Macron told business leaders on the sidelines of a Pacific Rim summit that France was trying to “create an increasing consensus in order to say this war is also your problem, because it will create a lot of destabilisation”.

5:40am: New wave of Russian strikes batter Ukraine grid as first snow falls

Fresh strikes hit cities across on Thursday, crippling the country’s energy infrastructure and plunging millions into darkness as winter sets in and temperatures drop.

Repeated barrages have disrupted electricity and water supplies across Ukraine, but the Kremlin blamed civilians’ suffering on Kyiv’s refusal to negotiate, rather than on Russian attacks.

AFP journalists in several Ukrainian cities said the latest assault coincided with the season’s first snow, after officials in Kyiv warned of “difficult” days ahead.

“Currently, more than 10 million Ukrainians are without electricity,” Ukrainian President said Thursday, adding that the regions of Odesa, Vinnytsia, Sumy and Kyiv were most affected.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters and AP)



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