Russia weaponizes winter in war with Ukraine, EU pushes back

President Zelensky spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, and reported that the two discussed "all the challenges of winter."

 Russian reservists recruited during the partial mobilisation of troops line up as they receive gear before departing to the zone of Russia-Ukraine conflict, in the Rostov region, Russia October 31, 2022. (photo credit: SERGEY PIVOVAROV/REUTERS)
Russian reservists recruited during the partial mobilisation of troops line up as they receive gear before departing to the zone of Russia-Ukraine conflict, in the Rostov region, Russia October 31, 2022.
(photo credit: SERGEY PIVOVAROV/REUTERS)

Russia's missile strikes during the Monday morning rush hour is part of a strategy that it has pursued in recent weeks of targeting Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, especially power stations, in a bid to create harsh living conditions, Ukrainian and Western officials have warned.

"Russian attacks on infrastructure were planned weeks in advance. the Kremlin uses winter as a weapon, trying to demoralize people who remain strong despite all the brutality inflicted on them by the occupiers," said the head of Ukraine's military intelligence, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, in a comment to British news outlet The i on Monday. 

The US ambassador to Kyiv, Bridget Brink, tweeted: "Like millions of Ukrainians, our [US Embassy in Kyiv] team is once again taking shelter as Russia continues its callous and barbaric missile strikes on the people of Ukraine in an effort to leave the country cold and dark as we approach winter."

"Now, more than ever, we must support Ukraine and its people. They are fighting to defend their country, and we have a moral obligation to help them."

EU High Representative Josep Borrell

For the past three weeks, Russia has attacked Ukrainian civil infrastructure using expensive long-range missiles and cheap Iranian-made "suicide drones" that fly at a target and detonate.

 A Ukrainian serviceman staying in a village close to the front line, chops wood for stoves as fuel for heating and cooking, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, October 29, 2022. (credit: CLODAGH KILCOYNE/REUTERS) A Ukrainian serviceman staying in a village close to the front line, chops wood for stoves as fuel for heating and cooking, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, October 29, 2022. (credit: CLODAGH KILCOYNE/REUTERS)

Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said 18 targets, mostly energy infrastructure, were hit in missile and drone strikes on 10 Ukrainian regions on Monday.

In Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, the strikes had caused a blackout that left trolleybus driver Ihor Polovikov stranded in his electric cable-powered vehicle.

He was fed up, he said, adding: "But nobody will give up just like that. We got used to it, it's the ninth month. Everyone has understood that this is necessary."

Europe lends a helping hand

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, and reported in his daily address to the Ukrainian people that the two discussed "all the challenges of winter: from energy to finance, from weapons to protecting the sky." 

"The bet of terrorists for the winter is completely transparent to everyone," Zelensky explained, "and this challenge should be viewed precisely as a challenge to all of Europe. Moscow will present any winter difficulties in its propaganda as alleged proof of the failure of a united Europe. Therefore, together we must prove to the terrorists that failure is a word about them, not about Europe."

Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said on Wednesday that "3 billion euros came from the European Peace Fund. Another 19 billion came from the European Union and member states to support Ukraine financially [and] economically, by providing humanitarian aid and material resources so that Ukrainians could survive this winter.

"Winter is approaching, and Putin is waiting for 'General Winter' to help the Russian army," Borrell continued. "Now, more than ever, we must support Ukraine and its people. They are fighting to defend their country, and we have a moral obligation to help them."