BRUSSELS — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to the southern city of Kherson on Monday, only days after Russian troops withdrew from the region, according to confirmed witness reports from the internet newspaper Ukrajinska Pravda.
His visit, of which few details had been disclosed, came on the same day as the first UN humanitarian convoy reached Kherson’s liberated people, of whom only 80,000 of the usual 280,000 remain.
Supplies of food, drinking water, hygiene products, kitchen utensils as well as bedding, warm blankets and solar lamps were provided to 6,000 people, according to a statement by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva.
It was the first UN convoy to reach the people of Kherson since Russia invaded and captured the city in early March. More convoys are planned as the UN reported that the city is lacking electricity, water, food and medicine.
Strong EU support for war-torn Ukraine also continued on Monday, as Latvia delivered a fresh supply of tanks to Ukraine and EU ministers launched a military training mission for the Ukrainian armed forces.
Lithuania, which is both an EU and NATO country and has provided extensive military support to Ukraine throughout the war, sent 12 more M113 armoured vehicles to Ukraine, according to the defence ministry in Vilnius.
This means that the Baltic state has already delivered 62 M113 vehicles to Ukraine.
“Lithuania continues to fulfil its obligations,” Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels to launch a military training mission for 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers in Poland, according to top EU diplomat Josep Borrell.
EU foreign ministers are also set to discuss Belarus and Iran’s support to the Russian during the ongoing war in Ukraine.
No new EU sanctions on Russia are to be decided on Monday, Borrell said but added legal work was ongoing to examine new targets.
Moreover, criticism by Western leaders of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s refusal to attend the G20 summit, which begins today on the Indonesian island of Bali, continued.
New British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was the latest politician to address Putin on his absence at the summit.
In an article published on Monday in the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, Sunak wrote: “This G20 summit will not be business as usual. We will call out Putin’s regime, and lay bare their utter contempt for the kind of international cooperation and respect for sovereignty forums like the G20 represent.”
The G20 is a group of leading world economies which meet at regular intervals to discuss key global issues.
Putin had confirmed at the beginning of November that he would not attend the meeting of the G20 leaders, where he would likely have had to face fierce criticism of the war he started against Ukraine, sending his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to represent him.
Despite celebrations in Kherson and ongoing support for Ukraine,the impending winter will have a significant impact on fighting for both sides, according to British intelligence assessments.
“Changes in daylight hours, temperature and weather present unique challenges for fighting soldiers,” the Ministry of Defense in London said on Monday. “Any decisions made by the Russian General Staff will be partly dependent on the onset of winter.”
Winter conditions, with more rain and strong winds as well as snowfall, will lead to health problems and pose additional challenges to the already low morale of the Russian armed forces, the ministry added.
Th cold also meant problems for equipment maintenance, it added. “Basic exercises such as weapons cleaning have to be adapted to the conditions and the risk of weapons malfunctioning increases,” it said in London.
The British Ministry of Defense has been publishing daily intelligence reports on the course of the war in Ukraine since its outbreak, to counter the Russian narrative and help allies.
Moscow accuses London of running a misinformation campaign.