War in Ukraine: “indefinite blackouts”, claims of “only” diplomatic solution, Georgia’s economic boom

1. Ukraine plunged into darkness under Russian bombardment

Power cuts across Ukraine were announced on Saturday, following intense Russian strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure.

Ukraine’s state-owned electricity operator, Ukrenergo, said power outages would occur in Kyiv and seven other neighboring regions, Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Poltava and Kharkiv.

The move comes after Russian forces unleashed a series of crippling attacks on Ukraine, damaging power plants, water supplies and other civilian targets.

Later Saturday, Ukrenergo said outages planned for limited periods would not be enough and emergency outages, which could last indefinitely, were needed.

Ukraine has been grappling with power outages and water supply disruptions since Russia launched massive missile barrages and alleged drone strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure last month.

Moscow said they were responding to what it presumed were Ukrainian attacks on Crimea, the region Russia illegally annexed in 2014.

Ukraine denies these allegations.

2. A judge from Donetsk, under Russian occupation, shot dead

A judge from Donetsk, annexed by Russia at the end of September, was shot dead on Saturday, leaving him in serious condition, according to local authorities.

The judge, Alexander Nikulin, was from the Supreme Court of the Donetsk Republic (DNR) in southeastern Ukraine.

He chaired the panel of judges who sentenced the foreign fighters who fought alongside Ukraine, including two Britons and a Moroccan.

“On the evening of November 4, 2022, the Interior Ministry … received a message about an assassination attempt in the city of Vouglegirsk,” the Interior Ministry of the so-called Republic.

“The victim was shot and injured,” they said, adding that he was “in serious condition” and “fighting for his life.”

The ministry declined to elaborate on the modus operandi of the gun attack or why it took place.

Nikulin’s condition was “serious”, said another senior official in the Russian-backed authority, Denis Pushilin.

He added that the judge had “convicted Nazi war criminals”, in reference to the Kyiv government, an echo of Kremlin terminology that claims Ukraine is ruled by the far right.

3. Georgia explodes as Russians flee Putin’s war

The influx of Russians fleeing their country’s partial mobilization has sparked an economic boom in Georgia, Reuters reports.

The tiny nation wedged under Russia in the Caucasus is set to become one of the world’s fastest growing economies this year, due to the arrival of more than 100,000 Russians since the war began in February.

But residents have complained that the influx is shutting them out of the property market and driving up the prices of essential goods, in a country already plagued by high levels of poverty.

Demonstrations on the border between Georgia and Russia exploded in September, protesters claiming Russians pose a threat to national security and the economy.

Georgia, home to 3.7 million people, is expected to record 10% economic growth in 2022 due to a consumer-led boom, according to international institutions.

This rate of growth contrasts sharply with the recessions predicted in other parts of the world.

“Economically, Georgia is doing very well,” Vakhtang Butskhrikidze, CEO of the country’s largest bank, TBC, told Reuters in an interview at the Tbilisi headquarters.

“There is a kind of boom,” he added. “All industries are doing very well, from micro to enterprise. I can’t think of any industry that’s having trouble this year.”

At least 112,000 Russians have emigrated to Georgia this year, according to border-crossing statistics, with a large wave arriving after Putin announced national mobilization in September.

4. Iran admits sending drones to Russia for the first time

Iran’s foreign minister on Saturday acknowledged for the first time that his country had supplied drones to Russia, saying the transfer came before Moscow’s war on Ukraine.

Kyiv says Russia is using Iranian-made drones to attack its energy and civilian infrastructure, which has caused large-scale blackouts across the country.

Iranian authorities have previously denied arming Russia.

“We gave a limited number of drones to Russia months before the war in Ukraine,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told reporters on Saturday after a meeting in Tehran.

Iranian officials have previously denied supplying weapons to Moscow’s armed forces.

Earlier this week, Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Amir Saeid Iravani, called the allegations “totally baseless” and argued that Iran was a neutral party to the conflict.

Western governments have called for a UN investigation into the use of Iranian-made drones in the war in Ukraine, alleging they are being deployed to devastating effect.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have in the past boasted of supplying weapons to some of the world’s biggest powers.

Acknowledging the arms shipments, Amirabdollahian said on Saturday that Iran was unaware that its drones were being used in Ukraine. He said Iran remained committed to peace.

“If (Ukraine) has documents in its possession indicating that Russia used Iranian drones in Ukraine, it should provide them to us,” he said. “If it is proven to us that Russia used Iranian drones in the war against Ukraine, we will not be indifferent to this issue.”

5. Only diplomacy can solve the war in Ukraine, say former world leaders

An end to the bloody war in Ukraine can only be achieved through diplomacy, a group of former world leaders said on Friday.

The group, known as The Elders, said total victory on the battlefield was impossible for either warring side and that they should continue dialogue to end the conflict that lasts for months.

Founded by Nelson Mandela, the former top world leaders took the message to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, during a visit to Kyiv this summer, according to former Irish President Mary Robinson, who chairs the group.

“We need to encourage more thinking about how this will end in order to have the idea that this has to end, instead of increasing the military arsenal on both sides and the devastation of the Ukrainian population,” he said. she declared.

The Elders condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling it “a flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations and an irresponsible and unjustifiable act of aggression which threatens to destabilize world peace and security”.

Signed after World War II, the United Nations Charter obligates all member states to maintain international peace and security, among other things.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, a former UN human rights commissioner, agreed that diplomacy and negotiation were the only way out of war.

He stressed that this did not mean asking Ukraine to cede its sovereignty, since it was the victim of unprovoked Russian aggression.

Ukraine has firmly ruled out a settlement that cedes territory or control to Moscow, with Zelenskyy saying in July that was “not an option”.

Ra’ad al-Hussein hinted that a resolution to the conflict could be facilitated if Russia received a concession “from another direction”, possibly referring to NATO or the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has long complained that the Western military alliance has pushed into Russian borders, citing this in his justification for the invasion.

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