Ukraine implores the UN to punish Russia

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged the United Nations Security Council to act against Russia over air strikes on civilian infrastructure that have again plunged Ukrainian cities into darkness and cold as winter sets in.

Russia unleashed a missile barrage across Ukraine on Wednesday, killing 10 people, forcing shutdowns of nuclear power plants and cutting water and electricity supply in many places.

“Today is just one day but we have received 70 missiles. That’s the Russian formula of terror,” President Zelensky said via video link to the council chamber.

“This is all against our energy infrastructure … Hospitals, schools, transport, residential districts all suffered.”

Ukraine was waiting to see “a very firm reaction” to Wednesday’s air strikes from the world, he added.

The council is unlikely to take any action in response to the appeal since Russia is a member with veto power.

The United States’ UN ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russian President Vladimir Putin was “clearly weaponising winter to inflict immense suffering on the Ukrainian people”.

The Russian president “will try to freeze the country into submission”, she said.

Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said it was against council rules for President Zelensky to appear via video and rejected what he called “reckless threats and ultimatums” by Ukraine and its supporters in the West.

Mr Nebenzya said damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure was caused by missiles fired by Ukrainian air defence systems that crashed into civilian areas after being fired at Russia’s missiles and called on the West to stop providing Ukraine with air defence missiles.

The capital city of Kyiv was one of the main targets of missile strikes on Wednesday.

“Today we had three hits on high-rise apartment buildings. Unfortunately, 10 people died,” Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky said.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the reports.

Explosions reverberated throughout Kyiv as Russian missiles bore down and Ukrainian air defence rockets were fired in an effort to intercept them.

Air raid sirens also blared across the country in a nationwide alert.

All of the Kyiv region, where more than three million people live, lost electricity and running water, Kyiv’s governor said.

Much of Ukraine suffered similar problems and some regions implemented emergency blackouts to help conserve energy and carry out repairs.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, speaking late on Wednesday, said 80 per cent of people in the capital were still without power and water.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said repair crews were working hard and “electricity will begin to appear in the coming hours”.

Electricity in half of the western city of Lviv had been restored following repairs, its mayor said.

Ukraine’s top military commander General Valeriy Zaluzhniy said air defences had shot down 51 of 67 Russian cruise missiles launched, including 20 of the 30 that targeted Kyiv.

Since October, Russia has acknowledged targeting Ukraine’s civilian energy grid far from front lines as a Ukrainian counter-offensive recaptured territory from Russian occupiers in the east and south.

Moscow says the aim of its missile strikes is to weaken Ukraine’s ability to fight and push it to negotiate.

Kyiv says the attacks on infrastructure amount to war crimes, deliberately intended to harm civilians and break the national will.

That will not happen, President Zelensky vowed in an earlier video address posted on the Telegram messaging app.

“We’ll renew everything and get through all of this because we are an unbreakable people,” he said.

– AAP

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