Finland Mulls Construction Of Fence Along Border With Russia

Russian air strikes have destroyed almost one-third of Ukraine’s power stations since October 10, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on October 18 as Moscow launched a fresh wave of air attacks that hit Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, targeting residential areas and energy infrastructure.

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Zelenskiy tweeted that the attacks had caused massive blackouts across Ukraine and that there was “no space left for negotiations” with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Another kind of Russian terrorist attacks: targeting (Ukraine’s) energy & critical infrastructure. Since Oct 10, 30 [percent] of Ukraine’s power stations have been destroyed, causing massive blackouts across the country. No space left for negotiations with Putin’s regime,” Zelenskiy wrote.

The Kyiv prosecutor’s office said two people were killed in the October 18 strikes in the Ukrainian capital after five others lost their lives in drone attacks the previous day.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance will deliver air-defense systems to Ukraine in the coming days.

Speaking at a security conference in Berlin, Stoltenberg said the systems would help Ukraine defend itself against attacks, including by drones made in Iran that have been used in a new wave of lethal kamikaze drone strikes across the country.

“The most important thing we can do is deliver on what allies have promised, to step up and deliver even more air-defense systems,” Stoltenberg said.

Earlier on October 18, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said there had been three Russian strikes on an unspecified energy facility in northern Kyiv.

“The situation is critical now across the country. It’s necessary for the whole country to prepare for electricity, water, and heating outages,” Tymoshenko told Ukrainian television.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the attack was on “critical infrastructure.”

The northern Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr was left without water and electricity supply after Russian air strikes, but its mayor told RFE/RL that the services had been largely restored.

“Around noon, we connected the main sewage plant, and the water supply was more or less operational. Currently, approximately 80 percent of the city has electricity, but the central part of the city remains without it,” he said.

Russian troops also shelled energy facilities in Dnipro and blasts were reported in Kharkiv.

Explosions also shook the cities of Kriviy Rih other Mykolayivlocal officials said, a day after Russia launched waves of kamikaze drone strikes that killed at least seven people, four of them in Kyiv, and damaged infrastructure in the Ukrainian capital and several other cities across the country.

“Kriviy Rih. Explosions in the northern part of the city. We are in shelters,” Oleksandr Vilkul the head of the central Ukrainian city’s military administration said on social media, adding that so far there were no reports of casualties or damage.

In the southern port of Mykolayiv overnight shelling killed at least one person, Mayor Oleksandr Sienkovych said early on October 18.

The same day, British intelligence identified the drones used by Russia in the attacks as being Iranian-made.

In its daily intelligence bulletin on October 18, the British Ministry of Defense said that Russia’s heightened tempo of long-range strikes over the past week against targets across Ukraine included so-called kamikaze drones provided by Iran.

“[Strikes] have been conducted by cruise missiles, air defense missiles in a surface-to-surface role, and Iranian-provided Shahed-136 one way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles,” British intelligence said.

US President Joe Biden’s spokeswoman, Karine Jean-Pierre, told reporters that the White House “strongly condemns Russia’s missile strikes” and said the attacks continue “to demonstrate [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s brutality.”

She said the United States “will continue to impose costs on Russia, hold them accountable for its war crimes.”

The United States, Britain, and France agreed that Iran supplying drones to Russia would violate a UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six powers.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said on October 17 that more than 100 such drones had struck Ukraine in the past week, hitting power stations, sewage treatment plants, bridges, and playgrounds.

“A third of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure was affected,” a ministry statements said.

Both Russia and Iran have repeatedly denied that Iranian drones are being supplied to Moscow.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on October 18 that Moscow had no information about whether or not Iranian drones were used in attacks against Ukraine earlier this week.

On October 17, Iran also stuck to its denial that it is supplying the drones to Russia, while the Kremlin has not commented.

Asked for comment, the Iranian mission to the United Nations repeated a statement issued by the government on October 14 that said it supports upholding the UN Charter and the UN attempts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ukraine.

The United States warned on October 17 that it would “not hesitate to use sanctions or take actions” against companies and countries working with Iran’s drone program.

“Anyone doing business with Iran that could have any link to UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) or ballistic missile developments or the flow of arms from Iran to Russia should be very careful and do their due diligence — the US will not hesitate to use sanctions or take actions against perpetrators,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

“Russia deepening an alliance with Iran is something the whole world — especially those in the region and across the world, frankly — should be seeing as a profound threat,” Patel said.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, and AFP

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