Ukraine news – live: Putin could use chemical weapons in fight against Kyiv, US fears

US officials are concerned that Vladimir Putin may use chemical weapons in the war against Ukraine if his losses on the frontline continue to pile up.

As a last resort move before launching a full nuclear confrontation, the Russian president could deploy chemicals that are easily concealed which would make it harder for Western countries to trace the attack back to Moscow.

Though the threat of such an attack does not appear imminent, the anonymous sources from the US defence department told Politico that there is now a push for allies to better prepare themselves for such an event.

Elsewhere, Volodymyr Zelensky has sought punishment on “Russian terror” from the world leaders at the UN security council.

“We expect a strong reaction from the world to today’s Russian terror. We expect the reaction of partners. We expect the reaction of friends - not just observers. We expect the reaction of all those who really recognize the UN Charter,” the wartime president said in his virtual address to the gathering.

Key Points

  • Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine, says US - Report

  • Putin gravely mistaken about Ukrainians, says US envoy

  • Russia complains about Zelensky’s virtual appearance at UNSC

  • Fierce fight rages on in eastern Ukraine

Ukraine: Putin’s Russia declared ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ by European Parliament

08:22 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The European Parliament has overwhelmingly backed a resolution declaring Vladimir Putin’s Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism” for its invasion of and actions in Ukraine.

In a 494-58 vote with 48 abstentions, the EU legislature sought to increase pressure on Moscow to bring anyone responsible for war crimes committed from the start of the invasion before an international court.

The 27-nation bloc has condemned in the harshest terms the invasion and repeatedly said that several Russian actions over the past 10 months have amounted to war crimes.

Emily Atkinson has more:

Ukraine: Putin’s Russia declared ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ by European Parliament

Ukraine expects to have nuclear power plants back on line on Thursday

07:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine expects three nuclear power plants that were switched off because of Russian missile strikes on Wednesday will be operating again by Thursday evening, energy minister German Galushchenko said.

“We expect that by evening the nuclear power plants will start working, providing energy to the network, and this will significantly reduce the (energy) deficit,” he said in comments broadcast on national television.

Ukraine's capital grapples with biggest power outages of war so far

07:31 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

More than two thirds of the Ukrainian capital was still without power on Thursday morning and a swathe of residents had no running water, a day after Russian missile strikes caused Kyiv’s biggest outages in nine months of war.

The capital was one of the main targets of the latest wave of attacks on energy facilities that cut power in many regions and made emergency blackouts necessary in others to conserve energy and enable repairs as winter sets in.

The temperature plunged below zero degrees Celsius overnight in a city that had 2.8 million residents before the war and where it is already snowing and the streets are icy.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said electricians and repair workers were doing everything to get the power back on “as fast as possible” but the recovery would depend largely on the overall energy “balance” of the nationwide grid.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy chief of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s staff, said power supplies had been restored in the Kirovohrad and Vinnytsia regions.

In the south, Mykolaiv region governor Vitali Kim appealed to Ukrainians to be as frugal as possible in their use of power.

“Consumption has been growing this morning (which is logical), there isn’t enough capacity in the system to switch it on for more consumers!!,” he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

“The energy system is united like we all are! If you’ve turned off a few unneeded lights, that’s really important!!!”

Russia using mobilised reservists in Donbas battle - MoD

06:55 , Arpan Rai

Russia has likely redeployed major elements of airborne forces called VDV units to the Donetsk and Luhansk fronts in the Donbas in the last two weeks, the British defence ministry said today.

“From September to October, most of the severely weakened VDV units were dedicated to the defence of Russian-held territory west of the Dnipro River in Kherson oblast,” the MoD said in its latest intelligence update.

It added that some VDV units have likely been reinforced with mobilised reservists. “Although these poorly trained personnel will dilute VDV’s supposedly elite capability, Russia will likely still allocate these units to sectors deemed especially important,” the ministry said.

“Potential operational tasks for the VDV include supporting the defence of the Kremina-Svatove area in Luhansk Oblast or reinforcing offensive operations against the Donetsk oblast town of Bakhmut,” according to the defence ministry.

Russia could use chemical weapons in Ukraine, says US - Report

06:21 , Arpan Rai

Officials in the US are concerned that Russia could resort to chemical weapons in Ukraine, reported Politico.

According to the report, Vladimir Putin might use chemical weapons in Russia’s war against Ukraine before using the nuclear force in confrontation with Nato if his troops continue to face losses in the battlefield, the US administration officials said.

The threat of such an attack does not appear imminent, officials said citing the intelligence.

The speculated attack would involve chemicals that are easily concealed, making it more difficult for Western countries to pin on Moscow, one official told Politico.

Naked Vladimir Putin golden toilet sculpture up for auction

05:50 , Arpan Rai

A nude effigy of Russian president Vladimir Putin perched on top of an ornate golden toilet has been put up for auction by a group of Czech activists who plan to use the proceeds from the sale to buy and send a combat drone to Ukraine’s forces.

Parodying a monarch holding an orb and sceptre, the Russian leader grips a glided toilet brush and minature washing machine pouring with what appears to be fake blood.

“Naked Killers”, which also features Mr Putin’s close ally and Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, was initially created to critique the Russian leader’s opulent lifestyle, and has been adorned with several different props to reflect the changing circumstance of his rule since it was unveiled last year.

Read the full story here:

Feeling flush? Naked Vladimir Putin sculpture on golden toilet put up for auction

World cannot afford another nuclear catastrophe - UN official

05:44 , Arpan Rai

UN under-secretary general Rosemary DiCarlo warned the world leaders that avoidance of nuclear disaster at Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility in Ukraine despite heavy shelling was due to “sheer luck”.

“We remain deeply concerned about at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant - the largest in Europe. The reported shelling at the plant over the weekend is reckless and deplorable,” Ms DiCarlo told the UN security council today at the emergency meet called by Volodymyr Zelensky after relentless shelling by Russia yesterday.

“The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed on Monday that despite the severity of the shelling, key equipment remained intact and there were no immediate nuclear safety or security concerns. This is a result of sheer luck,” the top UN official said.

We do not know how long this luck will last, she said, adding that the world cannot afford another nuclear catastrophe.

All military activities at and around the plant must cease immediately, the envoy said.

Russian strikes against civilian infrastructure are war crimes - Macron

05:31 , Arpan Rai

French president Emmanuel Macron has called the attacks on civilian infrastructure as war crimes, stating that they cannot go unpunished, just hours after explosions reverberated across Ukraine yesterday as Russia rained missiles on the country.

“Ukraine suffered massive shelling today, leaving much of the country without water or electricity. Strikes against civilian infrastructures are war crimes and cannot go unpunished,” Mr Macron said today.

He added: “With winter approaching, we will mobilise international support for Ukraine on 13 December to help that country remain resilient and to guarantee its energy access. We will not forget Moldova, which was also affected by water and electricity cuts.”

Ukraine ‘dreams of life without Putin' - Ukrainian defence ministry

05:09 , Arpan Rai

Ukrainian defence ministry has compared the war-hit country’s electricity crisis to the Earth Hour caused by the Russian attacks called by Vladimir Putin.

“In March, Earth Hour is held, when all over the world lights are switched off for an hour. Ukraine alone has been without light and heat for the whole world over. All of Ukraine dreams of an Hour, a Day, a Month, a Year, a Life without Putin,” the defence ministry said today.

Millions of Ukrainians suffer in biting cold after all of the country received snow last week but does not have power connection to access heaters, warm water and lights to survive the harsh weather conditions after incessant Russian attacks and shelling has led to a collapse of power grid.

Russia complains about Zelensky’s virtual appearance at UNSC

04:46 , Arpan Rai

Russian UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya questioned Ukrainian president’s virtual appearance at the UN security council meet called late yesterday and said it was against the council’s rules

The top Russian envoy also rejected what he called “reckless threats and ultimatums” by Ukraine and its a in the allies West.

He also said that the damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure was caused by missiles fired by Ukrainian air defence systems that crashed into civilian areas after being fired at Russia’s missiles, and called on the West to stop providing Kyiv with air defence missiles.

Fierce fight rages on in eastern Ukraine

04:39 , Arpan Rai

Fierce ground battles continue to engulf Ukraine’s eastern frontiers and regions where Russia has concentrated its military might along a stretch of front line west of the city of Donetsk.

Russian forces tried again to make advances on their main targets in the Donetsk region - Bakhmut and Avdiivka, Ukrainian general staff said. Both the regions have been heavily shelled by Russia which used incendiary devices to set Ukrainian positions ablaze but only achieved limited success, the general staff said.

In southern Ukraine, Russian forces are digging in on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, the general staff said. The shelling by Russia has continued on the west bank including the town of Kherson, which was recently reclaimed by Ukrainian forces.

Ukraine forced to shut nuclear power plants as six killed in Russian strikes

04:00 , Arpan Rai

At least six civilians were killed in Ukraine after a barrage of Russian missiles hit the country, forcing nuclear power plants to shut down as power was cut in Kyiv and several other regions.

Volodymyr Zelensky called for a meeting of the United Nations security council to discuss the damage to critical infrastructure caused by the Russian strikes – the latest in a relentless campaign that threatens to leave millions facing a freezing winter with severely limited access to heating and light.

“The murder of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure are acts of terror,” Mr Zelensky said. “Ukraine will continue to demand a decisive response from the world to these crimes.”

Ukraine forced to shut nuclear power plants as six killed in Russian strikes

Putin gravely mistaken about Ukrainians, says US envoy

03:53 , Arpan Rai

The US envoy to the UN has said Russian president Vladimir Putin is "clearly weaponising winter to inflict immense suffering on the Ukrainian people."

“Putin has decided that if he can’t seize Ukraine by force, he can freeze the country into submission by destroying its energy infrastructure. But he is, once again, gravely mistaken. The Ukrainian people will not be deterred,” the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

The top US envoy said: “No matter the cold and dark that Putin tries to inflict, Ukraine will continue to defend its freedom, its sovereignty, and its democracy.”

Washington and its allies will continue to stand with Ukraine in its time of need – for as long as it takes, Ms Thomas-Greenfield said.

03:26 , Arpan Rai

Good morning, welcome to our coverage of the Ukraine war on Thursday, 24 November.