Monday, September 26, 2022

Ukraine's Zelenskiy warns of tough winter, reports war gains

Ukraine's Zelenskiy warns of tough winter, reports war gains

KYIV (Reuters) - European leaders sought to ease the impact of high energy prices across the continent after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned of a difficult winter, even as he reported progress in a counter-offensive against Russian troops.

In Sunday's nightly remarks, Zelenskiy thanked his forces for taking two settlements in the south and a third, along with additional territory, in the east, citing "good reports" from his military commanders and intelligence head.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president's office, earlier posted an image of soldiers raising the Ukrainian flag over a village he said was in the southern area that is the main focus of the counter-offensive.

"Vysokopillya. Kherson region. Ukraine. Today," Tymoshenko wrote on Facebook over a photograph of three soldiers on rooftops, one of them fixing a Ukrainian flag to a post.

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

After Ukrainian forces' intense shelling of clusters of Russian troops in the region, the Russians have banned movement of residents, forbidding them to cross the Dnipro River, the Ukrainian general staff said on Monday.

Russia has launched 25 missile strikes, and more than 22 air strikes, on military and civilian targets in Ukraine in the last 24 hours, the statement added, keeping up its focus on establishing full control over the Donetsk region.

Zelenskiy's remarks came a day after he warned Europeans that Russia was preparing "a decisive energy blow" during the cold months ahead.

Moscow has cited Western sanctions and technical issues for the energy disruptions. European countries, which have backed Kyiv with diplomatic and military support, have accused Russia of weaponising 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 soothe disgruntled populations.

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

The Kremlin said it would stop selling oil to nations that adopted 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.