As Europe continues to grapple with the soaring price of energy caused by the Russian invasion, European Union leaders agreed early Friday to pursue measures to “protect its citizens and businesses” against Russia’s “weaponization of energy,” though there was no consensus on capping the price of natural gas. The agreement responds to Russia’s efforts to limit exports of natural gas to Europe over E.U. support for Ukraine and Western moves to avoid importing Russian energy more broadly, resulting in skyrocketing energy bills.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
- A U.S. think tank said a Russian effort to sabotage the Kakhovka dam could be used to cover up a future Russian retreat from the region. The Institute for the Study of War said it could be a tactic to distract from Russian losses. Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said Ukraine would “not succumb to peace by coercion.”
- The European Council signed a “unanimous commitment” to lower energy prices, guarantee supply and reduce demand, European Council President Charles Michel said. But E.U. countries still need to agree on details on how to achieve those goals. The bloc had been fiercely divided about directly intervening in energy markets. The leaders of Germany and Hungary have expressed concerns that price caps would result in reduced gas supplies for the E.U, driving producers to seek higher bidders in other regions.
- Both the E.U. and Britain announced further sanctions against Tehran on Thursday over Russia’s use of Iranian-made drones in Ukraine. The United States also said Iranian military personnel in Crimea are assisting Russia in its drone attacks against Ukraine by providing tech support and training. In a phone call with the E.U.’s top diplomat, Iran’s foreign minister denied sending arms to either side, adding that his country “wants an end to the war and an end to the displacement of people.”
- Moscow claims that four civilians, including two Russian journalists, were killed in Kherson late Thursday night. State media quoted a Russian proxy official as saying that a Ukrainian strike targeted the bridge, while a local pro-Ukrainian outlet reported that it was being used by retreating Russian forces. The reports cannot be independently verified, but many civilians have been removed from Kherson in recent days by Russia and a curfew is in place.
- Russia conducted three missile attacks and 24 airstrikes in the past day, hitting more than 15 settlements, including in the Kherson and Kharkiv regions, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said early Friday. Kharkiv’s regional governor reported that industrial infrastructure was targeted and that six people were wounded. Three people were also injured in attacks on Zaporizhzhia, according to the region’s governor.
- Zelensky said “Russian terrorists” have mined the dam at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, one of the Ukraine’s largest power facilities, in preparation for a “false flag” attack. He did not provide evidence of the Russian plot but told European Council leaders it could lead to flooding in 80 settlements, including Kherson, and destroy much of southern Ukraine’s water supply. In recent days, Moscow proxy officials have claimed that Ukraine was planning to blow up the dam to flood Kherson and have removed thousands of people from the city. Ukraine blew up a dam early in the war as part of its efforts to defend Kyiv.
- Russia has sent a further 2,000 recently mobilized fighters “to replenish losses and strengthen units” in Kherson, the general command of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said Friday.
- The announcement of a “Russian-Belarusian Group of Forces” is likely to have been a tactic designed to divert Ukrainian troops to the northern border, the British Defense Ministry said. Last week, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced that 70,000 Belarusian troops and up to 15,000 Russians would be part of the new force, but the British ministry suggested that neither Russia nor Belarus could generate such formations….
Here’s what we know:
Ukrainian officials say Russian forces are shelling villages around Svatove, a major conduit for supplies to Moscow’s forces in the east.
Russian forces have killed 11 people in Donetsk in the last day, Ukrainian officials say.
U.S. lawmakers visit Kyiv as Republican leaders raise questions about future aid.
The U.S. and Russian defense secretaries have a rare conversation.
Zelensky says Russia plans to blow up a major dam in a ‘false flag’ attack, flooding southern Ukraine.
Russian errors prompted the deployment of Iranian drone personnel to Ukraine, a U.S. official says.
‘I thought I would not come out alive:’ Liberated Ukrainians describe life under occupation.
A new report adds yet more evidence of Russian war crimes….