Live: Ukrainians are left without power, water after a barrage of Russian strikes
A massive barrage of Russian strikes Monday morning hit critical infrastructure in Kyiv, Kharkiv and other cities, leaving residents without water and power supplies. The strikes appear to be retaliation for what Moscow alleged was a Ukrainian attack on its Black Sea Fleet over the weekend. Russia suspended a Ukraine grain export deal last week that has helped keep world food prices down.
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This blog is closing — but the reporting will continue
It's nearing 6 p.m. in Kyiv, where 80% of consumers in a city of 3 million people are still without water. In Kyiv and hundreds of other localities across the country, residents are also without power.
Twelve ships carrying grain, which left Ukrainian ports this morning, are sailing ahead despite a Russian threat to reimpose a blockade.
And the AP reports that 13 people were wounded as a result of morning attacks, according to the the head of National Police Ihor Klymenko, who spoke earlier on Ukrainian television.
Thanks for joining us today.
Catch up on key Russia-Ukraine developments from last week
We're following the news of Russia's latest attacks, the infrastructure damage in Ukraine and the precarious status of the grain deal.
In the meantime, here's a look back at some key developments in the conflict this past week. You can read the full recap here.
Progressive Democrats sent, then withdrew, a letter urging President Biden to seek diplomacy with Russia toward a cease-fire in Ukraine. Thirty members of Congress had signed the letter, which caused a backlash, including from fellow Democrats, but some signatories explained they signed it soon after it was drafted in early summer and much has changed since.
Russia practiced conducting a nuclear strike on Oct. 26 in its first big nuclear drill since invading Ukraine this year. The Kremlin's defense minister said it was a rehearsal for responding to a nuclear attack. It came as NATO carried out its annual Steadfast Noon nuclear exercises.
President Vladimir Putin repeated the allegation, without evidence, that Ukraine is preparing to set off a dirty bomb. The U.S. and its allies dismiss this as a false pretext for Russia's own possible future actions.
Germany's president acknowledged a "bitter failure" of his and other governments' policies toward Russia. In his national address on Oct. 28, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Russia's war has "reduced the European security order to ashes."
Russia accused Ukraine of a "massive" drone attack on its Black Sea fleet and civil ships off the coast of Crimea over the weekend. Moscow also alleged that "British specialists" were involved in directing the drones as well as damaging gas pipelines, which London denied.
Russia suspended its role in a deal allowing Ukrainian grain to be exported through the Black Sea, citing the alleged drone strikes. The move drew condemnation from Western leaders and the U.N., which brokered the arrangement to ease a global food crisis.
You can read past recaps here. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find more of NPR's coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR's State of Ukrainepodcast for updates throughout the day.
Bombing of Ukrainian cities is seen as the new Kremlin strategy
NPR's Moscow Correspondent, Charles Maynes, says the attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure are widely seen as a deliberate strategy to debilitate the country's civilian population as colder temperatures set in.
Here's a bit of his reporting:
Russia's Defense Ministry said its forces carried out the latest strikes "with long-range high-precision air and sea-based weapons against the military command and energy systems of Ukraine."
"The goals of the strikes were achieved. All designated targets were hit," said the ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov in his daily video briefing.
Heavy Russian bombing of Ukrainian cities has continued despite assurances from President Vladimir Putin on October 14th that there was no longer a need for “massive strikes” on Ukraine. At the time, Putin argued the vast majority of Russian missiles had already struck their intended targets.
The continuing Russian missile strikes are widely viewed as a Kremlin strategy to knock out Ukraine’s critical civilian electricity and heating infrastructure as the winter months set in.
You can read more from Charles here.
The Russian attack comes as the Czech prime minister visits Ukraine
The barrage of Russian missiles came just before Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and many top members of his government, including the foreign, defense and interior ministers, arrived in Kyiv. Fiala's visit in the latest show of support from European leaders.
The European Union announced it will start training Ukrainian soldiers on its own soil early next month in a response to Russia's mobilization of 300,000 troops.
“The Ukrainians are fighting not only for their country but also for the whole of Europe. Our support must continue,” Fiala tweeted from Kyiv.
Ukraine still denies attacks on Black Sea Fleet
For two days, Ukraine has consistently denied it was behind the drone attacks on Russia's Black Sea fleet, saying that Russia mishandled its own weapons. That position hasn't changed with the latest round of missile strikes.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said there was no justification for Russia launching missiles meant to inflict so much suffering on civilians.
“Don’t justify these attacks by calling them a ‘response.’ Russia does this because it still has the missiles and the will to kill Ukrainians,” he tweeted.
The pattern of Russian behavior is so predictable: if they commit a crime in the evening, expect them to propose ‘talks’ in the morning. Yesterday they put millions of people at the risk of hunger, today they imitate readiness for negotiations. No one should get fooled by this.— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) October 30, 2022
Andriy Yermak, the head of the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, vowed that the attacks on civilian facilities would not weaken Ukraine's resistance.
“We will persevere, and generations of Russians will pay a high price for their disgrace,” Yermak said.
Turkey and the U.N. are still trying to salvage the grain deal
NPR's Fatma Tanis is reporting from Istanbul on efforts to salvage the key grain deal that Russia pulled out of this weekend. It allowed exports of Ukrainian grain, helping lower food prices around the world and preventing tens of millions of people from falling into extreme poverty.
Importantly, the deal was set to expire on Nov. 19. The brokers of the deal, Turkey and the U.N., and the parties, Russia and Ukraine, were already in talks to extend it. But Russia had been threatening to tank the deal for weeks.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Putin about Russia extending the deal when they met in Astana, Kazakhstan two weeks ago, Erdogan’s chief advisor and spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin told NPR.
"We received more or less a favorable response. But the Russians are saying that they want to send in their ammonia and fertilizers as well,” Kalin said, adding that Turkey had been prepared for a rough round of talks ahead of the expiration date:
“We will intensify our diplomatic initiatives to make sure that this is renewed before its expiration date,” he said.
Here's an excerpt from Tanis' latest story:
Turkish and U.N. officials are continuing to hold discussions with Ukraine and Russia over the future of the deal.
Russia is under pressure from the international community to resume its participation, as the collapse of the deal would make several countries vulnerable to mass starvation and global food prices would soar.
U.N. and Turkish officials told NPR that both Russia and Ukraine need the grain deal to survive. For Ukraine, it’s a lifeline to its crippled wartime economy. For Russia, in addition to getting out its own fertilizer and grain exports, Moscow needs to retain favor with the Global South, where many countries haven't participated in sanctions against Russia and are heavily dependent on these shipments.
The U.N. coordinator for the grain deal, Amir Abdulla, told NPR that there is another dimension to the deal.
“It's very important that it is an area and a platform where Russia and Ukraine are talking to each other to achieve a very noble aim,” he said.
“They realize what this has meant to the rest of the world. The initiative has been one of the few, I would say, happy stories in this part of the world at the moment. And so, I hope that those who are going to be making that final decision will recognize the responsibility that they have,” he said.
Turkish Defense Minister to speak with Russia about grain deal
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in a statement that he would speak by phone with his counterpoint, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, later Monday in an attempt to ensure the safe passage of ships carrying grain from Ukraine, the Associated Press is reporting.
Turkey, in collaboration with the U.N., initially brokered the deal between Moscow and Kyiv, which has allowed for more than 9 million tons of grain to be exported from Ukraine, keeping world global costs from skyrocketing.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a few hours ago that he was determined to press forward with the deal.
“The suspension of the agreement affects all humanity. We remind the parties concerned to reconsider their decisions,” Defense minister Akar said.
“Those in need were already urgently awaiting the grains. The situation will only get worse."
The World Food Programme estimates that millions of people are at risk of being driven into starvation in large part because of the war in Ukraine's impact on fuel and fertilizer.
Kyiv residents stay hopeful, even as they return to underground shelters
Earlier this month NPR's Franco Ordoñez spoke with some of the many Kyiv residents taking shelter underground from a renewed round of Russian air strikes.
Gene, Inna and Maria returned to the Dorohozhychi metro station, whose packed corners and cold floors brought back memories from their time spent sheltering there during the start of the war.
"For me, it's a kind of deja vu," Gene said after an attack earlier this month. "It happened again. But this experience was so hard that you try to pack it in a package and put somewhere in a far square not to think about it."
Ordoñez has been texting with the family after the latest round of attacks on Monday morning. They say they're OK and back in the subway station.
"We'll win," Gene says.
A new wave of strikes across Ukraine this morning. I met Gene, Maria & daughter Inna, in a Kyiv, subway station during last bombardments. Been exchanging messages this morning. They're back in subway station. Gene says they're ok. Tells me: "We'll win." https://t.co/DyHvrUQ95R pic.twitter.com/j5Gk7GfzXn— Franco Ordoñez (@FrancoOrdonez) October 31, 2022
Debris from a shot-down Russian missile landed in a village in Moldova
Officials in the Eastern European country of Moldova — which is bordered by Ukraine on the north, south and east — say part of a Russian missile shot down by Ukrainian defenses landed in its territory.
Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu tweeted on Monday that the debris landed in Naslavcea, a village in the northern part of Moldova. There were no casualties, he said, though "the shock wave shattered windows of several residential houses."
Popescu said the Russian strike targeted a Ukrainian dam on the Nistru river, which runs first through Ukraine and then through Moldova. And he warned that attacks on water infrastructure, and subsequent stress on the river, could "put the entire region in danger of floods."
"The appalling strikes on critical infrastructure reverberate beyond Ukraine's borders and pose a direct threat to Moldova’s energy — and human — security," he added.
The Moldovan Defense Ministry said its radars didn't detect any illegal flights in its air space and that the debris from the missile hadn't been picked up because of the size of the shrapnel, Reuters reports.
In his Twitter thread, Popescu said Moldova condemns "in strongest possible terms" Russia's aggression against Ukraine.
Moldova — one of Europe's poorest countries and barely bigger than the state of Maryland — is officially neutral, though its current government is pro-European Union. It has had Russian troops inside its territory for decades, in the unrecognized separatist region of Trans-Dniester.
Russia claims the attacks targeted military and energy facilities
Russia's Defense Ministry said in a statement that its forces carried out strikes "with long-range high-precision air and sea-based weapons against the military command and energy systems of Ukraine," the Associated Press is reporting.
"The goals of the strikes were achieved. All designated targets were hit,” the ministry said.
The targeting of "military command" is at odds with the direct civilian impact that Ukrainian officials are reporting.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Russian missiles damaged 18 objects, mostly energy facilities across 10 Ukrainian regions. "Hundreds" of villages were left without power as a result, impacting civilians.
Grain ships left Ukrainian ports this morning, despite Russian opposition
Multiple ships carrying grain left Ukrainian ports this morning, despite Russia’s plans to suspend its role in a U.N.-backed agreement that guaranteed the passage of key exports.
The ships carrying more than 350,000 tons of Ukrainian grain — according to the Ministry of Infrastructure and other agricultural products — are destined for Africa, Asia and Europe.
Their departure suggests Russia is holding off on its planned blockade of grain shipments and is open to more talks.
Russian officials announced this weekend that they were suspending participation in the agreement. They accused Ukraine of launching drone attacks against a Russian war fleet in the Black Sea.
Western leaders quickly denounced the move and called on Moscow to reverse its decision, charging it would contribute to rising food prices and global hunger.
Strikes could cause a humanitarian disaster, officials warn
NPR's Nathan Rott, who is based in Kharkiv, reports that the United Nations, NGOs and Ukrainian officials are warning that the strikes could cause a major humanitarian disaster this winter as temperatures continue to drop.
This is the third Monday in a row that widespread attacks on Ukraine have left some without power — and heat. Weather Atlas reports that in Kyiv, the average high temperature in October declines considerably from a mild 20.6°C (69.1°F) in September to a fresh 12.6°C (54.7°F).
In December, the first month of winter, the temperature will turn frosty, with an average high of .6C (33.1F).
Russia accused Ukraine of striking its Black Sea Fleet, then left a key grain deal
Many Americans are waking up this Monday to news of Russia's renewed attacks in Ukraine, which struck 10 different regions and damaged more than a dozen critical infrastructure facilities.
This latest bombardment comes just days after drone strikes damaged Russian warships in the Black Sea.
On Saturday, Russia accused Ukraine of launching air and sea strikes on its Black Sea Fleet's ships, infrastructure and naval base in Sevastopol — a port city on the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. Ukraine has not taken responsibility for the attack.
Russia released a statement saying it had largely repelled the drone attacks. Hours later, Russian officials said the country would suspend its participation in a United Nations-brokered deal to secure the export of Ukrainian grain out through the Black Sea.
Russia's foreign ministry said it's exiting the key deal for an "undetermined period," fueling criticism from Western leaders and widespread fears of global hunger and inflation.
Ukrainian authorities have accused Moscow of creating a false pretext to block the grain corridor.
As NPR has reported, in recent weeks Russia had threatened to leave the deal over complaints that the agreement had opened up Ukrainian grain shipments but failed to live up to promises to allow the export of Russian fertilizer and food products.
Ukraine — one of the world's largest producers of wheat, corn and sunflower oil — has exported more than 9 million tons of grain since the agreement was signed in July, in turn helping keep prices down. The current agreement is set to expire Nov. 19, and several countries had been lobbying Russia to extend it.
Russia's announcement on Saturday sent waves of disappointment around the West.
"In suspending this arrangement, Russia is again weaponizing food in the war it started, directly impacting low- and middle-income countries and global food prices, and exacerbating already dire humanitarian crises and food insecurity," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
On Sunday, the U.N., Turkey and Ukraine agreed to unblock 16 grain ships in Turkish waters on Monday. Several grain ships left Ukrainian ports on Monday.
Ukrainian forces say they were able to intercept most missiles
This is the second time this month that Russia has debilitated key Ukrainian infrastructure. On Oct. 10, Russians bombarded apartment buildings and other targets in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia.
That attack followed an incident that Moscow blamed on Kyiv: An explosion on the Kerch Bridge linking annexed Crimea to mainland Russia, damaging an important supply link.
This round of attacks is different in one key way, however. Ukraine has been successful in shooting these missiles down.
Ukraine's air force said that more than 50 cruise missiles were launched from Tu-95/Tu-160 strategic aviation missile-carrying aircraft from the north of the Caspian Sea and from the area around the Russian city of Volgodonsk in the Rostov region. A total of 44 of them were shot down.
Here's what we know
If you're just joining us, here's a bit of what we know:
Residents of Kyiv were awoken by loud explosions, text messages from emergency services and nearly three hours of sirens Monday morning.
The Associated Press reports that 80% of consumers in Kyiv are without water supplies. The mayor has advised residents to “stock up on water from the nearest pump rooms and points of sale," but also added that water in some parts of the city will be restored in a matter of hours.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal wrote on the social media app Telegram that, in total, missiles struck 10 regions and damaged 18 facilities, many of which were energy-related. Ukrainian railways are also cut off from power.
"Hundreds of settlements in seven regions were cut off," Shmyhal wrote.
Here's what we still don't know:
- The number of people injured or killed by the attacks.
- What Russian military officials say about the attack.
I'm Emily Olson, an NPR digital reporter based in Washington D.C. My D.C.-based colleague Rachel Treisman will also be bringing you updates today. NPR's Nathan Rott is reporting from Kharkiv, Franco Ordoñez is in Odesa, and Ashley Westerman and Julian Hayda are in Kyiv.
Thanks for joining us.