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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Nov. 9

Ukrainian servicemen carry a portrait and a coffin with the body of their comrade Taras Havrylyshyn, who was recently killed in a battle against Russian troops, during a funeral ceremony in Lviv, Nov. 9, 2022.
Ukrainian servicemen carry a portrait and a coffin with the body of their comrade Taras Havrylyshyn, who was recently killed in a battle against Russian troops, during a funeral ceremony in Lviv, Nov. 9, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in Russia's war on Ukraine. All times EDT.

10 p.m.: Russia has probably committed crimes against humanity by forcibly transferring Ukrainian civilians in Russian-occupied areas of the country to other regions, Amnesty International said Thursday, according to Agence France-Presse.

It said civilians were moved from occupied Ukraine further into Russian-controlled areas or into Russia, with children separated from their families in violation of international humanitarian law.

Amnesty said it had been told by civilians they had endured "abusive screening processes," known as filtration, which sometimes resulted in arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment.

"Separating children from their families and forcing people hundreds of kilometers from their homes are further proof of the severe suffering Russia's invasion has inflicted on Ukraine's civilians," said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International's secretary general.

The rights group said it interviewed 88 people, the majority civilians from Mariupol, the Ukrainian Black Sea city seized by Russia after a brutal siege, as well as residents from the Kharkiv, Lugansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

"Most, especially those from Mariupol, described coercive conditions that meant that they had no meaningful choice but to go to Russia or other Russian-occupied areas," it said.

Amnesty said that once in Russia, several people said they felt pressured into applying for Russian citizenship, or said their movements were restricted.

9:01 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden voiced hope Wednesday that Russian leader Vladimir Putin would negotiate "more seriously" to free basketball star Brittney Griner, who was sent to a penal colony just ahead of U.S. congressional elections, Agence France-Presse reported.

Biden appeared to link the case of Griner, whose plight has generated widespread anger in the United States, to Tuesday's midterm vote in which the president's Democratic Party exceeded expectations against the rival Republicans.

"My hope is that now that the election is over that Mr. Putin will be able to discuss with us and be willing to talk more seriously about prisoner exchange," Biden told a post-election news conference.

"That is my intention -- my intention is to get her home, and we've had a number of discussions so far," Biden said.

He did not elaborate but tensions with Russia have soared over the invasion of Ukraine, to which the United States is sending billions of dollars in weapons.

8:06 p.m.: Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said that the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the area is going well, even though there are "difficulties.” During an interview with The Associated Press, Haidai said that Russian troops had "time to prepare" and added that a "huge amount of territory" was mined.

But after the recent advancements by the military, the "brilliant actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are absolutely obvious," he said.

He said the winter will not stop the push-back, adding that it is better "to move forward," even slowly. "We cannot stand still. No one will engage in positional wars," he said.

7:14 p.m.: Berlin is turning a former airport into a temporary refugee shelter with 3,600 beds, as it struggles to put up more Ukrainians fleeing Russia's attacks on their country's vital infrastructure, as well as the winter weather, The Associated Press reported.

While two former terminals of Tegel Airport were already opened for Ukrainian refugees in the spring, Berlin's state government is now racing to fix two big tents on the tarmac with heaters for the winter and has opened a third terminal for the registration of new arrivals and also put up 900 new beds.

Germany has taken in 1 million refugees from Ukraine since Russia attacked the eastern European country almost nine months ago.

In addition, more asylum seekers than in previous years are coming to Germany from countries such as Syria, Moldova or Afghanistan.

6:34 p.m.: The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday that she does not expect the U.S. midterm election to weaken Washington's support for Ukraine given the bipartisan backing for Kyiv since Russia's invasion of its neighbor, The Associated Press reported.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield spoke after she visited a UNICEF center in Warsaw that has become a hub for Ukrainian refugee children and their mothers, offering educational support and therapy.

She said her talks with government and Warsaw city officials included making contingency plans in case the coming winter and power outages create another large exodus of Ukrainians to Poland and other frontline states.

5:35 p.m.: Actor Sean Penn, who is making a documentary about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has loaned one of his two Oscars to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and told him: “When you win, bring it back to Malibu,” The Associated Press reported.

Zelenskyy’s office on Wednesday released the video of the encounter during Penn’s most recent visit to Ukraine, his third since the Feb. 24 start of the war. The president tweeted that the Oscar was “a symbol of faith in the victory of our country.”

Penn, who has been involved in numerous international humanitarian and anti-war efforts over the years, told Zelenskyy that every time he leaves Ukraine “I feel like a traitor.”

“But if I know this is here with you then I will feel better and stronger for the fights,” Penn said as he pulled the statuette from a black bag and placed it on a table in front of Zelenskyy. “When you win, bring it back to Malibu. Because I feel much better knowing there is a piece of me here.”

4:49 p.m.: Russian art teacher Ilya Farber has been sentenced to three years and two months in prison for throwing a Molotov cocktail at a military conscription center in the region of Udmurtia in May, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The press service of Udmurtia's courts said on November 9 that Farber was also ordered to pay a large fine to compensate for the damage caused by his "arson attack." Farber pleaded guilty.

After Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine in February, there have been several such attacks against military conscription centers across Russia.

4:10 p.m.: The U.N. General Assembly scheduled a vote for Monday on a resolution that would call for Russia to be held accountable for violating international law by invading Ukraine, including by paying reparations.

The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, would recognize the need to establish “an international mechanism for reparation for damage, loss or injury’” arising from Russia’s “wrongful acts” against Ukraine.

It would recommend that the assembly’s 193 member nations, in cooperation with Ukraine, create “an international register” to document claims and information on damage, loss or injury to Ukrainians and the government caused by Russia.

Russia’s veto power in the 15-member Security Council has blocked the U.N.’s most powerful body from taking any action since President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to invade Ukraine on Feb. 24. But there are no vetoes in the General Assembly, which already has adopted four resolutions criticizing Russia’s invasion.

3:18 p.m.:

2:30 p.m.: Cambodia's leader met Ukraine's foreign minister on Wednesday in Phnom Penh, with Prime Minister Hun Sen saying his country "opposes aggression" days ahead of a regional summit that Russia's foreign minister is due to attend, Reuters reported.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is due to sign a Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a senior Cambodian official said, as Kyiv seeks to strengthen ties with the bloc, which joined international condemnation of Russia's invasion.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Hun Sen said Cambodia "opposes aggression, threats or the use of violence against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of independent states."

2:15 p.m.:

2 p.m.: India will expand economic ties with Russia and continue to buy oil from Moscow, India's foreign minister said, pointing out that imports of discounted crude from Moscow have worked to its advantage, VOA’s Anjana Pasricha reported.

Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said during a visit to Moscow that as the world's third-largest consumer of oil, it is "our fundamental obligation" to ensure that Indian consumers have the "best possible access on the most advantageous terms to international markets."

He made his comments after a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday.

In his first visit to Russia since the Ukrainian conflict erupted, the Indian minister reaffirmed New Delhi's longstanding ties with Moscow calling it an "exceptionally steady" and "time-tested relationship."

1:50 p.m.: Paratroopers with Ukraine's 79th Air Assault Brigade say they're holding positions around the small city of Maryinka in eastern Ukraine despite daily Russian attacks. They say Russia has deployed members of the Vagner private mercenary group, special forces, and recently mobilized infantry against them. Holding Maryinka is seen as critical to Ukrainian hopes of retaking the regional capital, Donetsk. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

1:40 p.m.: Russia's leading war hawks on Wednesday swiftly rallied behind the decision to abandon the Ukrainian city of Kherson, putting a brave face on one of Moscow's most humiliating retreats in nearly nine months of war, Reuters reported.

The pullout proposed by General Sergei Surovikin, appointed last month to take overall charge of Russia's war effort, means Moscow is giving up a strategic city just north of annexed Crimea, the only Ukrainian provincial capital it had captured since its February 24 invasion.

The decision - described by one Russian military blogger as "a black page in the history of the Russian army" - was nonetheless quickly defended by some of the most high-profile proponents of the war as a wise and necessary action.

"After weighing all the pros and cons, General Surovikin made the difficult but right choice between senseless sacrifices for the sake of loud statements and saving the priceless lives of soldiers," said Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader who has frequently urged a more aggressive approach to the war and has even called for the use of low-grade nuclear weapons.

1:35 p.m.:

1:20 p.m.: Russia’s military announced Wednesday that it’s withdrawing from Kherson, but Ukrainian authorities cautioned against considering the retreat a done deal. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that the Russians were feigning a pullout from Kherson to lure the Ukrainian army into an entrenched battle in the strategic industrial port city, The Associated Press reported.

Recapturing Kherson could allow Ukraine to win back lost territory in the Zaporizhzhia region and other southern areas, leading to an eventual push back into Crimea, which Russia illegally seized in 2014. A Russian retreat is almost certain to raise domestic pressure on the Kremlin to escalate the conflict.

But Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter: “Actions speak louder than words. We see no signs that Russia is leaving Kherson without a fight.”

Yaroslav Yanushevych, Kherson’s Ukrainian-appointed governor, called on residents “not to give in to euphoria” just yet. Another Ukrainian-appointed Kherson regional official, Serhii Khlan, told reporters that Russian forces had blown up five bridges to slow the advance of Kyiv’s forces.

As the reports of a Russian withdrawal emerged, Zelenskyy met with his senior military staff in Kyiv to discuss the situation, including attempts to recapture territory, his website reported without giving details.

In addition to the largely successful counteroffensive, Ukrainian resistance fighters behind the front line have worked inside Kherson, with acts of sabotage and assassinations of Moscow-appointed officials.

1:05 p.m.:

12:50 p.m.: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday it was "encouraging" to see Ukrainian forces being able to liberate more of the country's territory, after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered his troops to withdraw from Kherson, Reuters reported.

Speaking in London where he was meeting British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Stoltenberg said: "It is encouraging to see how the brave Ukrainian forces are able to liberate more Ukrainian territory.

"The victories, the gains the Ukrainian armed forces are making belong to the brave, courageous Ukrainian soldiers but of course the support they receive from the United Kingdom, from NATO allies and partners is also essential," he added.

Following the meeting with Sunak, a Downing Street spokesperson said the pair had emphasized the importance of continuing to support Ukrainian sovereignty.

12:35 p.m.:

12:20 p.m.: Britain is stepping up its support for Ukrainian soldiers through the winter as a key battle in Kherson looms and as mobilized Russian troops struggle, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Reuters on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Wallace joined NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to observe the training of Ukrainian troops in the southeast English town of Lydd, as Britain announced the delivery of a further 12,000 extreme cold-weather sleeping kits for Ukraine.

"Winter is approaching and that is an important challenge for both sides," he said. "So we're determined ... to give Ukrainian soldiers the best basic skills because we already know that the Russian military aren't doing that."

Ukrainian forces have piled pressure on Russian troops in the southern region of Kherson that Moscow occupied in February - the only place where Russia has a presence on the west bank of the Dnipro River.

12:05 p.m.: The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Ukraine, Denise Brown, said in an interview with CNN that it will be critical to help Ukrainian civilians stay warm and safe as the winter looms.

11:55 a.m.: The European Union's executive arm on Wednesday proposed a support package for war-gripped Ukraine worth up to 18 billion euros ($18.06 billion) in 2023, but Hungary said it would not contribute to the joint assistance, which would come as highly concessional loans, Reuters reported.

"This shows true solidarity of the EU," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tweeted after the European Commission unveiled its plan. "Together we resist Russia's aggression, together we'll rebuild Ukraine, together we'll be in the EU."

However, the proposal faced resistance from Hungary, which has dragged its feet on EU sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, even before the Commission's announcement.

"I have made it clear that Hungary is ready to support Ukraine, but we do not wish to contribute to any new loan to be taken up by the EU," Finance Minister Mihaly Varga said in a statement on Tuesday.

11:45 a.m.:

11:40 a.m.: A senior adviser to Ukraine's president said on Wednesday it was too early to talk about a Russian troop pullout from the southern city of Kherson, Reuters reported.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday ordered his troops to withdraw from the west bank of the Dnipro River in the face of Ukrainian attacks near the southern city of Kherson.

"It's necessary to separate words from deeds," Mykhailo Podolyak, a political adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said in a statement to Reuters. "Until the Ukrainian flag is flying over Kherson, it makes no sense to talk about a Russian withdrawal."

He said that Russian forces remained in Kherson, which was captured by Russian troops shortly after Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine but had become the focus of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

"Ukraine does not take these statements (by Russia) into consideration," he said. "It is still too early to talk about the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson: a grouping of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is being maintained in the city, and additional manpower is being pulled into the region."

He added: "Our armed forces work according to their plan: reconnaissance, risk assessment, effective counterattack."

11:25 a.m.: Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted a message Wednesday reacting to television reports that Russia’s military has ordered its troops to withdraw from the southern city of Kherson.

10:55 a.m.: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday ordered his troops to withdraw from the occupied Ukrainian city of Kherson and take up defensive lines on the opposite bank of the River Dnipro, Reuters reported.

The announcement marked one of Russia's most significant retreats and a potential turning point in the war, now nearing the end of its ninth month.

In televised comments, General Sergei Surovikin, in overall command of the war, said it was no longer possible to keep Kherson city supplied.

"We will save the lives of our soldiers and fighting capacity of our units. Keeping them on the right (western) bank is futile. Some of them can be used on other fronts," Surovikin said.

The news followed weeks of Ukrainian advances towards the city and a race by Russia to relocate tens of thousands of its residents.

Shoigu responded: "I agree with your conclusions and proposals. Proceed with the withdrawal of troops and take all measures to transfer forces across the river."

The announcement had been anticipated by Russia's influential war bloggers, who described it as a bitter blow.

10:45 a.m.:

10:20 a.m.: Kirill Stremousov, the Russian-installed deputy head of Ukraine's southern Kherson region, died on Wednesday in a car crash, Russian state news agencies reported, according to Reuters.

Stremousov was one of the most prominent public faces of the Russian occupation of Ukraine, using social media to pump out aggressive statements, of which the latest appeared on Wednesday morning.

TASS news agency said the press service for the head of the region had confirmed his death. The exact circumstances were unclear.

9:50 a.m.: The U.S. midterm elections could have a significant impact on Ukraine, where U.S. support is invaluable in the war effort. VOA’s Myroslava Gongadze has more from Ukrainian citizens and experts on the U.S. vote.

Ukrainians Watch US Election, Hope New Congress Will Not Cut Aid
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9:30 a.m.: Russia has launched multiple suicide drones on Ukraine's southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region, wounding people and damaging civilian facilities, the head of the regional military administration said, as fierce battles are under way in the eastern Donetsk region and in the south, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

"The occupiers attacked the area massively with kamikaze drones. Our air defense destroyed five barrage ammunition. They also attacked the city of Dnipro with drones, targeting a logistics enterprise. Four employees were wounded; three of them are in serious condition in the hospital," Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.

Russian forces also bombarded the Nikopol district in the region with Grad missiles and heavy artillery. Reznichenko said the shelling damaged private houses, a factory, and a power line, but no one was injured.

A fire spread over more than 3,000 square meters but was extinguished, Reznichenko said.

Russian troops regularly shell the Dnipropetrovsk region with various types of weapons, in particular the Nikopol, Kryvorizky, and Synelnyk districts.

9:15 a.m.:

9:05 a.m.: Russia said on Wednesday it still saw no progress on easing its exports of fertilizers and grain - parts of the Black Sea grain deal that Moscow views as fundamental to extending the initiative beyond next week, Reuters reported.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters the United States and European Union were obstructing Russia's exports and said it remained unclear whether Moscow would extend its participation in the initiative, which expires on Nov. 19.

"The U.S. and the EU continue to put up obstacles to the export of Russian fertilisers and grain. We will take this into account when deciding whether to extend the grain deal," she said.

Russia agreed to a deal brokered by the United Nations in Turkey in July that allowed Ukraine, a major grain exporter, to resume exports through Black Sea ports that Russian warships had blockaded.

8:45 a.m.:

8:05 a.m.: Switzerland will extend for a year its streamlined process for hosting refugees from the war in Ukraine, the government said on Wednesday, deciding it was not yet safe for people to return home, Reuters reported.

The cabinet said special protection status for these people would remain in effect until March 2024 barring a fundamental change in the situation in Ukraine. Switzerland's doors opened in March this year, shortly after Russia invaded its neighbor.

Since March more than 67,000 Ukrainians have received refuge in Switzerland. As of Oct. 31, 6,394 people had permanently left Switzerland to return home, the cabinet added in a statement.

Eastern European countries are preparing for a possible new wave of Ukrainian refugees as Russia targets power and heating plants ahead of winter, with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy saying about 4 million people are already without electricity.

7:40 a.m.:

7 a.m.: Hungary's parliament will discuss the ratification of Sweden and Finland's accession to NATO during its autumn session after a series of EU-related bills have been passed, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said on Wednesday.

"Finland and Sweden are our allies and they can count on us," Gergely Gulyas told a briefing.

Hungary and Turkey are the only members of the alliance who have not cleared the accession.

"Our aim is that parliament should ratify their application before the end of this year ... we have always said we supported the ratification," Gulyas said, in reply to a question.

Orban's government had submitted the relevant bills in mid-July, but parliament, in which his ruling Fidesz party has a two-thirds majority, has still not tabled the two bills for debate and approval.

6:20 a.m.:

6 a.m.: Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned the use of mercenaries in Russia's war against Ukraine, saying they were inflicting "so much cruelty" on the population.

Speaking at the end of his general audience, he said: "I renew my call for prayers for the martyred Ukraine, let us ask the Lord for peace for these people who are so troubled and who suffer so much cruelty, so much cruelty by the mercenaries who are making war."

The pope did not specifically mention Russia and he did not elaborate, Reuters reported.

The Wagner Group, a Russian private military company, has been accused by the European Union and the United States of mounting clandestine operations on the Kremlin's behalf in Ukraine, which Russian forces invaded in February.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the group does not represent the state but that private military contractors have the right to work anywhere in the world as long as they do not break Russian law.

5:42 a.m.: The secretaries of Russia and Iran's Security Councils discussed the situation in Ukraine, security cooperation and measures to combat "Western interference" in their domestic affairs at a series of meetings in Tehran on Wednesday, Reuters reported citing Russian state media.

Nikolai Patrushev, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was in Tehran as Russia and Iran try to forge closer ties amid Western isolation.

4:59 a.m.: Eastbound gas flows via the Yamal-Europe pipeline from Germany to Poland rose on Wednesday as did Russian supplies to Europe via Ukraine, according to Reuters.

Exit flows at the Mallnow metering point on the German border stood at 6,287,114 kilowatt hours (kWh) per hour between 0600 CET and 0700 CET, versus 2,479,861 kWh/h an hour earlier, from pipeline operator Gascade showed.

Nominations for Russian gas into Slovakia from Ukraine via the Velke Kapusany border point rose to 37.4 million cubic meters (mcm), from 36.7 mcm in the previous day, Ukrainian transmission system data showed.

Russian gas producer Gazprom said that it will ship 42.4 million cubic meters of natural gas to Europe via Ukraine on Wednesday, in line with volumes of recent days.

Gas flows via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which crosses the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, remained at zero.

The pipeline was shut on August 31 for what was supposed to be three days of maintenance, but has not reopened, with Moscow blaming the situation on Western sanctions and technical issues.

Russia said it was unable to restart the pipeline but since then the pipeline has also been damaged by suspected sabotage.

4:10 a.m.: NATO leaders will gather for their next summit in Vilnius on July 11-12, the military alliance announced Wednesday.

The venue will be an opportunity for leaders to "agree further steps to strengthen our deterrence and defense and review significant increases in defense spending, as well as to continue our support for Ukraine," NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

NATO leaders last met in Madrid in June.

3:38 a.m.: Eastern European countries are preparing for a possible wave of Ukrainian refugees as Russia targets power and heating plants ahead of winter, with President Volodymyr Zelenskiyy saying about 4 million people are already without power.

Zelenskiyy said 14 regions plus the capital Kyiv were without power and Ukraine's electrical grid operator Ukrenergo said scheduled hourly power outages would affect the whole of the country on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Russian forces have targeted Ukraine's energy infrastructure with missiles and drone strikes in the run up to winter, when mean temperatures typically drop to several degrees below zero Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), with lows of minus 20 degrees Celsius.

Some 6.9 million people are believed displaced internally within Ukraine and east European countries such as Slovakia and Hungary are preparing for an influx in coming months.

"An increase in numbers is being felt and is expected. It is currently up 15%," said Roman Dohovic, an aid coordinator for the eastern Slovak city of Kosice.

Ukrainian forces have been on the offensive in recent months while Russia is regrouping to defend areas of Ukraine it still occupies, having called up hundreds of thousands of reservists over the past month.

3:05 a.m.: The British defense ministry said Russia is working to repair the Crimean Bridge, and that it is "unlikely to be fully operational until at least September 2023."

On Tuesday, the road was to be closed to install a 64-metre span, the ministry said. Additional three spans are needed to rebuild the damaged road.

"Although Crimean officials have claimed these additional spans will be in place by 20 December, a briefing provided to President [Vladmir] Putin added that works to the other carriageway would cause disruption to road traffic until March 2023."

The bridge was used to transfer Russian logistics supplies for Crimea and southern Ukraine. Russia used the route to move military equipment and troops in the area by rail or road since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the ministry added.

2:29 a.m.:

2:04 a.m.: A Russian-installed mayor in the town of Snihurivka, east of the southern city of Mykolaiv, was cited by Russia's RIA news agency as saying residents had seen tanks and that fierce fighting was going on, according to Reuters.

"They got into contact during the day and said there were tanks moving around and, according to their information, heavy fighting on the edge of the town," the mayor, Yuri Barabashov, said, referring to the residents.

"People saw this equipment moving through the streets in the town center," he said.

Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-installed administration in the Kherson region, said on the Telegram messaging service that Ukrainian forces had tried to advance on three fronts, including Snihurivka.

Vitaly Kim, the Ukrainian governor of Mykolaiv region, apparently quoting an intercepted conversation between Russian servicemen, suggested that Ukrainian forces had already pushed the Russians out of the area.

"Russian troops are complaining that they have already been thrown out of there," Kim said in a statement on his Telegram channel.

Reuters was not able to verify the battlefield reports.

There was no official word on the situation in the town from military officials in either Ukraine or Russia.

1:45 a.m.:

1:18 a.m.: U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner was transferred last week from a detention center outside the Russian capital and is on her way to a penal colony, Reuters reported Wednesday, quoting her legal team.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested on February 17, a week before Russia sent troops into Ukraine, at a Moscow airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, which is banned in Russia. She was sentenced on August 4 to nine years in a penal colony on charges of possessing and smuggling drugs.

Griner had pleaded guilty but said she had made an "honest mistake" and had not meant to break the law.

Neither Griner's exact whereabouts nor her final destination were known, the legal team said in a statement, adding that in line with Russian procedures, her attorneys as well as the U.S. Embassy should be notified upon her arrival at her destination.

The notification would take up to two weeks to be received.

The White House said U.S. President Joe Biden has directed his administration to "prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony."

It did not give any details about Griner's whereabouts.

12:30 a.m.: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his forces would not yield “a single centimeter” in battles for the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk while Russian-installed officials said Ukrainian forces were moving into a southern town with tanks, Reuters reported.

The focal points of the conflict in the industrial region of Donetsk are around the towns of Bakhmut, Soledar and Avdiivka, which have seen the heaviest fighting since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in late February.

“The activity of the occupiers remains at an extremely high level — dozens of attacks every day,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address late on Tuesday. “They are suffering extraordinarily high losses. But the order remains the same — to advance on the administrative boundary of Donetsk region. We will not yield a single centimeter of our land,” he said.

The region is one of four Russia said it annexed in September. Fighting had been going on there between Ukrainian military and Russian proxy forces since 2014, the same year Russia annexed Crimea in the south.

12:03 a.m.: Police raided two branches of Swiss bank UBS in Germany in connection with alleged money laundering by a Russian businessman, German officials and media said Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

Frankfurt prosecutor Georg Ungefuk did not identify the suspect by name, but said the raids were connected to an investigation in which officials raided a luxury yacht and two dozen properties in Germany in September.

German media cited Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin who is subject to U.S. and European Union sanctions, as the target in that operation.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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