Ukrainians suffer in cold, darkness as president implores UN to punish Russia

Ukrainians suffer in cold, darkness as president implores UN to punish Russia
This photograph taken on Wednesday shows the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa during power outages, following Russian attacks, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (AFP)
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Updated 24 November 2022

Ukrainians suffer in cold, darkness as president implores UN to punish Russia

Ukrainians suffer in cold, darkness as president implores UN to punish Russia
  • With temperatures falling below zero, authorities were working on Thursday to get the lights and heat back on
  • Regional authorities in Kyiv said power had been restored to three quarters of the capital by Thursday morning and water was working again in some areas

KYIV: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded the United Nations punish Russia for air strikes on civilian infrastructure, after a missile barrage plunged cities into freezing darkness in the worst nationwide power outages yet.
With temperatures falling below zero, authorities were working on Thursday to get the lights and heat back on. Russia’s latest missile barrage killed 10 people and shut down all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants for the first time in 40 years.
Regional authorities in Kyiv said power had been restored to three quarters of the capital by Thursday morning and water was working again in some areas. Transport was back up and running in the city, with buses replacing electric trams.
Authorities hoped to restart the three nuclear power plants in Ukrainian-held territory by the end of the day.
Since early October, Russia has launched huge barrages of air strikes around once a week at energy targets across Ukraine, each time firing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of missiles to knock out Ukraine’s power grid.
Moscow acknowledges attacking basic infrastructure, saying its aim is to reduce Ukraine’s ability to fight and push it to negotiate. Kyiv says such attacks are clearly intended to harm civilians, making them a war crime.
“Today is just one day, but we have received 70 missiles. That’s the Russian formula of terror. This is all against our energy infrastructure,” Zelensky said overnight via video link to the UN Security Council chamber. “Hospitals, schools, transport, residential districts all suffered.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was Kyiv’s fault Ukrainians were suffering because it refused to yield to Moscow’s demands, which he did not spell out. Ukraine says it will only stop fighting when all Russian forces have left.
“What is there to talk about? I think that the first step should come from them. For starters, they have to stop shelling us,” said 27-year-old Olena Shafinska, queuing at a water pump in a park in central Kyiv with a group of friends.
For the first time, the Russian attacks forced Kyiv to switch off the three nuclear power plants it still controls. The fourth, in Russian-held territory, also had to activate backup diesel power. Nuclear officials say interruptions in power can disrupt cooling systems and cause an atomic disaster.
“There is a real danger of a nuclear and radiation catastrophe being caused by firing on the entire territory of Ukraine with Russian cruise and ballistic missiles,” Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine’s nuclear operator Energoatom said.
“Russia must answer for this shameful crime.”
WEAPONISING WINTER
Winter has arrived abruptly in Ukraine and temperatures were well below freezing in the capital, a city of three million. US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “clearly weaponizing winter to inflict immense suffering on the Ukrainian people.”
The Russian president “will try to freeze the country into submission,” she added.
There was no prospect of action from the Security Council, where Russia wields a veto. Moscow’s UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, said it was against council rules for Zelensky to appear via video, and rejected what he called “reckless threats and ultimatums” by Ukraine and its supporters in the West.
He blamed damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure on its air defense missiles and said the West should stop supplying them.
Ukrainian authorities said three apartment blocks were hit on Wednesday, killing ten people.
“Our little one was sleeping. Two years old. She was sleeping, she got covered. She is alive, thanks be to God,” said a man who gave his name as Fyodr, dragging a suitcase as he walked away from a smoldering apartment building hit in Kyiv.
The blackouts also spread to neighboring Moldova, where authorities said most power was back on by Thursday.
Moscow has shifted to the tactic of striking Ukraine’s infrastructure even as Kyiv has inflicted battlefield defeats on Russian forces since September. Russia has also declared the annexation of land it occupies and called up hundreds of thousands of reservists.
The war’s first winter will now test whether Ukraine can press on with its campaign to recapture territory, or whether Russia’s commanders can keep their invasion forces supplied and find a way to halt Kyiv’s momentum.
Having retreated, Russia has a far shorter line to defend to hold on to seized lands, with more than a third of the front now blocked off by the Dnipro River.
“Ukraine will slowly grow in capabilities, but a continued maneuver east of the Dnipro River and into Russian-occupied Donbas will prove to be much tougher fights,” tweeted Mark Hertling, a former commander of US ground forces in Europe.
“Ukrainian morale will be tested with continued Russian attacks against civilian infrastructure ... but Ukraine will persevere.”
Russia has been pressing an offensive of its own along the front line west of the city of Donetsk, held by Moscow’s proxies since 2014. Ukraine says it has killed thousands of Russian troops there and yielded little ground, describing the Russians as hurled into battle with little equipment or training.
Ukraine’s general staff said Russian forces tried again to advance on their main targets in Donetsk region — Bakhmut and Avdiivka with only limited success.
Further south, Russian forces were digging in on the eastern bank of the Dnipro, shelling areas across it including the city of Kherson, recaptured by Ukrainian forces this month.
Reuters could not immediately verify the battlefield accounts.
Moscow says it is carrying out a “special military operation” to protect Russian speakers in what Putin calls an artificial state carved from Russia. Ukraine and the West call the invasion an unprovoked war of aggression.


‘UK should prevent Albanians from claiming asylum,’ says immigration minister

‘UK should prevent Albanians from claiming asylum,’ says immigration minister
Updated 04 December 2022

‘UK should prevent Albanians from claiming asylum,’ says immigration minister

‘UK should prevent Albanians from claiming asylum,’ says immigration minister
  • Balkan country is ‘demonstrably safe,’ Robert Jenrick argues

LONDON: The UK should prevent Albanian migrants from seeking asylum in Britain, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has said.

Sky News reported that Jenrick, who assumed the ministerial role on Oct. 25 as part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet, said that Albanians should be “excluded from the right to claim asylum.”

He added that Britain should tighten its policy toward the Balkan country because it is a “demonstrably safe” place, describing the numbers of Albanians arriving in the UK as “unsustainable.”

Albanian nationals made up more than one-third of the 33,000 people who crossed the English Channel in boats from January to September this year.

Amid growing pressure on the government to tackle the migrant crisis, Jenrick said that the Albanian factor was now the “number one priority.” 

He told GB News: “Albania is a demonstrably safe country. It is very hard to see how an Albanian should be able to successfully claim asylum here in the UK.

“We have a returns agreement, which was signed a year ago, and 1,000 Albanians have gone back already. We are looking at what we can do there. We are also pursuing the diplomatic channels.

“We can’t have 1 million people entering the country in a single year and net migration of half a million — it’s just not sustainable.

“What I’m concerned about is there are people coming to universities here as a backdoor way of bringing their families into the UK and staying here for a prolonged period.

“A very significant number of people use this as a route to a life in the UK. This is a big driver of net migration.”

PM Sunak and his Albanian counterpart Edi Rama recently discussed efforts to end policies that have led to Britain being unable to efficiently deport failed Albanian asylum seekers.

But the Albanian leader also warned that the UK should avoid blaming Albanians and using migrants as an “excuse” for government failures.


US intel chief thinking ‘optimistically’ for Ukraine forces

US intel chief thinking ‘optimistically’ for Ukraine forces
Updated 04 December 2022

US intel chief thinking ‘optimistically’ for Ukraine forces

US intel chief thinking ‘optimistically’ for Ukraine forces
  • Russia’s military focus has been on striking Ukrainian infrastructure and pressing an offensive in the east

KYIV: The head of US intelligence says fighting in Russia’s war in Ukraine is running at a “reduced tempo” and suggests Ukrainian forces could have brighter prospects in coming months.
Avril Haines alluded to past allegations by some that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisers could be shielding him from bad news — for Russia — about war developments, and said he “is becoming more informed of the challenges that the military faces in Russia.”
“But it’s still not clear to us that he has a full picture of at this stage of just how challenged they are,” the US director of national intelligence said late Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.
Looking ahead, Haines said, “honestly we’re seeing a kind of a reduced tempo already of the conflict” and her team expects that both sides will look to refit, resupply, and reconstitute for a possible Ukrainian counter-offensive in the spring.
“But we actually have a fair amount of skepticism as to whether or not the Russians will be in fact prepared to do that,” she said. “And I think more optimistically for the Ukrainians in that timeframe.”
In recent weeks, Russia’s military focus has been on striking Ukrainian infrastructure and pressing an offensive in the east, near the town of Bakhmut, while shelling sites in the city of Kherson, which Ukrainian forces liberated last month after an 8-month Russian occupation.
In his nightly address on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lashed out at Western efforts to crimp Russia’s crucial oil industry, a key source of funds for Putin’s war machine, saying their $60-per-barrel price cap on imports of Russian oil was insufficient.
“It is not a serious decision to set such a limit for Russian prices, which is quite comfortable for the budget of the terrorist state,” Zelensky said, referring to Russia. He said the $60-per-barrel level would still allow Russia to bring in $100 billion in revenues per year.
“This money will go not only to the war and not only to further sponsorship by Russia of other terrorist regimes and organizations. This money will be used for further destabilization of those countries that are now trying to avoid serious decisions,” Zelensky said.
Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, the United States and the 27-nation European Union agreed Friday to cap what they would pay for Russian oil at $60 per barrel. The limit is set to take effect Monday, along with an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea.
Russian authorities have rejected the price cap and threatened Saturday to stop supplying the nations that endorsed it.
In yet another show of Western support for Ukraine’s efforts to battle back Russian forces and cope with fallout from the war, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland on Saturday visited the operations of a Ukrainian aid group that provides support for internally displaced people in Ukraine, among her other visits with top Ukrainian officials.
Nuland assembled dolls out of yarn in the blue-and-yellow colors of Ukraine’s flag with youngsters from regions including northeastern Kharkiv, southern Kherson, and eastern Donetsk.
“This is psychological support for them at an absolutely crucial time,” Nuland said.
“As President Putin knows best, this war could stop today, if he chose to stop it and withdrew his forces — and then negotiations can begin,” she added.


Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, people warned to stay away

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, people warned to stay away
Updated 04 December 2022

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, people warned to stay away

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, people warned to stay away
  • Semeru volcano on Java island spews a column of ash 1.5km into the air
  • Indonesia has the largest population globally living in close range to a volcano
JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Semeru volcano on Java island erupted early on Sunday, spewing a column of ash 1.5km into the air, prompting authorities to warn residents to stay away from the eruption area.
Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency, BNPB, warned residents not to conduct any activities within 5km of the eruption center and to stay 500 meters from riversides due to risks of lava flow.
Japan’s Meteorology Agency said was monitoring for the possibility of a tsunami there after the eruption, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The volcano began erupting at 2:46 a.m. (1946 GMT on Saturday), BNPB said in a statement. Videos posted on social media showed grey ash clouds in nearby areas.
BNPB did not immediately respond to Japan’s warning of tsunami risk.
Indonesian authorities have distributed masks to local residents, BNPB said in a statement, adding that volcanic activity remained at level III, below the highest level of IV.
With 142 volcanoes, Indonesia has the largest population globally living in close range to a volcano, including 8.6 million within 10km.

Daesh claims attack on Pakistani envoy in Kabul

Taliban fighters stand guard near to the site of attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP)
Taliban fighters stand guard near to the site of attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP)
Updated 04 December 2022

Daesh claims attack on Pakistani envoy in Kabul

Taliban fighters stand guard near to the site of attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP)
  • “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will not allow any malicious actors to pose a threat to the security of diplomatic missions in Kabul,” it said in a statement, vowing to find and punish those responsible

KABUL: The Daesh group claimed responsibility Saturday for an attack on Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul, which Islamabad decried as an “assassination attempt.”
A security guard was wounded in the attack Friday in the Afghan capital.
In a statement cited by jihadist monitor SITE, Daesh’s regional chapter said it had “attacked the apostate Pakistani ambassador and his guards.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called it “an assassination attempt” on the head of the mission, and demanded an investigation.
A Kabul police spokesman said one suspect had been arrested and two light weapons seized after security forces swept a nearby building.
Although Pakistan does not officially recognize Afghanistan’s Taliban government, it kept its embassy open even as the hard-line group took over in August last year, and maintains a full diplomatic mission.
An embassy official told AFP a lone attacker “came behind the cover of houses and started firing,” but that the ambassador and other staff were safe.
A spokesman for Afghanistan’s foreign ministry said they strongly condemned the “failed attack.”
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will not allow any malicious actors to pose a threat to the security of diplomatic missions in Kabul,” it said in a statement, vowing to find and punish those responsible.
Pakistan has complicated relations with the Taliban, with Islamabad long accused of supporting the hard-line group even while backing the US-led invasion of Afghanistan that toppled them following the 9/11 attacks.
Pakistan is home to more than a million Afghan refugees, and the porous border they share is frequently the scene of clashes.
Since returning to power, the Afghan Taliban have insisted they would not allow foreign militant groups to operate from home soil.
 

 


Concern as English local authority admits 39 Albanian child migrants missing

Concern as English local authority admits 39 Albanian child migrants missing
Updated 04 December 2022

Concern as English local authority admits 39 Albanian child migrants missing

Concern as English local authority admits 39 Albanian child migrants missing
  • FOI request shows 20 percent of 2022 intake ‘disappeared’ while in Kent County Council care

LONDON: Up to 20 percent of Albanian child migrants relocated to an English council in 2022 have been classified as disappeared after going missing, the BBC reported.

Kent County Council admitted 197 unaccompanied Albanian child migrants up to Oct. 31, but figures show that 39 have gone missing.

Officials said that the council is working closely with the UK Home Office to protect and safeguard vulnerable migrant children.

It comes as figures revealed that almost 12,000 Albanians crossed into the UK this year.

The number is an almost 4,000 percent increase on last year’s figure.

Ecpat UK, a campaign group that aims to protect vulnerable children, described the figures obtained by the BBC through a Freedom of Information request as “concerning.”

Head of policy, advocacy and research Laura Duran said that the 20 percent figure represented a “really high” number of missing children.

“We’re really concerned they are at risk of exploitation or have effectively been trafficked,” she said.

“They could be facing labor exploitation in different industries such as construction or car washes. They could be criminally exploited in drug distribution or in cannabis farms, or they could be sexually exploited.”

In a statement, Kent County Council said: “While all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are vulnerable to exploitation, research and experience evidences that some nationalities are particularly vulnerable and can go missing from local authority care very quickly.

“Kent County Council has used both established safeguarding protocols, including the National Referral Mechanism, and initiated multi-agency strategies to minimize the risks for these children as much as possible.

“The council continues to take a proactive role in safeguarding all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in its care.”