Ukraine live briefing: G-7 to discuss assault on Ukraine’s power grid; Zelensky warns citizens to brace for more Russian airstrikes

A nurse tends to a 4-day-old baby under the light of a desk lamp at a children’s hospital in Kherson, Ukraine, over the weekend. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Russia’s assault on Ukraine’s power grid will be discussed at a meeting involving officials from the Group of Seven nations as foreign affairs ministers gather for a NATO meeting on Tuesday in Bucharest.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned his country to brace for more Russian airstrikes that have left civilian infrastructure in poor shape as winter approaches. U.S. officials have said that Russia is targeting transmission stations that power Ukraine.

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

1. Key developments

  • Russia postponed nuclear treaty talks with the United States that were set to start Tuesday in Cairo, the State Department said Monday. The two parties were meant to discuss the resumption of inspections for the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, which limits and regulates the world’s two largest nuclear powers. A State Department spokesperson told The Washington Post that Russia “unilaterally” postponed the meeting and would propose new dates, while the United States is ready to reschedule for the earliest possible moment.
  • The United States will announce steps to help Ukraine withstand Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure, U.S. officials said Monday. A senior State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters that 25 to 30 percent of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure had been damaged by Russian missiles and drone attacks. “Our desire is to ensure that the Ukrainians have the tools they need to respond as quickly as possible, so Putin cannot achieve through these humanitarian targets what he’s failed to achieve on the battlefield,” the official said.
  • European diplomats said they would try to move forward with U.S.-backed plans to cap the price of Russian oil in a Monday meeting in Brussels after talks last week stalled over what the price cap level should be.
  • The electricity situation is “under control” across most of Ukraine, with only scheduled stabilization blackouts in effect, Zelensky said, after energy workers rallied to repair the damage from airstrikes on infrastructure last week.
  • A large, high-level delegation of foreign ministers of Baltic and Nordic nations visited Kyiv on Monday to discuss support for Ukraine. The group discussed tightening sanctions, reconstructing energy infrastructure and supporting Ukraine financially. Zelensky said they also agreed on further cooperation in the defense sphere and reconstruction projects.

2. Battleground updates

  • Russian forces may be preparing to exit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the head of Ukraine’s national nuclear operator said in an interview with Ukrainian media Sunday. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the claims Monday, saying the facility was still under Russian control. “There is no need to look for any signs where there are none,” he said.
  • Daily bombardment continues in Kherson, Britain’s Defense Ministry said in its Monday update, with 54 shelling incidents reported Sunday. The city, which was retaken by Ukrainian forces on Nov. 11, is vulnerable because it is within the range of Russia’s artillery systems on the east bank of the Dnieper River.
  • Russians fired 258 times on 30 settlements in Kherson in one week, Zelensky said Monday. He also noted that the Russians damaged a pumping station that supplied water to Mykolaiv.
  • Fighting along the front lines is likely to pick up once the ground freezes over in the coming weeks, making it easier to maneuver without getting bogged down in muddy conditions, according to the Institute for the Study of War think tank. Both sides have indicated in recent battlefield reports that their operations have slowed throughout eastern and southern Ukraine, including in Svatove, Bakhmut and Vuhledar.
  • Zelensky called the situation on the front lines “very difficult,” especially in the eastern Donetsk region, which has been at the center of fighting in recent weeks. “To endure now and defend ourselves now is to endure and defend ourselves for generations to come,” he added.

3. Global impact

  • NATO foreign ministers are set to meet in Bucharest on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss support for Ukraine as well as “other partners facing Russian pressure,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, naming Bosnia, Georgia and Moldova.
  • The U.S. State Department approved a possible military sale of tactical weapons to Finland Monday. “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a trusted partner,” the department said a press release. “It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist Finland in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability.”
  • The United States continues to discuss the release of Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan through channels with Moscow, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported Monday, citing an interview with Elizabeth Rood, the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Moscow.
  • Britain is providing Ukraine with precision-guided Brimstone 2 missiles as part of its aid package, its Defense Ministry said, without specifying how many were sent. In a video shared on Twitter, members of the Royal Air Force are seen preparing the missiles for transportation.
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Norwegian ambassador to Moscow over the detention of Russians flying drones in Norway, where Russian flights, including drones, have been banned since the February invasion.The sentences against Russians are politically motivated and have nothing to do with the principles of fair and unbiased justice,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

4. From our correspondents

Pressure builds to step up weapons tracking in Ukraine: House Republicans, who will hold a slim majority in the next Congress, have warned the Biden administration to expect far tougher oversight of the extensive military assistance it has given Ukraine.

Most in Washington are in agreement that, generally, the push for more oversight is a good thing, writes The Post’s Karoun Demirjian, and the administration has worked in recent weeks to publicize its efforts to track shipments. “The taxpayers deserve to know that investment is going where it’s intended to go,” Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), an Army veteran, said in an interview.

But experts say it’s difficult to ensure an airtight account of all weapons shipments, which is likely to leave some critics unsatisfied.

Emily Rauhala contributed to this report.

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