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Ukraine war latest: Kremlin threatens new missile strikes on Ukrainian energy

by Asami Terajima December 8, 2022 11:52 PM 4 min read
This aerial picture, taken on Dec. 7, 2022, shows experts and employees of the prosecutor's office examining collected remnants of shells and missiles used by the Russian army to attack the second-largest Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. (Photo by Aleksey Filippov/AFP via Getty Images)
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Key developments on Dec. 8
  • Putin claims that Russia’s missile blitz on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure will continue
  • Energoatom: Russia places Grad rocket launchers near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant reactor
  • CNN: US considers Ukraine’s request for cluster munitions

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin claimed on Dec. 8 that Russia would continue launching mass attacks on the Ukrainian energy grid.

Since Oct. 10, Russia has unleashed six mass strikes targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, killing dozens of civilians and causing emergency blackouts. Ukraine and the West have repeatedly condemned Moscow for attempting to terrorize civilians amid the Russian troops battlefield setbacks.

Russia’s most recent nationwide attack on Ukraine occurred on Dec. 5, killing four and hitting energy sites in at least three regions. The state grid operator Ukrenergo warned yesterday that Ukraine still faces a “significant” energy deficit as the weather gets colder.

Speaking at the award ceremony in the Kremlin on Dec. 8, Putin again framed Russia’s mass strikes as a retaliatory response to what he claimed were Ukrainian attacks on Russian infrastructure, including the Crimean bridge blast in early October. Ukraine has never confirmed that it was behind the reported explosions in Russia or on the Crimea bridge.

The Russian leader’s Dec. 8 threats over possible new mass strikes on Ukraine come amid Moscow's months-long struggle to capture Bakhmut city in the eastern Donetsk Oblast despite suffering a high casualty rate.

Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Chief Kyrylo Budanov recently said that Russia appeared to have enough missiles to launch “several more” mass attacks, but their stock was “critically low.”

Downscaling war ambitions

Russia intends to retake once-occupied territories in eastern and southern Ukraine that it lost due to Kyiv’s successful counteroffensive, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Dec. 8.

Speaking at a press briefing, Peskov also said that “a lot of work” was required for that to happen.

Peskov’s assessment is a significant downscale from Moscow’s initial war goals of toppling the Ukrainian government and seizing Kyiv – as well as from its revised goal of capturing the entire Donbas region.

Five months without any major victory in Ukraine, Moscow has stopped trying to force a regime change in Kyiv.

A day after Putin admitted that the war in Ukraine “may be a long process,” Peskov claimed that the conflict “can end tomorrow if you wish” but claimed it depended on President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Regarding peace agreements, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that “Russia has shown no sign of engaging in negotiations which are respecting the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Firefighters extinguish a fire in a residential area of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk Oblast on Dec. 8, 2022. (Photo by Ihor Tkachov/AFP via Getty Images)

Intensifying attacks

Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko issued another evacuation call on residents after reporting that a Russian shelling on the city of Toretsk resulted in one death and two injuries on Dec. 8.

A day earlier, Russian shelling mid-day of Kurakhove in the central part of Donetsk Oblast killed at least 10 and wounded “many,” according to Zelensky.

“The Russians are once again cynically firing at civilians – continuing their terror tactics,” Kyrylenko said on Telegram.

In southern Ukraine, the Prosecutor General's Office said that it had discovered the bodies of three civilians in a liberated area of Mykolaiv Oblast. The victims were men aged 39, 42, and 55, and the bodies contained “traces of torture,” according to the report.

At Moscow-held Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southeastern Ukraine, Russian forces have placed Grad multiple launch rocket systems near its sixth reactor, Ukraine’s state nuclear energy operator Energoatom reported.

The “provocation” is likely to strike Nikopol and the city’s surrounding areas on the opposite side of the Dnipro River, using the reactor and fuel storage nearby as a “shelter” from return fire, Energoatom added.

The Nikopol area suffered another night of heavy shelling, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said on Dec. 8. The area was hit seven times with Grad systems, and “over 70 deadly projectiles flew near the peaceful place of that village,” he added. No casualties were reported.

After surviving Russian occupation, civilians flee Kherson amid intensified shelling

Cluster munitions

Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is weighing Ukraine’s request for cluster munitions, CNN reported, citing U.S. and Ukrainian officials.

While the U.S. has not rejected the request outright, Kyiv’s proposal has “not yet received significant consideration” due to restrictions by Congress on the transfer of cluster munitions, according to CNN.

Russian forces have “repeatedly used cluster munitions” since the February invasion while “Ukrainian forces have used them on at least two known occasions,” the Human Rights Watch said in its August report.

Ukraine is the only place where cluster munitions are used today, according to the watchdog.

Banned internationally, cluster munitions are deadly weapons fired from the ground by artillery and rockets or dropped from aircraft, dispersing submunitions over a wide area.

“Anybody within the strike area of the cluster munition, be they military or civilian, is very likely to be killed or seriously injured,” according to the Cluster Munition Coalition, a global civil society campaign.

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