Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed his gratitude for the emergency winter aid for his country initiated at a conference in Paris. Among other things, this will help rebuild the badly damaged power grid, he said Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, the U.S. is considering supplying Patriot air defense systems to Kiev. And the International Atomic Energy Agency wants to directly monitor all of Ukraine's nuclear power plants in the future.
Zelenskyy thanked the international community for the one billion euros in emergency winter aid launched Tuesday. "Every day we are drawing new strength for Ukraine to get through this winter, and I thank all those who are working for it and helping our state," he said in his daily video address that evening.
Representatives of some 70 countries had gathered in Paris to lend a hand to Ukraine, which has been hit hard by Russia's war of aggression. The aid is intended primarily to help repair the badly damaged power and heating supply, as well as the water supply, transport and health services, and food supplies. The Russian military most recently targeted Ukraine's entire energy infrastructure in an attempt to wear down the population during the winter and put pressure on the country's leadership.
The U.S. government is reportedly planning to deliver the Patriot air defense system to Ukraine. The project, however, has yet to be approved by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, CNN reported Tuesday, citing unnamed government sources. The plans could be made official this week. The Patriot system is designed to defend against aircraft, tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.
Ukraine, which is under attack from Russia, keeps pressing for better air defense. The U.S. is already supplying Ukraine with Himars multiple rocket launchers and the Nasams air defense system.
Safety experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are to be permanently stationed at all four Ukrainian nuclear power plants in the future. This was agreed by IAEA head Rafael Grossi and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Paris on Tuesday.
Currently, only at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant does an IAEA team constantly monitor the situation and provide independent reports on Europe's largest nuclear plant, which has repeatedly come under fire. Indirectly, the IAEA presence is also intended to prevent serious attacks that could cause a nuclear accident. Now, the remaining three nuclear power plants in Ukraine are also to be permanently monitored by the IAEA. These plants are under Ukrainian control.
In the course of heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian forces have inflicted heavy losses on the Russian occupiers, according to their own account. In the village of Kadiyevka in the Luhansk region alone, some 60 Russian soldiers were killed and 100 others wounded, the General Staff in Kiev announced Tuesday evening. Near Melitopol in the south of the country, some 150 Russian soldiers were wounded in attacks on a command post and artillery positions, it said. The information could not be independently verified.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba said he expects a new major Russian offensive in January or February. "I think that Russia will have restored its ability to launch a major offensive probably by the end of January or the beginning of February - they will try and we will try to prevent it," he said Tuesday evening while speaking to members of the press in Kiev. Ukraine will do everything to thwart these plans of the Russian military, he added.
UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths sparked anger among Russian occupiers across the Dnipro River with a visit to the recently liberated southern Ukrainian city of Kherson. Moscow-appointed regional administration chief Vladimir Saldo on Tuesday accused the UN representative of crossing the border into Russian territory without permission and illegally. "This is impudent, shameful and indecent," Saldo was quoted as saying by Russian state agency Tass.
After invading Ukraine, Russia held sham referendums and annexed four territories in southern and eastern Ukraine, including Kherson oblast, in violation of international law. Ukrainian troops, however, managed to liberate the city of Kherson in the fall and push the Russian occupiers back across the Dnipro River. UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric pointed out that the United Nations also does not recognize Moscow-orchestrated referendums.
The European Parliament will award the prestigious Sakharov Prize to the Ukrainian people this Wednesday in Strasbourg. Receiving the prize will be three Ukrainians committed to civil society. The Sakharov Prize has been awarded by the European Parliament since 1988 to individuals or organizations working to defend human rights and freedom of expression.
Image by Charn Lee