The White House said Thursday that Iranian troops are "directly engaged on the ground" in Crimea supporting Russian drone attacks on Ukraine’s power stations and other key infrastructure, claiming it has troubling evidence of Tehran’s deepening role assisting Russia as it exacts suffering on Ukrainian civilians just as the cold weather sets in, reports the Associated Press.
Iranian troops in Crimea backing Russian drone strikes (Associated Press)
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Excerpt from the Associated Press: National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Iran has sent a "relatively small number" of personnel to Crimea, a part of Ukraine unilaterally annexed by Russia in contravention of international law in 2014, to assist Russian troops in launching Iranian-made drones against Ukraine. Members of a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were dispatched to assist Russian forces in using the drones, according to the British government. The revelation of the U.S. intelligence finding comes as the Biden administration seeks to mount international pressure on Tehran to pull back from helping Russia as it bombards soft Ukrainian civilian targets with the help of Iranian-made drones. The Russians in recent days have increasingly turned to the Iranian-supplied drones to carry out a barrage of attacks against Ukrainian infrastructure and non-military targets.
According to Reuters, Russia has hit at least half of Ukraine's thermal generation capacity and caused billions of dollars of damage in attacks since Oct. 10, but not all stricken power units have stopped working completely, Ukraine's energy minister said on Friday.
At least half Ukraine's thermal power capacity hit by Russian attacks - minister (Reuters)
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Excerpt from Reuters: Herman Halushchenko told Reuters in an interview that 30-40% of overall national power infrastructure had been hit in attacks that he depicted as intended to destroy Ukraine's energy system -- a goal that he said had not been achieved. "It's quite a lot of capacity. I can tell you that it's... at least half of thermal generation capacity, even more," he said, when asked about the scale of the damage. "This week, they targeted a number of thermal generation (plants)," Halushchenko said, adding that Ukraine had lost 4000MW in generating capacity as a result of those attacks. Russia stepped up its aerial attacks on Ukraine last week using missiles and drones to target Kyiv, other major cities and energy infrastructure.
In a related story, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of preparing to blow up a dam at a hydroelectric plant in southern Ukraine, which would lead to a "large-scale disaster", writes BBC News.
Ukraine war: Zelensky accuses Russia of plot to blow up dam (BBC News)
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Excerpt from BBC News: In his overnight address he said the Kakhovka dam on the Dnieper river had been mined by Russian forces, according to Ukrainian information. The dam is under Russian occupation, but Ukrainian forces are closing in. Russia has already accused Ukraine of firing missiles at the Kakhovka dam. The dam also provides Russia with one of the few remaining routes across the Dnieper river in the partially occupied Kherson region. Russian-installed authorities in Kherson have rejected Ukraine's allegations of a plot to destroy the structure. They blamed Ukrainian forces for an attack on another key crossing, the Antonivskiy Bridge. Four people were killed, including the head of a TV channel.
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