May 19, 2024

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Ukraine warns of more attacks on infrastructure, mayor urges Kyiv to prepare for the worst

Ukraine warns of more attacks on infrastructure, mayor urges Kyiv to prepare for the worst
  • Russia may be preparing for more attacks on energy sites – Zelensky
  • 4.5 million Ukrainians without electricity as winter approaches
  • Biden aide held talks with senior Russian officials
  • Report: US urges Ukraine to open up to talks with Russia

Kyiv/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Sunday of possible further Russian attacks on energy infrastructure, while Kyiv’s mayor urged residents to consider preparing to leave temporarily if the capital loses water and electricity supplies.

In regular nightly statements, Zelensky said Russia is “concentrating forces and means to replicate possible mass attacks on our infrastructure. First of all, energy.”

He added that more than 4.5 million consumers are without electricity, amid fears that support for Ukraine may decline as the impact of the war on energy and food prices continues into the winter.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who traveled to Kyiv on Friday and pledged Washington’s “unwavering and unwavering” support for Ukraine, has held unannounced talks with Russian officials aimed at avoiding further escalation, the Wall Street Journal said on Sunday.

News of these contacts followed a report that Washington was urging Kyiv to signal an openness to talks with Russia.

Presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolak earlier said on Twitter that Ukraine would “stand up” despite Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure, by regulating air defense, protecting infrastructure and improving consumption to do so.

Sergei Kovalenko, CEO of YASNO, the capital’s main energy provider, said on his Facebook page that the country faced an expected 32 percent energy supply deficit on Monday.

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The warnings followed comments by Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko urging residents to “think about everything,” including the worst-case scenario in which the capital loses electricity and water.

In a television interview on Saturday, he said residents should consider “spending time” with friends or family outside the city, in which he accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure.

“His task is to either die or freeze or force us to flee our land so that he can get it. That’s what the aggressor wants to achieve,” Klitschko added.

In the south, Russia and Ukraine continued to trade accusations as Ukraine advanced toward Kherson. Reuters was not immediately able to verify accounts of the battlefield from either side.

The region’s governor, Yaroslav Yanushevich, said that Russian forces had destroyed about 1.5 kilometers of power lines, cutting off supplies to the city of Pereslav.

“It is possible that there will be no electricity in Pereslav until it is completely liberated from occupation,” Janusevich wrote on the Telegram messaging app, adding that power lines to Kherson were also destroyed.

On Sunday, Russian news agencies said the bombing of Ukrainian forces had damaged the vast Russian-controlled Nova Kakhovka dam at the source of Kherson on the Dnipro River. They did not provide supporting evidence, and Reuters was not immediately able to verify the reports.

The Russian state-owned TASS quoted a representative of the emergency services as saying that a missile fired by the US-made Hemars missile system hit and damaged the dam lock.

The official described the incident as an “attempt to create conditions for a humanitarian disaster” by breaching the dam.

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The warnings came as the Wall Street Journal said Sullivan had held secret talks in recent months with Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, which have not been publicly disclosed.

Few high-level contacts between US and Russian officials have been announced in recent months, with Washington insisting that any talks on ending the war in Ukraine take place between Moscow and Kiev.

The White House declined to comment on the report, responding only with a statement attributed to National Security Council spokeswoman Adrian Watson: “People are asking for a lot of things.”

On Saturday, the Washington Post said the United States is particularly encouraging Ukraine to express an openness to negotiation with Russia, with the State Department saying that Moscow is escalating the war and is not seriously interested in engaging in peace talks.

The newspaper quoted unidentified sources as saying that the request by US officials was not intended to bring Ukraine to the negotiating table, but rather a calculated attempt to ensure that Kyiv retains the support of other countries.

Zelensky signed a decree on October 4 officially declaring any Ukrainian talks with Putin “impossible” but leaving the door open for talks with Russia.

There was no immediate comment from the White House National Security Council on the accuracy of the report.

A State Department spokesperson responded: “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Actions speak louder than words. If Russia is ready to negotiate, it should stop its missiles and missiles and withdraw its forces from Ukraine.”

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Reporting by Reuters offices. Written by Simon Lewis and Simon Cameron Moore; Editing by Diane Kraft and Clarence Fernandez

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.