Drones hit Kyiv as Putin visits Belarus

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Moscow launched a “kamikaze” drone attack on Monday, hitting key infrastructure in and around Kyiv, as Russian president Vladimir Putin arrived in Belarus, fueling fears he will pressure his ex-Soviet ally to join a new offensive on Ukraine.

Belarus - new front?

* Putin's visit to Belarus comes after the recent major battlefield setbacks for Moscow, stoking fears that the former Soviet ally could be pressured to reopen a new front against Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies suggestions Moscow would push Minsk into joining what it calls its “special military operation” were “stupid and unfounded fabrications”.

* Russian troops that were moved to Belarus in October to become part of a regional formation will conduct tactical exercises, the Russian Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing the Russian defense ministry.

Economy/diplomacy

* Zelenskyy asked Western leaders meeting in Latvia including British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, to supply a wide range of weapons systems, renewing his longstanding call for more military support.

* Veteran US diplomat Henry Kissinger said the time was approaching for a negotiated peace in Ukraine to reduce the risk of another devastating world war, but Kyiv dismissed his comments as amounting to “appeasing the aggressor.”

Conflict

* Russia's latest attacks hit “critical infrastructure” in and around Kyiv early on Monday, Ukrainian authorities said.

* That followed Friday's 70 missile strikes in one of Russia's biggest assaults against Ukraine since the start of the war, Ukrainian officials said.

* Ukraine's atomic energy agency accused Russia of sending a “kamikaze” drone over part of the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in the Mykolaiv region overnight.

* Russia's defense ministry said its forces had shot down four US-made HARM anti-radiation missiles over the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, in the space of 24 hours, the state-run TASS news agency reported.

* Reuters was not able to independently verify battlefield reports.

Power

* The power grid operator described the situation as “difficult” and said the Dnipropetrovsk region and areas in the center and east of the country were the worst affected. Emergency power outages affected several locations, including Kyiv city, the surrounding region and the regions of Kharkiv, Sumy, Poltava and Zaporizhzhia, operator Ukrenergo said.

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