Ukrainian Zelenskiy warns Europe to prepare for winter energy crisis

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  • Zelenskiy: Russia plans ‘decisive energy blow for all Europeans’
  • Russia delayed the reopening of the pipeline, a blow for Europe
  • IAEA says line down at Zaporizhzhia plant but backup works
  • US Ambassador to Russia steps down

KYIV, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has told Europeans to expect a tough winter as Russia’s assault on his country leads to reduced oil and gas exports from Moscow, as Continent leaders worked on Sunday to mitigate the impact of high energy prices.

Zelenskiy spoke on Saturday night after Moscow shut down a main pipeline that supplies Russian gas to the continent.

“Russia is preparing a decisive energy shot on all Europeans for this winter,” he said in his daily video address.

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Moscow cited Western sanctions imposed for its invasion of Ukraine and technical issues related to energy disruptions. European countries that have backed Kyiv with diplomatic and military support have accused Russia of militarizing energy supplies.

Some analysts say shortages and the rising cost of living as winter approaches risk undermining Western support for Kyiv as governments try to deal with disgruntled populations.

Separately, the US Embassy in Moscow said John Sullivan, the ambassador since his appointment by former President Donald Trump in 2019, has left his post and is retiring from diplomatic service. A State Department official said Sullivan completed a typical tour length. Read more

Last week, Moscow announced it would keep the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, its main gas channel to Germany, closed, and G7 countries announced a planned price cap on Russian oil exports.

The Kremlin has said it will stop selling oil to any country that enforces the cap.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday that his government planned a complete shutdown of gas deliveries in December, promising measures to lower prices and link social benefits to inflation.

“Russia is no longer a reliable energy partner,” Scholz told a news conference in Berlin.

Responding to this comment, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev accused Germany of being “a hostile country” and an enemy of Russia. “In other words, he declared hybrid war on Russia,” he said.

On Sunday, Finland and Sweden announced plans to offer billions of dollars to power companies to avoid the threat of insolvency amid the crisis. Read more


Russian authorities said on Sunday that the situation around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was calm on Sunday, after UN inspectors said on Saturday that it had lost the external power supply.

The last remaining main external power line was cut, although a reserve line continued to supply power to the grid, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement. Read more

Only one of its six reactors remained in service, he said.

Russian troops seized the factory shortly after President Vladimir Putin sent his army across the border on February 24 and became a focal point of the conflict.

Each side blamed the other for the bombings that raised fears of a nuclear catastrophe.

Speaking to Komsomolskaya Pravda radio, the official, Vladimir Rogov, said there had been no shelling or incursions. Russia has twice accused Ukraine of trying to take over the plant in the past two days. Ukraine said Russia attacked the area itself.

IAEA experts are expected to continue working at the plant until at least Monday, Rogov said.

An IAEA mission visited the plant, which is still operated by Ukrainian personnel, last week and some experts stayed there pending the release of an IAEA report. Read more

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of stockpiling heavy weapons in Zaporizhzhia to discourage Ukraine from firing on them. Russia, which denies having such weapons there, has resisted international calls to demilitarize the region.

On other battlefronts, Ukrainian Telegram channels reported explosions at the Antonivsky Bridge near the southern city of Kherson, occupied by Russian forces.

The bridge was badly damaged by Ukrainian missiles in recent weeks, but Russian troops were trying to repair it or set up a pontoon or barges to maintain supplies for Russian units on the right bank of the Dnipro.

Ukraine last week launched a counter-offensive targeting the south, in particular the Kherson region, which was seized by the Russians at the start of the conflict.

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Reporting by Tom Balmforth in Kyiv; Additional reporting by Michael Shields, Ron Popeski and Reuters bureaus; Written by Simon Cameron-Moore, Angus MacSwan and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by William Mallard, Philippa Fletcher and Lisa Shumaker

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