Russia-Ukraine war live: Zelenskiy says Kyiv residents ‘need more protection’ as temperature drops – as it happened
We are now closing this blog, thanks for following developments with us. You can see all our Ukraine news here .
A summary of today's developments
More than 6m households in Ukraine are still affected by power cuts, two days after targeted Russian strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said.
Russian shelling on the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson killed 15 civilians on Friday, officials said, as engineers across the country sought to restore heat, water and power to major cities. Thirty-five people had been injured, including a child, and several “private houses and high-rise buildings” damaged, city official Galyna Lugova said. The shelling of Kherson, a key eastern city recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces, was the deadliest Russian bombardment in recent days.
Ukraine’s national police chief, Ihor Klymenko, said 32 civilians had been killed in Kherson since 9 November, when Russian forces were forced to withdraw from the city that they had occupied for eight months, the Kyiv Independent reports.Since then, Russian troops have shelled Kherson frequently
Ukraine accused the Kremlin of reviving the “genocidal” tactics of Josef Stalin as Kyiv commemorated a Soviet-era famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the winter of 1932-33.
The prime ministers of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine – Ingrida Šimonytė, Mateusz Morawiecki and Denys Shmyhal, respectively – met in Kyiv on Saturday for talks to discuss and reiterate their commitment to work together “in countering Russia’s armed aggression”.
Belarus’s foreign minister, Vladimir Makei, has died. Belarus has been an ally of Russia and a base for the invasion over the border in February. Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova posted on her Telegram channel: “We are shocked by the reports of the death of the Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei.”
Ukraine accused the Kremlin of reviving the “genocidal” tactics of Josef Stalin as Kyiv commemorated a Soviet-era famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the winter of 1932-33.
The remembrance day for the “Holodomor” comes as Ukraine is battling to repel invading Russian forces and deal with sweeping blackouts caused by air strikes that Kyiv says are aimed at breaking the public’s fighting resolve.
“Once they wanted to destroy us with hunger, now * with darkness and cold,” president Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on Telegram. “We cannot be broken.”
From Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence.
The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy , said the “Grain from Ukraine” initiative demonstrated that global food security was “not just empty words” for Kyiv.
Zelenskiy said Kyiv had raised about $150m (£124m) from more than 20 countries and the EU to export grain to countries including Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
“We plan to send at least 60 vessels from Ukrainian ports to countries that most face the threat of famine and drought,” Zelenskiy told the gathering.
The summit was attended in person by the prime ministers of Belgium, Poland and Lithuania and the president of Hungary. Germany and France’s presidents and the head of the European Commission delivered speeches shown by video, Reuters reports.
Updated at 5.03pm GMT
The president of Belarus , Alexander Lukashenko, expressed his condolences after the sudden death of the Belarusian foreign minister, Vladimir Makei , Reuters reports.
But exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, commenting on the minister’s death, called Makei a traitor to the Belarusian people.
“In 2020, Makei betrayed the Belarusian people and supported tyranny. This is how the Belarusian people will remember him,” Tsikhanouskaya said.
Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova posted on her Telegram channel: “We are shocked by the reports of the death of the Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei.
“Official condolences will be published soon.”
Updated at 4.48pm GMT
Updated at 4.33pm GMT
Ukraine’s national police chief, Ihor Klymenko , said on Saturday that 32 civilians had been killed in Kherson since 9 November, when Russian forces were forced to withdraw from the city that they had occupied for eight months, the Kyiv Independent reports.
Since then, Russian troops have shelled Kherson frequently. On 24 November alone , the Russian military carried out 17 attacks on the city, killing seven people and injuring 21, according to a report by the Kherson Oblast governor, Yaroslav Yanushevych.
Klymenko added that seven police departments resumed their work in the liberated territories of Kherson Oblast, four of them in the city of Kherson.
The police’s demining officers have checked 450 hectares of land in Kherson Oblast and removed about 3,500 explosives.
“It saved hundreds or even thousands of people’s lives,” he said.
Updated at 3.58pm GMT
The prime ministers of Lithuania , Poland and Ukraine – Ingrida Šimonytė , Mateusz Morawiecki and Denys Shmyhal , respectively – met in Kyiv on Saturday for talks to discuss and reiterate their commitment to work together “in countering Russia’s armed aggression”.
The member states of the Lublin Triangle released a joint statement , condemning the “systemic war crimes committed by Russia’s forces in regions of Ukraine, including deliberate, indiscriminate, and disproportionate attacks against the civilian population and elements of the civilian infrastructure”.
The statement also condemned forced deportations of Ukrainians, continued attacks around Ukrainian nuclear sites and “the organisation by Russia of illegal so-called referendums in regions within the internationally recognised borders of Ukraine”.
The Lithuanian prime minister, Ingrida Šimonytė, said on Twitter that the meeting had reconfirmed “the rules-based world order”.
Updated at 3.23pm GMT
Here is some more detail on the sudden death of the Belarusian foreign minister, Vladimir Makei , from Reuters:
[Makei] had attended a conference of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – a military alliance of several post-Soviet states – in Yerevan earlier this week and was due to meet Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Monday.
Before the presidential elections and mass anti-government protests in Belarus in 2020, Makei had been one of the initiators of efforts to improve Belarus’s relations with the west and had criticised Russia.
However, he abruptly changed his stance after the start of the protests, claiming they were inspired by agents of the west.
“We are shocked by the reports of the death of the head of the ministry of foreign affairs of the Republic of Belarus Vladimir Makei,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova posted on her Telegram channel. “Official condolences will be published soon.”
Updated at 3.45pm GMT
Belarus’s foreign minister, Vladimir Makei , has died, according to the country’s state media.
This is relevant to the war in Ukraine because of Belarus’s role as an ally of Russia, and a base for the invasion over the border in February.
In September, Makei repeated part of the Kremlin’s line about the reason for the war in Ukraine, blaming Nato and the west, who “overlooked the legitimate security interests of both Russia and Belarus”.
Updated at 3.17pm GMT
More details have emerged about the prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine that we reported earlier ( see 12.47pm ).
In exchange for the nine Russian prisoners of war, 12 Ukrainians have returned, including three civilians who were believed to be missing.
Updated at 1.27pm GMT
Former British prime minister Boris Johnson urged people on Saturday to consider supporting an appeal for medical equipment for Ukraine , organised by the UK’s largest group of private hospitals.
Updated at 12.54pm GMT
Nine Russian prisoners of war have been freed in a prisoner exchange with Ukraine on Saturday, the Russian Tass news agency said, according to Reuters, citing Moscow’s defence ministry.
“On November 26, as a result of the negotiation process, nine Russian servicemen who were in mortal danger in captivity were returned from the territory controlled by the Kyiv regime,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy , hosted an international summit in Kyiv on Saturday to discuss food security and agricultural exports with the prime ministers of Belgium , Poland and Lithuania and the president of Hungary .
Zelenskiy opened the summit speaking at a panel flanked by his chief of staff and prime minister. The French president, Emmanuel Macron , and European Commission chief, Ursula von der Leyen , delivered speeches that were shown by video, Reuters reports.
Belgium’s prime minister, Alexander de Croo , tweeted, after arriving in Kyiv for his first visit since Russia began its invasion: “With the cold winter months ahead, Belgium is releasing new humanitarian and military aid.”
Belgium pledged a further €37m (£32m) of financial aid for Ukraine, the Belga news agency reported.
Updated at 12.46pm GMT
At least six people were injured in a Russian attack on the regional capital Dnipro , according to the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast governor, Valentyn Reznichenko , who said that Russia had hit a residential area, partially destroying seven houses and causing a fire on Saturday.
According to Reznichenko, a woman was hospitalised in critical condition following the attack, the Kyiv Independent reports.
The Dnipro mayor, Borys Filatov , reported the attack at noon, saying that infrastructure was not damaged, but some power outages may occur.
Updated at 11.50am GMT
Denmark’s autonomous Faroe Islands have renewed a fishing quota deal with Russia for one year despite Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, a local minister said on Saturday.
Home to about 54,000 inhabitants, the Faroe Islands have been largely autonomous from Denmark since 1948.
“The Faroe Islands are totally right to extend their existing fishing agreement with Russia,” the North Atlantic archipelago’s minister of fisheries, Arni Skaale , told the Jyllands-Posten daily.
He added, however, that the islands, which are not part of the EU, condemned “all form of war – also the war in Ukraine” after Russian forces invaded in February.
The agreement has been in place since 1977 and is renewable each year.
It lays out catch quotas for cod, haddock, whiting and herring in the Barents Sea north of Russia for Faroese fishermen, and in waters off the coast of the Faroe Islands for Russian fishing boats.
The autonomous territory is highly dependent on fishing for its income, and the fisheries ministry says the deal with Russia covers 5% of its GDP, AFP reports.
Russia has become a key commercial partner of the Faroe Islands since they and neighbouring Iceland fell out with the EU – including Denmark – between 2010 and 2014 over mackerel and herring quotas.
An EU embargo on Faroese fish harmed the economy of the territory, which then turned to other markets.
“Today we only have free trade agreements with six countries – and not with the European Union,” said Skaale.
“If we cut ourselves off from one of these markets, it could be problematic for the whole of the next generation.”
Authorities on the archipelago have, however, said they would think about alternatives to the deal with Russia after local parliamentary polls on 8 December.
Last month, neighbour and Nato member Norway and Russia also agreed on catch quotas in the Barents Sea for next year.
Updated at 11.54am GMT
Not enough being done to protect Kyiv residents, says Zelenskiy
While efforts by Ukrainian authorities to restore power are gradually progressing, the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy , criticised the fact that progress was slow, especially in the capital, Kyiv .
“Many Kyiv citizens were without electricity for more than 20 or even 30 hours,” he said on Friday evening, and stressed that he expects quality work from the mayor’s office, in remarks widely interpreted as rare open criticism of the Kyiv mayor, Vitali Klitschko .
Zelenskiy did not mention Klitschko’s name, but made clear that he was annoyed that there were too few heat rooms for the capital’s 3 million inhabitants, referring to “many complaints, especially in Kyiv”.
Klitschko had reported earlier that 400 of these facilities had been set up to provide electricity, water, first aid and internet access to citizens, who could also warm up there.
“There is still work to be done in other areas, to say the least,” the president said, adding: “The residents of Kyiv need more protection.”
Updated at 11.23am GMT
Electricity has been restored in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson after its liberation earlier this month from Russian occupation, a senior presidential aide said on Saturday, Reuters reports.
“First we are supplying power to the city’s critical infrastructure and then immediately to household consumers,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko , the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, wrote on Telegram.
The city had been without electricity, central heating and running water when Ukrainian forces reclaimed it on 11 November.
Russian troops seized Kherson shortly after the invasion began in late February and it was the only regional capital they had managed to capture.
Their retreat marked a significant setback for Moscow, but Ukrainian officials say Russian forces are still shelling the city from across the Dnipro River.
The head of the local administration said on Friday that 15 people had been killed and 35 wounded in the past six days.
Updated at 10.51am GMT
A “Grain from Ukraine” programme to subsidise exports of grain to poor and hungry countries has launched on the anniversary of Stalin’s man-made Holodomor famine.
Up to 60 Ukrainian grain ships can be sent by the middle of next year to some of the world’s poorest countries in Africa, Volodymyr Zelenskiy , the Ukrainian president, said in a statement released to the Guardian, my colleague Patrick Wintour reports .
The Ukrainian ministry of defence tweeted:
Updated at 10.13am GMT
My colleague Charlotte Higgins has written a feature on how Ukrainian artists have been weaponising their work to mount a cultural resistance, in defiance of Putin’s plan to eradicate Ukraine’s sense of identity and history.
The head of Ukraine’s presidential administration said on Saturday that Russia would answer for a Soviet-era famine that left millions of Ukrainians dead during the winter of 1932-33.
“The Russians will pay for all of the victims of the Holodomor and answer for today’s crimes,” Andriy Yermak wrote on Telegram, using the Ukrainian name for the tragedy, which translates as “death by starvation”.
German parliamentarians are planning to pass a resolution declaring the starvation of millions of Ukrainians under Joseph Stalin a genocide, a move the German Bundestag hopes will serve as a “warning” to Moscow as Ukraine faces a potential hunger crisis this winter .
Kyiv regards the historical event as part of a deliberate campaign by Stalin’s regime to collectivise agriculture and root out Ukraine’s fledging nationalist movement, my colleague Philip Oltermann writes .
Updated at 9.11am GMT
Here is a Guardian interactive showing the extent of electricity blackouts in Ukraine caused by a devastating series of Russian missile strikes on civilian infrastructure on 23 November.
Finland’s economy minister Mika Lintila told the Finnish Yle news channel that Finland may send the first batch of energy equipment to Ukraine next week.
After Russia’s mass missile strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure earlier this week, Lintila said he had started conversations with Finnish businesses in the energy sector “to coordinate efforts to assist Ukrainians.”
Lintila tweeted on Friday:
Finnish companies send energy equipment aid to Ukraine. I asked the companies for equipment donations yesterday and today the companies have comprehensively responded to the request positively. The operation will be started immediately and the Ukrainian state has been informed about it.
According to Dnipropetrovsk Oblast governor Valentyn Reznichenko , Russian troops fired almost 60 shells at Nikopol and surrounding villages in the south of the country overnight on 26 November.
No casualties have been reported, Reznichenko said, the Kyiv Independent reports.
Germany and France have pledged to provide each other mutual support in preventing a possible energy crisis after supplies from Russia dried up amid the war in Ukraine.
As part of a joint agreement signed by the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz , and the French prime minister, Elisabeth Borne , Germany will provide France with electricity while getting much-needed natural gas in return, Associated Press reported.
“Friends help each other in need,” Scholz said after the signing ceremony in Berlin.
Borne echoed that sentiment, saying the friendship between the countries was crucial.
It has already proved it can withstand tests and master many challenges.
Germany was heavily reliant on Russian gas supplies before Moscow’s forces invaded Ukraine in February. Since then, Germany has scrambled to find other sources, including by ramping up imports of liquefied natural gas.
France, meanwhile, is struggling to meet its electricity needs due to repairs at several of the country’s nuclear power plants.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy went to the town of Vyshhorod, just north of Kyiv, on Friday to look at a four-storey building damaged by a Russian missile.
The Ukrainian president also visited one of the many emergency centres that have been set up to provide heat, water, electricity and mobile communications, Reuters reported.
Zelenskiy said in an earlier video statement:
Together we will be able to go through this difficult path for our country. We will overcome all challenges and we will definitely win.
Updated at 8.09am GMT
Ukrainian authorities are gradually restoring power, aided by the reconnection of the country’s four nuclear plants, but millions of people were still in the dark on Friday after the most devastating Russian air strikes of the war.
Reuters reported President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged Ukrainians to use energy sparingly.
If there is electricity, this doesn’t mean you can turn on several powerful electrical appliances at once.
Zelenskiy also said in his nightly video address that the 6 million people still without power was half as many as in the immediate aftermath of the Russian assault on Wednesday.
The attacks caused the worst damage so far in the conflict, leaving millions of people with no light, water or heat even as temperatures fell below zero.
The national power grid operator, Ukrenergo, said several hours earlier that 30% of electricity supplies were still out, and asked people to cut back on their energy use.
It said in a statement on Telegram:
Repairs crews are working around the clock.
Russia probably firing missiles stripped of nuclear warheads, says UK
Russia’s stock of long-range missiles is so depleted that it is likely removing nuclear warheads from ageing nuclear cruise missiles and firing the unarmed rockets at Ukraine, the UK Ministry of Defence says.
Its latest intelligence update says imagery has shown the wreckage of an AS-15 Kent cruise missile – apparently shot down – that was designed in the 1980s “exclusively as a nuclear delivery system”.
The ministry tweeted:
The warhead had probably been substituted for ballast. Although such an inert system will still produce some damage through the missile’s kinetic energy and any unspent fuel, it is unlikely to achieve reliable effects against intended targets.
Russia almost certainly hopes such missiles will function as decoys and divert Ukrainian air defences.
Whatever Russia’s intent, this improvisation highlights the level of depletion in Russia’s stock of long-range missiles.
Welcome back to the Guardian’s continuing live coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war . Here’s an overview of the latest developments as it passes 9am in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
More than 6m households in Ukraine are still affected by power cuts , two days after targeted Russian strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said. “As of this evening, blackouts continue in most regions [of Ukraine] and in Kyiv. In total, more than 6 million subscribers,” Zelensky said in his nightly address on Friday. The number of affected households had reduced “by half” since Wednesday. He said about 600,000 people were experiencing power cuts in Kyiv, the capital, with the Odessa, Lviv, Vinnytsia and Dnipropetrovsk regions also among the worst affected as temperatures approach freezing.
Russian shelling on the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson killed 15 civilians on Friday, officials said, as engineers across the country sought to restore heat, water and power to major cities. Thirty-five people had been injured, including a child, and several “private houses and high-rise buildings” damaged, city official Galyna Lugova said. The shelling of Kherson, a key eastern city recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces, was the deadliest Russian bombardment in recent days. Yarovslav Yanushovich, head of the Kherson military administration, said Russian forces “opened fire on a residential area with multiple rocket launchers”.
The European Union will step up efforts to provide Ukraine with support to restore and maintain power and heating , the head of the European Commission said on Friday. Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement after a phone call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy that the EU executive arm was preparing the delivery to Ukraine large donations from EU countries and from the EC’s reserves.
Hungary’s President Katalin Novak is travelling to Kyiv to meet Volodymyr Zelenskiy , her Ukrainian counterpart, the website index.hu reported on Friday, adding that Novak would go by train via Poland. The Hungarian president’s office said it would neither deny nor confirm the information. Novak, a close ally of the nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban, would be the highest-ranking Hungarian politician to visit Zelenskiy since Russia’s invasion in February.
Ukraine’s leaders would have to be “far-sighted” to secure peace, Pope Francis said , suggesting Kyiv would have to make concessions to end the war with Russia. In an open letter released on Friday to mark the war’s nine-month anniversary, the pontiff praised the strength of Ukrainians in the face of the onslaught. “The world has recognised a bold and strong people, a people that suffers and prays, cries and struggles, resists and hopes: a noble and martyred people.”
Ukraine’s four nuclear power plants have been reconnected to the national power grid after completely losing off-site power earlier this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency said. The facilities were all disconnected from the grid on Wednesday for the first time in Ukrainian history after the latest wave of Russian air strikes on vital infrastructure. In a statement on Friday, the nuclear watchdog said Ukraine had informed it on Friday that its Rivne, South Ukraine and Khmelnytskyy plants had been reconnected. Ukraine reconnected its vast Zaporizhzhia plant on Thursday, Kyiv said earlier.
Armenia has asked the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to chair peace talks with Azerbaijan in a fresh challenge to Vladimir Putin’s increasingly loose grip on Russia’s regional allies in the wake of the war in Ukraine. The snub from a traditional ally to Putin comes immediately on the back of his disastrous summit with six former Soviet states.
EU diplomats were meeting on Friday night in an effort to reach a deal on a price level at which to cap Russian oil exports , according to a report by Bloomberg. European governments have failed so far to find an agreement ahead of a 5 December deadline. A G7 proposal for a cap of $65-$70 a barrel is seen as far too high by some, and too low by others.
Angela Merkel has insisted that her position as a lame duck in the last months of her time in office made it more or less impossible for her to influence the behaviour of Vladimir Putin . The former German chancellor appeared defensive and quietly defiant about her inability to change the course of the Russian president’s decision-making in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine , telling German news magazine Spiegel she felt acutely aware that her ability to negotiate with Putin was minimal because it was known she would not stand for a fifth term.
The head of the Russian mercenary outfit Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has claimed a former US Marine general is working for the group . In response to a request for comment from Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Prigozhin said on Friday: “There are not very many Finnish citizens in the Wagner PMC, about 20 people … They are fighting in a British battalion [as part of Wagner PMC] which is commanded by a US citizen, a former general of the Marine Corps,” Prigozhin said, as quoted by the press service of his company Concord.
With contributions from Reuters and Agence France-Presse