Heating has been fully restored to Kyiv, the city’s mayor has said, after one of the most intense Russian bombardments of the capital last week robbed it of key civilian energy supplies and forced the national government to implement rolling blackouts.
Vitali Klitschko said on Sunday morning the capital was successfully “restoring all services after the latest shelling” and that “in particular, the capital’s heating supply system is fully restored. All sources of heat supply work normally.”
Temperatures in Kyiv and across the country were below freezing on Sunday and forecast to fall to -6C (21.2F) by evening. Up to a third of the capital’s population of 3 million had still been without electricity overnight in what officials called a “difficult and critical” situation.
A wave of Russian drone and missile attacks since October has caused severe damage to Ukraine’s civilian energy and electricity infrastructure as it enters the cold winter months. Russia fired more than 70 missiles targeting Ukraine’s water and energy infrastructure on Friday in one of its heaviest barrages since the beginning of its invasion on 24 February, causing power blackouts and removing access to heat and water.
Four people in the southern Russian border region of Belgorod were meanwhile wounded by shelling on Sunday, the governor said, and witnesses reported loud blasts in the regional capital. In Ukraine, shelling was also reported in the centre of Kherson, the major city from which Russian soldiers retreated last month in one of Moscow’s biggest battlefield setbacks since its invasion.
Britain’s defence ministry said in its intelligence assessment on Sunday that low morale continued to be a “significant vulnerability” for Russia’s forces, highlighting Moscow’s plans for a creative brigade in a bid to use “military music and organised entertainment” to boost morale.
The ministry in London said it doubted the new brigade would compensate for “very high casualty rates, poor leadership, pay problems, lack of equipment and ammunition, and lack of clarity about the war’s objectives”.
Moscow said the Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, visited troops involved in what it calls its special military operation in Ukraine after the defence ministry this week announced the formation of a “frontline creative brigade”, including vocalists and musicians, to raise morale.
RBC news in Russia cited officials as saying the brigade would feature conscripted and volunteer professional artists tasked with maintaining “a high moral, political and psychological state [among] the participants of the special military operation”.
The ministry said Shoigu “flew around the areas of troop deployment and checked the advanced positions of Russian units in the zone of the special military operation”, adding that he spoke with frontline troops. It is not clear where.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on Sunday proposed holding a global peace summit this winter, in a video message Kyiv had hoped would be broadcast ahead of the World Cup final in Qatar.
In an interview published on Sunday, the veteran US diplomat Henry Kissinger said the time was approaching for a negotiated peace to reduce the risk of a devastating world war, but warned that dreams of breaking up Russia could unleash nuclear chaos.
Kissinger, 99, was secretary of state under the Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and an architect of the cold war policy of detente towards the former Soviet Union. He has met the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, on several occasions.
“The time is approaching to build on the strategic changes which have already been accomplished and to integrate them into a new structure towards achieving peace through negotiation,” Kissinger wrote in an article for the Spectator magazine.
“A peace process should link Ukraine to Nato, however expressed. The alternative of neutrality is no longer meaningful,” he wrote, adding that desires to render Russia “impotent”, or even seek its dissolution – which neither the west nor Ukraine has advocated – could unleash mayhem.
William Burns, the director of the CIA, said in an interview published on Saturday that while most conflicts ended in negotiation, the agency’s assessment was that Russia was not serious yet about a real negotiation to end the war.
The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said on Sunday that Russia’s war on Ukraine had “opened the gates of hell”, unleashing “every evil” force worldwide from murder and rape in occupied territory to famine and debt in Africa and Europe.
He said after a visit to Ukraine last month he had been struck by the “size of the mass graves in Bucha, the photos of what had been done to the people there, the rape, the massacres, the torture by the occupying Russian forces”.