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Ukraine updates: Black Sea storm batters Ukraine, Russia

Published November 27, 2023last updated November 27, 2023

A winter storm has brought high winds and snow to Eastern Europe, leaving millions in Ukraine and Russia without power or heat. Meanwhile, NATO's Stoltenberg pledged long-term support for Kyiv. DW has the latest.

An emergency assistance worker holds out his hands to help a woman carrying a cat get out of a rescue vehicle
Millions are without power across Crimea and Ukraine and hundreds of people were forced to evacuateImage: AP Photo/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

A winter storm on the Black Sea is lashing parts of Ukraine and Russia. 

Heavy snows have crippled power stations, leaving millions of people without power or heat.

The severe conditions comes as Russia presses forward with its invasion of Ukraine.   

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has promised the military alliance will continue long-term support for Ukraine.

Here's a look at the latest developments in Russia's war in Ukraine on Monday, November 27

Skip next section Top EU official says Ukraine moving forward on corruption fight
November 27, 2023

Top EU official says Ukraine moving forward on corruption fight

The European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova on Monday praised Ukraine's fight against corruption.

However, Jourova cautioned that Kyiv needed to do more to ensure entry into the European Union.

Jourova compared current efforts with the situation the country was in back in 2017

Back then, "I did not feel the energy and strong intention. Now I am in a totally different state, compared with 2017. I think that Ukrainians are fed up with old Ukraine, and they want a new system. They will want to see institutions well functioning, prosecuting and investigating cases of organized crime corruption at all levels, not only the big fish but also lower levels."

Skip next section Lavrov set to attend OSCE meeting in Skopje
November 27, 2023

Lavrov set to attend OSCE meeting in Skopje

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday that he plans to travel to North Macedonia later this week.

Lavrov will head to Skopje for a meeting of foreign ministers attending a summit for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a group created during the Cold War.

The conference gets underway on Thursday and will be Lavrov's first visit to a NATO member country since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

But the trip doesn't come without complications. To get to Skopje, Lavrov's flight would need to go through Bulgarian or Greek airspace, two other NATO countries.

Speaking at a foreign policy conference in Moscow on Monday, Lavrov said Bulgaria apparently has given permission to do so. "It appears that Bulgaria promised Macedonia to open its airspace," he said. "If it works, we will get there."

Skip next section Russian casualties over 900 per day, UK ministry says
November 27, 2023

Russian casualties over 900 per day, UK ministry says

The UK Ministry of Defense's daily intelligence update on Monday reported that Russian forces had been suffering 931 average daily casualties in November, citing the Ukrainian General Staff.

"Previously, the deadliest reported month for Russia was March 2023 with an average of 776 losses per day, at the height of Russia's assault on Bakhmut," the update said.

The ministry said that it could not independently verify the figures, but found them "plausible."

It added that Russian casualties have likely been unusually high over the last six weeks, which it blamed on "Russia's offensive against the Donbas town of Avdiivka."

Skip next section Finland says it may close final border crossing with Russia
November 27, 2023

Finland says it may close final border crossing with Russia

Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said that he was ready to shut the last open border crossing to Russia amid Moscow's so-called "hybrid war" against the newest NATO alliance member.

Finland has accused Russia of sending migrants across its border in an attempt to destabilize the country. As a result, it closed all but one of their shared border crossings.

The last one, in the far northern, remote Murmansk region, may also be closed soon.

"We have closed all our border stations on the eastern border except for one and we are ready to close the last one if needed," Orpo told reporters in Helsinki.

"Finland is protecting the European Union's external border and NATO's border. We will not let this phenomenon continue," he added.

Russia said in April that it would take "countermeasures... in tactical and strategic terms" after Finland joined the NATO bloc.

Skip next section Crimean treasure returned to Ukraine, ending legal battle
November 27, 2023

Crimean treasure returned to Ukraine, ending legal battle

A hoard of 2,000 year-old gold artifacts was returned to Ukraine from the Netherlands Monday, ending a nearly ten-year legal battle over who was the rightful owner of the works.

The items in question, created between the seventh and third centuries BC, when Scythians lived in the region now known as Crimea, had been on display in the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam as part of the exhibition, "Crimea — Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea," in 2014, when Russia illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula. 

A legal battle over who should take possession of the items ensued as the exhibition closed, with the National Museum of History of Ukraine (NMHU) as well as others in Russian-controlled Crimea vying for them.

A solid gold helmet featured in the exhibition: "Crimea — Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea
A solid gold helmet was among the items on diplay in Amsterdam and now returned to UkraineImage: Peter Dejong/AP Photo/picture alliance

In June, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled the items should be returned to Ukraine

Allard Pierson Director Els van der Plas said the museum was, "pleased that clarity has emerged and that they [the jewels] have now been returned." Van der Plas called the incident "a special case, in which cultural heritage became a victim of geopolitical developments." 

The NMHU on Monday said the works — some 565 items including a solid gold helmet and ancient jewelry, will be kept in their possession "until the de-occupation of Crimea." 

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, has claimed the hoard should be returned to Crimea. "It belongs to Crimea, it should be there," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday.

Kremlin-appointed Crimea Governor Sergei Aksyonov said Monday the dispute would be resolved by Russian military forces ultimately defeating Ukraine.

Skip next section NATO's Stoltenberg vows long-term support for Ukraine
November 27, 2023

NATO's Stoltenberg vows long-term support for Ukraine

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday promised that foreign ministers from NATO member states would reaffirm their long-term support for Ukraine this week in that nation's fight against neighboring Russia, which invaded it in February 2022.

Speaking with reporters Monday, Stoltenberg also said Turkey should finally approve Sweden's membership in the military alliance. "Sweden has delivered on what they promised and now the time has come for Turkiye to finalize the accession process."

Sweden and neighboring Finland both reversed decades of military non-alignment policy by seeking NATO membership in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Turkey has used it's power to veto the Sweden vote as leverage to gain various concessions from NATO member states, claiming Sweden is soft on Kurdish immigrants whom Ankara says are terrorists. 

NATO membership must be unanimously approved by all 31 alliance nations. Turkey has single-handedly blocked Sweden's membership bid since May 2022, when Sweden first submitted its application with Finland — which gained membership this April.

Turkey’s Erdogan backs Sweden’s NATO bid

Skip next section Black Sea storm hammers Ukraine, Russia
November 27, 2023

Black Sea storm hammers Ukraine, Russia

A massive winter storm on the Black Sea has killed at least three people, caused the evacuation of hundreds more, and left millions in Ukraine and Russia without power or heat.  

States of emergency have been declared across Russian-controlled Crimea, where an estimated 1.9 million people are currently without power due to storms that have raged since Friday.

Waves battering the coast also continue to disrupt shipping.

Roads in the region have been flooded, trees uprooted and power plants knocked out of service due to heavy snow.

Blizzards brought on by the storm caused power outages in Romania and Bulgaria on Sunday.

Russian meteorologists say it is the most severe storm to hit Crimea since record keeping began, claiming the only storm that came close to this magnitude hit in 1854 — when 30 some ships were sunk during the Crimean War.

A wave crashes over a breakwall in Sochi, Russia, on the Black Sea
Massive waves hammered the coastal Russian city of Sochi on Monday, causing floodingImage: Dmitry Feoktistov/TASS/dpa/picture alliance

The storm is also believed to have left people dead in Russia's southern Krasnodar region.  

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Energy Ministry said more than 2,000 Ukrainian towns are currently without power.

Weather forecasters say the storm will increase in intensity before it passes, telling residents to expect stronger winds and heavier snowfall.    

js/wd (Reuters, AP; AFP, dpa)