“The situation at the front is difficult,” he said. “Despite extremely big Russian losses, the occupiers are still trying to advance in the Donetsk region, gain a foothold in the Luhansk region, move in the Kharkiv region, they are planning something in the south.”
Zelensky did not provide any additional details on what he was referring to, though he said, “We are holding out, and, most importantly, do not allow the enemy to fulfill their intentions.”
His warning came weeks after Russian forces retreated from the southern city of Kherson, which had been under Russian control since the early days of the war. The strategically located city has remained a target of significant Russian shelling that has left residents without electricity, water, or heat as the temperatures drop for the winter months. It had been the only Ukrainian regional capital that Russian forces had captured since they invaded in late February.
Russia’s armed forces are attacking Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure in an attempt to “turn the cold of winter into a weapon of mass destruction,” Zelensky said earlier this month. Ukrenergo, the state power grid operator, said on Sunday that the country was supplying about 80% of demand and that it was a slight improvement from the previous day.
The Biden administration announced a new aid package worth roughly $53 million specifically to support the reconstruction of Ukraine’s energy sector.
“This supply package will include distribution transformers, circuit breakers, surge arresters, disconnectors, vehicles and other key equipment,” a statement from the State Department’s press office said. “We will continue to identify additional support with allies and partners, and we are also helping to devise long-term solutions for grid restoration and repair, along with our assistance for Ukraine’s effort to advance the energy transition and build an energy system decoupled from Russian energy.”
The U.S. is also considering sending more advanced air defense systems to Ukraine.