Ukrainian military is beefing up protection at power plants and other critical infrastructure ahead of warnings that Russia is planning to launch massive missile strikes, as fighting enters its 284th day.

Pause in Russia's offensive over past two weeks
Pause in Russia's offensive over past two weeks "may end at any time," spokesperson for Ukraine's Southern Defence Forces says. (Reuters)

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Russia has been getting ready for a “massive attack” on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, according to a Ukrainian official.

“We understand that a massive attack is being prepared and is possible any day … Remember that neither day nor night matters to the enemy. Their task is terror,” Nataliya Gumenyuk, spokesperson for Ukraine's Southern Defence Forces, told Ukraine’s Channel 24 .

“For almost two weeks, the enemy has not launched massive missile strikes. However, this pause may end at any time,” she said, adding that the Ukrainian military is beefing up protection at power plants and other critical infrastructure.

'No diplomatic solution' to Ukraine war, Nobel winner says

There is currently no diplomatic solution to the war in Ukraine, a co-founder of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Russian rights organisation Memorial has said.

"I am absolutely convinced that there is not a diplomatic solution with Putin's regime, so long as it is still there," said Irina Scherbakova.

"The solution that there will now be is a military one," said Scherbakova, who was presented with an award for her human rights work at a ceremony in Hamburg, Germany.

No Ukrainian civilians cross over to Kherson on second day of amnesty

Ukrainian families have been waiting for their loved ones to cross from the Russian-held bank of the Dnipro River to Kherson.

Under the three-day amnesty which began on Saturday, Ukrainians living in villages across the river can traverse the Dnipro during daylight hours and to a designated point. But so far there has not been a single civilian crossing. 

On Sunday, around 20 people waited with a group of soldiers and an ambulance at Kherson's river port, to the constant sound of shelling nearby.

Ukraine offensive crosses further into Kherson

For the first time since the war began, Ukraine's offensive have reportedly crossed over to the left side of the Dnipro River, further into the annexed region of Kherson.

According to military monitor Study of War, Ukrainian forces reportedly reached the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River across from Kherson City.

The Ukrainian “Carlson” volunteer special air intelligence unit posted footage on December 3 of Ukrainian servicemen traversing the Dnipro River in boats, reaching a wooden marina-like structure on the east bank, and raising a Ukrainian flag on a tower toward near the shore. 

Ukraine imposes emergency blackouts amid Russian strikes

Ukraine’s private energy company has imposed blackouts in the capital Kiev, as well as the Odessa and Dnipropetrovsk regions amid Russian strikes.

“Stabilisation schedules are not in effect yet. We are doing everything we can to return to the outage schedules that were in place before the last massive attack on power infrastructure as soon as possible,” DTEK said in a statement on Telegram.

The emergency blackout comes as Russian strikes were reported by Ukrainian officials in Kiev and the Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk, and Zaporizhzhia regions on November 24.

Furthermore, Ukraine's national nuclear energy company Energoatom announced that all power units in the country’s four nuclear power plants had automatically disconnected due to a decrease in frequency.

US intel chief thinking 'optimistically' for Ukraine forces

The head of US intelligence says fighting in Russia’s war in Ukraine is running at a “reduced tempo” and suggests Ukrainian forces could have brighter prospects in coming months.

Avril Haines alluded to past allegations by some that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisers could be shielding him from bad news — for Russia — about war developments, and said he “is becoming more informed of the challenges that the military faces in Russia.”

Looking ahead, Haines said her team expects that both sides will look to refit, resupply and reconstitute for a possible Ukrainian counter-offensive in the spring, but that they had a "fair amount of skepticism as to whether or not the Russians will be in fact prepared to do that ... And I think more optimistically for the Ukrainians in that timeframe.”

Zelenskyy not satisfied with Russian oil price cap

A $60 price cap set on Russian oil agreed by the EU, G7 and Australia is not "serious" because it is "quite comfortable" for Moscow, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said.

"Russia has already caused huge losses to all countries of the world by deliberately destabilising the energy market," he argued in his nightly address, describing the decision on the price cap as "a weak position".

It is "only a matter of time when stronger tools will have to be used anyway", Zelenskyy added. "It is a pity that this time will be lost.

"The logic is obvious: if the price limit for Russian oil is $60 instead of, for example, $30, which Poland and the Baltic countries talked about, then the Russian budget will receive about a hundred billion dollars a year..."

"This money will also be used to further destabilise precisely those countries that are now trying to avoid big decisions."

US diplomat: Putin 'not sincere' about peace talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not sincere about peace talks with Ukraine while he is taking the war to a new level of "barbarism" by trying to turn off the lights of civilians, a senior US diplomat has said.

US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland met President Zelenskyy and other senior Ukrainian officials in Kiev to show support at a time when Russia is trying to destroy the country's energy infrastructure.

"Diplomacy is obviously everyone's objective but you have to have a willing partner," she told reporters.

"And it's very clear, whether it's the energy attacks, whether it's the rhetoric out of the Kremlin and the general attitude, that Putin is not sincere or ready for that."

"It is not for Nuland to teach the world — only the United States and NATO combined destroyed more energy networks than the United States destroyed by itself," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on the Telegram channel, pointing to the 1999 attacks on Serbia.

US expects reduced tempo in fighting

The US intelligence community expects the reduced tempo in fighting in Ukraine to continue in coming months and sees no evidence of a reduced will to resist on the part of Ukrainian forces, the US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said.

Haines made the remarks at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in California.

Ukraine sanctions clerics in pro-Moscow church 

Ukraine is slapping sanctions on 10 senior clerics linked to a pro-Moscow church on the grounds they agreed to work with Russian occupation authorities or justified Moscow's offensive, the security service has said.

The announcement is the latest in a series of steps against a Ukrainian branch of the Orthodox Church linked historically to Moscow. The Orthodox Church in Russia itself backs the war.

In a statement, the security services said the 10 clerics had variously agreed to cooperate with occupation authorities, promoted pro -Russian narratives and justified Russian military aggression in Ukraine.

Most of the clerics — all either members of the church or closely linked to it — live in territories controlled by Russia or are abroad, the service said.

For live updates from Saturday (December 3), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies