The bombing, the latest in a relentless assault on Ukraine’s energy system that began early last month, reflected Moscow’s narrowing of strategic options after a string of battlefield defeats, including a retreat from the southern city of Kherson.
With ground forces battered and territory lost, Russia has resorted to long-range bombing, while struggling to train and equip tens of thousands of new recruits, many of whom may not want to fight in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s losing war.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday sought to deflect responsibility for the lack of electricity and heat in many parts of Ukraine after most G20 leaders strongly condemned Russia’s war on Ukraine at a summit in Indonesia this week. To Kyiv – The blackout was a direct result of the Russian military strike.
The blackout happened because “the Ukrainian side is unwilling to resolve the issue, to engage in negotiations,” Peskov said. Russia only strikes targets of military significance, he told reporters, warning Moscow would pursue its goals in Ukraine either through peace talks or continued military action.
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“First they negotiate, then they refuse to negotiate, then they pass a law that prohibits any kind of negotiation, then they say they want to negotiate, but openly,” Peskov said, dismissing Ukrainian President Vladimir Zeman Lensky’s call Wednesday for any talks to be held was public; in public.
Neither side appears willing to budge, or at all, with Moscow insisting that the Ukrainian territories it illegally annexed will always belong to Russia. Ukraine, meanwhile, has demanded a full Russian withdrawal from all Ukrainian territories, including Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.
Restoring territorial sovereignty is part of a 10-point peace plan that Zelensky presented to G-20 leaders this week. The plan also calls for reparations from Russia.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Thursday accused Kyiv of setting preconditions for the talks, which he said proved Ukraine was not interested in the talks.
But Ryabkov said Russia’s commitment to its unconditional territorial integrity was unshakable, including “in the constituent territories that have recently joined the Russian Federation”. That’s not the same as setting preconditions for negotiations, he said.
Ukrainian officials said Thursday’s continued bombing disproved Russia’s claims of willingness to negotiate.
In a small sign of compromise, Russia agreed on Thursday, brokered by Turkey, to extend a grain export deal for 120 days to allow Ukraine to ship grain from three ports after Moscow had threatened not to extend the deal.
Russia’s foreign ministry said on Thursday it was a “technical extension” of the agreement, which was not objected by either party.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced he had secured a commitment to continue implementing the agreement, which is considered crucial to preventing a global food crisis.
“It has become clear how important and beneficial this agreement is for world food supply and security, with nearly 500 ships delivering more than 11 million tons of grain and food to those in need in the past four months,” Erdogan said. In a statement, he expressed his gratitude to Putin and Zelensky, as well as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
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In a brutal salvo on Tuesday, Russia fired more than 90 missiles and 11 Iranian drones into Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials. A missile – now believed to have come from Ukraine’s air defenses – landed in eastern Poland, killing two men in the village of Przewodow.
Ukrainian officials said at least seven people were killed in a Russian airstrike on the town of Vilniask in the Zaporozhye region on Wednesday night.
Zelensky insisted on Wednesday that the missiles that hit Poland were not fired by his troops, saying he had “no doubts” about it despite intelligence and initial findings released by Polish President Andrzej Duda and NATO . On Thursday, Duda visited the scene of the incident but said Ukraine was unlikely to join the investigation anytime soon.
However, Zelensky’s position was contradicted by President Biden in the early hours of Thursday.
Asked about Zelensky’s claim after disembarking from Marine One shortly after returning to the White House from a summit of G20 leaders in Indonesia, Biden said, “That’s not evidence.”
Just half an hour later, at 8 a.m. local time in Ukraine, air raid sirens sounded across the country.
About an hour later, local authorities reported that Ukraine’s air defenses had shot down Russian missiles and drones, but some energy and industrial infrastructure targets had been hit.
In Dnipro, the regional capital of central Ukraine, dashboard camera footage showed a huge explosion in the center of a city street as vehicles drove along the main highway. Zelensky released the video, which The Washington Post could not immediately independently verify.
“Morning. A peaceful city and people’s desire for a normal life. Going to work, business trips. Missile attack!” Zelensky wrote in a comment accompanying the video.
Valentyn Reznichenko, governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, posted on his Telegram channel that Russian missiles hit two districts in Dnipro, causing a “huge fire” And damaged residential buildings. He said 14 people were injured and hospitalized, including a 15-year-old girl.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmikhal told an economic conference in Kyiv on Thursday that the Russians were “bombing our businesses in Dnipro”, including aerospace manufacturer Pivdenmash.
NATO said the Polish missile was an accident. But the fear of spillover remains.
Oleksiy Chernyshov, head of Ukraine’s state energy company Naftogaz, said in a statement on Thursday that Russia had launched a “massive attack” on the company’s gas production infrastructure. “Currently, several destroyed objects are known. Others have suffered damage to varying degrees,” Chernyshov said.
Damage and casualties were also reported in other parts of the country. On the Black Sea coast, authorities reported that three people were wounded in the attack in the Odessa region. Military officials said the Russians fired cruise missiles from the Black Sea and two Su-30 bombers. Six missiles were shot down, they said.
Kharkiv state government Oleh Syniehubov said four missiles hit critical infrastructure in eastern Ukraine’s Izyum region. Eight people were injured, the district attorney’s office said.
In a Telegram post, Kyiv’s junta said air defenses shot down four missiles and five self-destructing drones, but said there were no attacks on buildings or infrastructure.
However, Kyiv region governor Oleksi Kuleba said the power situation was “difficult” and a blackout was planned.
But even with the missiles flying, Erdogan announced on Thursday that he had pledged to continue an interim agreement to protect Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports – a deal considered crucial to preventing a global food crisis.
“As a result of the four-party talks chaired by Turkey, the Agreement on the Black Sea Food Corridor was extended for 120 days from November 19, 2022, in accordance with the decisions made between Turkey, the United Nations, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, Erdogan said in a statement. said in a statement.
Dixon reported from Riga, Latvia. Zeynep Karatas and Loveday Morris in Istanbul exist Przewodow in Poland contributed to this report.