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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Dec. 2

Musicians perform during a candlelight concert at the Architect's House in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Dec. 1, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Musicians perform during a candlelight concert at the Architect's House in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Dec. 1, 2022, amid 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.

9:56 p.m.: The United Nations food agency's world price index fell marginally in November, marking an eighth straight monthly fall since a record high in March after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.

The Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 135.7 points last month, down from 135.9 for October, the agency said Friday.

The October figure was unchanged from the FAO's previous estimate.

Lower readings for cereals, meat and dairy products in November offset higher prices for vegetable oils and sugar, the FAO said.

Last month's agreement to prolong a U.N.-backed grain export channel from Ukraine for another 120 days has tempered worries about war disruption to massive Black Sea trade.

8:44 p.m.:

8 p.m.: India will continue buying Russian oil and even look for term contracts as sanctions allow purchases provided that Western services are not used, an oil ministry source said on Friday, according to Reuters.

The comment comes after European Union governments agreed on a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian seaborne oil, which comes into effect on December 5.

After December 5, Western shipping and insurance companies would be prohibited from handling Russian oil sold above the price cap.

"There is a lot of opacity in term of what the rules of the game are... There are always options to buy Russian oil," the source said, without elaborating.

7:02 p.m.: The Group of Seven nations and Australia have joined the European Union in agreeing to a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil, The Associated Press reported.

It's a key step as Western sanctions aim to reorder the global oil market to prevent price spikes and starve President Vladimir Putin of funding for his war in Ukraine.

The nations needed to set the discounted price that other nations will pay by Monday, when an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea and a ban on insurance for those supplies take effect. The price cap aims to prevent a sudden loss of Russian oil to the world that could lead to a new surge in energy prices.

6:15 p.m.: Russian-installed authorities in Ukraine's southern Kherson region on Friday said they would start evacuating people with reduced mobility from the occupied town of Kakhovka, part of a wider relocation of civilians on the Dnipro river's east bank, Reuters reported.

Russia last month abandoned the west bank - including the city of Kherson - in one of its biggest retreats of the war. That pullout means the vast Dnipro now forms the front line of the war in the south of the country, with both sides exchanging heavy fire from positions on opposite banks.

The Russian-imposed administration in Kakhovka said bedridden or handicapped people would be taken to the Henichesk district to the southeast.

Authorities have set up a hotline to help those leaving.

A woman who answered the hotline phone said a broad evacuation was taking place from a string of settlements on the left (east) bank of the river, including Oleshky and Nova Kakhovka, the site of a huge hydroelectric dam.

She declined to comment on conditions in the affected towns, the reason for the evacuation or the number of people affected.

5:47 p.m.:

5:05 p.m.: Hungary's prime minister said Friday that he will continue to oppose a European Union plan to provide a $19 billion aid package to Ukraine in 2023, a position that promises sustained tensions as the bloc and the nationalist Hungarian government wrangle over democratic standards, The Associated Press reported.

In an interview on state radio, Prime Minister Viktor Orban acknowledged that Ukraine needs help to pay for the functioning of essential services but emphasized that he would block the EU's plan of joint borrowing to fund the package.

"The question is how to help Ukraine," Orban said. "One proposal says that we should use the budgets of the EU member states to take out new loans together and use that money to give to Ukraine. We are not in favor of this because we do not want the European Union to become a community of indebted states instead of a community of cooperating member states."

Orban proposed that each of the EU's 27 member states draw from its own budget to provide assistance to Ukraine through bilateral agreements.

"We will not accept the other plan, we will not consent to it, without us it will not come into being," he said.

4:10 p.m.: Poland has agreed to the European Union's deal for a $60 per barrel price cap on Russian seaborne oil, allowing the EU to move forward with formally approving the deal over the weekend, Poland's Ambassador to the EU Andrzej Sados said on Friday, Reuters reported.

Warsaw had held out on approving the deal to examine an adjustment mechanism to keep the cap below the market price, having pushed in negotiations for the cap to be as low as possible, to slash revenues to Russia and limit Moscow's ability to finance its war in Ukraine.

Sados said the mechanism in the final deal would keep the price cap at least 5% below the market rate.

The price cap, an idea of the Group of Seven nations, aims to reduce Russia's income from selling oil, while preventing a spike in global oil prices after an EU embargo on Russian crude takes effect on December 5.

3:20 p.m.: Russian troops in Ukraine are deliberately attacking the country’s museums, libraries and other cultural institutions, according to a report issued Friday by the U.S. and Ukrainian chapters of the international writers’ organization PEN.

“Culture is not collateral damage in the war against Ukraine; it’s a target, a central pillar of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justification for the war,” the report stated. “Putin has repeatedly claimed that Ukrainian culture and language simply don’t exist. By targeting art museums, music halls, libraries, theaters and historical sites, he attempts to make it so.”

PEN cited Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture as saying that 529 “cultural heritage and cultural institutions” have been destroyed or damaged since the war started on Feb. 24. The figure includes both sites of national importance and cultural venues in towns and villages, the report said.

2:30 p.m.:

2:00 p.m.: President Joe Biden floated a trial balloon to President Vladimir Putin intended to determine whether Russia, after months of battlefield losses and stalled gains, is ready to end its invasion of Ukraine.

It appeared to quickly pop.

Biden has avoided talking to Putin since the Russian leader sent his armed forces into Ukraine last February, called him a war criminal responsible for thousands of deaths and atrocities, and said he "cannot remain in power."

But at a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, Biden seemed to offer an opening. "Let me choose my words very carefully," Biden said. "I'm prepared to speak with Mr. Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he's looking for a way to end the war. He hasn't done that yet."

The Kremlin shot back that Putin is "open to negotiations" but that the West must accept Russian demands, a sign that Moscow is sticking to its desire to control part of Ukraine and show the Russian people that his "special military operation" is not in vain.

1:50 p.m.:

1:35 p.m.: The European Union reached a deal Friday for a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil, a key step as Western sanctions aim to reorder the global oil market to prevent price spikes and starve President Vladimir Putin of funding for his war in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

After a last-minute flurry of negotiations, the EU presidency, held by the Czech Republic, tweeted that “ambassadors have just reached an agreement on price cap for Russian seaborne #oil.” The decision must still be officially approved with a written procedure but is expected to go through.

Europe needed to set the discounted price that other nations will pay by Monday, when an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea and a ban on insurance for those supplies take effect. The price cap, which was led by the Group of Seven wealthy democracies and still needs their approval, aims to prevent a sudden loss of Russian oil to the world that could lead to a new surge in energy prices and further fuel inflation.

1:05 p.m.:

12:40 p.m.: A deal aimed at safeguarding Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is close at hand, the head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency said on Friday, according to Reuters.

Europe's largest power plant, which was seized by Russia shortly after its invasion of Ukraine, has since come under repeated shelling, drawing condemnation from the IAEA, which has called for a safety zone to be created around the site.

"We are almost there. Believe me. .. Now we have a proposal on the table which simply put is aiming to stop the folly of bombing the largest nuclear power plant in Europe," IAEA chief Rafael Grossi told a conference in Rome.

"This is ongoing. I cannot reveal everything, but I am engaged," he said.

12:10 p.m.:

11:50 a.m.: A security organization born in the Cold War to maintain peace in Europe ended a high-level meeting Friday without a final resolution, underlining the existential crisis it is facing amid Russia’s war against Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

The war launched by one member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe against another has created hurdles for the 57-nation group. It makes decisions based on the consensus of all members, which rendered it impossible for the vast majority that condemn the war to get through a final resolution opposing Russia’s aggression.

Running through the two-day meeting of foreign ministers and other representatives, the OSCE’s first such high-level meeting since the Feb. 24 invasion, was the question of how it can continue to function without consensus from Russia and its ally Belarus, which say they have been unfairly isolated.

“I have no doubts that in the next few years it will be extremely difficult for this organization to deliver on its mandate,” Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said at a concluding news conference. Poland currently holds the organization’s rotating chair.

11:30 a.m.:

11:15 a.m.: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that he expects a "clear picture" on the war in Ukraine by spring, as shelling and clashes continued and the Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin was open to negotiations, Reuters reported.

"Now Ukraine is advancing on the ground, retaking some of their occupied territories. But Russia in return is deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure. So life is getting difficult for Ukrainians particularly, and for all of us," Cavusoglu said at a forum in Rome.

Russia's war against Ukraine became more complicated with the fighting on the ground getting heavier, Cavusoglu said, adding that some Western countries should do more to get two sides to the negotiation table.

10:50 a.m.: Ukrainian civilians who have fled Russian-occupied cities in the east, along with local Bucha residents who have lost their homes, do their best to cope with temporary modular housing. But with electricity frequently cut off, they improvise for sources of heat while their children bundle up and try to do homework before the next outage. Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA, has this report.

10:20 a.m.: U.N.-appointed investigators are looking into whether Russia's attacks on critical infrastructure in Ukraine amount to war crimes, one of the inspection team said on Friday, according to Reuters.

Russia has been pounding Ukraine's electricity infrastructure since early October, causing blackouts and leaving millions without heating as temperatures plummet. Russia says the assaults do not target civilians and are meant to reduce Ukraine's ability to fight and push it to negotiate - though Kyiv says such attacks are a war crime.

"Part of the analysis that we are engaged in at present ... is whether the attacks constitute war crimes," Pablo de Greiff told a news conference, speaking from Kyiv. If they do, the team would work out what it "can do in order to make a contribution to the accountability for such crimes," he added.

The three-member commission of inquiry established by the U.N. Human Rights Council in March has already concluded that Russia committed war crimes in areas it occupied in Ukraine. Moscow regularly dismisses such accusations as a smear campaign.

9:55 a.m.:

9:40 a.m.: Russia's foreign ministry said on Friday that it was "outraged" by a statement from the French foreign ministry that supported plans to create a tribunal on possible crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

In a statement, Moscow's foreign ministry criticized the plans, which would see the European Union set up a special court to investigate and prosecute possible Russian war crimes.

"We demand that French diplomats, who are so attentive to human rights issues, not divide people into 'right' and 'wrong', 'ours' and 'not ours'," the foreign ministry said.

Ukraine has been pushing for the creation of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian military and political leaders it holds responsible for starting the war. Russia, which calls its actions in Ukraine a "special military operation", has denied targeting civilians and other war crimes.

9:25 a.m.: Ukrainian children in the southern city of Kharkiv now have a safe place to play and to talk to professionals about trauma they may have experienced, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) said Friday.

9:05 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin has told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that further attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure are "inevitable," even as millions of Ukrainians struggle without electricity and heating at the onset of winter following waves of Russian strikes across the country, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

"It was noted that the Russian Armed Forces had long refrained from precision missile strikes against certain targets on the territory of Ukraine," the Kremlin said in a statement on Friday following the first phone conversation between Putin and Scholz since mid-September.

"But now such measures have become a forced and inevitable response to Kyiv's provocative attacks on Russia's civilian infrastructure," the Kremlin said, accusing the West of pursuing "destructive" policies and "pumping" Ukraine with weapons. It was unclear which attacks the Kremlin was referencing.

Putin told Scholz that "political and financial support" from the Ukraine's Western allies "leads to the fact that Kyiv completely rejects the idea of any negotiations," the Kremlin said.

Scholz pressed Putin to seek a diplomatic solution to end his war in Ukraine, including troop withdrawals, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said following a call between the two.

"The chancellor urged the Russian president to come as quickly as possible to a diplomatic solution including the withdrawal of Russian troops," according to Hebestreit.

8:45 a.m.:

8:30 a.m.: The Ukrainian government will draw up a law banning churches affiliated with Russia under moves described by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as necessary to prevent Moscow being able to "weaken Ukraine from within," Reuters reported.

The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, which groups top security, military and political figures, told the government to draft the law following a series of raids on parishes that Kyiv says could be taking orders from Moscow.

The security council also ordered investigations into suspected "subversive activities of Russian special services in the religious environment of Ukraine" and called for sanctions against unspecified individuals.

Further searches of church premises were taking place on Friday. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) it said was searching at least five parishes belonging to a branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which until May was subordinated to the Russian Orthodox Church.

"We have to create conditions where no actors dependent on the aggressor state (Russia) will have an opportunity to manipulate Ukrainians and weaken Ukraine from within," Zelenskyy said in his nightly address to the nation on Thursday. "We will never allow anyone to build an empire inside the Ukrainian soul."

A spokesman for the church, Metropolitan Kliment, told Reuters on Friday that his organization "has always acted within the framework of Ukrainian law."

8:15 a.m.:

7:55 a.m.: Several Ukrainian embassies abroad have received "bloody packages" containing animal eyes, the foreign ministry said on Friday, after a series of letter bombs were sent to addresses in Spain including Ukraine's embassy in Madrid, Reuters reported.

The packages, soaked in a liquid with a distinctive color and smell, were sent to embassies in Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Croatia and Italy, to general consulates in Naples and Krakow, and the consulate in Brno, spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said.

"We are studying the meaning of this message," Nikolenko wrote in a statement on Facebook, adding that Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has ordered all the embassies and consulates concerned to be placed under heightened security.

Six letter bombs have been sent this week to targets in Spain, including Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the U.S. Embassy to Madrid, prompting Spain to step up security.

Nikolenko said the entrance to the flat of the ambassador to the Vatican had been vandalized. An embassy source in Rome said human faeces were left in front of the door. Nikolenko also said that the embassy in Kazakhstan had received a bomb threat, which was subsequently not confirmed.

The embassy in the United States received a letter containing an article that was critical about Ukraine, he said. The letter, like most of the others, originated from one European country, he said, without giving details.

7:45 a.m.:

7:20 a.m.: Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin warned an Australian audience on Friday that a Russian victory over Ukraine would empower other aggressors and urged democracies against forming “critical dependencies” on authoritarian states such as China, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Marin offered a "brutally honest" assessment of Europe's capabilities in the wake of Russia's war on Ukraine, stating that "we're not strong enough" to stand up to Moscow alone.

Visiting Australia, the leader of the pending NATO member said Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion and occupation of neighboring Ukraine had exposed both European weaknesses and strategic blunders in dealing with Russia.

Marin was speaking in Sydney at the end of the first-ever visit by a Finnish prime minister to Australia and New Zealand. She used a speech to urge democracies to ramp up sanctions against Russia.

7:05 a.m.: The International Atomic Energy Agency hopes to reach an agreement with Russia and Ukraine to create a protection zone at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant by the end of the year, the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog was quoted by Italian media as saying.

The nuclear plant, Europe's biggest, provided about a fifth of Ukraine's electricity before Russia's invasion, and has been forced to operate on back-up generators a number of times.

Repeated shelling around the Russian-held plant has raised concern about the potential for a grave accident just 500 km (300 miles) from the site of the world's worst nuclear accident, the 1986 Chornobyl disaster.

"My commitment is to reach a solution as soon as possible. I hope by the end of the year," Rafael Grossi told Italian newspaper La Repubblica in an interview published on Friday.

Grossi did not rule out meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

6:50 a.m.:

6:40 a.m.: A top adviser to Ukraine’s president has cited military chiefs as saying 10,000 to 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the country’s nine-month struggle against Russia’s invasion, a rare comment on such figures and far below estimates of Ukrainian casualties from Western leaders, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Late Thursday, Mykhailo Podolyak, a top adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, relayed new figures about Ukrainian soldiers killed in battle, while noting that the number of injured troops was higher and civilian casualty counts were “significant.”

“We have official figures from the general staff, we have official figures from the top command, and they amount to between 10,000 and 12,500-13,000 killed,” Podolyak told Channel 24.

The Ukrainian military has not confirmed such figures and it was a rare instance of a Ukrainian official providing such a count. The last dates back to late August, when the head of the armed forces said that nearly 9,000 military personnel had been killed. In June, Podolyak said that up to 200 soldiers were dying each day, in some of the most intense fighting and bloodshed this year.

On Wednesday, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Union’s executive Commission, said 100,000 Ukrainian troops had been killed before her office corrected her comments — calling them inaccurate and saying that the figure referred to both killed and injured.

6:25 a.m.:

6:10 a.m.: The Kremlin on Friday rejected US President Joe Biden's terms for Ukraine talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, saying Moscow's offensive will continue, Agence France-Presse reported.

"What did President Biden say in fact? He said that negotiations are possible only after Putin leaves Ukraine," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, adding Moscow was "certainly" not ready to accept those conditions. "The special military operation is continuing," Peskov said, using the Kremlin term for the assault on Ukraine.

During a state visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, Biden said Thursday he would be willing to speak to Putin if the Russian leader truly wants to end the fighting. "I'm prepared to speak with Mr Putin if in fact there is an interest in him deciding he's looking for a way to end the war," the US leader said.

Peskov on Friday said Putin was ready for talks to ensure Russia's interests are respected but added that Washington's stance "complicates" any possible talks. "The United States does not recognize new territories as part of the Russian Federation," Peskov said, referring to Ukrainian regions that the Kremlin claims to have annexed.

The United Nations has condemned the "attempted illegal annexation" of Ukrainian land.

Peskov said that before sending troops to Ukraine on February 24 Putin had repeatedly proposed to hold talks with NATO, the OSCE and the United States but those attempts had proved "unsuccessful."

5:55 a.m.:

5:40 a.m.: Fierce fighting continued in the east of Ukraine, where Kyiv's forces fought off waves of attacks in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the military reported early on Friday, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,.

In the southern region of Kherson, three people were killed and seven wounded by Russian shelling of over the past 24 hours, the regional governor said on Friday.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces said in its daily update that Russian troops attacked Ukrainian positions in 14 settlements including Belohoryivka in Luhansk and Bakhmut in Donetsk while carrying out 30 air strikes and 35 multiple-rocket attacks on civilian settlements along the contact line.

The Russians were on the defensive in Kupyansk and Lyman in the east and in Zaporizhzhya in central Ukraine, the General Staff said, while in the Bakhmut and Avdiyivka directions in the east Moscow's forces were on the offensive.

The battlefield reports could not be independently verified.

5:30 a.m.:

5:14 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that Russian forces continued to defend against Ukrainian counteroffensive operations along the Svatove-Kreminna line. Russia forces also continued to make incremental gains around Bakhmut and to conduct offensive operations in the Avdiivka-Donetsk City area.

Meanwhile, Russian opinion polling suggests that the Russian public may be growing tired of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

4:10 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said Russia’s withdrawal from the west bank of the Dnipro River last month has provided the Ukrainian Armed Forces with opportunities to strike additional Russian logistics nodes and lines of communication.

Russia’s shortage of munitions (exacerbated by these logistics challenges) is likely one of the main factors currently limiting Russia’s potential to restart effective, large scale offensive ground operations, the update said.

3:07 a.m.:

2:07 a.m.: Japan will use its turn next year in leadership roles at the Group of Seven and the United Nations to pressure Russia to halt its war in Ukraine, Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi said at the Reuters NEXT conference.

"Russia's ongoing aggression against Ukraine is a clear violation of international law. It is an unacceptable and outrageous act threatening the very foundation of the international order," Hayashi said.

Japanese leaders have said Russia's attack on Ukraine poses a challenge to their own national security and fear it may encourage North Korea to further threaten its neighbors and embolden China to use military force to push its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea and East Asia, including against nearby Taiwan.

Japan's presidency of the G-7 industrial democracies in 2023 and its return for a two-year stint as a non-permanent Security Council member will give it a more conspicuous international platform to voice its concerns.

1:08 a.m.: France may face "some days" of power cuts this winter, the head of French power grid operator RTE said Thursday, as the government briefed local authorities on how to manage any possible outages.

"The situation entails risks, but one must not think power cuts are inevitable," Xavier Piechaczyk told France Info radio, according to Reuters.

Utility giant EDF has faced an unprecedented number of outages at its fleet of nuclear reactors, reducing nuclear output to a 30-year low just as Europe scrambles to replace Russian gas supplies, which Moscow cut off in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed over its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Piechaczyk stuck with the grid operator's last supply forecast, which had highlighted risks of shortages in January.

"Today we have 35 gigawatt of available nuclear power as of December 1, the aim is to reach between 40 and 41 on January 1 and to end the month at around 43, compared to a total capacity of 61."

Piechaczyk said the forecast was modeled on EDF's nuclear maintenance schedule, with some additional delays already anticipated.

12:02 a.m.: The U.S. government on Thursday announced the approval of a $380 million sale of Stinger portable anti-air missiles and other equipment to Finland, Agence France-Presse reported.

"The proposed sale will improve Finland’s defense and deterrence capabilities," the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement.

"This critical platform will bolster the land and air defense capabilities in Europe's northern flank, supporting the U.S. European Command's top priorities."

The announcement comes more than nine months into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which pushed Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership, and follows a $323 million proposed missile sale to Helsinki announced on Monday.

The State Department approved the possible sale, and the DSCA on Thursday provided the required notification to Congress, which still needs to sign off on the transaction.

Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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