Latest news from Russia and the war in Ukraine


Biden signs memorandum to combat conflict-related sexual violence

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the bipartisan infrastructure deal in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 24, 2021.

Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden will sign a memorandum designed to combat sexual violence in conflict zones, including Ukraine.

The Presidential Memorandum on Promoting Accountability for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence will strengthen accountability and deterrence measures for perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict situations through legal, policy, diplomatic and financial tools.

“For each rape reported in connection with a conflict, the United Nations estimates that 10 to 20 cases go undocumented,” the White House said in a statement. “The United States does not accept (sexual violence) as an inevitable cost of armed conflict, and is committed to supporting survivors through all available measures.”

The action will build on existing efforts from the U.S., including the use of sanctions and international coalitions to strengthen accountability.

Since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, cases of sexual violence have skyrocketed. Last month, an independent investigation by the UN Human Rights Commission found “patterns” of alleged sexual violence perpetrated by Russian forces across Ukraine.

— Rocio Fabbro

Russia has launched over 16,000 missile attacks at Ukraine since the start of war, 97% at civilian targets

A militant of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic inspects the remains of a missile that landed on a street in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine February 26, 2022.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Russia has launched more than 16,000 missiles attacks on Ukraine since the start its invasion of the sovereign nation on Feb. 24, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said.

The majority of these strikes — 97% of them — were aimed at civilian targets, he said over Twitter.

“We are fighting against a terrorist state,” Reznikov said. “Ukraine will prevail and will bring the war criminals to justice.”

Last week, the European Parliament declared Russia a state sponsor of terrorism for its attacks on civilian sites.

Russia has increasingly turned to missile and drone strikes as its battlefield losses mount. The energy sector became a primary target for Russian strikes, which have left large swaths of the Ukrainian population without power. Fears of a harsh and deadly winter grow as Russia’s ongoing attacks continue to debilitate Ukraine’s already unstable energy infrastructure.

— Rocio Fabbro

Ukraine destroyed combat units that attacked maternity hospital

Fire and rescue workers attend a building hit by a missile in central Kyiv on November 23, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images

Ukrainian Armed Forces destroyed the Russian combat units that fired at a maternity hospital in Zaporizhzhia last week, killing a newborn baby, a top military official in the region said.

“Over the past week, [Ukrainian forces] struck within the borders of the Melitopol community and within the borders of Tokmak, and hit those [Russian] units that were shooting at Vilniansk,” Oleksandr Starukh, head of Zaporizhzhia’s regional military administration told the press. “There is confirmed information about the destruction of their positions, from which they fired [at Vilniansk] from S-300, including at the maternity hospital.”

A wave of Russian missiles battered Ukraine last Wednesday, leaving several dead or injured and many without power across the country. The Zaporizhzhia region, home to Europe’s largest nuclear plant, was rocked by shelling. In the city of Vilniansk, missiles struck a maternity ward, killing a 2-day-old infant.

In response to the renewed attacks on civilian infrastructure, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia “proved to the whole world” that it is a terrorist state.

— Rocio Fabbro

Zaporizhzhia hit more than 400 times over the past week

Russian forces have shelled the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia more than 400 times over the past week, according to the head of the regional military administration.

“Over the past week, more than 400 strikes were launched [on Zaporizhzhia region], and more than half of them targeted civilian infrastructure,” Oleksandr Starukh, head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration, said during a media briefing, Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform reported.

Rescuers clear debris of the destroyed two-storey maternity building in the town of Vilnyansk, southern Zaporizhzhia region, on November 23, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.\

Katerina Klochko | AFP | Getty Images

Over the past day alone, Starukh said 88 strikes on 17 communities had been recorded with no casualties reported. Over the past week, however, three people have been killed and six more were injured during attacks on the region.

The official said efforts were being made to evacuate people with up to 800 civilians being moved every day to safer areas in central and western Ukraine. Over the past week, 438 people, including 67 children, have managed to leave.

CNBC was not able to verify the information in the report.

—Holly Ellyatt

Kremlin denies Russian forces are about to withdraw from nuclear power plant

This photo taken on Sept. 11, 2022, shows a security person standing in front of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia, amid the Ukraine war.

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

The Kremlin denied a claim made by the head of Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company that Russian forces could be preparing to withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that they’ve occupied since March.

The head of Energoatom, Petr Kotin, said Sunday that he saw signs Russia could be preparing to leave the plant, Europe’s largest nuclear facility and the center of bitter missile attacks between Russia and Ukraine.

“In recent weeks we are effectively receiving information that signs have appeared that they are possibly preparing to leave the [plant],” Kotin said on national television, Reuters reported.

“Firstly, there are a very large number of reports in Russian media that it would be worth vacating the [plant] and maybe worth handing control [of it] to the [International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA],” he said, referring to the United Nations nuclear watchdog.

“One gets the impression they’re packing their bags and stealing everything they can.”

The Kremlin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov denied the claim Monday, stating “there is no need to look for some signs where they are not and cannot be,” state news agency Tass reported.

—Holly Ellyatt

Kyiv’s mayor hits back at Zelenskyy criticism

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko visits a checkpoint of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces in Kyiv on March 6, 2022.

Valentyn Ogirenko | Reuters

Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko responded to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s criticism of the council in Kyiv for not setting up enough community hubs in which members of the public can seek warmth, charging points and water.

Taking to Telegram, Klitschko said more than 430 heating points have been installed and working in Kyiv and that the city’s administration is “preparing to quickly deploy more than 100 points in the event of an emergency.” The city provided more than 400 generators to operate these points, he said.

“I do not want, especially in the current situation, to enter into political battles. It’s ridiculous. I have something to do,” Klitschko said, adding that such a public display of disunity “looks ugly, to say the least. Both for Ukrainians and for our foreign partners.”

Zelenskyy singled out Kyiv for criticism in his video address on Sunday night, saying there had been complaints that the local government had not done a good job in setting up so-called “points of invincibility” where citizens can access basic necessities.

“I know that, unfortunately, not in all cities the local government has done a good job. In particular, there are many complaints in Kyiv. I expect better quality work from the mayor’s office,” Zelenskyy said, adding that “it is the responsibility of every local official to ensure that everything that should be there for people actually works.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Gazprom says it won’t withhold gas supplies to Moldova, but reserves the right to

Russian state gas giant Gazprom said Monday that it will not reduce gas supplies to Moldova, a former Soviet republic next to (and supplied with gas via) Ukraine, but threatened to cut supplies if Moldova failed to keep up with agreed gas payments.

“Funds for the gas deposited on the territory of Ukraine, intended for consumers in Moldova, have been received from Gazprom,” the company said on Telegram. Therefore, it said, “it was decided not to reduce the gas supply to the Sudzha GIS [a gas metering station] for transit to Moldova.”

“At the same time, we draw attention to the regular violation by the Moldovan side of contractual obligations in terms of payment for Russian gas supplies. Gazprom reserves the right to reduce or completely stop gas supplies in case of violation of their payment,” it added.

Last week, Gazprom accused Ukraine of withholding gas supplies destined for Moldova and threatened to reduce those flows, although Ukraine denied the accusation.

Kirill Kudryavtsev | Afp | Getty Images

Last week, Gazprom accused Ukraine of withholding gas supplies destined for Moldova and threatened to reduce those flows, although Ukraine denied the accusation. Moldova’s energy supplies from Ukraine have been affected during the war as the country’s energy infrastructure has come under repeated attack.

Russia has repeatedly been accused of weaponizing energy supplies, although it denies it. Ukraine’s Gas Transmission System Operator said last week that, with its threats over the Moldovan supply, Gazprom was again “using gas as an instrument of political pressure.”

“It manipulates facts to justify its decision to limit further the volume of gas supplies to European countries. Gazprom deliberately interprets the introduction of European business rules of operation at interstate interconnection points as a violation of contractual obligations, obviously for political rather than commercial purposes,” Olga Bielkova, director of government and international affairs at GTSOU, said in a statement.

— Holly Ellyatt

U.S. reportedly weighs sending 100-mile strike weapon to Ukraine

The Pentagon is considering a Boeing proposal to supply Ukraine with cheap, small precision bombs fitted onto abundantly available rockets, allowing Kyiv to strike far behind Russian lines as the West struggles to meet demand for more arms.

U.S. and allied military inventories are shrinking, and Ukraine faces an increasing need for more sophisticated weapons as the war drags on. Boeing’s proposed system, dubbed Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB), is one of about a half-dozen plans for getting new munitions into production for Ukraine and America’s Eastern European allies, industry sources said.

Ukrainian soldiers on the frontline in Donbass, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on November 22, 2022.

Diego Herrera Carcedo | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

GLSDB could be delivered as early as spring 2023, according to a document reviewed by Reuters and three people familiar with the plan. It combines the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) with the M26 rocket motor, both of which are common in U.S. inventories.

Doug Bush, the U.S. Army’s chief weapons buyer, told reporters at the Pentagon last week the Army was also looking at accelerating production of 155 millimeter artillery shells – currently only manufactured at government facilities – by allowing defense contractors to build them.

The invasion of Ukraine drove up demand for American-made weapons and ammunition, while U.S. allies in Eastern Europe are “putting a lot of orders,” in for a range of arms as they supply Ukraine, Bush added.

— Reuters

Liberated Kherson vulnerable to continuing Russian attacks, UK says

Despite its liberation by Ukrainian forces earlier in November, the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine continues to suffer daily bombardment by Russian artillery and remains vulnerable, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Monday.

On Nov. 24, 10 people were killed in the city from shelling, and on Sunday, 54 shelling incidents were reported in the area, the U.K. said.

Smoke rising from a Russian strike in the Kherson shipyards on Nov. 24, 2022 in Kherson, Ukraine.

Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

“The city is vulnerable because it remains in range of most of Russia’s artillery systems, now firing from the east bank of the Dnipro River, from the rear of newly consolidated defensive lines,” the U.K. said.

Much of the damage is likely being inflicted in Kherson by Russia’s use of multiple rocket launchers, principally BM-21 Grad systems.

Russian forces withdrew from the city of Kherson and part of the region on the western bank of the Dnipro river in early November, after struggling to supply their units there. Ukraine has advised citizens in the city to evacuate amid intense Russian shelling.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine expects Russia to bolster forces with troops from Belarus

Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills held by Belarusian and Russian troops at the Obuz-Lesnovsky training ground.

Peter Kovalev | TASS | Getty Images

Ukraine expects Russia to plug personnel losses and strengthen its forces by redeploying units currently stationed in Belarus, the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Monday.

“The transfer of personnel and military equipment of the enemy to equip units that have suffered losses continues. It is expected that some units of the enemy will be transferred from the territory of the Republic of Belarus after they acquire combat capabilities,” the update on Facebook said.

The General Staff said Russian forces continue to launch attacks in east Ukraine, around Bakhmut and Andriivka in Donetsk, as well as attack southern areas of the country around Zaporizhzhia.

“The threat of missile strikes by the Russian occupiers on critical infrastructure facilities throughout Ukraine remains,” the update said.

Russia and Belarus have combined some of their army units to create a regional group of troops from both countries. The deployment, based in Belarus, is ostensibly aimed at strengthening the border. Russia and Belarus claim, without evidence, that Ukraine and NATO pose a threat to them.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia planning new strikes, Ukraine says, as struggle for power continues

People rest in a coffee shop in Lviv as the city faces scheduled power outages on Nov. 24, 2022, after Russian airstrikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure.

Yuriy Dyachyshyn | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia is bound to launch new missile attacks against the country, which is already struggling from power and water shortages in many places as a result of Russian shelling.

“We understand that the terrorists are planning new strikes. We know this for a fact,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Sunday. “And as long as they have missiles, they, unfortunately, will not calm down.”

He urged defense forces and citizens to work together to withstand the expected, continued attacks, saying the coming week could well be as difficult as the previous week, when attacks on the power grid left around six million Ukrainians without electricity.

“Our defense forces are getting ready. The entire country is getting ready,” he said. “We have worked out all the scenarios, including with our partners.”

— Holly Ellyatt

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