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Ukraine’s Zelenskiy warns Europe to brace for winter energy crisis By Reuters


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view shows the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant during a visit by members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expert mission, in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict outside Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region

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By Tom Balmforth

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has told Europeans to expect a difficult winter as the Russian assault on his country leads to cuts in oil and gas exports by Moscow, as the continent’s leaders worked on Sunday to ease the impact of high energy prices .

Zelenskiy spoke on Saturday night after Moscow shut down a main pipeline that supplies Russian gas to the continent.

“Russia is preparing a decisive energy blow on all Europeans for this winter,” he said in his daily video address.

Moscow has cited Western sanctions imposed over its invasion of Ukraine and technical issues for the energy disruptions. European countries that have backed Kyiv with diplomatic and military support have accused Russia of weaponizing energy supplies.

Some analysts say the shortages and a surge in living costs as winter approaches risk sapping Western support for Kyiv as governments try to deal with disgruntled populations.

Separately, the US embassy in Moscow said John Sullivan, the ambassador since his appointment by former President Donald Trump in 2019, had left his post and was retiring from the diplomatic service. A State Department official said Sullivan had served a typical tour length.

Last week Moscow said it would keep the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, its main gas channel to Germany, closed and G7 countries announced a planned price cap on Russian oil exports.

The Kremlin said it would stop selling oil to any countries that implemented the cap.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday his government had been planning for a total halt in gas deliveries in December, promising measures to lower prices and tie social benefits to inflation.

“Russia is no longer a reliable energy partner,” Scholz told a news conference in Berlin.

Responding to that comment, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused Germany of being “an unfriendly country” and an enemy of Russia. “In other words, it has declared a hybrid war on Russia,” he said.

On Sunday, Finland and Sweden announced plans to offer billions of dollars to power companies to avert the threat of insolvency amid the crisis.

EYES ON ZAPORIZHZIA NUCLEAR PLANT

Russian authorities said on Sunday the situation around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine was calm on Sunday, after UN inspectors said on Saturday it had against lost external power.

The last remaining main external power line was cut off although a reserve line continued supplying electricity to the grid, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.

Only one of its six reactors remained in operation, it said.

Russian troops seized the plant shortly after President Vladimir Putin sent his army over the border on Feb. 24 and has become a focal point of the conflict.

Each side has blamed the other for shelling that has raised fears of a nuclear disaster.

Speaking to Komsomolskaya Pravda radio, the official, Vladimir Rogov, said there had been no shelling or incursions. Russia has twice accused Ukraine of trying to capture the plant in the past two days. Ukraine said Russia had attacked the area itself.

IAEA experts are expected to continue working at the plant until at least Monday, Rogov was quoted as saying.

An IAEA mission toured the plant, which is still operated by Ukrainian staff, last week and some experts have remained there pending the release of an IAEA report.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of storing heavy weapons at Zaporizhzhia to discourage Ukraine from firing on it. Russia, which denies having such weapons there, has resisted international calls to demilitarize the area.

On other battlefronts, Ukrainian Telegram channels reported explosions at the Antonivsky bridge near the southern city of Kherson, which is occupied by Russian forces.

The bridge has been severely damaged by Ukrainian missiles over the past weeks, but Russian troops were trying to repair it or to set up a pontoon crossing or barges to maintain supplies to Russian units on the right bank of the Dnipro River.

Ukraine began a counter-offensive last week targeting the south, particularly the Kherson region, which was seized by the Russians early in the conflict.



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