Damage visible on civilian infrastructure in Odessa Damage visible on civilian infrastructure in Odessa  (ANSA)

Ukraine fears Russian winter attacks as EU gathers for summit

Ukraine is on top of the agenda alongside the Israel-Gaza war at the summit of European Union ministers in Brussels, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warns of a brutal winter with more Russian attacks expected against his country's infrastructure.

By Stefan J. Bos  

One of the issues European Union ministers are discussing is whether the EU can deliver its promise to supply quantities of ammunition to Ukraine as it battles against Russia's invading military.

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters on the summit's sidelines that "as strong as the current crisis is in the Middle East," it is also essential to "face up to the geopolitical challenges here on the ground" in Europe.

She said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is "rejoicing" in the dramatic situation worldwide, perhaps thinking the West will abandon Ukraine.

But the minister warned Moscow that Germany would be among those to expand and increase support for Ukraine, including in the coming months, when she said the Russian President would once again exploit the needs of the people in the cold winter.

She stressed that Germany's support will be "massively expanded, especially for the coming year."

Her words came after Ukrainian President Volodymyr warned his nation to expect Russia to increase its attacks on his nation's fragile infrastructure and urged Ukrainians to remain united.

"We are almost halfway through November, and we must be prepared for the possibility that the enemy may increase the number of drone or missile strikes against our infrastructure. Russia is preparing for winter," the Ukrainian President said in his nightly televised address on Sunday.

Focused on defense

"And in Ukraine, all our attention should be focused on defense, on response to terrorists, and on everything Ukraine can do to make it easier for our people to get through this winter and to increase the capabilities of our troops. I thank all our partners who helped Ukraine with air defense."

About ten months into Russia's invasion, a string of attacks were already carried out on power stations and other plants linked to the energy network, prompting rolling blackouts in widely separated regions throughout Ukraine.

There has been frustration among Western leaders about Ukraine's perceived slow counter-offensive against Russian troops. However, all is not well for Russia either.

Two Russian state news agencies published alerts on Monday saying Moscow was moving troops to "more favorable positions" east of the Dnipro River in Ukraine, only to withdraw the information minutes later.

Military observers said the highly unusual incident suggested disarray in Russia's military establishment and state media over how to report the battlefield situation in southern Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces appeared to have conducted assaults on Russian troops across the Dnipro in the Kherson region. However, Moscow claimed it was successful in halting those attacks as the area prepared for a bitter and bloody winter.

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13 November 2023, 16:44