(Bloomberg) -- NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of using “winter as a weapon” as Ukraine’s leader warned that the Kremlin is preparing new strikes to inflict more damage on the energy system. 

“As long as they have missiles, they will not calm down,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address. “The week that is starting may be as difficult as the week that has passed.”

The Ukrainian energy system’s ability to meet power demand dropped to 73% as supply shortages widened rapidly early Monday, national grid operator Ukrenergo said. The operator is using emergency cuts to balance the system as consumption increases with worsening weather. 

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  • European Gas Drops As Concerns Ease Over Remaining Russian Flows

On the Ground

Russian troops kept shelling residential areas in the recently liberated city of Kherson. Electricity supply was restored for 17% of consumers there. Russian forces also struck areas around Bakhmut and Avdiyivka in eastern Ukraine, while focusing offensive efforts on the Lyman region of Donetsk, Ukraine’s General Staff reported. Ukrainian Air Defense reported an increase in the Russian military’s aviation activity. Ukrainians should be ready for new rocket attacks, it added.

(All times CET)

US ‘Confident’ that Sweden and Finland Will Join NATO (8:48 p.m.)

The US remains “quite confident” that Finland and Sweden will address Turkey’s security concerns and become members of the NATO alliance in the “not-too-distant fiture,” the US ambassador to NATO, Julianne Smith, told reporters on Monday.

“Those meetings that have taken place between the three countries we believe – and we’ve heard directly from the three countries in question – have been constructive,” Smith told a briefing before a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Bucharest, Romania. “We will leave it in the hands of Sweden, Finland, and Turkey to continue on with the dialogue that’s taken place.”

Ukrenergo in Talks With Neighbors on Power Imports, CEO Says (5:30 p.m.)

Ukrenergo Chief Executive Officer Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said the grid operator is in talks with counterparts in Romania, Slovakia and Hungary on power imports amid expectations of further Russian missile strikes.

The country’s energy system has already endured seven massive waves of attacks, Kudrytskyi said during an online Atlantic Council webinar. Kyiv is especially vulnerable to disruptions as the city and the adjacent region consume 15-20% of Ukraine’s electricity while not producing enough power themselves. If transmission substations near Kyiv and generating facilities in the city are hit, Kudrytskyi said, this may heavily affect electricity supply in the capital. 

EU States to Resume Russia Oil Price Cap Talks (4:57 p.m.) 

European Union states are set to meet Monday evening to resume negotiations over capping the price of Russian crude oil, according to diplomats familiar with the matter.

The scheduling of a meeting is a positive sign that a deal may be close after negotiations were suspended last week, the diplomats added. Consultations in smaller groups have been ongoing since the weekend.

NATO Chief Adds to Warnings Over Further Russian Strikes (4:45 p.m.) 

NATO’s Stoltenberg warned that Russia could launch further attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, which have already left millions of people without reliable power and water sources.

“President Putin is now trying to use the winter as a weapon in the war against Ukraine and this is horrific. We need to be prepared for more attacks,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Bucharest ahead of two-day meeting of foreign ministers. The alliance chief said one of the key messages from the gathering would be the need to send more air defense systems to Ukraine, along with spare parts, training and ammunition to service those systems.

Supply Shortages May Disrupt Plant in Bulgaria, Metinvest Says (3:21 p.m.)

All Metinvest facilities in Ukraine have resumed operations after power cuts apart from Kamet Steel, the company said in a regulatory statement. 

Metinvest is still assessing possible damage following that plant’s shutdown, adding it was unclear when it may be back in operation. That may disrupt production at Metinvest’s Promet Steel facility in Bulgaria, it said.

Russia Fired More Than 16,000 Missiles So Far, Reznikov Says (33:07 p.m.)

Russia has launched more than 16,000 missile attacks on Ukraine over the nine months since the war start, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Twitter.

A total of 93% of Russian targets were civilian, he said. The attacks also hit more than 250 objects of transport infrastructure and over 220 energy objects.

Russia, US Put Off First Arms-Treaty Talks Since Ukraine War (2:58 p.m.)

Russia and the US put off a round of talks under the New START treaty this week, in what would have been the first such discussions since the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The two sides will hold a meeting of the Bilateral Consultative Commission that handles implementation of the 2011 treaty at a later date, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, according to state-run Tass. It gave no reason for the delay. 

Ukraine Urges Partners to Fully Cut Russian Banks From SWIFT (1:09 p.m.)

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said his government is pushing to fully cut Russian banks off from the SWIFT global payment system as he met with visiting foreign ministers from the Nordic and Baltic regions.

The premier also urged nations to ban Russian citizens from entering the European Union as part of a ninth round of sanctions targeting Moscow, as well as weapons supply and financing, Shmyhal said on Telegram. The top envoys from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia made a joint visit to Kyiv in a show of solidarity.

European Gas Drops As Concerns Over Russian Flows Ease (12:16 p.m.)  

Natural gas prices in Europe declined after Russia’s decision not to cut flows via Ukraine countered concerns that cold weather could boost demand. 

Benchmark futures fell as much as 6.8% after initial gains. Russia’s Gazprom PJSC decided not to curb gas shipments to Moldova via Ukraine, easing worries that it might eventually completely halt supplies in its last remaining active route to Europe. That is a relief -- especially when weather forecasts point to temperatures below seasonal norms across Europe over the next weeks, which could increase gas use for heating. 

Almost 40% of Kyiv Region Without Power (12:20 p.m.) 

Adverse weather caused additional disruption to power lines in the region surrounding the capital, on top of damage already inflicted by waves of missile strikes, regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram. Emergency power cuts continue in the region.

Kyiv Mayor Warns of Power Outages Until Spring (9:15 a.m.)

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned that power outages could potentially continue until spring, even as energy providers aim to restore electricity as soon as possible, he said in an interview with RBC-Ukraine. Authorities are doing everything to prevent total blackouts in the Ukrainian capital in the event of future Russian attacks, but are bracing for different scenarios.

Klitschko reiterated that there would be no mass evacuation, though he didn’t rule out the need for some people to temporarily move from Kyiv to the suburbs, where they would be able to get access to heat and water.

Ukraine Warns Russian Missile Attacks Possible Early This Week (9:15 a.m.)

A Russian ship carrying eight Kalibr cruise missiles has returned to the Black Sea after several days of absence, Ukrainian military spokeswoman Nataliya Humenyuk said on national television. There are also other missile carriers that can be ready to launch missiles within several hours. She added that stormy weather in the Black Sea will not likely prevent a possible launch.

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