Ukraine Latest: Power Cuts in Focus as War Hits 9-Month Mark

Ukraine’s government is preparing for even worse power outages.

A blackout in Kyiv on November 22. Photographer: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images
A blackout in Kyiv on November 22. Photographer: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

Ukraine is attempting to recover from repeated Russian missile strikes against its energy systems, even as its government prepares for the possibility for even worse conditions. By late Thursday, shortages were cut to below 50% as repairs were made as quickly as possible, and water had been restored to Kyiv. 

President Vladimir Putin’s invasion, launched in February as a “special operation,” has reached the nine-month mark. US President Joe Biden said he was confident there will be support in Congress for additional aid to Ukraine, even after Republicans -- who have vowed greater oversight of the spending -- take control of the House in January. 

European Union diplomats are optimistic they can reach a deal on a price cap level for Russian oil exports despite sharp splits over the plan. The EU is also working “full speed” on a ninth sanctions package against Russia, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in Finland. 

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

Key Developments

  • Ukraine Blackouts Threaten Pipeline Bringing Gas to Europe
  • Kremlin Faces Rising Ire From Wives, Mothers of Mobilized Troops
  • Ukraine Struggles to Restore Utilities After Big Russian Strikes
  • EU Prolongs Oil Price Cap Talks as Russia Hints View May Soften
  • Estonia Searches for Bomb Shelters Amid Growing Fears of Attack

On the Ground

Ukrainian forces repelled assaults in the Donetsk region, including in Bakhmut, as the country struggled to cope with power and water outages brought on by Russian missile attacks a day earlier. On the front in the east, Ukrainian forces repelled assaults near eight settlements in the Donetsk region over the past day, including Bakhmut, the General Staff said on Facebook. Russia in total launched 78 missile strikes, 23 air strikes and more than 70 multiple rocket launcher attacks in the past 24-hour period including shelling of Ukrainian areas along the contact line. Seven civilians were killed in Russia’s most recent missile attacks on energy infrastructure, officials in Kyiv said late Thursday.   

(All times CET)

Power Deficit Cut to Less Than 50%, Grid Operator Says (7:45 p.m.) 

Ukraine’s power producers were back above 50% capacity by late Thursday after repairs following Wednesday’s extensive Russian missile attacks on energy targets, the grid company NPC Ukrenergo says on its Telegram channel. It’s impossible to say when systems will be fully restored, the company said. 

Kremlin troops have repeatedly targeted Ukraine’s power systems for over a month, leaving Kyiv and many other parts of the country without electricity in sub-freezing temperatures. Many Ukrainians also lack running water. 

Russia has characterized the attacks against civilian targets, which threaten to trigger a new refugee exodus, as retaliation for US and European weapons supplies to Ukraine.  

Read more: Ukraine Struggles to Restore Utilities After Big Russian Strikes

Biden Say’s He’s Confident of Continued Funding (4:45 p.m.) 

President Joe Biden said there’s still support in Congress to continue aiding Ukraine despite statements from a few Republicans questioning US backing. 

“This is not time to walk away from Ukraine,” Biden told reporters in Nantucket, Massachusetts, where he’s spending the Thanksgiving holiday. “We had a lot of talk in this last election about whether the other team is still going to continue to support Ukraine and I still believe there’s enough support there.” 

Republican lawmakers have vowed to give more scrutiny to financial support for Ukraine once they take control of the House of Representatives in January.

Kyiv to Have Christmas Trees Despite Attacks (4:35 p.m.)

Authorities in Kyiv will put up Christmas trees in public places, funded by non-public money, Vitali Klitschko, the city’s mayor, told the BBC. 

“The war won’t cancel the major holidays -- New Year and Christmas,” he said.  

Even so, Klitschko said the trees would be more symbolic and urged residents to celebrate at home as the city doesn’t plan to have mass gatherings for safety reasons. 

Steel Plant Suspends Production Due to Energy Shortage (4:30 p.m.) 

ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine’s largest mining and steel plant, has temporarily suspended most production processes because of power shortages, the company said on Facebook.  

The plant stopped smelting steel and producing rolled products. Over 100 miners were briefly trapped underground during power cuts and normal operations soon. 

Ukraine’s DTEK Resumes Power Infrastructure Operations (4:24 p.m.)

DTEK resumed operation of its thermal plants and electric power lines after Russia’s latest missile attacks, the company said on its website. 

Ukraine’s largest private energy company said it restarted supplies to critical infrastructure in all regions where its specialists are present, including to hospitals and water pumping stations.

Russia, Ukraine Each Return 50 Prisoners (3:30 p.m.)

Russia and Ukraine made their latest prisoner swap, with 50 individuals from each side exchanged on Thursday, officials confirmed. 

On the Ukrainian side, 19 soldiers originally captured in Mariupol were returned, along with 15 prisoners from the Chernobyl nuclear plant and seven from Zmiiny Island, also known as Snake Island, top presidential aide Andriy Yermak said in a tweet. 

Russia’s defense ministry confirmed the swap and said the individuals would be flown to Moscow for medical treatment and rehabilitation.  

Poland Calls on EC to Help Deal With Potential Refugee Surge (3:20 p.m.)

The European Commission must offer more support to countries likely to see a new spike in refugees after Russia stepped up attacks against Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, said Polish Premier Mateusz Morawiecki. 

He spoke after a meeting in Slovakia with his counterparts from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The commission should enact “quick preventive measures, without waiting for what could happen in two or four weeks.” he said. 

Poland has born the brunt of migration from Ukraine, with over 6 million people crossing the border since Russia’s invasion in February and 1.4 million registering to receive social benefits there. 

Argentina to Discuss Cost of Ukraine War With IMF (2:01 p.m.)

Argentina’s government intends to discuss with staff from the International Monetary Fund “the price of the war” in Ukraine, said presidential spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti. 

“We’re talking about $5 billion” in costs for Argentina in the form of high prices on energy imports, she said at a weekly press conference. 

Read more: Argentina Says It’s Discussing Cost of War in Ukraine With IMF

Romania Unable to Help Moldova With Outages, President Says (2 p.m.)

President Klaus Iohannis said Romania’s wish to help Moldova with power supplies is restrained by lack of interconnections between the neighbors. Moldova is struggling with outages after Russian strikes on Ukraine’s energy system. 

“Lack of connectivity is a real problem,” Iohannis said in a press conference in Vilnius alongside Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.

Ukraine’s Worst-Case Scenario Sees Seven-Day Blackout, Forbes Says (1:34 p.m.)

The government in Kyiv sees three main blackout scenarios in case of renewed Russian missile attacks on energy infrastructure, Forbes Ukraine reported, citing a government report. 

In the worst case, the entire nation could be left without power for a week if Russia hit grid units distributing electricity from nuclear plants as well as those linking the country with the EU energy system. Nuclear reactors may have to be idled and it could take as long as a week to restore power supply to them.  

In less severe outcomes, the eastern half of Ukraine could suffer blackouts of as long as 24 hours if Russia hits thermal plants and transmitting grid units on the left bank of Dnipro River. Or a nationwide blackout of up to a day could follow infrastructure strikes, with Ukraine being fed electricity from Europe. 

EU Aims for Russian Oil Price Cap Deal Soon Despite Disagreements (1 p.m.)

EU diplomats are optimistic they can reach a deal as early as Thursday on a price cap level for Russian oil exports despite sharp splits over the plan. More talks are planned Thursday evening. 

Identifying the ideal price -- high enough to keep Russia’s oil flowing and avoid price spikes, low enough to cut funding for Russia’s war in Ukraine -- is the final high hurdle in a months’ long process in shaping the Group of Seven-led plan, which US officials have pushed. 

Read more EU Aims for Russian Oil Price Cap Deal Amid Split Over Aim 

Ukraine Latest: Power Cuts in Focus as War Hits 9-Month Mark

EU Working ‘Full Speed’ on 9th Sanctions Package (11:30 a.m.)

The European Union will stand by Ukraine for as long as is required, and is working “full speed” on a ninth sanctions package against Russia, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters Thursday in Espoo, Finland.

Speaking at an event hosted by Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, von der Leyen said “I am confident that we will very soon approve a global price cap on Russian oil with the G-7 and other major powers.”

Estonia Set to Destroy Soviet Monuments (10:53 a.m.)

Estonia’s government plans to remove and demolish 244 Soviet monuments, which many people find offensive because they represent the Baltic nation’s decades-long occupation.

The government launched its campaign to remove Soviet monuments after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Separately, amid growing fears of a potential attack by Russia, Estonia is racing to identify facilities that could be used as bomb shelters. 

Read more: Estonia Searches for Bomb Shelters Amid Growing Fears of Attack

Poland Wants German Patriot Missiles Deployed in Ukraine (10:20 a.m.)

Germany offered to station surface-to-air Patriots in Poland less than a week after a missile strike killed two people in a village close to the border with Ukraine, raising fears of a significant escalation between NATO and Russia. 

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak has asked to move the weapons even further east. “That should protect Ukraine from further casualties and blackouts and will increase security at our eastern border,” he said on Twitter. 

Power Partially Restored in Some Regions and Kyiv (9:20 a.m.)

Power returned to the capital Kyiv as well as 17 out of 24 Ukrainian regions, excluding Crimea, as of Thursday morning, deputy head of presidential staff, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said on Telegram.  

Across the rest of the country, water and heating supply is also resuming gradually where power is available, but authorities are urging people to refrain from using electricity as possible. 

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