Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Ukraine war: ‘Indefinite blackouts’, ‘only’ diplomatic solution claims, Georgia economic boom

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1. Ukraine plunged into darkness amid Russian shelling

Power cuts across Ukraine were announced on Saturday, following intense Russian strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure. 

Ukraine’s state electricity operator, Ukrenergo, said blackouts would happen in Kyiv and seven other neighbouring regions, Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Poltava and Kharkiv.

The move comes after Russian forces unleashed a series of crippling attacks on Ukraine, damaging power plants, water supplies and other civilian targets. 

Later on Saturday, Ukrenergo said the planned outages for limited periods of time would not be enough and that emergency blackouts, which could last an indefinite amount of time, are needed.

Ukraine has been grappling with power outages and disruption of water supplies since Russia started massive barrages of missile and alleged drone strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure last month.

Moscow has said they were in response to what it alleged were Ukrainian attacks on Crimea, the region that Russia illegally annexed in 2014. 

Ukraine denies these allegations.

2. Judge in Russian-occupied Donetsk gunned down

A judge in Donetsk, annexed by Russia at the end of September, was shot on Saturday, leaving him in a serious condition, according to local authorities. 

The judge, Alexander Nikulin, was from the Supreme Court of the Republic of Donetsk (DNR) in southeastern Ukraine. 

He presided over the panel of judges who sentenced foreign fighters who fought on the side of Ukraine, including two Britons and a Morrocan man. 

“On the evening of November 4, 2022, the Interior Ministry … received a message about an assassination attempt in the city of Vougleguirsk,” announced the self-styled republic’s interior ministry. 

“The victim was wounded by bullets”, they said, adding he was “in serious condition” and “fighting for his life”. 

The ministry stopped short of giving more details on the modus operandi of the gun attack or why it had taken place. 

Nikulin’s condition was “serious”, said another senior official in the Russian-backed authority, Denis Pushilin. 

He added the judge “convicted Nazi war criminals”, in reference to the Kyiv government, an echo of Kremlin terminology which claims Ukraine is ruled by the far-right. 

3. Georgia booms as Russians flee Putin’s war

The influx of Russians fleeing their country’s partial mobilisation has triggered an economic boom in Georgia, report Reuters. 

The small nation wedged beneath Russia in the Caucuses is set to become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies this year, due to the arrival of more than 100,000 Russians since the start of the war in February.

But locals have complained that the influx is pricing them out of the property market and driving up prices of essential goods, in a country already blighted by high levels of poverty. 

Protests at the Georgia-Russia border broke out in September, with demonstrators claiming Russians posed a threat to national security and the economy. 

Georgia, home to 3.7 million people, is expected to record 10% economic growth in 2022 due to a consumption-led boom, according to international institutions. 

This growth rate is in sharp contrast to the recessions predicted in other parts of the world. 

“On the economic side, Georgia is doing very well,” Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, CEO of the country’s largest bank TBC, told Reuters in an interview at its Tbilisi headquarters.

“There’s some kind of boom,” he added. “All industries are doing very well from micros up to corporates. I can’t think of any industry which this year has problems.”

At least 112,000 Russians have emigrated to Georgia this year, border-crossing statistics show, with a large wave arriving after Putin announced the nationwide mobilisation in September. 

4. Iran admits sending drones to Russia for first time

Iran’s foreign minister acknowledged for the first time on Saturday that his country has supplied Russia with drones, maintaining the transfer came before Moscow’s war on Ukraine. 

Kyiv claims Russia is using Iranian-made drones to attack its energy and civilian infrastructure, which have caused large-scale blackouts across the country. 

Iranian authorities have previously denied arming Russia. 

“We gave a limited number of drones to Russia months before the Ukraine war,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told reporters on Saturday after a meeting in Tehran.

Iranian officials previously denied providing Moscow’s armed forces with weapons. 

Earlier this week Iran’s UN Ambassador  Amir Saeid Iravani called such allegations “totally unfounded” and maintained Iran was a neutral party to the conflict. 

Western governments have called for a UN investigation into the use of Iranian-made drones in the Ukraine war, alleging they are being deployed to devastating effect. 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has in the past boasted about supplying weapons to some of the world’s top powers. 

Acknowledging arms shipments, Amirabdollahian claimed on Saturday that Iran did not know its drones were being used in Ukraine. He said Iran remained committed to peace. 

“If (Ukraine) has any documents in their possession that Russia used Iranian drones in Ukraine, they should provide them to us,” he said. “If it is proven to us that Russia used Iranian drones in the war against Ukraine, we will not be indifferent to this issue.”

5. Only diplomacy can solve Ukraine war, claim former world leaders

An end to the bloody war in Ukraine can only be brought about through diplomacy, a group of former world leaders said on Friday. 

The group, known as The Elders, said total victory on the battlefield was impossible for either warring party and that they should pursue dialogue to end the months-long conflict. 

Founded by Nelson Mandela, the prominent ex-world leaders delivered the message to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, during a visit to Kyiv this summer, according to Mary Robinson, former Irish president, who chairs the group. 

“We need to encourage more thinking about how it will end in order to get the idea that this needs to end, as opposed to increasing the military arsenal on both sides and the devastation to the population in Ukraine,” she said. 

The Elders have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling it “a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and a reckless, unjustifiable act of aggression that threatens to destabilize world peace and security.”

Signed after World War Two, the UN Charter obligates all member states to maintain international peace and security, amongst other things. 

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, a previous UN human rights commissioner, agreed that diplomacy and negotiation were the only way out of the war. 

He stressed this did not mean asking Ukraine to cede its sovereignty, since it was the victim of unprovoked Russian aggression.

Ukraine has firmly ruled out a settlement that cedes territory or control to Moscow, with Zelenskyy saying in July this was “not an option”. 

Ra’ad al-Hussein hinted that a resolution to the conflict could be aided if Russia received a concession “from another direction,” possibly referring to NATO or the US. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has long complained that the Western military alliance has pushed up on Russian borders, citing this in his justification of the invasion.



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