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Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that the second winter season of the war "will be very challenging."
He told a government meeting that Russia "will further shell the energy infrastructure; their goal is to freeze Ukraine and commit another genocide of the Ukrainian people."
Shmyhal said that "all regions of Ukraine, except Kherson region, are supplied with power. Currently, electricity production in the country covers 70% of consumption needs."
He said the onus was now on regional power companies not to exceed the limits provided by state electricity provider NPC Ukrenergo and to minimize uneven disconnection of consumers.
There is sufficient energy, he said, to evenly distribute the load of forced outages so that people can turn on lights for at least five to six hours a day, Shmyhal said.
Shmyhal said the situation required a strong air defense and quick repairs of damaged power equipment.
"Regarding air defense, over the past month, there has been significant progress, first of all, thanks to the supply of modern Western systems," he said.
Obtaining additional power equipment was also a priority, he said.
"Lithuania alone has given us 114 transformers. Other countries allocate funds and equipment to help Ukraine survive the winter. Not only Europe, but also the USA, Canada and Japan provide us with substantial support," he said.
Shmyhal said Ukraine's energy resources are adequate for the winter months: "We are entering the winter with 14 billion cubic meters of gas in our storage facilities and 1.3 million tonnes of coal in storages. This resource will be quite enough to get us through the winter stably."
He also said that the Economy Ministry foresaw no shortages of fuel and diesel, which would be required for the hundreds of generators being imported.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday pledged the delivery of more Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine.
“We will continue to work to provide that very efficient system,“ Scholz said during a joint news conference with world financial and economic organizations.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Scholz in a phone call on Tuesday about Russian airstrikes on civilian infrastructure, water and electricity supplies, according to a government news release. The chancellor condemned the ongoing shelling and assured Ukraine of further short-term assistance, government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said in a news release.
“The Ukrainian president has expressed his gratitude for Germany's very comprehensive support in monetary terms, but also in terms of weapons deliveries, because the artillery and air defense systems that we provide have a very significant impact on Ukraine's ability to guarantee its own integrity and sovereignty,“ Scholz told journalists.
To date, the German government has provided short-term financial assistance to repair energy infrastructure in the amount of approximately 56 million euros (about $58 million), Hebestreit said in the news release. Germany is also providing over 350 generators as Ukraine suffers power outages due to the Russian shelling.
The chancellor reiterated Germany's continued support to Ukraine, including air defense and long-term reconstruction.
Scholz said that the German offer of its Patriot air defense system to Poland was not off the table, after stray missiles hit the country on Nov. 15.
After a sometimes difficult relationship, the Ukrainian government has praised US company SpaceX, which is owned by billionaire Elon Musk, for helping it to maximize the use of the Starlink high-speed mobile satellite terminals.
Ukraine's Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said in an interview with Interfax that the ministry had brought in more than 22,000 Starlink terminals in Ukraine with the help of international donors and SpaceX.
"We are in direct communication with both SpaceX and Elon Musk," he said. "We did have certain problems in temporary occupied territories and in combat areas, but this is in the past."
Musk had public disagreements with the Ukrainian government over who should finance the cost of providing bandwidth and other support for the Starlink terminals, and over his ideas for negotiating an end to the conflict.
In October, CNN exclusively reported that SpaceX asked the US Defense Department to help pay for the service, saying that the "operation has cost SpaceX $80 million and will exceed $100 million by the end of the year."
SpaceX warned the Pentagon that it might stop funding the service in Ukraine unless the US military kicked in tens of millions of dollars per month. But subsequently, Musk tweeted: “The hell with it … even though Starlink is still losing money & other companies are getting billions of taxpayer $, we’ll just keep funding Ukraine govt for free.”
Fedorov indicated the relationship was now on a much better footing.
"If there is a connectivity problem at the frontline, SpaceX helps us to solve it very fast for Starlinks to work. There have been some public discussions as to financial issues, but Musk has both publicly and privately assured that Starlink will keep working no matter what financial issues will arise," he said.
"We are now discussing purchasing another big shipment of thousands of Starlinks for Ukraine. I get very fast feedback. I see that they want to help us and they are helping," he added.
The US is considering sending the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine to support their air defense capabilities against incoming Russian attacks, a senior US defense official told reporters Tuesday.
“All capabilities are on the table,” the official said when asked if the US was considering sending Patriot batteries specifically to Ukraine. “Patriot is one of the air defense capabilities that is being considered,” the official added.
The Patriot air defense missile system – Patriot stands for “Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept of Target” – is designed to counter and destroy incoming short-range ballistic missiles, advanced aircraft and cruise missiles.
Air defense of Ukraine is the US’s “top priority,” the official added.
“We’re looking at all the possible capabilities that could help the Ukrainians withstand Russian attacks, so all the capabilities are on the table, and we are looking at what the United States can do, we’re looking at what our allies and partners can do, and looking at combinations of capabilities that would be useful,” the official added.
However, later on Tuesday, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters during a briefing that the US has “no plans to provide Patriot batteries to Ukraine” right now.
“We discuss a wide variety of capabilities and support with Ukraine, we regularly consult with Ukraine, we regularly consult with our allies and our partners on what their defense needs are,” Ryder said. “Right now, we have no plans to provide Patriot batteries to Ukraine, but again we’ll continue to have those discussions, and when and if there’s something to announce on that front, we will.”
Part of the challenge with sending Patriot batteries or other advanced weaponry to Ukraine is those systems require a “pretty significant maintenance and sustainment tail as well as a training tail on those things,” Ryder said.
“None of these systems are plug and play, you can’t just show up on the battlefield and start using them, so those are the kinds of things that are taken into account when it comes to more advanced systems,” Ryder said.
Ukraine’s air defense remains a “priority” to the US, Ryder added.
“We’ll continue to look at working with allies and partners in terms of what we can get to Ukraine as quickly as possible so they can start employing those capabilities immediately,” Ryder said.
NATO foreign ministers said Tuesday in a joint statement they remain steadfast in the "commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity" and pledged allies will assist Ukraine as it repairs its energy infrastructure amid Russian attacks.
"Russia’s unacceptable actions, including hybrid activities, energy blackmail, and reckless nuclear rhetoric, undermine the rules-based international order," according to the statement.
"We condemn Russia’s cruelty against Ukraine’s civilian populations and violations and abuses of human rights, such as forcible deportations, torture, and barbaric treatment of women, children, and persons in vulnerable situations," it said.
"We also remain resolute in supporting Ukraine’s long-term efforts on its path of post-war reconstruction and reforms, so that Ukraine can secure its free and democratic future, modernize its defense sector, strengthen long-term interoperability and deter future aggression," according to the statement.
Ukraine has been experiencing blackouts as Russia continues to bombard energy infrastructure.
"We will continue to strengthen our partnership with Ukraine as it advances its Euro-Atlantic aspirations," the ministers said.
Ukrainian officials said that Russian forces are shelling "all settlements" along the west bank of the Dnipro River in the southern Kherson region, including recently liberated territory.
Serhii Khlan, a member of the Kherson regional council, told a news conference that "the occupiers continue shelling both the city of Kherson and the west-bank part of Kherson region."
"They are shelling absolutely all settlements located along the Dnipro River coast," he said.
He said there had been no casualties Tuesday, but Russian forces continue to strike at vital infrastructure.
"Power company crews are working to fully restore power supply to Kherson city. Critical infrastructure is supplied, but not all of it. Hospitals have received electricity supply," he said.
"Unfortunately, it is not yet possible to fully supply water," Khlan said. "The Internet began to appear — not throughout the city — but in some areas. Now we can talk about 20% of connected consumers in Kherson."
Khlan said that only a quarter of Kherson city's pre-war population of 320,000 remains — and more were leaving every day because of the shelling and lack of utilities. Additional carriages were being added to a daily evacuation train, and evacuation by bus routes continued, he added.
"People are gradually leaving. So far, people are not returning to the city en masse. There are cases when people come to check their homes and return back to the regions where they are now. So far, a small number of people have left ... but there are many people who want to leave," Khlan said.
He also asserted that the bulk of Russian forces were positioned some 15 to 20 kilometers (about 9 to 12 miles) from the east bank of the river, but that personnel of the Russian security service (FSB) occupied observation posts close to the river in towns like Kakhovka and Nova Kakhovka. They were exerting pressure on the remaining civilian population to leave, he claimed.
Khlan said that he expected people already in temporary accommodation would be forced to leave for Russia. He also claimed that pro-Russian administrators had left the east bank towns and set up an administration in the city of Henichesk, closer to Crimea. "They defined it as the center of the occupation region, and now all supporters and collaborators are there," he said.
The United States will provide $53 million to support Ukraine’s electrical system as it faces a barrage of attacks from Russia.
The funding will go toward “the acquisition of critical electricity grid equipment,” which “will be rapidly delivered to Ukraine on an emergency basis to help Ukrainians persevere through the winter,” according to a media note from the US State Department.
“This supply package will include distribution transformers, circuit breakers, surge arresters, disconnectors, vehicles and other key equipment,” the note said.
The funding adds to the United States' existing $55 million in emergency energy sector support. It was announced by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at a meeting of the G7+ Tuesday, which took place on the margins of the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Bucharest, according to the media note.
US and European officials have strongly condemned Russia’s strikes on Ukrainian civilian populations and infrastructure, accusing Moscow of deliberately targeting Ukraine’s energy grid in an effort to leave people without electricity and heat – an act that they say would amount to a war crime.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has said Russia and the United States do not hold dialogue on Ukraine because of what he called "different approaches,” according to Russian state media RIA Novosti.
"I am not aware about any de-escalating channel in relation to what is happening in Ukraine. I don’t know about it at all. We don’t have a dialogue with the United States on the Ukrainian topic, because our approaches are radically different,” said Ryabkov, as quoted by TASS.
“We have a periodic exchange of signals about how certain actions of Moscow and Washington are perceived in Washington and Moscow, respectively, but you understand that the difference of approaches and the inconsistency of arguments do not lead to the development of this dialogue. We send signals to the Americans, that their line of escalation and their line of ever deeper involvement in this conflict is fraught with dire consequences, the risks are growing," he added.
Ryabkov also said that there is a "chance" to resume a strategic dialogue with the United States, but only if Washington realizes that "there should be no one-sided imposition of certain positions."
According to Ryabkov, the situation in Ukraine does not affect Russia's approach on nuclear deterrence, despite "continuous speculation" from the US " on Russia's "irresponsible nuclear rhetoric."