San Francisco Chronicle
Energy crisis may force evacuations in Kyiv
KYIV, Ukraine — Russia held back Monday from launching a new round of strikes that have been expected against power stations and other key infrastructure in Ukraine, as officials warned a lingering energy and water crisis from earlier attacks could prompt more evacuations from the capital.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, hosting the largest delegation of top foreign officials since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a Russian invasion of Ukraine over nine months ago, insisted that better air defenses were needed from allies “to break this vicious cycle” of Russian air strikes followed by Ukrainian rebuilding of damaged infrastructure.
“Every time we will be restoring it, the Russians will be destroying it,” he told counterparts from seven Baltic and Nordic countries.
The foreign ministers from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Finland pledged more military, economic and humanitarian aid as an energy crisis deepens and Ukrainian forces seek to move on with a counteroffensive against Russian troops.
Sweden said it had provided a $279 million package of air defense systems, ammunition, allterrain vehicles and personal winter gear for troops. Finland pledged to take in more Ukrainian refugees. In Washington, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. is working with partners and allies to provide energy and water replacement equipment to Ukraine
In Israel — which has straddled a fine political line in the conflict — Channel 13 reported that a high-level Ukrainian delegation recently visited to discuss an Israeli pledge to provide a system that detects incoming missiles. Israel’s Defense Ministry declined comment.
Israel has voiced support for Ukraine but has refused so far to provide it arms or impose sanctions against Moscow because of its sensitive ties with Russia. Israel’s and Russia’s militaries communicate to avoid conflict in Syria. Israel also does not want to endanger the large Jewish community in Russia.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said some of the city’s 3 million people might have to be evacuated to where essential services would be less prone to shutdowns caused by missile attacks.
For weeks, Russia has been pounding energy facilities around Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities with missile strikes, usually on Mondays at the work week’s beginning, resulting in outages of power and water supplies.
With temperatures hovering around freezing, and expected to dip as low as 12 degrees Fahrenheit in little more than a week, international help was increasingly focused on items like generators and transformers.