Key events

Ground battles continue to rage in eastern Ukraine, where Russia is pressing an offensive along a stretch of front line west of the city of Donetsk, which has been held by its proxies since 2014, Reuters reports.

Ukraine’s general staff said Russian forces tried again to make advances on their main targets in Donetsk region – Bakhmut and Avdiivka. Russian forces shelled both areas and used incendiary devices to set Ukrainian positions ablaze with only limited success, the general staff said.

Among those fighting the Russians in Bakhmut are a unit of Chechen fighters, who hope a Ukrainian victory could spark political crisis in Russia and bring down the powerful pro-Moscow leader of Chechnya.

Further south, Russian forces were digging in on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, the general staff said, shelling areas on the west bank including the town of Kherson, which was recently reclaimed by Ukrainian forces.

Reuters was not able to immediately verify the battlefield accounts.

Russian resignation has unblocked key UNESCO committee

The resignation of Russia’s ambassador to UNESCO will end the deadlock in a key group he chaired that is charged with preserving cultural sites around the world, a diplomatic source told AFP.

The World Heritage Committee, responsible for adding properties to UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites, had been unable to function for months after the international backlash against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I have the honor to inform you of the end of my mission as permanent delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO,” Russian Ambassador Alexander Kuznetsov said Tuesday in a letter to the members of the World Heritage Committee obtained by AFP.

The resignation will allow the committee to “quickly appoint a new president” and resume its activities, a UN diplomat told AFP. Russia’s position as chair of the committee had sparked an outcry among other members following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

The committee had been due to meet in June in the Russian city of Kazan, but 46 countries, including France and the UK, boycotted the event. The meeting was supposed to update the landscapes, monuments and cities included in the body’s list of heritage sites.

UNESCO regulations dictate that replacements for a resigning committee chair are to be appointed by the country that follows in alphabetical order in English.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s military said Russian forces had fired about 70 cruise missiles at targets across the country and also deployed attack drones.

The strikes killed 10 people and disconnected three nuclear power stations from the grid, officials said.

The country’s Energy Ministry said supplies were cut to “the vast majority of electricity consumers”. All of Kyiv lost water, the capital’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said. The city’s administration said water and heating would return to residential buildings on Thursday morning.

Late Wednesday, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office said that Kyiv and over a dozen regions, including Lviv and Odesa in the south, had been reconnected to the power grid.

Klitschko said 21 out of 31 missiles targeting Kyiv were shot down before they reached their targets. One of the 10 that evaded the defences hit an apartment block in Vyshgorod, a northern suburb of the city, killing three people and wounding 15.

There was a kindergarten in the lower ground floor of the building, but it was evacuated after air raid sirens went off. The blast left a three-metre crater in front of the building, destroyed apartments around it, blew the tops of nearby trees and ruined a children’s playground.

Earlier in the day, a newborn baby was killed when a Russian rocket struck a hospital maternity ward in southern Ukraine. Ukraine’s state emergency service said a woman with her two-day-old baby and a doctor were in the facility in the town of Vilniansk, close to the city of Zaporizhzhia, when it was hit. The mother and the doctor were pulled alive from the rubble by rescue workers but the baby died, it said on the Telegram messaging app.

Lorenzo Tondo and Julian Borger report from Kyiv:

Fresh Russian strikes battered Ukraine’s already failing electricity grid, causing blackouts across the country and in neighbouring Moldova, in attacks Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told the UN were “an obvious crime against humanity”.

Addressing an urgent meeting of the UN security council late on Wednesday, Zelenskiy said Ukraine would put forward a resolution condemning “any forms of energy terror”. Referring to Russia’s likely veto, he said, “it’s nonsense that the veto right is secured for the party that wages this war.”

“We cannot be hostage to one international terrorist,” Zelenskiy said.

He also invited the UN to send experts to examine and evaluate Ukraine’s critical infrastructure.

“When we have the temperature below zero, and scores of millions of people without energy supplies, without heating, without water, this is an obvious crime against humanity,” Zelenskiy told the security council via video link:


Hello, my name is Helen Sullivan and you’re reading the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

On Wednesday night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the United Nations Security Council to act against Russia over air strikes on civilian infrastructure that 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. This is all against our energy infrastructure… Hospitals, schools, transport, residential districts all suffered,” Zelenskiy said via video link to the council chamber.

At least 10 people were killed in the strikes, Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky said, including a two-day-old infant.

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy 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.

  • Neighbouring Moldova said it was suffering massive blackouts caused by the missile barrage and its EU-friendly president, Maia Sandu, accused Russia of leaving her country “in the dark”.

  • European Union governments failed to reach a deal on Wednesday on the level at which to cap prices for Russian sea-borne oil under the G7 scheme and will resume talks, EU diplomats said. Earlier on Thursday, EU representatives met in Brussels. The move is part of sanctions intended to slash Moscow’s revenue from its oil exports so it has less money to finance the invasion of Ukraine.

  • UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the UN security council on Wednesday that an exchange of 35 Russian and 36 Ukrainian prisoners was a positive development amid the “dark news” of Russian strikes on Ukraine. DiCarlo encouraged the parties to continue prisoner releases and follow international humanitarian law in relation to prisoners of war, Reuters reports.

  • A Russian court on Wednesday extended by six months the detention of opposition politician Ilya Yashin, who risks being jailed for 10 years for denouncing president Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine. The 39-year-old Moscow city councillor is in the dock as part of an unprecedented crackdown on dissent in Russia, with most opposition activists either in jail or in exile. He faces up to 10 years behind bars, if convicted.

  • The Kremlin said on Wednesday it had faith in the “success” of its offensive in Ukraine. “The future and the success of the special operation are beyond doubt,” the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said on a visit to Armenia, using the official Moscow term to describe Russia’s assault, Agence France-Presse reports.

  • European cities were urged to send spare generators to Ukraine to help the country through the winter in the face of Russia’s attacks on electricity infrastructure. Ukraine’s power grid came under bombardment again as the European parliament president, Roberta Metsola, launched an appeal to get generators to Ukraine.

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