At the same time, in a sign of rising tensions on the international stage since the start of the war, on February 24 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested reducing Russian diplomatic presence in the West.
“The most important thing is that there is no work there since Europe decided to close itself to us and suspend all economic cooperation,” he explained, adding that he wanted to give priority to Asia and Africa.
On Tuesday, the Russian military again bombed “Ukraine’s military command and power systems,” confirming that “all targets were hit.”
“Since October 10, 30% of Ukrainian power plants have been destroyed, causing massive blackouts across the country,” admitted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who reiterated his refusal to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The situation is now critical,” a presidential adviser said, urging all Ukrainians to “prepare” for possible “power, water and heating failures.”
The Ukrainian Emergency Service has calculated that “1,162 places are without electricity” as winter approaches.
Already on Monday, strikes that killed at least nine people, notably with the help of suicide drones, knocked out power in three regions.
A week earlier, on October 10, at least 19 people were killed and 105 injured in months of unprecedented Russian bombing of energy infrastructure.
Kyiv’s Western allies promised more air defense systems, some of which have already been delivered.
Along with the bombings, the Russian military admitted on Tuesday that the situation on the ground was “tense” for its troops, who are facing a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south and east of the country.
“The situation in the area of special military operations can be described as tense. The enemy has not given up its efforts to attack the positions of Russian troops,” said Gen. Sergey Surovykin, who is in charge of ten military operations in Ukraine. in days.
“The Ukrainian regime is trying to break through our defenses”, bringing together “all its reserves” for a counterattack, and the situation in Kherson (south) is “very difficult”.
The capital of the eponymous region occupied by Russia since the spring and annexed in September, the city is now the target of Ukrainian strikes targeting its “social, economic and industrial infrastructure,” a Russian general says.
The strikes lead to disruptions in electricity, water and food supply, posing a “direct threat to people’s lives”.
This justifies, in the view of Sergey Churovikh, that “the Russian army will above all ensure the safe evacuation of people.” “Further actions regarding the city of Kherson depend on the military situation,” he added, adding that without further clarification “a very difficult decision should not be ruled out.”
Iran in perspective
The Russian military’s use of Iranian drones was backed up by statistics on Tuesday, according to Q.
The Russian military “in the last 24 hours” sent 43 Iranian-made “Shahad-136” drones, “38 of which were shot down by Ukrainian soldiers,” Ukrainian forces officials said in the morning.
This “call for help” to Iran “recognizes the Kremlin’s military and political bankruptcy,” joked President Zelensky in the evening.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded to a reporter’s question about Moscow’s use of such Iranian drones in Ukraine. “Russian technology used with Russian names”.
Kyiv asked the European Union (EU) on Monday to impose more economic sanctions on Iran, which is “responsible for the murder of Ukrainians”.
Washington has threatened to sanction companies or states that cooperate with Iran’s drone program.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba proposed to President Zelensky to cut diplomatic ties with Tehran, which he said supplied Russia with drones.
New Russian strikes hit several cities in Ukraine, the capital Kyiv and Mykolaiv (south), Dnipro (central east), Kharkiv (northeast) or Zhytomyr (west of Kyiv).
They left at least one dead in Mykolaiv and two, possibly three, in Kyiv, while power outages were reported in the capital and other regions.
The Russians are “attacking essential infrastructure (…) that people need in their daily lives and not military targets”, condemned the head of US diplomacy, Anthony Blinken, “this is a sign of desperation. Russia”.
The Russian army is on the defensive along most of its front in Ukraine, retreating north and east and south since September. Only the part of the city of Bagmouth (East) which the Ukrainians have been trying to take since the summer is still advancing.
The Kremlin said the partial mobilization of hundreds of thousands of Russian reservists ordered by Vladimir Putin after heavy losses in Ukraine had not been completed “for now”.
In Russia itself, the Ukrainian military shelled two villages in the Kursk border region, according to Moscow.
In neighboring Ukraine, Belgorod, Ukrainian gunfire hit a train station, wounding one person, its governor said.
kyiv condemned the “inaction” of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), saying the organization has yet to move to help its imprisoned soldiers.
“Unfortunately, with every exchange, we observe that our prisoners of war and civilian hostages are being tortured daily by starvation and electric shocks due to the inaction of the ICRC,” lamented Ukrainian human rights official Dmytro Lubinets.
Andriï Iermak, head of the Ukrainian presidency, confirmed that kyiv “requests” from the ICRC sufficient assurances to access Ukrainian prisoners in Olenivka, a prison located in the Donetsk region (east).
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