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Ukraine has restored rail service to the recently recaptured southern city of Kherson, and Ukrainian forces are facing heavy fighting in eastern Donbass, where Russian troops have stepped up their push on several fronts.

Also on November 19, the British Prime Minister paid an unannounced visit to Kyiv for talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and announced a new arms and security assistance programme.

Live briefing: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

RFE/RL Live briefing gives you all the latest developments on the ongoing invasion of Russia, the Kyiv counter-offensive, Western military aid, the global response and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL’s coverage of the war, click here.

The arrival of the train from Kyiv, announcement by the National Authority of Ukrainian Railways, was a modest but highly symbolic achievement, coming barely a week after the withdrawal of Russian forces from Kherson, and Ukrainian forces returned to a jubilant welcome from locals.

It is the first train to travel from Kyiv to Kherson since before the February 24 Russian invasion. Officials said it marked the resumption of regular service.

Russia continued to pound energy infrastructure across Ukraine with missiles and drones, the Ukrainian military general staff said. Zaporizhzhya, about 300 kilometers northeast of Kherson, has been hit 42 times since Nov. 18, leaving thousands without heating, the General Staff said in its daily update.

“Rocket explosions damaged central heating pipes and interrupted coolant supply to 123 high-rise buildings, in which more than 17,000 people live,” Zaporizhzhya regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said. wrote on Telegram.

The Zaporizhzhya region is home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which has been under Russian control since the February invasion.

Many parts of Ukraine, including Kyiv, are suffering from sporadic, sometimes prolonged power and heating outages, a problem that has worsened with the onset of wintry weather this week. Nearly 50% of the country’s energy infrastructure has been disabled by Russian strikes, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said this week.

Officials said extended repair crews were working at full capacity to try to restore power, but landmines, new attacks and other obstacles were slowing their progress.

Russia’s upsurge in missile strikes also appears partly designed to wear down Kyiv’s air defenses, Colin Kahl, a senior US Department of Defense official, said. Told journalists. He said Moscow hoped to wear down Ukrainian defenses to allow the Russian air force to operate more freely.

Ukrainian troops fought for weeks to drive Russian forces out of the city of Kherson and the region west of the Dnieper. His forces seem to have stopped for the time being; the Dnieper itself presents a formidable military obstacle, and Russian troops are digging trenches and fortifications on the east bank of the river.

Still, Ukrainian forces used longer-range rockets and artillery to target Russian positions across the Dnieper. General Staff claims that his troops destroyed a military base on the Kinburn Spit, a strip of land southwest of Kherson that juts into the Black Sea.

Russia is also said to be repositioning some of its forces elsewhere: further east, strengthening the defense around Zaporizhzhya and Melitopol, as well as increasing the intensity of the fighting in Donbass.

The Russians “carry out offensive actions in the Bakhmut, Avdiyivka and Novopavliv directions”, the military said in its daily update. He also said Ukrainian forces repelled attacks near the towns of Bilohoryivka, Zelenopil and Klishchiyivka.

The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed intense fighting in several places in Donbass.

RFE/RL cannot verify battlefield success reports in areas of intense combat.

In videos and a statement released by his office, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said London was supplying a $59.4 million weapon package to Ukraine, including anti-aircraft guns and anti-aircraft technology. -drone.

“I am here today to say that the UK will continue to support you…until Ukraine has achieved the peace and security it needs and deserves.” said Sunak during a press conference in Kyiv with Zelenskiy.

Sunak’s visit comes amid growing public and private talk in Western capitals over whether Ukraine and Russia should open peace talks to end the war, which is approaching its ninth month.

Ukrainian officials pushed back on the calls, though Zelenskiy made some small changes in rhetoric.

“There will be peace when we destroy the Russian army in Ukraine and reach the 1991 borders,” Andriy Yermak, one of Zelenskiy’s top aides, wrote on Telegram on November 19.

The deputy defense minister, meanwhile, predicted that Ukrainian forces could be back in the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula by the end of the year and that the whole war could be over by spring. . Volodymyr Havrylov suggested that Russia could face an unforeseen “black swan” event that would disrupt domestic politics.

“I think Russia can face a black swan in their country, inside Russia and that can contribute to our success with Crimea,” Havrylov said in an interview with Sky News.

Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address on November 18 that “brutal fighting” continues in the east, but suggested that in some areas they expect “future success”.

He said that “wherever we hold [our] positions.”

RFE/RL cannot verify battlefield success reports in areas of intense combat.

“Very heavy fighting continues in the Donetsk region,” Zelenskiy said, adding that “there is no respite in the fighting. There has been no lull.”

He did not elaborate on his reference to “future successes” expected in certain areas of the battlefield.

With reporting from Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa and Newsweek

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