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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Dec. 1

A child looks through the window of an evacuation train in the Donetsk region on Nov. 30, 2022, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A child looks through the window of an evacuation train in the Donetsk region on Nov. 30, 2022, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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

The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EST.

10:02 p.m.: U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo applauded a European Union deal for a $60-a-barrel price cap on Russian oil exports on Thursday, saying this was within the range of discussed price levels and would limit Moscow's oil revenues.

Adeyemo told the Reuters NEXT conference that he believes that EU member countries will finalize the price cap agreement because they have consistently applied sanctions to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

The European Union tentatively agreed earlier on a $60 level to start the price cap, with a regular adjustment mechanism.

"It's in the range of prices that we've been talking about for a while in terms of creating and helping us do two things. One is reducing Russia's revenues. But the second one is making sure that we keep Russian barrels on the market," Adeyemo said.

Adeyemo said it was difficult to know how much Russia is earning from its oil exports, but even if some market prices are currently below the $60 price cap level, the mechanism will limit the upside of Russian oil prices and further shrink Russia's economy in 2023.

9:42 p.m.:

9 p.m.: Serbia appointed Aleksandar Vulin, a controversial former interior minister with ties to the Kremlin, as head of Balkan country's intelligence agency, state-controlled public broadcaster RTS reported Thursday, according to Agence France-Presse.

While Serbia condemned Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations, it refused to join Western sanctions against Russia.

Vulin is a former defense and interior minister whose fiercely nationalist outbursts have often caused diplomatic rows with neighboring countries.

He is one of the few high-ranking European politicians to visit Moscow since the start of the conflict. The 50-year-old met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in August.

Vulin has already said that Serbia "will not be a part of anti-Russian hysteria," highlighting Moscow's diplomatic support for Serbia.

8:24 p.m.: The ruble dived on Thursday to a near five-month low against the euro and its lowest in almost seven weeks to the yuan, Reuters reported, as the Russian currency was squeezed by the end of a favorable month-end tax payment period.

By midday Thursday, the ruble had shed 1.4% against the yuan to 8.72, hitting its weakest since Oct. 14.

It was 0.6% weaker against the dollar at 61.32, earlier clipping a three-week low, and had lost 2.3% to trade at 64.54 versus the euro, its weakest mark since July 7.

While the yuan has been making gradual inroads into Russia for years, the crawl has turned into a sprint in the past nine months as the currency swept into the country’s markets and trade flows, according to a Reuters review of data and interviews with 10 business and finance players.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said interest rate hikes could be scaled back "as soon as December," which pushed the dollar lower.

But the ruble has now lost support from a favorable month-end tax period that usually sees Russian exporters convert foreign currency revenues into rubles to pay local liabilities.

The ruble may also come under pressure from the upcoming price cap on Russian oil, said Alfa Capital analyst Alexander Dzhioev, although this is offset by Russia's balance of payments.

7:39 p.m.:

7:02 p.m.: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday that it was too early to make conclusions about ongoing talks on Poland's request to move Patriot systems offered by Germany to Ukraine, Reuters reported.

"We all agree on the urgent need to help Ukraine, including with air defense systems," said Stoltenberg in Berlin at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

However, he added, "it is important to understand that this is not only about delivering new systems but ensuring the systems that are being delivered can operate," including having enough ammunition, spare parts and maintenance.

6:37 p.m.: Dutch prosecutors said Thursday they will not appeal the acquittal of a Russian man over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as it would be a "great burden" for families, Agence France-Presse reported.

Oleg Pulatov was found not guilty by a Dutch court on November 17 while Russians Igor Girkin and Sergei Dubinsky and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko were convicted and sentenced to life in absentia.

All 298 people on board the plane were killed when it was shot down by a Russian-made missile fired by Moscow-backed separatists over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, the court ruled.

The victims of the disaster came from 10 countries, including 196 Dutch, 43 Malaysians and 38 Australians.

6 p.m.: More than 1,300 prisoners have been returned to Ukraine since Russian troops invaded the pro-Western country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday, Agence France-Presse reported.

Zelenskyy spoke following a new exchange of prisoners with Russian and pro-Russian forces.

"After today's exchange, there are already 1,319 heroes who returned home," Zelenskyy said on Instagram, posting a photo showing a few dozen men holding Ukrainian flags.

"We will not stop until we get all our people back," the Ukrainian leader said.

Zelensky's chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said 50 Ukrainians had come home.

In a meeting with the Red Cross in October Russia said it held around 6,000 Ukrainian prisoners of war.

5:10 p.m.:

4:44 p.m.: U.S. prosecutors have moved to seize more than $5 million from a U.S. bank account belonging to Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeyev, a nationalist oligarch who officials say has funded separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine for years, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Thursday.

The civil forfeiture complaint, filed on November 30 in a U.S. federal court in Manhattan, was the latest effort by U.S. authorities targeting Malofeyev and part of a wider effort by authorities to go after assets belonging to wealthy and politically connected Russians.

Malofeyev himself was hit with criminal charges in March. He is accused of evading sanctions and using co-conspirators to acquire media organizations across Europe. He’s also been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.

4 p.m.: A Ukrainian man spent months digging through the wreckage of an apartment block to find the body of a close friend from his school days. Pavlo Holub lives in Izyum, and he carried out this work during the six-month Russian occupation of the town before it was liberated by Ukrainian forces in September. During this time, Holub says he was also ordered by a Moscow-appointed official to bury 17 Ukrainian soldiers in a mass grave. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.

3:21 p.m.: Three Ukrainian diplomatic missions have received threatening letters soaked in red liquid, Interfax Ukraine cited a senior official as saying on Thursday, a day after a letter bomb exploded at the country's embassy in Spain, Reuters reported.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the incidents were an attempt to intimidate Ukrainian diplomats, the agency reported.

"If they have already started attacking embassies ... it means that they are afraid of us, they are trying to stop us," it quoted him as telling national television.

"Inside these letters was a symbolic threat to Ukraine ... all the envelopes were soaked in red liquid at the time they were received," he said, declining to give further details.

2:30 p.m.:

2:10 p.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron renewed their commitment to fighting Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Thursday in a White House meeting where the allies also acknowledged tensions over handling the economic stress of the war, Reuters reported.

Biden is hosting Macron at the first state visit since the U.S. leader took office in early 2021.

In a joint statement issued after their Oval Office talks, the two leaders said they were committed to holding Russia to account "for widely documented atrocities and war crimes, committed both by its regular armed forces and by its proxies" in Ukraine.

"France and the United States are facing down Vladimir Putin's grasping ambition for conquest" and "defending the democratic values and universal human rights which are the heart of both our nations," Biden said.

1:50 p.m.: As Russia continues to wage war in Ukraine, local lawmakers in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa have decided to dismantle a statue of 18th-century Russian Empress Catherine the Great. On November 30, Odesa's municipal council voted to remove the monument that honors Catherine's 1794 decree that marked the founding of the Black Sea city. A symbol of Russian imperial heritage, the statue became the target of anti-Russian anger after Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

1:30 p.m.: India took over both the presidency of the G-20 and of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) Thursday, VOA U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer reported, noting that India’s tenure as head of the UNSC is for December only.

When India’s U.N. Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj held a press conference to go over the UNSC agenda for December, she was asked about Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s comment today that NATO is trying to drag India into an anti-China and anti-Russia alliance.

“I will put it this way: India is too big a country; it stands tall and proud on its own,” Kamboj said. “In the course of the conflict in Ukraine, we have been very clear and consistent right from the outset. We have spoken in one voice: that we are for peace. Peace is also a side. We favor diplomacy and dialogue,” she added.

“To this end, our prime minister is speaking to both sides. Our foreign minister is speaking to both sides. We are among the few countries, dare I say, which is speaking to both sides. Our prime minister’s comment that this is not an era of war has received global acceptance, and incidentally even found its way into the G20 declaration that was recently adopted in Bali. So, that would be my answer to your question.,” Kamboj said.

“And at the same time, as far as the conflict in Ukraine is concerned, we have been very mindful of the humanitarian situation... At the same time, we do have a relationship with Russia - an important relationship with Russia. And as far as the relationship with the United States is concerned, it’s a comprehensive, strategic partnership which has never been closer, tighter or stronger than it is today,” she noted.

1:15 p.m.: Streaming of foreign movies and music aboard planes operated by Aeroflot, Russia's largest airline, has been suspended after foreign partners refused to provide services due to international sanctions imposed on Russia over its ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Aeroflot said on Telegram on Thursday that all of its 137 planes were affected by the situation, adding that domestic movies and music will be offered to passengers by January 1, 2023.

12:40 p.m.:

12:25 p.m.: Kyiv's mayor told residents on Thursday to stock up on water, food and warm clothes in case of a total blackout caused by Russian airstrikes, and said residents should consider staying with friends in the outskirts of the capital if they could, Reuters reported.

Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko warned that the temperature in homes could drop rapidly in the event of "a blackout and the destruction of infrastructure and a total absence of electricity, water supply, drainage and heat supply".

"The temperature in the apartments may not differ much from the outside temperature," the former boxing champion told a security forum in Kyiv, where temperatures are around -4 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit).

"I appeal to the have a supply of technical water, drinking water, durable food products, warm clothing."

To remedy the lack of heating and electricity, Kyiv authorities set up 430 heating points where people can warm up and recharge their phones, but Klitschko said that the number was insufficient for a city of 3.5 million people.

12:05 p.m.: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that he supports an effort to establish a NATO Undersea Infrastructure Center.

11:50 a.m.: European Council President Charles Michel once again urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to use the country's "influence" on Russia over its war in Ukraine during a visit to Beijing on Thursday, Reuters reported.

The war took up "a lot of time" during their three-hour meeting at Beijing's Great Hall of the People where trade, climate, human rights, COVID-19 recovery, Xinjiang and Taiwan, were also discussed, Michel told reporters via video link from Beijing.

"I urged President Xi, as we did at our EU-China summit in April, to use his influence on Russia to respect the UN charter," Michel said.

President Xi made it clear that China is not providing weapons to Russia and that nuclear threats are not acceptable, the European Council president said.

11:35 a.m.:

11:20 a.m.: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday big problems had accumulated in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, accusing the West of spurning the chance to make the OSCE a real bridge with Russia after the Cold War, Reuters reported.

At a news conference, Lavrov gave a long recital of Russian historical grievances against the West, saying the "reckless enlargement" of NATO had devalued the basic principles of the 57-nation OSCE, Europe's top security and rights watchdog.

Poland did not grant a Russian delegation visas to attend an OSCE meeting of foreign ministers in Lodz taking place on Thursday and Friday, and said Moscow would be represented by its permanent representative to the OSCE instead.

Ukraine has also been critical of the OSCE, saying Russia should be removed from it after Moscow's invasion of its neighbor. Kyiv also objected to the title of an event at the Lodz meeting that referred to the OSCE being at a crossroads.

Speaking in Lodz, U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said Russia had "failed demonstrably to break the OSCE."

11:05 a.m.: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at regional security talks on Thursday that he plans to discuss with his counterparts any available legal means to ensure Russia pays for the reconstruction of war-torn Ukraine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Borrell spoke at the start of this year's two-day ministerial conference of the OSCE in the central Polish city of Lodz. He noted that the EU has frozen Russian assets worth nearly 20 billion euros since Moscow invaded Ukraine.

10:55 a.m.: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – meeting in Poland Thursday and Friday - have held a discussion on how to hold Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine, including a proposal for a special tribunal.

10:40 a.m.: The European Union needs patience as it sanctions Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, as most measures will only have an impact in the medium and long term, Lithuania's prime minister said in an interview at the Reuters NEXT conference on Thursday.

"My message is - we need to have patience. Because there are no sanctions that can switch Russia off overnight. It is not possible, we should not look for this," Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said.

She said there was a broad agreement among NATO members not to pressure Ukraine to negotiate, and called on NATO to provide air defenses to not only eastern NATO members but also to Ukraine.

Lithuania will host a NATO summit next year which Simonyte expects to be dominated by Ukraine but also by the decision of Sweden and Finland to join the Western defense alliance.

10:25 a.m.: The Royal United Services Institute, a leading British security think tank, this week published a report titled “Preliminary Lessons in Conventional Warfighting from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: February–July 2022.”

The study analyzes the strengths and vulnerabilities of Ukraine’s defense forces and assesses Russia’s strategies and tactics, offering lessons for NATO allies and others, according to RUSI.

10:10 a.m.:

9:55 a.m.: Russia's Defense Ministry and the head of Ukraine's presidential administration said the two countries had swapped 50 service personnel on Thursday in the latest prisoner exchange between the two sides, Reuters reported.

Earlier on Thursday, the top Russian-installed official in Ukraine's partly-occupied Donetsk region said Moscow and Kyiv would each hand over 50 prisoners of war.

The exchange was later confirmed on Twitter by Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine's presidential administration.

9:45 a.m.: Ukraine's military said on Thursday it had found fragments of Russian-fired nuclear-capable missiles with dud warheads in western Ukraine, and that their apparent purpose was to distract air defenses, Reuters reported.

Mykola Danyliuk, a representative of the Ukrainian armed forces' research unit, told a briefing that missile fragments that fell in the western regions of Lviv and Khmelnytskyi on October 31 had been identified as parts of Kh-55 cruise missiles.

The Kh-55 was designed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s for use on strategic targets. It is primarily intended to carry nuclear warheads and to be launched from bomber aircraft.

The official said a test on the fragments did not show abnormal levels of radioactivity.

"This shows that there was no contact (of the missile) with nuclear elements," he said.

9:30 a.m.: Air-raid alerts were issued across all regions of Ukraine in the early afternoon on December 1 as fighting raged in the eastern region of Donetsk while in the south, heavy Russian bombardment knocked out power again in the regional capital of Kherson, where power had only started to be restored after Russian troops fled the city across the Dnipro River, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

"An overall air-raid alert is in place in Ukraine. Go to shelters," Ukraine's border service wrote on Telegram following warnings that Russia was preparing a new wave of missile and drone strikes.

9:15 a.m.:

8:45 a.m.: Bomb disposal experts defused a fifth letter bomb on Thursday as Spain stepped up security to confront a spate of explosive devices sent to high-profile targets, including the prime minister and the Ukrainian ambassador in Madrid, Reuters reported.

Early indications suggest that all five of the packages were sent from within Spain, the country's deputy interior minister told journalists.

Rafael Perez, the junior minister responsible for security, said the homemade devices were sent in brown packages containing a flammable powder and tripwire that would generate "sudden flames" rather than an explosion.

The packages were addressed to the heads of the institutions they were sent to.

Perez said one of the devices had detonated - injuring a security officer at the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid, three others were detonated by the security forces in controlled explosions and one had been kept intact for investigative purposes.

8:25 a.m.:

8:10 a.m.: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday that the United States had created an "existential" threat to Russia from Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Lavrov was speaking at a news conference where he also accused the United States and NATO of being direct participants in the Ukraine war.

He said Russia had never walked away from contacts with the United States but that it had not heard any "substantive ideas" from its U.S. counterparts.

7:55 a.m.: A Russian law that expands the definition of so-called foreign agents has come into force that rights groups say will make it easier for the state to target its domestic critics at a time when the Kremlin is cracking down on dissent over its war in Ukraine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The new law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in July, took effect as of December 1 and allows officials to include in the foreign agents registry anyone who is "under foreign influence."

The new law also broadens the definition of political activities to include a vague clause covering any activities that "contradict the national interests of the Russian Federation."

Under the previous version of the law, prosecutors had to assert that an individual charged as a foreign agent had to receive financial or material assistance from abroad.

Russia has used its foreign agent law for the past decade to label and punish critics of government policies. It also has been increasingly used by officials to shutter civil society and media groups in Russia since the Kremlin launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in late February.

7:40 a.m.:

7:20 a.m.: Ukraine dismissed the deputy chief engineer of its Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Thursday, accusing him of collaborating with Moscow's forces and treason, the Energoatom state nuclear energy company said.

The statement was published a day after Russia said it had promoted the engineer, Yuriy Chernichuk, to serve as the director of the vast nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine.

7:00 a.m.: European Council President Charles Michel said on Thursday that he urged China's President Xi Jinping to use his influence on Russia to press it to respect the U.N. charter with regard to Ukraine.

6:45 a.m.: Spain's security forces found a "suspect" package at a key air force base near Madrid, the interior ministry said Thursday, a day after a letter bomb exploded at Ukraine's embassy in the Spanish capital, Agence France-Presse reported.

Security staff "detected a suspect envelope that could contain some type of mechanism" at the base in Torrejon de Ardoz outside Madrid between 3 am and 4 am, it said in a statement.

Police were called to the base "to secure the area and investigators are analyzing this envelope" which was addressed to the base's satellite center, it added.

The base is regularly used to send weapons donated by Spain to Ukraine, as well as for travel in official planes by senior government officials.

On Wednesday, the security officer at Ukraine's embassy in Madrid lightly injured his hand while opening a letter bomb addressed to the Ukrainian ambassador, prompting Kyiv to boost security at its embassies worldwide.

Later in the evening, a second "suspicious postal shipment" was intercepted at the headquarters of military equipment firm Instalaza in the northeastern city of Zaragoza, the interior ministry said.

Experts carried out a "controlled explosion" of the mailed item.

Instalaza makes the rocket launchers that Spain donates to Ukraine.

6 a.m.: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Moscow was ready to listen if anyone wanted to hold talks on Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Lavrov, speaking at a news conference in the 10th month of the war, said Ukrainian allegations that Russia wanted talks in order to win time to regroup and rebuild its armed forces were absurd.

He said Russia would also be willing to return to talks with the West if it changed its mind about the merit of discussing security proposals which Moscow floated in December.

Lavrov also accused NATO of trying to drag India into what he called an anti-Russian and anti-Chinese alliance at a time when he said the West was attempting to squeeze out Russian influence.

Lavrov said that the South China Sea was becoming a region where NATO was willing to ratchet up tensions and accused the United States of trying to subvert the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

5:45 a.m.: The recently liberated Ukrainian city of Kherson has lost its power supply after heavy shelling by Russian forces, the regional governor said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Kherson, which had endured weeks without basic utilities such as running water and electricity, partially regained its power supply last week after Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city from Russian forces earlier in November.

Yaroslav Yanushevych, the governor of the Kherson region, blamed Russian shelling for the new power cut and said in a statement on the Telegram messaging platform that energy workers were working to fix the problem.

After living under Russian occupation for almost nine months, Kherson residents now face the danger of regular shelling in some parts of the city from Russian troops who retreated only to the opposite side of the Dnipro River.

Other Ukrainian cities are suffering power cuts after Russian air strikes.

The Ukrainian General Staff said in its daily update on the fighting that the number of Russian soldiers and military equipment had decreased in Oleshky, a town not far from Kherson on the Russian-controlled side of the Dnipro.

"Enemy troops were withdrawn from certain settlements of the Kherson (region) and dispersed in forest strips along the section of the Oleshky - Hola Prystan highway," it said, referring to a highway that runs roughly parallel to the river on Russian-held territory. "The main part of the troops are mobilized personnel."

5:15 a.m.: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday he still believes in the benefits of free trade but warned of the security consequences that come with engaging with authoritarian powers such as China.

"The war in Ukraine has ... demonstrated our dangerous dependency on Russian gas. This should lead us to assess our dependencies on other authoritarian states, not least China," he said in a speech at the Berlin Security Conference, Reuters reported.

4:43 a.m.: A new report by The Associated Press examines the mental health services in place for traumatized Ukrainian soldiers.

Ukraine’s Veterans Affairs Ministry spokeswoman Iulia Vorona said that statistics on suicides and PTSD among veterans are not being made public during the war for security reasons, but even before the invasion, the veterans affairs minister Yuliia Laputina said there was a great demand for mental health support among military families as a result of fighting against Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

One of her deputies, Eugen Kotyk, told The Associated Press this month that the ministry was actively working on a suicide and alcohol risk-reduction program.

4:05 a.m.: Russia said on Thursday the German parliament's move to recognize the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine as a Soviet-imposed genocide was an anti-Russian provocation and an attempt by Germany to whitewash its Nazi past, Reuters reported.

In a decision welcomed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, German lawmakers passed a resolution on Wednesday declaring the death by starvation of millions of Ukrainians - the Holodomor - was genocide.

In November 1932, Soviet leader Josef Stalin dispatched police to seize all grain and livestock from newly collectivized Ukrainian farms, including the seed needed to plant the next crop. Millions of Ukrainian peasants starved to death in the following months from what Yale University historian Timothy Snyder calls "clearly premeditated mass murder."

Russia on Thursday rejected the claim that this was a genocide and said millions of people across other parts of the Soviet Union, including in Russia, also suffered.

"There is another attempt to justify and push forward a campaign - being planted in Ukraine and sponsored by the West - to demonize Russia and to pit ethnic Ukrainians against Russians," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.

"The Germans are trying to rewrite their history ... downplay their own guilt and muddy the memory of the unprecedented nature of the countless crimes committed by Nazi Germany during World War Two," it added.

The ministry accused the German parliament of "reviving the fascist ideology of racial hatred and discrimination and attempting to absolve itself of responsibility for war crimes" by passing the declaration.

Several European countries, including the ex-Soviet Baltic States, also recognize the Holodomor as a genocide.

For Ukrainians, the Holodomor forms a central part of the country's identity as an independent nation state, and proof of historical injustices inflicted upon Ukrainians by leaders in Moscow.

Zelenskyy said the German parliament's resolution was a "decision for justice, for truth" and an "important signal to many other countries of the world that Russian revanchism will not succeed in rewriting history."

3:45 a.m.: Ukrainian Olympic canoer Yuri Cheban, who won Olympic gold in the 200 meters in 2012 and 2016 and bronze in 2008, is auctioning off his medals to raise money for the war effort.

"My Olympic medals won't matter if Ukraine can't stand for this fight for freedom and independence," Cheban told The Associated Press. SCP Auctions, which is overseeing the sale, said it expects the gold medals to go for $75,000 each.

Cheban is donating the proceeds to the Olympic Circle charity fund, which is dedicated to helping the city of Mykolaiv, close to Cheban’s hometown of Odessa.

3:30 a.m.: President Vladimir Putin's plan to make Turkey a hub for Russian gas in theory could allow Moscow to mask its exports with fuel from other sources, but that might not be enough to persuade Europeans to buy, analysts and sources who spoke to Reuters said.

Russia supplied 40% of the European Union gas market until Moscow on Feb. 24 sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in what it calls a "special military operation."

Since then, the West has introduced sweeping sanctions, including on Russian oil and gas, cut its purchases of the Russia-sourced fuels and sought alternatives.

After explosions — whose cause is under investigation — damaged the Nord Stream Russian gas pipeline system to Europe under the Baltic Sea, Putin in October proposed setting up a gas hub in Turkey, building on a southern route for exports.

Without being specific, Putin has said a hub could be set up in Turkey relatively quickly, and predicted customers in Europe would want to sign contracts.

3:15 a.m.:

3 a.m.: Four lion cubs have arrived at a Minnesota animal sanctuary after they were found orphaned during the war, The Associated Press reported.

Taras, Stefania, Lesya and Prada arrived at their new permanent home in the United States after spending three weeks at the Poznan Zoo in Poland.

"These cubs have endured more in their short lives than any animal should," said Meredith Whitney, the wildlife rescue program manager at the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

2:43 a.m.: Russia's Gazprom said it would ship 42.4 million cubic meters of gas to Europe via Ukraine on Thursday, a volume similar to those of recent days, according to Reuters.

2:18 a.m.: Geoffrey Pyatt, assistant secretary for energy resources at the U.S. State Department, said on Thursday he was confident that agreement would be reached on the level at which to cap prices for Russian sea-borne oil under a Group of Seven (G-7) scheme, Reuters reported.

Pyatt was speaking to reporters in Tokyo after a meeting with Japanese counterpart Ryo Minami. A former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Pyatt is in Japan to meet officials on aspects of energy security.

2 a.m.:

1:45 a.m.: The European Commission recommended on Wednesday that $13 billion in EU funds for Hungary be frozen because Budapest is falling short on its commitments to meet European rule of law, Agence France-Presse reported.

The EU executive said Hungary had in particular failed to make good on promised reforms to ensure a fair judicial system when it comes to prosecutorial decisions.

EU member states will now have until December 19 to vote on whether to back, reject or change the commission recommendation.

The commission's blunt recommendation was foreshadowed, with Hungary under repeated criticism by Brussels for perceived backsliding on principles and practices underpinning EU standards of democracy and law.

Budapest has already been standing in the way of efforts to extend sanctions on Moscow — with which it has good ties and energy dependency — over Russia's war in Ukraine.

1:16 a.m.:

1 a.m.: The U.N. Global Humanitarian Overview estimates that an extra 65 million people will need help next year, bringing the total to 339 million in 68 countries, Reuters reported.

That represents more than 4% of the people on the planet or about the population of the United States.

"Humanitarian needs are shockingly high, as this year's extreme events are spilling into 2023," said the U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, citing the war in Ukraine and drought in the Horn of Africa.

"For people on the brink, this appeal is a lifeline."

Over 100 million people have been driven from their homes as conflict and climate change fuel a displacement crisis.

Meanwhile, nine months of war between Russia and Ukraine have disrupted food exports and around 45 million people in 37 countries are currently facing starvation, the report said.

This year's appeal represents a 25% increase compared to last year.

But donor funding is already under strain with the multiple crises. The United Nations faces the biggest funding gap ever, with its appeals only about 53% funded in 2022, based on data through to mid-November.

"Humanitarian organizations are therefore forced to decide who to target with the funds available," a U.N. statement said.

12:30 a.m.:

12:01 a.m.: German energy giant Uniper said Wednesday it was taking Gazprom to an international tribunal over the Russian company's failure to deliver gas, saying it has so far cost them $12 billion, Agence France-Presse reported.

After Moscow invaded Ukraine, Gazprom steadily dwindled pipeline supplies to Germany in apparent retaliation for Western sanctions on Russia, sending energy prices soaring.

Germany's biggest gas importer, Uniper was left facing bankruptcy, prompting the government to say it would nationalize the firm over fears its failure could send shockwaves through Europe's top economy.

The German company said it had begun legal action against Gazprom at a tribunal in Stockholm, claiming damages over gas that had not been delivered since June.

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

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