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Ukraine Faces Dark and Brutal Winter

As temperatures drop, Russia’s strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure have left the country in a dangerous position.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
Workers dismantle an autotransformer in central Ukraine.
Workers dismantle an autotransformer in central Ukraine.
Workers dismantle an autotransformer, destroyed in a Russian missile strike, at the Ukrenergo high-voltage power substation in central Ukraine on Nov. 10. Ed Ram/Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at how Ukraine is preparing for a brutal winter, the growing toll of Indonesia’s earthquake, and Iran’s high-profile arrests

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Ukraine Evacuates Civilians as Temperatures Drop 

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at how Ukraine is preparing for a brutal winter, the growing toll of Indonesia’s earthquake, and Iran’s high-profile arrests. 

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Ukraine Evacuates Civilians as Temperatures Drop 

Ukraine is bracing for a brutal winter as Russian missile strikes have damaged nearly half of the country’s electrical grid, according to Kyiv, potentially leaving millions of people without heating while temperatures plummet.

As many as 10 million Ukrainians do not have power as a result of Russia’s bombardment, Ukrainian officials have warned, while rolling blackouts and water supply shortages have become commonplace across the country. In recently liberated Kherson, some people are now collecting wood for heat in lieu of a stable power supply.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is “trying to make it the coldest and darkest and hardest winter Ukrainians have ever experienced,” said Melinda Haring, the deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, who noted how Moscow has failed to make progress on the battlefield. 

“He wants to sow chaos in Europe and undermine Western support for Ukraine, and he also wants to break the will and resolve of the Ukrainian people,” she added. 

Of Ukraine’s 27 regions, 15 have been enduring planned blackouts that often last for at least four hours. In Kherson and Mykolaiv, both of which have been pummeled by Russian shelling, Ukrainian authorities are now starting to evacuate residents before temperatures drop even further. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Russia’s strikes and prolonged power outages could strain Ukraine’s hospitals and health systems, many of which have now been forced to rely on generators to continue providing medical services. 

“Continued attacks on health and energy infrastructure mean hundreds of hospitals and health care facilities are no longer fully operational—lacking fuel, water, and electricity to meet basic needs,” Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said on Monday. 

“Ukraine’s health system is facing its darkest days in the war so far,” he warned. 


What We’re Following Today

Indonesia’s earthquake tragedy. Indonesian authorities are racing to rescue survivors after a devastating 5.6 magnitude earthquake rocked the country’s West Java province on Monday. As of Tuesday morning, the death toll had risen to at least 268 people. The earthquake displaced as many as 13,000 people and damaged more than 2,200 houses, authorities said.

Iran’s high-profile arrests. Iranian officials have arrested two famous actresses, Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi, for backing the anti-government protests that have swept the country, state media said. Both actresses had posted videos on social media in which they were not wearing headscarves, CNN reported

In cracking down on dissent, Tehran has also increasingly turned to its judicial system and has now sentenced four people to death for their role in the protests. In total, rights groups estimate that Iranian security forces have detained as many as 15,000 people for demonstrating. 


Keep an Eye On

World’s longest-ruling dictator. After taking control of Equatorial Guinea in a coup 43 years ago, Teodoro Obiang appeared to be close to continuing his rule after the country’s Sunday election. As of Monday, initial results showed his party securing more than 99 percent of the vote. Opposition leader Andrés Esono Ondo told Reuters that the vote was a “total fraud.” 

Writing in Foreign Policy in October, Jeffrey Smith and Tutu Alicante described Obiang as the “world’s longest-ruling dictator.” Washington has been one of Obiang’s staunchest diplomatic and financial backers despite nearly a half century of serious human rights abuses, a clearly oppressive autocratic regime, and the fierce repression of basic freedoms,” they wrote

Peacekeeper attack in Somalia. Three Kenyan peacekeepers were killed when an armed attacker fired on a military base in southern Somalia on Monday, The Associated Press reported. Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack. 

“We believe the lone wolf was testing the ground for more such incidents,” a Kenyan military official told AP. “We must be more careful and vigilant.” 


Monday’s Most Read

How the U.S.-Chinese Technology War Is Changing the World by Agathe Demarais

All the Kremlin’s Trolls by Amy Mackinnon

Billionaires Won’t Save Ukraine’s Internet by Olga Boichak and Tetyana Lokot


Odds and Ends 

While fishing in France, a British angler named Andy Hackett pulled in a giant orange goldfish that weighed a whopping 67 pounds. The gargantuan fish—called “the Carrot”—was dropped in the lake two decades ago, according to the fishery’s manager. After taking several photos with the Carrot, Hackett returned it to the lake. 

“I always knew the Carrot was in there but never thought I would catch it,” he said, adding: “It was brilliant to catch it, but it was also sheer luck.”

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

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