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Ukraine live briefing: Kremlin says Ukrainian drones attacked bases deep in Russia; missile strikes cause power outages in Ukraine

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 12/5/2022 Jeff Stein, Annabelle Timsit, Rachel Pannett, Emily Rauhala, Claire Parker, Alex Horton, Maham Javaid

RIGA, Latvia — Moscow has accused Ukraine of using drones to attack two military installations inside Russia, where three military personnel were killed, on Monday. Kyiv did not respond to Moscow’s allegations. If confirmed, these would be the deepest strikes by Ukraine in Russia.

Shortly after the explosions, Russia launched a barrage of missiles at multiple Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, prompting residents to seek shelter and cutting off power and water in some regions. Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces carried out a “massive strike” on Ukrainian military targets using high-precision weapons, according to a Telegram statement.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

1. Key developments

  • Moscow claimed Ukrainian drones struck two Russian military installations hundreds of miles from the Ukrainian border, The Washington Post reported on Monday. One strike was at an airfield that served as a base for bombers allegedly used in Moscow’s relentless airstrikes on Ukraine’s critical civilian infrastructure. In the barrage that followed the drone attack, Russia launched 70 missiles on Ukraine, most of which were shot down, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly speech.
  • Emergency shutdowns were planned across Ukraine as authorities worked to restore power in certain regions, state electricity operator Ukrenergo said Monday. A Russian attack that damaged two infrastructure sites in Odessa also cut off the city’s water supply and some electric public transport in the region, according to officials. In coming days, about half of the Kyiv region will be without electricity, Oleksiy Kuleba, the region’s military leader, said on Telegram.
  • The European Union’s embargo on seaborne Russian crude and the Group of Seven’s price cap on oil went into effect Monday, sending oil markets into uncharted territory as the West seeks to hit Russia’s oil revenue without causing price spikes. The Kremlin will still sell oil to countries that “will work with us on market conditions,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told the Russian news agency Tass.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin drove a Mercedes across a repaired bridge in Crimea on Monday, Russian media reported. The Crimean Bridge, also called the Kerch Bridge, connects mainland Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed illegally in 2014. Russia has been racing to repair damage caused by a powerful explosion in early October. Moscow accused Kyiv of orchestrating a truck bombing; Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the blast.
  • Ukraine and Russian are not negotiating directly regarding the security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the Russian foreign ministry said Monday. Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had said last week that the officials from the two countries were coming to an agreement.

2. Battleground updates

  • Russia appears to be capable of producing guided missiles despite heavy sanctions, weapons analysts say. Conflict Armament Research, a U.K.-based investigative organization, examined two cruise missiles that struck Kyiv last month and concluded that they were produced in recent months, even after export controls prohibited vital components from reaching Russia. The group said Moscow could be producing the weapons using a supply workaround or stockpiled components from the United States and Europe.
  • Russia is conducting fewer sorties of combat aircraft in its war in Ukraine, Britain’s Defense Ministry said. Its fleet “now probably conducts tens of missions per day,” down from a high of up to 300 per day at the start of Russia’s invasion, ministry analysts said in an intelligence update. The dip in sorties is “likely a result of continued high threat from Ukrainian air defences, limitations on the flying hours available to Russian aircraft, and worsening weather,” they added.
  • Ukrainian forces are indicating they plan to stay on the offensive this winter to capitalize on recent battlefield successes and prevent Russian troops from regrouping. Frozen ground allows heavy wheeled and tracked vehicles to maneuver, and a military spokesman told Ukrainian media that Kyiv is preparing troops and equipment for winter operations, equipping its forces with special clothing and ammunition.

3. Global impact

  • China suggested it may still work with Russia to secure oil. Asked whether China would join the oil price cap agreement, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry said, “China-Russia energy cooperation has always been and will continue to be carried out in the spirit of mutual respect, mutual benefit, and win-win,” according to the Beijing Daily. The spokesperson called for “constructive efforts from all sides” to ensure the security of global energy supply, particularly of oil, the state-affiliated news outlet reported.
  • OPEC Plus, the coalition of oil-producing nations and their partners, opted against trying to stop the slide in gas prices with cuts to the world’s oil supply. Gasoline now costs less than it has in nine months, with consumers paying lower prices than they did just before the Russian invasion.
  • New data from NASA suggests Ukraine harvested a wheat crop much larger than expected, despite concerns about the Russian invasion’s effect on global food prices and hunger. The agency calculated that Ukrainian farmers harvested 26.6 million tons of wheat in 2022 — several million tons more than expected. However, continued fighting in the east means Ukraine cannot access nearly a quarter of that wheat.
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany must play a “new role” as “one of the main providers of security in Europe” in the face of Russia’s aggression. “Russia’s revanchist imperialism must be stopped,” Scholz argues in Foreign Affairs magazine, adding that the world faces an “epochal tectonic shift” that is changing the geopolitical order and globalization. However, he argues, the West and its allies should “avoid the temptation to once again divide the world into blocs. This means making every effort to build new partnerships, pragmatically and without ideological blinders.”

4. From our correspondents

Ukraine allows perilous Dnieper River crossings to flee Russian occupation. Ukrainian officials announced Saturday that they would lift a ban on crossing the Dnieper River, encouraging residents on the occupied eastern bank to flee to the recently liberated southern city of Kherson, whatever the danger, in a possible sign that Ukraine’s offensive could continue to push east.

So far, few have taken up the offer to flee, write Samantha Schmidt and Serhii Korolchuk. The route is perilous: A 65-year-old woman, attempting to cross the river by boat alongside her husband, died under gunfire Sunday, according to a statement released by the Kherson City Council.

Russian forces have battered Kherson with shelling in recent days from firing positions on the east side of the river.

Numerous people on the east bank of the Dnieper River have called boat operator Dmytro Fomin, 54, to ask for help crossing to the liberated Ukrainian side. (Heidi Levine for The Washington Post) Numerous people on the east bank of the Dnieper River have called boat operator Dmytro Fomin, 54, to ask for help crossing to the liberated Ukrainian side. (Heidi Levine for The Washington Post)

Timsit reported from London, Pannett from Sydney and Rauhala from Brussels. David L. Stern in Kyiv, Ukraine, Maham Javaid and Karen DeYoung in Washington, Rick Noack in Paris, and Mary Ilyushina, Robyn Dixon and Natalia Abbakumova in Riga, Latvia, contributed to this report.

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