European leaders on Sunday sought to lessen the impact of high energy prices on the continent, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned of a tough winter even as he reported progress in a counter -offensive against Russian troops.
Zelenskiy thanked his forces in his Sunday night address for taking two settlements in the south and a third in the east, as well as additional territory in the east, saying he had received “good reports” from his military commanders and the head of intelligence.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, earlier on Sunday posted an image of soldiers hoisting the Ukrainian flag over a village he described as located in the southern zone which is the main target of the counter- offensive.
“Vysokopilya. Kherson region. Ukraine. Today,” Tymoshenko wrote in a Facebook post over a photo of three rooftop soldiers, one of them fixing a Ukrainian flag to a pole.
Ukraine launched a counter-offensive last week targeting the south, in particular the Kherson region, which Russia seized at the start of the conflict.
Zelenskiy’s remarks came a day after he warned Europeans that Russia was preparing “a decisive energy blow” in the cold months ahead.
Moscow cited Western sanctions and technical issues for energy disruptions. European countries that have backed Kyiv with diplomatic and military support have accused Russia of militarizing energy supplies.
Some analysts say shortages and rising costs of living as winter approaches risk undermining Western support for Kyiv as governments try to deal with disgruntled populations.
Separately, the US Embassy in Moscow said John Sullivan, the ambassador since his appointment by former President Donald Trump in 2019, has left his post and is retiring from diplomatic service. A State Department official said Sullivan completed a typical tour length.
Last week, Moscow announced it would keep the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, its main gas channel to Germany, closed, and G7 countries announced a planned price cap on Russian oil exports.
The Kremlin has said it will stop selling oil to any country that enforces the cap.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday that his government planned a complete shutdown of gas deliveries in December, promising measures to lower prices and link social benefits to inflation.
“Russia is no longer a reliable energy partner,” Scholz told a news conference in Berlin.
In response, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused Germany of being an enemy of Russia. “In other words, he declared hybrid war on Russia,” he said.
On Sunday, Finland and Sweden announced plans to offer billions of dollars to power companies to avoid the threat of insolvency amid the crisis.
EYES ON ZAPORIZHZHIA NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
Russian authorities said the situation around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was calm on Sunday, after UN inspectors said on Saturday it had again lost external power.
The last remaining main external power line was cut, although a reserve line continued to supply power to the grid, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.
Only one of its six reactors remained in service, he said.
Russian troops captured the plant shortly after President Vladimir Putin sent his army across the border on February 24. It has become a focal point of the conflict. Each side blamed the other for the bombings that raised fears of a nuclear catastrophe.
Speaking to Komsomolskaya Pravda radio, Russian official Vladimir Rogov said there had been no shelling or incursions. IAEA experts are expected to continue working at the plant until at least Monday, Rogov said.
An IAEA mission visited the plant, which is still operated by Ukrainian personnel, last week and some experts stayed there pending the release of an IAEA report.
Russia has resisted international calls to demilitarize the region.
On other battlefronts, Ukrainian Telegram channels reported explosions at the Antonivsky Bridge near the southern city of Kherson, occupied by Russian forces.
The bridge was badly damaged by Ukrainian missiles in recent weeks, but Russian troops were trying to repair it or set up a pontoon or barges to maintain supplies for Russian units on the right bank of the Dnipro.