Ukraine live briefing: Russia targets power facilities; Germany ousts cyber chief accused of Russia connections

Ukrainian demonstrators protest against Iran’s involvement in selling drones to Russia outside the Iranian Embassy in Kyiv on October 17. (Heidi Levine for The Washington Post)

After a week of deadly strikes against civilians, Kyiv has accused Russia’s military of continuing attacks on its latest target: Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Multiple facilities in the capital and across the country were struck Tuesday morning, cutting electricity and water supplies and prompting officials to plead with residents to reduce their consumption.

About 70 percent of Ukrainians are determined to keep fighting until their country wins the war against Russia, according to a Gallup poll conducted in early September amid strong Ukrainian counteroffensives that recaptured land in the south and east. The majority of Ukrainians backing the war — 91 percent — defined victory as retaking all territories seized by Russia since 2014, including Crimea, Gallup found.

The German government on Tuesday announced that it had removed from his duties the country’s cybersecurity chief, Arne Schönbohm, after allegations emerged of links to Russian intelligence.

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

Key developments

  • Russia continued to target Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure Tuesday, killing at least one person in Kyiv, according to the country’s largest private electricity producer. A power facility in Kyiv was hit three times, a presidential aide said. And in the western city of Zhytomyr, far from the front lines, the mayor said residents had no running water or electricity. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said 30 percent of the country’s power stations have been destroyed since Oct. 10.
  • The Gallup poll shows strong support for fighting until victory in the capital, Kyiv, (83 percent) and western Ukraine (82 percent). But there is less enthusiasm in the east (56 percent) and in the south (58 percent), where the front lines are. Twenty-six percent said the Ukrainian government should negotiate an end to the fighting as quickly as possible.
  • The death toll from a Russian fighter-bomber crash in Russia rose to 15, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry reported Tuesday morning. The Russian Su-34 aircraft crashed into a residential building Monday near the Russian city of Krasnodar, about 120 miles east of Crimea.
  • Brittney Griner spent her 32nd birthday in prison in Russia. In a message released by her lawyer to CNN, the U.S. basketball star said: “Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home.” She has been imprisoned since her arrest Feb. 17 on charges of entering Russia with a small quantity of cannabis oil, The Washington Post’s Cindy Boren writes.
  • International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi expressed “deep concern” about the recent detention of two Ukrainian staff members of the Zaprorizhzhia nuclear plant, according to a IAEA news release on Tuesday. Energy company Energoatom on Monday said Russia detained two plant officials. That comes after the detention and subsequent release of ZPP director general Ihor Murashov in early October, as well as of deputy director general Valeriy Martynyuk.

Battleground updates

  • Sergei Surovikin, the Kremlin’s new top commander of the war on Ukraine, said the situation in the Kherson region was “difficult” as Russian-installed officials announced an “organized transfer of civilians” from some towns before an anticipated Ukrainian offensive, the Associated Press reported.
  • A 55-year-old man died after Russian forces shelled a residential building in Mykolaiv, the city’s mayor said Tuesday morning. The southern city is one of more than 35 settlements to have come under fire from missile, air and rocket attacks in the past 24 hours, according to Kyiv officials.
  • The “heightened tempo” of Russia’s attacks since last week is probably intended to cause widespread damage to Ukraine’s energy network, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defense. Russia has “highly likely gained a greater willingness to strike civilian infrastructure” in addition to military targets, it said in a Tuesday morning tweet.
  • The European Union on Monday approved a plan to train thousands of Ukrainian troops in Europe. French navy Vice Adm. Hervé Bléjean will oversee the two-year, $105 million program.

Global impact

  • Danish police confirmed that “powerful explosions” were to blame for damage to the Nord Stream gas pipelines, but released no other updates on their investigation into how the four holes came to appear in the pipes last month. In a news conference Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed it was “absurd” to accuse Russia of any involvement and criticized Moscow’s exclusion from the investigation.
  • E.U. member countries are considering paying Elon Musk to maintain internet services provided by Starlink to Ukraine, Politico reported. The billionaire tweeted Monday that 25,300 Starlink terminals were sent to Ukraine but that 10,630 were being paid for, without specifying by whom. Musk’s company SpaceX, which provides the Starlink services, has withdrawn its request for funding from the U.S. Defense Department, Musk tweeted.
  • The European Commission on Tuesday proposed a new batch of emergency energy measures, including a plan to jointly purchase natural gas but stopped short of an immediate gas price cap. The measures, meant to tame high energy prices triggered by Russia’s invasion to Ukraine and Moscow’s shut-off of gas flows to Europe, will be discussed at a summit this week.
  • The U.S. Commerce Department issued a 180-day ban of Russia’s Ural Airlines from participating in transactions that involve exports or reexports of goods from the United States, marking the 10th such sanction levied against Russia’s and Belarus’s biggest airlines since the Kremlin’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, the department said in a news release. Ural violated export controls imposed on Russia by the Commerce Department, officials said.

From our correspondents

Countries usually try to lower their carbon emissions, not increase them. But this year, The Post’s Michael Birnbaum reports, Ukraine and Russia are locked in a battle over who gets to claim the greenhouse gases of Crimea and other Ukrainian territory the Kremlin has occupied by force.

Natalia Abbakumova, Cindy Boren, Vanessa Guinan-Bank, Loveday Morris and Emily Rauhala contributed to this report.

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