The US will announce aid for Ukraine’s energy sector, Russia is shelling the right bank of the Dnieper

The United States is preparing to announce new aid to Ukraine in the coming hours to help Ukraine restore electricity at a time when winter is pushing the war into a new phase and the cold will be a severe test for millions of residents.

The front line is half of what it has been since late summer following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kherson region, while the cold continues and Moscow’s army is increasingly shelling the right (west) bank of the Dnieper. In his latest video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that 30 places in the Kherson region were shelled a total of 258 times in a week. According to him, Russia is taking revenge for the fact that Ukraine “will never accept the orders of the “comrades” from Moscow”.

Overnight, more rocket strikes were reported along the right bank (which includes the city of Kherson along with the northern part of the district abandoned by the Russians this month), including Dnipro, the center of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. According to the head of the regional military administration, Valentin Reznichenko, a private plant was hit. The Ukrainian army reported more attacks in eastern Ukraine.

In recent days, Russian forces have also spoken of steps to encircle the Ukrainian army in Bakhmut, a key city in Moscow’s war and controlled by Kyiv. According to the latest briefing by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW), however, available information does not suggest that this is inevitable.

Energy and water infrastructure have been heavily targeted by Russian strikes since October 10, and Zelensky said on Monday he expected more, putting millions more Ukrainians at risk of being left without electricity, water, and heating.

The new aid to Kyiv is due to be announced by United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on the second day of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Bucharest, according to a Reuters source, who is working with US utilities and equipment firms and with European countries.

Snow fell in Kyiv and temperatures hovered around freezing as millions in and around the capital struggled to heat their homes. Although without Christmas lights, there will be a tree in the capital because according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko: “We cannot allow (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to steal Christmas from us.”

The Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz has asked the US Agency for International Development to help with additional quantities of natural gas for the heating season, the company’s CEO announced. DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private power producer, said it would cut electricity supplies by 60% to its customers in Kyiv.

The network operator “Ukrenergo” has meanwhile renewed the electricity regime throughout the country. The Reuters agency tells about a family – a 68-year-old man and a 61-year-old woman – who have been living underground since the power cut back in April and are hoping to put a wood-burning stove there. There is neither heating nor electricity in Kherson, but according to regional governor Yaroslav Janushevich, 24% of customers already have electricity.

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