even tougher winter next year as natural gas stocks are used up and as new supplies to replace Russian gas, including increased shipments from the United States or Qatar, are slow to come online, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook, released last week.

Europe’s activity appears to be accelerating a global transition toward cleaner technologies, the I.E.A. added, as countries respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by embracing hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles, heat pumps and other green energies.

But in the short term, countries will be burning more fossil fuels in response to the natural gas shortages.

gas fields in Groningen, which had been slated to be sealed because of earthquakes triggered by the extraction of the fuel.

Eleven countries, including Germany, Finland and Estonia, are now building or expanding a total of 18 offshore terminals to process liquid gas shipped in from other countries. Other projects in Latvia and Lithuania are under consideration.

Nuclear power is winning new support in countries that had previously decided to abandon it, including Germany and Belgium. Finland is planning to extend the lifetime of one reactor, while Poland and Romania plan to build new nuclear power plants.

European Commission blueprint, are voluntary and rely on buy-ins from individuals and businesses whose utility bills may be subsidized by their governments.

Energy use dropped in September in several countries, although it is hard to know for sure if the cause was balmy weather, high prices or voluntary conservation efforts inspired by a sense of civic duty. But there are signs that businesses, organizations and the public are responding. In Sweden, for example, the Lund diocese said it planned to partially or fully close 150 out of 540 churches this winter to conserve energy.

Germany and France have issued sweeping guidance, which includes lowering heating in all homes, businesses and public buildings, using appliances at off-peak hours and unplugging electronic devices when not in use.

Denmark wants households to shun dryers and use clotheslines. Slovakia is urging citizens to use microwaves instead of stoves and brush their teeth with a single glass of water.

website. “Short showers,” wrote one homeowner; another announced: “18 solar panels coming to the roof in October.”

“In the coming winter, efforts to save electricity and schedule the consumption of electricity may be the key to avoiding electricity shortages,” Fingrad, the main grid operator, said.

Businesses are being asked to do even more, and most governments have set targets for retailers, manufacturers and offices to find ways to ratchet down their energy use by at least 10 percent in the coming months.

Governments, themselves huge users of energy, are reducing heating, curbing streetlight use and closing municipal swimming pools. In France, where the state operates a third of all buildings, the government plans to cut energy use by two terawatt-hours, the amount used by a midsize city.

Whether the campaigns succeed is far from clear, said Daniel Gros, director of the Centre for European Policy Studies, a European think tank. Because the recommendations are voluntary, there may be little incentive for people to follow suit — especially if governments are subsidizing energy bills.

In countries like Germany, where the government aims to spend up to €200 billion to help households and businesses offset rising energy prices starting next year, skyrocketing gas prices are hitting consumers now. “That is useful in getting them to lower their energy use,” he said. But when countries fund a large part of the bill, “there is zero incentive to save on energy,” he said.

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Russia Masses Troops in Belarus, but New Offensive Appears Unlikely

Credit…Emile Ducke for The New York Times

RIGA, Latvia — Russia is massing thousands of troops in its western neighbor Belarus ahead of what could be the opening of a new front aimed at disrupting the flow of Western military aid from Poland, according to defense officials in Latvia and Ukraine.

However, the assembled forces, about 10,000 troops, may still be too weak to make a successful new thrust south from Belarus, Latvia’s defense minister, Artis Pabriks, said on Friday.

“We have to be cautious, but I doubt that Russians are at this moment capable of opening another front line against Ukraine, at least not a successful front,” Mr. Pabriks said in an interview in Riga, the capital of Latvia, which borders both Russia and Belarus.

An announcement last week by Belarus that it was forming a new joint military force with Russia stirred alarm in the West that the Kremlin might be preparing a new ground assault with help from Belarusian forces. Russia massed troops in Belarus ahead of its initial attack on Ukraine in February.

On Thursday, a Ukrainian general, Oleksiy Gromov, said that the threat of a possible invasion from Belarus was growing. He said that a new attack would likely not drive toward Kyiv — which lies just 60 miles from the border with Belarus — but rather to the west of the capital, nearer to the Polish border. An offensive south from western Belarus into Ukrainian territory near the border with Poland could disrupt the flow of weapons to Ukraine from the United States and its allies, much of which passes through Poland.

Russia used the territory of Belarus, its closest military and political ally, as a staging ground for its February invasion and has since launched missiles and drones into Ukraine from there. But President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, Belarus’s veteran strongman leader, has resisted Russia’s pressure to get directly involved in the war.

On Friday, Mr. Lukashenko said it would be undesirable for Belarusian military equipment to be used in Ukraine and denied his country’s troops were training for war, adding “no war today. We don’t need it,” the state news agency Belta reported.

Mr. Lukashenko made a similar statement in February, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine from his territory.

On Friday, Ukraine’s armed forces said in a statement that if the country were attacked again from Belarus, it would “respond as fiercely as we respond to all occupiers.”

The flurry of military activity in Belarus in recent days, Britain’s defense ministry said on Friday, is “likely an attempt to demonstrate Russian-Belarusian solidarity and to convince Ukraine to divert forces to guard the northern border.”

Noting claims by Mr. Lukashenko that 70,000 Belarusians and 15,000 Russians would be involved in their new joint force, Britain’s defense ministry said it was unlikely that Russia had actually deployed significant forces and added that Belarus “maintains minimal capability to undertake complex operations.”

Vadym Skibitsky, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, said in an interview that Ukraine also did not see an immediate threat of another attack from Belarus.

Several thousand newly mobilized Russian soldiers are deployed in Belarus at training sites, Mr. Skibitsky said, but they are not accompanied by tanks, artillery or fuel trucks and other logistical support they would need to invade and face Ukraine’s battle-hardened troops.

“We see these elements now moving into Belarus, but we do not see the movement of equipment,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, also played down the likelihood of a new Russian invasion from Belarus. “We don’t currently have any indications of a potential imminent military action on that front,” he told a briefing on Thursday.

Andrew E. Kramer contributed reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine.

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Putin Declares Martial Law in Occupied Ukraine as Evacuation of Civilians Starts

Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

KYIV, Ukraine — Russian occupation officials were moving civilians out of Kherson on Wednesday, another sign that Moscow’s hold on the strategic southern Ukrainian city was slipping, as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia sought to reassert control over that and other occupied regions by declaring martial law.

The move by Mr. Putin was an effort to tighten the Kremlin’s authority over Kherson and three other Ukrainian regions he recently claimed to annex, even as his army loses ground in those areas to Ukrainian forces and as Western allies dismiss the annexations as illegal.

As Russian proxy officials in Kherson said they would move as many as 60,000 civilians to the eastern side of the Dnipro River and shift its civilian administration there, they appeared to be girding for a battle for control of the region. Amid a weekslong Ukrainian counteroffensive, the pro-Kremlin leader in Kherson, Vladimir Saldo, said the relocations would protect civilians and help Russian forces fortify defenses to “repel any attack.”

Ukrainian officials dismissed the plans as “a propaganda show.” Andriy Yermak, the head of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, accused the Russian proxies of scaring civilians with claims that Ukraine would shell the city. He called it “a rather primitive tactic, given that the armed forces do not fire at Ukrainian cities — this is done exclusively by Russian terrorists.”

Ukrainian forces have been advancing gradually for weeks along both sides of the river in Kherson, a region that Moscow seized early in the war and has declared part of Russia. Since late August, Ukrainian troops have damaged bridges near the city of Kherson, making it harder for Moscow to resupply the thousands of troops it has stationed there.

Western analysts have suggested that the Russian positions in and around the city are untenable without the bridges, and U.S. officials have said that Russian commanders have urged a retreat from Kherson, only to be overruled by Mr. Putin. But Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the Kherson region has moved more slowly than its recent advances in the east, and it was far from clear whether its forces could soon mount a push to retake the city of Kherson.

On Tuesday, the general Mr. Putin appointed earlier this month to command the war in Ukraine, Sergei Surovikin, said he was ready to make “difficult decisions” about the military deployments in the Kherson region, without specifying what those decisions would entail.

Ukrainian officials have greeted the hints of a Russian pullback of at least civil administrators with caution, saying the announcements could be intended for internal Russian audiences, signaling commitment to protecting civilians or preparation for a Russian military action in the area. Videos released on Russian media showed lines of civilians apparently boarding ferries at a river port to evacuate to the eastern bank of the Dnipro.

The Kherson region spans both banks of the river, with the city of Kherson, the regional capital, lying on the western side. The western bank is an expanse of pancake-flat farmland crisscrossed by rivers and irrigation canals, and one of the most pivotal battlefields of the war.

Ukrainian troops had through the summer whittled away at Russian supply lines by firing American-provided precision guided rockets at the four bridges over the Dnipro River in areas Russia controls. All are now mostly destroyed.

In late August, Ukraine opened an offensive with ground troops, advancing in bloody, slow-moving combat through several dozen villages while driving the Russian forces backward, toward the Dnipro. The Russian announcements of evacuating civilians and the civil administration could signal a faltering of military defenses, presaging a Russian pullback from the western bank of the Dnipro River in what would be a major setback for Moscow — but could also be a ruse.

Mr. Saldo, a Ukrainian politician who had switched sides at the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, told the Russian state news agency RIA on Wednesday that all ministries would evacuate to the eastern bank. The occupation government earlier on Wednesday said it would evacuate from 50,000 to 60,000 civilians across the river and onward to the occupied peninsula of Crimea or into Russia. Residents risked artillery fire from the Ukrainian Army or flooding from the destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam on the Dnipro River, Mr. Saldo said.

Correction: 

Oct. 19, 2022

An earlier version of this article misidentified the location that Russian proxy officials in Kherson, Ukraine, said they would move as many as 60,000 civilians to. It is the eastern side of the Dnipro River, not the western side.

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Ukrainians Struggle to Conserve Energy After Strikes Damage Power Stations

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times
Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times
Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

DONETSK PROVINCE, Ukraine — After chasing retreating Russian troops across a stretch of rolling hills and forests for a month, Ukrainian troops in the eastern Donbas region have slowed almost to a halt. And in recent days, Russian reinforcements have rushed to the front line, attempting a counterattack to break Ukraine’s momentum.

Moscow is waging war on two fronts, one on the battlefield, where it has sustained steady losses, including in the Donbas region, the main focus of its invading force since April.

On another front, Russia has escalated its attacks with long-range weapons on civilian targets across Ukraine — including drone strikes far off in Kyiv, the capital, that left at least four people dead on Monday.

The military campaign in the east, meanwhile, has become a battle of shelling, positioning and surveillance where Russian and Ukrainian troops square off just a few hundred yards apart.

In a village near the front line on Sunday, a steady volley of mortars rained down on a Ukrainian position as a radio crackled in a small farmhouse, calling for assistance to find where the Russians were firing from.

“Let’s get to work,” one of the Ukrainian soldiers said, picking up a small drone and heading out the door near the border between Donetsk and Luhansk Provinces, which together make up the Donbas region.

He was part of a drone reconnaissance team from the National Guard’s Dnipro 1 battalion that was working close to the front line, sheltering from shelling while sending up drones to hunt for a range of Russian targets, from tanks to the elusive mortar team.

Russian troops had been grinding forward slowly until the Ukrainian Army mounted a successful counteroffensive at the beginning of September, sweeping across a large swath of northeastern Ukraine, recapturing strategic cities in Donetsk and threatening Russia’s hold on Luhansk.

The Russian side is trying to hang on to the important transport hubs of Svatove and Kreminna. If Ukraine can recapture those two towns, it could break Moscow’s grip on much of Luhansk Province.

But Russian troops seem to have regrouped after their headlong flight last month. They have tanks, artillery and mortars and hold positions on high ground across a valley. The men of Dnipro 1 also said there were signs of newly mobilized Russian soldiers on the ground.

Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

The villages now behind the Ukrainian front line are almost deserted; burned-out tanks and military trucks sit beside the road and in the pine forests.

Svetlana, who was sitting near the road on Sunday afternoon selling mushrooms gathered from the woods behind her house, said she had come back home as soon as Ukrainian troops recaptured her village. She had been jobless and found it hard to survive as a refugee. “For two weeks now, we have been feeling some relief,” she said.

Closer to the front line, fresh craters from mortar fire pocked the road.

The Ukrainian reconnaissance team’s confidence was buoyed by recent successes. Five days earlier, the Russians had attacked with a large force of 50 to 60 men but were repelled, said one of the officers, Filin, who gave only his code name in keeping with military protocol. The next day, they tried again with a smaller force but also were pushed back, said Filin, 32.

Then the Dnipro 1 team carried out an improvised attack, dropping a grenade from a small commercial drone onto a Russian armored vehicle where a group of soldiers was gathered. The next day they surveilled the area and saw one man dead on the ground where the grenade had hit, apparently abandoned by his comrades.

“After that they stopped the attacks,” said another member of the team, who uses the code name Kon. “They don’t like the sound of drones.”

The Russians have resumed their incessant artillery and mortar strikes but have not tried to advance again, the soldiers said.

Some of the Russian soldiers seemed poorly trained and inexperienced, they said. But others were skilled operators: They have jamming devices that interfere with the drones and can maneuver their tanks to avoid Ukrainian attacks — hiding in the forest and moving out to fire before swiftly disappearing, according to the reconnaissance team’s leader, who goes by Android.

Still, after a month on the move, the Ukrainians said they were confident that they would keep advancing.

“For us, every meter of recaptured land, gives us power,” said Duke, the team’s company commander.”

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An Uptick in Elder Poverty: A Blip, or a Sign of Things to Come?

“We’re getting more and more older people who lived through this experiment with do-it-yourself pensions, and they’re coming into this age group without the same kind of incomes that older people have,” said Teresa Ghilarducci, an economics professor at the New School who specializes in retirement policy. “I don’t think it’s a blip.”

Even though the share of elderly people officially below the poverty line is low by historical standards in the United States, it remains among the highest in the developed world, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The average poverty rate for older Americans also masks far higher shares among more vulnerable groups, with nearly one in five Black and Hispanic women 65 or older falling below the official poverty threshold in 2021. It’s higher for single people, too — a reality forced on hundreds of thousands of older Americans whose spouses died of Covid-19.

The poverty rate is also not a bright line when it comes to financial hardship. It doesn’t take into account debt, which more seniors have accumulated since the Great Recession. Moreover, nearly one in four people 65 or older make less than 150 percent of the federal poverty line, or $19,494 on average for those living alone. Another measure, developed by the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston and called the Elder Index, finds that it takes $22,476 for a single older person in good health with no mortgage to cover basic needs, with the cost escalating for renters and those with health problems.

“To some extent we’re splitting hairs when we talk about people who fall just above and just below, because they’re all struggling,” said Jan Mutchler, a demographer at the University of Massachusetts at Boston who helped devise the Elder Index. “The assumptions that go into what we’re calling hardship are just flawed.”

That’s true for Juanita Brown, 77, who lives on her own in Galax, a small town in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. A farmer’s daughter, she worked as a nanny, and then a certified nursing assistant, and then a preschool teacher. Her husband worked in the local textile industry, and after raising two children, they had built a substantial nest egg.

But then Ms. Brown’s mother developed Alzheimer’s disease and couldn’t support herself. Ms. Brown stopped working to take care of her, which cost another $500 per month in expenses. Her husband got prostate cancer, which required extended trips to the hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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EXCLUSIVE Fed’s Bullard favors ‘frontloading’ rate hikes now, with wait-and-see stance in 2023

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WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) – A “hotter-than-expected” September inflation report doesn’t necessarily mean the Federal Reserve needs to raise interest rates higher than officials projected at their most recent policy meeting, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Friday, though it does warrant continued “frontloading” through larger hikes of three-quarters of a percentage point.

In a Reuters interview, Bullard said U.S. Consumer Price Index data for September, which was released on Thursday, showed inflation had become “pernicious” and difficult to arrest, and therefore “it makes sense that we’re still moving quickly.”

After delivering a fourth straight 75-basis-point hike at its policy meeting next month, Bullard said “if it was today, I’d go ahead with” a hike of the same magnitude in December, though he added it was “too early to prejudge” what to do at that final meeting of the year.

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If the Fed follows through with two more 75-basis-point hikes this year, its policy rate would end 2022 in a range of 4.50%-4.75%.

In what were tempered remarks for one of the Fed’s most hawkish voices recently, Bullard said that at that point he would let further increases rest on incoming data.

“I do think 2023 should be a data-dependent sort of year. It’s two-sided risk. It is very possible that the data would come in a way that forces the (Federal Open Market) Committee higher on the policy rate. But it’s also possible that you get a good disinflationary dynamic going, and in that situation the committee could keep the policy rate and hold it steady,” Bullard said a day after the U.S. government reported that consumer price inflation remained above 8% last month.

The possibility of a fifth larger-than-usual increase in December is “a little more frontloading than what I’ve said in the past,” he added.

But the trajectory mapped out by Bullard would still leave the target policy rate at the median level that Fed officials projected last month they would need to reach – evidence of a broad consensus at the central bank around at least a temporary stopping point after a year in which they have ratcheted rate expectations steadily higher.

Even if some of Bullard’s colleagues want to reach that point in smaller interim steps and not until early next year, Bullard said he regards faster increases as warranted because the U.S. labor market remains strong, and “there’s just not much indication that we’re getting the disinflation that we’re looking for.”

Though some investors and economists expect the Fed will need to lift its policy rate even further, to 5% or higher, Bullard said, “I wouldn’t predict that now … If that happens it will be because inflation doesn’t come down the way we’re hoping in the first half of 2023 and we continue to get hot inflation reports.”

The level he has penciled in for the end of the year is adequate, he believes, to lower the Fed’s closely-watched core personal consumption expenditures inflation index to below 3% next year, a long way back to the central bank’s 2% target.

‘SOFT LANDING’

Bullard said that despite the sense of turbulence in financial markets, there was “still a fair amount of potential for a soft landing,” with the United States likely to avoid a recession and companies reluctant to lay off workers who have been hard to hire during the post-pandemic economic reopening.

Warnings about recession risk may be distorted in part by inflation itself, Bullard said, with short-term bond yields driven higher than longer-term ones not for lack of faith in the economy, an “inversion” of the yield curve that shows investors betting on a recession, but because of the premium charged for the inflation taking place now.

Volatility in markets is to be expected when rates rise, he said, but may settle after a period of adjustment.

“It’s the transition that throws everybody for a loop,” Bullard said. But after that, the economy “could grow just as fast at the higher interest rates,” he said.

Asked about the sense that overseas events, such as the tension between the Bank of England and the current British government, may risk broader financial problems, Bullard said that his regional bank’s index of financial stress showed it to be low.

Compared to the sorts of serious market seizures seen during the financial crisis in 2008 or the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, “I don’t think we’re in a situation where global markets are facing a lot of stress of that type.”

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Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Dan Burns and Paul Simao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Howard Schneider

Thomson Reuters

Covers the U.S. Federal Reserve, monetary policy and the economy, a graduate of the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University with previous experience as a foreign correspondent, economics reporter and on the local staff of the Washington Post.

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Global finance leaders single out China as barrier to faster debt relief

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WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Western countries this week ratcheted up their criticism of China, the world’s largest bilateral creditor, as the main obstacle to moving ahead with debt restructuring agreements for the growing number of countries unable to service their debts.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Friday that high inflation, tightening monetary policies, currency pressures and capital outflows were increasing debt burdens in many developing countries, and more progress was urgently needed.

She said she discussed those issues during a dinner with African finance ministers and in many other sessions. The Group of Seven rich nations also met African finance ministers, who worry that the focus on the war in Ukraine is draining resources and attention from their pressing concerns.

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“Everyone agrees Russia should stop its war on Ukraine, and that would address the most significant problems that Africa faces,” Yellen told reporters at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings in Washington.

But she said a more effective debt restructuring process was also needed, and China had a big role to play.

“Really, the barrier to making greater progress is one important creditor country, namely China,” she said. “So there has been much discussion of what we can do to bring China to the table and to foster a more effective solution.”

As China is the missing piece in the puzzle of a number of debt talks under way in developing markets, the Group of 20 launched in 2020 a Common Framework to bring creditors such as China and India to the negotiation table along with the IMF, Paris Club and private creditors.

Zambia, Chad and Ethiopia have applied to restructure under this new, yet-to-be tested mechanism. Sri Lanka is set to start talks with bilateral creditors including China after a $2.9 billion staff level agreement with the IMF under a similar platform. The Paris Club creditor nations last month reached out to China and India seeking to coordinate closely on Sri Lanka’s debt talks, but are still awaiting a reply.

The world’s poorest countries face $35 billion in debt-service payments to official and private-sector creditors in 2022, with more than 40% of the total due to China, according to the World Bank.

Spanish Finance Minister Nadia Calvino, who chairs the IMF’s steering committee, told Reuters in an interview on Thursday that there was increasing concern about China not participating fully in debt relief efforts, noting that China had not sent officials to participate in person at this week’s IMF and World Bank meetings.

“China is a necessary partner. It’s indispensable that we have them in the room and in the discussions when it comes to debt relief,” Calvino said, adding that many heavily indebted countries were also being hit hard by inflation and climate shocks.

German Finance Minister Christian Lindner also joined the growing criticism of China’s lack of timely participation in debt restructuring for lower-income countries. China has argued it would not take part in some cases unless the IMF and World Bank also took a haircut.

Lindner told reporters he regretted that China had not accepted his invitation to participate in the G7 roundtable with African countries.

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Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Paul Simao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Live Updates: Germany Rushes Air Defense System to Ukraine as Allies Discuss More Military Aid

KYIV, Ukraine — Six and a half feet down a ladder inside a small shed at the back of Oleksandr Kadet’s home is an underground room with a cement hatch that he hopes he never has to use.

For the past two weeks, Mr. Kadet, 32, said that he and his wife, who live outside the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, had been preparing for the possibility of a nuclear attack by stocking the room — an old well that they converted into a bunker — with bottled water, canned food, radios and power banks.

“We are more anxious now, especially after yesterday’s attacks,” Mr. Kadet said on Tuesday, a day after a series of Russian missile attacks across Ukraine. “But we do think that in case of a nuclear explosion, we will be able to survive if we stay in the shelter for some time.”

Credit…Oleksandr Kadet

The fears of escalation rose on Saturday after an attack on the 12-mile Kerch Strait Bridge connecting Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014. Initially, Ukrainians celebrated, but that quickly gave way to worry that such a brazen assault on a symbol of President Vladimir V. Putin’s rule could prompt a severe retaliation.

Even before these recent events, though, concerns about the potential for a nuclear disaster had increasingly been making their way into Ukraine’s national psyche. The fear is that Russia could either use tactical nuclear arms or launch a conventional attack on one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.

U.S. officials have said they think the chances of Russia’s using nuclear weapons are low, and senior American officials say they have seen no evidence that Mr. Putin is moving any of his nuclear assets.

On Sunday, Mr. Putin called the assault on the bridge a “terrorist attack aimed at destroying the critically important civilian infrastructure of the Russian Federation.”

But his spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, appeared to tamp down fears of a nuclear reprisal, saying that the attack on the bridge did not fall within the category under Russia’s defense doctrine that allowed for such a response.

Last month, Mr. Putin raised fears that he could resort to nuclear weapons when he warned that he would “use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people,” if Russian-controlled territory was threatened.

“This is not a bluff,” he said.

Days later, Russia illegally annexed four Ukrainian territories.

Mr. Kadet, who noted that he had begun preparing two weeks ago, said it felt better to have an action plan.

“It’s psychologically easier because you know you are at least somehow prepared for it,” he said. “It’s not a guarantee it will save you, but at least you’re ready.”

Residents of Kyiv said that they had felt wary even before the most recent missile strikes there on Monday.

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Immediately after the bridge attack, many Ukrainians had shared their glee on social media. They toasted triumphantly in the capital’s bars over the weekend, and posed for selfies in front of posters of the burning bridge.

But the worry soon set in.

“I feel this real fear about how the Russians will answer this,” said Krystina Gevorkova, 30, who was shopping with her friend in Kyiv on Sunday. “Earlier it had felt safer here,” she added. “Now, I have this feeling like something is going to happen.”

Kyiv has for months been spared the worst of the Russian onslaught while Moscow focused its attention instead on southeastern Ukraine. But on Monday, a Russian missile struck just blocks away from where Ms. Gevorkova had spoken.

She said that she had been reading up on how to stay safe during a nuclear war, but that she was skeptical that it would help.

“We can’t really do anything,” she said.

The war has felt far from Kyiv in recent months, as life’s rhythms return to a semblance of normalcy after Russian forces were ousted from parts of northeastern Ukraine. Nevertheless, the city has also been slowly preparing for a potential nuclear attack.

The Kyiv City Council said on Friday that potassium iodide pills would be distributed to residents in case of a nuclear incident “based on medical recommendations,” adding that the pills were also available in city pharmacies.

Potassium iodide is used to saturate a person’s thyroid with iodine so that radioactive iodine inhaled or ingested after exposure will not be retained by the gland.

Alina Bozhedomova, 23, a pharmacist in Kyiv, said that customers were coming in daily looking for the pills, but added, “I haven’t seen people panicking about it.”

Some elementary schools have advised parents to prepare emergency packs for their children to keep with them at school.

Nadiia Stelmakh, 50, who works in a market selling home goods, said that one mother had come to her with a list from the school that included latex gloves, a poncho, boot covers, tissues, wet wipes and a flashlight.

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

“People are really concerned right now,” she said. Her husband, Volodymyr Stelmakh, who has another stall nearby, agreed.

“I have an emergency bag packed,” he said, “but I think if the nuclear threat is imminent, you will have no time to run away.

After worries grew about the security of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in the country’s southeast in recent weeks, Ukraine’s Ministry of Health issued guidance about how to respond to a nuclear incident.

The risk of nuclear fallout can feel very real in Ukraine, a country that still bears the scars of the Chernobyl accident in 1986, one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. Chernobyl is only about 60 miles north of Kyiv.

And some who experienced the life-threatening fallout firsthand say that they, possibly more than anyone, understand the full risk of nuclear exposure. Oleksandr, 55, who asked that his last name not be used, said that he and his family had fled Chernobyl for Kyiv immediately after the meltdown, when he was just 18.

His family closely followed guidance to move south, as winds were pushing radioactive materials north, and he said that was the only reason they escaped unscathed.

“Now, people here are really not ready. People don’t know what to do,” he said. “There is not enough information.”

He owns a market stand that sells household necessities and said that more people had come in during the past two weeks preparing for a nuclear disaster, buying flashlights, batteries, knives, radios and small camp stoves.

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

While some were preparing for the worst, others remained optimistic that Russia would never carry out such an extreme attack, which would draw international outrage.

Dmytro Yastrub, 31, said he felt more concerned about Mr. Putin using conventional weapons to target Kyiv.

“I presume something will happen” after the bridge attack, he said, standing outside a bar in the Kyiv city center on Sunday evening with a group of friends. But, he added, the risk of a nuclear attack was not weighing heavy on his mind.

Svetlana Zozulia, 47, and her husband, Vladyslav Zozulia, 37, were walking in central Kyiv with their daughter, Anastasiia, 11, on Sunday night. Ms. Zozulia said she tried to remain optimistic and did not believe that Mr. Putin would launch a nuclear attack on Ukraine.

But she did buy potassium iodide tablets just in case, she said.

“I think our success disturbs him,” Ms. Zozulia said. “But there is also a threat for him if he chooses a nuclear attack.”

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting

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Deadly Strikes Hit Key Southern City as Russia Restores Some Traffic on Damaged Bridge

Credit…Maxar Technologies

Within hours of a blast that damaged the sole bridge linking Crimea with Russia early Saturday, hard-line military bloggers and Russian officials were calling for a swift and strong response from Moscow.

One high-level politician said that anything less than an “extremely harsh” response would show weakness from the Kremlin, which is facing continued losses on the battlefield and mounting criticism at home.

For President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who presided over the bridge’s opening in 2018, the explosion seemed to be a highly personal affront, underscoring his failure to get a handle on a relentless series of Ukrainian attacks.

Some news media commentators demanded that Russia destroy Ukraine’s electricity infrastructure and the transportation systems used to import Western armaments.

Evgeny Poddubny, a war correspondent for the state RT outlet, said that nobody in the Ukrainian leadership seemed to fear Russia anymore.

“The enemy has stopped being afraid, and this circumstance needs to be corrected promptly,” he wrote in RT’s Telegram channel. “Commanders of formations, heads of intelligence agencies, politicians of the Kyiv criminal regime sleep peacefully, wake up without a headache and in a good mood, without a sense of inevitability of punishment for crimes committed.”

KERCH

STRAIT

Sevastapol

Kerch Strait

Bridge

◀ Crimea

Tuzla Island

Area of

explosion

Krasnodar, Russia ▶

Four-lane

roadway

Outer two lanes

collapsed here.

Two

railroad

tracks

Several tanker cars

of a train could be

seen burning here.

Sevastapol

Kerch Strait

Bridge

KERCH

STRAIT

◀ Crimea

Tuzla

Island

Area of

explosion

Krasnodar, Russia ▶

Four-lane

roadway

Outer two lanes

collapsed here.

Two

railroad

tracks

Several tanker cars

of a train could be

seen burning here.

Aleksandr Kots, a war correspondent for the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, wrote on Telegram that disabling the bridge bodes ill for Moscow’s already troubled efforts to hold onto territory in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine — and most likely foreshadowed a future attack on Crimea itself.

He described the “consistency” that Ukraine was showing in the war as “enviable” and called for Russia to “hammer Ukraine into the 18th century, without meaningless reflection on how this will affect the civilian population.”

While there were no official claims of responsibility, Ukrainian officials, who in the past have said the bridge would be a legitimate target for a strike, indicated that the explosion was no accident and made no secret of their satisfaction.

“Crimea, the bridge, the beginning,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, wrote in a Twitter post on Saturday. “Everything illegal, must be destroyed. Everything stolen returned to Ukraine. All Russian occupiers expelled.”

The explosion is emblematic of a Russian military in disarray. Russian forces were unable to protect the road and rail crossing despite its centrality to the war effort, its personal importance to Mr. Putin and its potent symbolism as the literal connection between Russia and Crimea.

For Russia, the rail crossing “has played a key role in moving heavy military vehicles to the southern front during the invasion,” the British defense intelligence agency wrote in its daily assessment on Sunday. It added that although the extent of the damage to the rail line was uncertain, “any serious disruption to its capacity will highly likely have a significant impact on Russia’s already strained ability to sustain its forces in southern Ukraine.”

Hours after the explosion, the Kremlin appointed Gen. Sergei Surovikin, yet another new commander, to oversee its forces in Ukraine. Previous leadership shake-ups have done little to right the military’s floundering performance.

General Surovikin, 55, has long had a reputation for corruption and brutality, military analysts said.

“He is known as a pretty ruthless commander who is short with subordinates and is known for his temper,” said Michael Kofman, the director of Russia studies at C.N.A., a defense research institute based in Virginia.

His appointment was quickly praised by some of the biggest supporters of the war, including Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner mercenary group that was deployed heavily in Syria. He made a rare public endorsement of the general, calling him “legendary.”

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Investors fly blind as key Bank of Canada inflation gauge misfires

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OTTAWA, Oct 4 (Reuters) – Canadian economists are scrambling for a reliable measure to track underlying inflation as large and frequent revisions have dented the credibility of a key Bank of Canada yardstick, even as the central bank said it was sticking with its core measures.

Canada’s central bank has three preferred measures of core inflation – CPI-common, CPI-median and CPI-trim. CPI-common, once touted as the best gauge of the economy’s performance, has been subject to repeated revisions since the start of this year.

Those same revisions show that price moves originally identified as transitory turned out not to be transitory at all, highlighting the measure’s ineffectiveness when prices rise rapidly and calling into question its value, said analysts.

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“I believe the steep upward revisions to common have rendered it useless as a policy guide,” said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets. “It missed the inflation boat at the start of the year and sent an entirely misleading signal to policymakers.”

Reuters Graphics

To estimate core inflation, CPI-common measures all the components of the consumer price index that are moving together and separates out those that appear to be fluctuating due to sector-specific events. By contrast, both CPI-trim and CPI-median operate by filtering out extreme price movements.

CPI-common was almost never revised when inflation was close to the Bank of Canada’s 2% target. But with prices rising faster than they have in decades, it is now being revised and revised again each month.

These revisions are happening because the statistical model is picking up more co-movement in price, so the entire series has to be re-calculated each month, said Statistics Canada.

“Essentially, this means that more CPI goods and services are moving in common, or that inflation is more broad-based now than it has been in the past,” the agency said in a statement.

‘LEAST VOLATILE’

Despite the revisions, the Bank of Canada will “continue to look at all of our core inflation measures” as it works to get inflation back to target, said spokesman Alex Paterson.

“One reason why the Bank uses three different core measures is to make sure we’re considering different price perspectives when judging the underlying trend of inflationary pressure,” he said in an email.

Governor Tiff Macklem is due to give a speech on the current economic situation on Thursday, with a news conference to follow.

The three core measures were introduced in 2017 to replace CPIX, which is the headline inflation figure excluding eight of the most volatile components in a basket of commonly used items.

A 2019 report by Bank of Canada analysts, which evaluated the performance of seven core measures from 1992 to 2018, noted CPI-common was the “least volatile” and seemed “less prone to revisions and sector-specific shocks.”

But it was developed at a time when inflation rarely drifted out of the Bank of Canada’s 1%-3% control range. Inflation has now been above 3% for 17 months and was at 7.0% in August. read more

With CPI-common’s usefulness now in question, and the odds of a recession rising, the central bank should be taking a hard look at how it tracks core inflation, said analysts.

“The Bank’s challenge is walking the extremely fine line between tightening enough to get inflation back to target while not tightening so much that it causes a major recession,” said Stephen Brown, senior Canada economist at Capital Economics.

Some analysts say the Bank of Canada should return to CPIX or simply track how many index components are rising more quickly than the 2% target.

Others say the best gauge is inflation excluding energy and food, because it is easy to explain and is similar to how the United States measures underlying price pressures.

“The BoC needs to address how it has over-complicated core inflation and what measures it follows,” Derek Holt, head of capital markets economics at Scotiabank, said in a note.

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Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa and Fergal Smith in Toronto
Editing by Deepa Babington

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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