Russia unleashed new barrages of missiles at targets across Ukraine on Tuesday, crippling the country’s electricity infrastructure just days after it withdrew its forces from the strategically important city of Kherson.
Ukraine’s air force said more than 90 missiles were fired as part of the attack, which Kyiv said was the largest daily fuel tanker since the Kremlin retaliated after last month’s destruction of an important bridge linking Crimea to the Russian mainland.
“Most of them target energy infrastructure,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address to the country. “It is clear what the enemy wants to achieve,” he added, repeating claims that Russian invading forces are trying to drive the country into a winter freeze.
The Russian attack came on the same day that Zelensky told fellow world leaders that while he was open to peace talks to end warHe won’t stop fighting through the winter.
In a video address to the heads of the world’s largest economies, gathered at the G20 summit in Bali, Zelensky reiterated that Ukraine’s borders are inviolable and not open to negotiation.
He said, “We will not allow Russia to wait for it, mobilize its forces and then start a new series of terrorism and global destabilization.” Zelensky added, “I am convinced now is the right time for Russia’s devastating war.”
His comments follow suggestions by some US officials, including the military commander, Gen. Mark Milley, that winter may provide an opportunity to begin negotiations with Russia and that Ukraine may never be able to drive Moscow’s forces from all of its territory.
The White House condemned the missile strikes as world leaders were meeting in Bali, with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan saying the strikes “will only deepen concerns among the G-20 about the destabilizing impact of Putin’s war.”
State energy company Ukrenergo ordered emergency power outages across the country and “in particular, the capital”.
Some Western diplomats said privately that talks could begin on the basis of the front line that preceded Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and ignited a war in the eastern Donbass region using local proxy forces.
The Western suggestions came as Ukrainian forces recaptured Kherson last week, dealing a major blow to the Russian military that had occupied the southern province’s capital since March. On Monday, Zelensky visited the city. Ukraine has regained more than half of its territory captured by Russian forces since February 24.
The state news agency, RIA Novosti, quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that Zelensky’s statement was confirmation that Kyiv “does not want negotiations.” Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend the G20, and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, did not attend.
Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. wrote on Twitter After the missile strikes: “Russian missiles are killing people and destroying infrastructure all over Ukraine right now. This is what Russia should say on the issue of peace talks.”
He added: “Stop proposing that Ukraine accept Russian ultimatums! This terrorism can only be stopped by the strength of our weapons and our principles.”
Meanwhile, Russian-backed officials in Nova Kakhovka, a city on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River near Kherson, were evacuated on Tuesday as fighting continued during the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The Moscow-controlled occupation administration said civil servants and municipal employees were “relocated to safer places” in the Kherson region after coming under fire from Ukrainian artillery across the river.
In his speech to the G20, Zelensky also reiterated his earlier demand for a full withdrawal of Russian forces and called for the release of all prisoners of war and the return of Ukrainians forcibly deported by Moscow.
He added that energy security will be central to Ukraine’s success and achieving a lasting peace. About 40 percent of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been destroyed by Russian missile and drone strikes since early October.
“Every week, Russia blows up power plants, transformers and electricity supply lines,” Zelensky said.
Ukrainian officials have confirmed in recent days that they intend to continue the fight, despite conflicting messages from the West about whether it is time to look more seriously at negotiations with Russia.
In a call Monday, Ukraine’s military chief, Gen. Valeriy Zalogny, told his US counterpart, Milley, “We will fight as long as we have the strength.” He said Ukraine would press ahead with the government’s goal of liberating all of its territories occupied by Russian forces. We will not stop on this path under any circumstances. Zaluzhny was quoted as telling Mellie that the Ukrainian military would not accept any negotiations, agreements or concessions.
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