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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Nov. 12

A Ukrainian soldier smiles and gives a thumbs-up in Bakhmut, in Ukraine's Donetsk region, Nov. 11, 2022.
A Ukrainian soldier smiles and gives a thumbs-up in Bakhmut, in Ukraine's Donetsk region, Nov. 11, 2022.

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

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

9:17 p.m.: Turkey is committed to seeking a peace dialog between Russia and Ukraine, Turkish media cited President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying on Saturday.

State broadcaster TRT and other media quoted Erdogan as saying: "The West, and especially the U.S., is attacking Russia seemingly endlessly," without elaborating on what he meant, Reuters reported.

"Of course, Russia is displaying great resistance in the face of all this," Erdogan was quoted as telling reporters on a flight from Uzbekistan.

"We are working on how to create a peace corridor here, like we had the grain corridor. We think the best way for this is a path from dialog to peace," Erdogan said, adding Ukraine's view would be important.

NATO member Turkey hosted talks between Ukrainian and Russian delegations earlier this year, and has sought to balance its criticism of the invasion and opposition to the sanctions.

8:20 p.m.: The Russian-appointed governor of the Zaporizhzhia region, Yevgeny Balitsky, said Saturday there is no need to evacuate residents from his area, CNN reported.

"Our borders have long been securely protected. Unfounded rumors spread by enemy propaganda are deliberately trying to sow panic and destabilize the situation," said Balitsky on his Telegram channel.

"You must understand that the evacuation of the population of the west bank in Kherson region took place according to plan, including the evacuation of cultural heritage monuments. These are strategically necessary steps to conduct a full-scale operation in which civilians and cultural heritage sites should not suffer," he added.

Zaporizhzhia is in southern Ukraine, northeast of Kherson along the Dnipro River.

7:34 p.m.: Ukraine's Military Intelligence said Saturday that Moscow and Tehran are preparing the draft agreement on the supply of Iranian ballistic missiles to Russia, the Kyiv Independent reported.

Russia's shortage of modern weapons because of Western sanctions is pushing Moscow to purchase weapons from world pariahs, according to Vadym Skibitskyi, a representative of the Defense Ministry's Intelligence Directorate.

"This summer Russia signed a contract with Iran to supply about 1,750 drones of two types, Shahed and Mohajer. The first batch, which was delivered to Russia, was about 350 drones, the second was about 250,” he said.

6:40 p.m.:

5:55 p.m.: Cyprus on Saturday buried Archbishop Chrysostomos II, a trailblazer who butted heads with his peers to keep Russian influence in the Orthodox Church at bay and led the biggest ecclesiastical reforms in centuries, Reuters reported.

Chrysostomos died on November 7 from cancer at age 81.

He had led the Church of Cyprus, one of the world's oldest churches, since 2006.

Four of the world's 15 Eastern Orthodox self-governing churches have recognized the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, away from the sphere of Moscow's influence.

The Church of Cyprus recognized it in 2020, with Chrysostomos standing firm against senior clerics in his church ruling body, the Holy Synod, seen as pro-Moscow.

He also opposed Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

5 p.m.: Russian fertilizer producer Uralchem-Uralkali has agreed with the Netherlands, Estonia and Belgium to supply cargoes of fertilizers stranded in those countries to Africa, TASS news agency reported on Saturday, according to Reuters.

It cited Uralchem's head Dmitry Konyaev as saying the group was working with the U.N. to organize free deliveries to Africa of more than 262,000 metric tons of fertilizers stuck in EU countries."

The Netherlands said on Friday that following a request from the United Nations it would allow shipment to Malawi of 20,000 metric tons of Russian fertilizer that had been sitting in the port of Rotterdam because of sanctions against a Russian individual, whom it did not identify.

It said a condition of the agreement was that the sanctioned person and the Russian company would earn nothing from the transaction.

4:17 p.m.: President of the European Council Charles Michel said Saturday the bloc expected China to use "all the means at its disposal" to push Moscow to respect international law, days before a G-20 summit expected to be dominated by the conflict in Ukraine.

Michel was speaking on the sidelines of a regional summit in Cambodia, where Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged Southeast Asian leaders to support Kyiv, Agence France-Presse reported.

While China remains a major trading partner of the European Union, officials have repeatedly called on Beijing to publicly condemn Russia's actions, without success so far.

China has avoided criticizing Moscow for invading Ukraine, instead blaming the United States and NATO for the war.

3:40 p.m.: Two vessels left Ukrainian ports Saturday, carrying a total of 27,171 metric tons of grain and other food products under the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Three inbound vessels transited the maritime humanitarian corridor under the Black Sea Grain Initiative heading towards Ukrainian ports. The Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) monitors the passage of commercial vessels through the maritime humanitarian corridor with all participants ensuring the safe passage of commercial vessels under the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Currently 67 vessels are waiting to move — following inspection Saturday — into Ukrainian ports with the capacity to export approximately 2 million tons of grain and other food products. Moreover, nine loaded vessels are waiting for inspection in Turkish territorial waters.

As of November 12, the total tonnage of grain and other foodstuffs exported from the three Ukrainian ports is 10,315,706 million metric tons. A total of 900 voyages (456 inbound and 444 outbound) have been enabled so far.

3:35 p.m.: Images by the Planet Lab, a data imaging service, show Russia troops digging trenches and building fortifications on the left bank of the Dnipro River, RFE/RL shows. Images taken on November 10 show a new line of trenches almost 2 kilometers long along the riverbank north of the Kakhovskaya dam. Satellite photos also confirm that the Russian army blew up several spans of the bridge leading to the Kakhovskaya HPP dam.

2:55 p.m.: Ukrainian officials have warned that retreating Russian soldiers from Kherson could have mined the area where the Russian pullback has been more methodical and expected for several weeks, The Washington Post reports.

Medics have already rushed two heavily injured soldiers to the hospital. “If it’s true that the Russians are retreating, then everything is mined,” Sobolevskyy, 52, one of the medics, told The Washington Post.

2:50 p.m.: The war in Ukraine has thwarted plans to organize a World Cup of Hockey this winter. The NHL and NHL Players' Association announced it is not feasible in the current environment to hold the tournament as they had hoped in February.

2:40 p.m.: Although Russian forces still control the broader Kherson region, which forms part of Putin’s coveted “land bridge” from mainland Russia to illegally annexed Crimea, forfeiting the capital city is a stunning blow after repeated, blustery declarations by pro-Kremlin figures that Russia would stay in Kherson “forever,” The Washington Post writes.

Moscow’s nationalist hardliners called the surrender of the city a “betrayal” and a “black day.”

However, the Kremlin, says The Washington Post, was carefully preparing the Russian population for the withdrawal, distancing Putin from responsibility and trying to insulate him from political fallout.

Still, there were signs that Putin would not entirely escape responsibility and that the Kherson defeat could fuel opposition to the war.

2:35 p.m.: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has strongly criticized the Iranian government for its bloody crackdown on protests in the country. In his weekly video address on Saturday, Scholz added that Iran can expect additional sanctions for its brutal crackdown and its decision to send hundreds of drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine. European Union foreign ministers are expected to agree on additional sanctions when they meet on Monday, The Associated Press reports.

2:25 p.m.: In videos and images that continue to pop up on social media, residents of Kherson hug Ukrainian soldiers and celebrate the liberation of their city after a stunning retreat of Russian forces.

2:30 p.m.: Russian forces destroyed the critical infrastructure in the southern city of Kherson before fleeing, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday, adding that local authorities were starting to stabilize the city.

"Before fleeing from Kherson, the occupiers destroyed all the critical infrastructure: communications, water, heat, electricity," Zelenskyy said in a video address.

But pro-Moscow forces are putting up a much stiffer fight elsewhere and Zelenskyy said the battles in the eastern Donetsk region were hellish, Reuters reports.

"(Russians) everywhere have the same goal: to humiliate people as much as possible. But we will restore everything, believe me," he said.

Zelenskyy said Ukrainian troops had taken control of more than 60 settlements in the Kherson region.

11:15 a.m.: In a statement, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace hailed Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine's Kherson but cautioned not to “underestimate the continuing threat posed by the Russian Federation.”

11 a.m.: Russia has made a port city in southeastern Ukraine – Henichesk – its new temporary administrative capital for the Kherson region, the BBC reports.

Henichesk is near Russian-occupied Crimea and a long way from Kherson, which Ukrainian forces recaptured on Friday. It is smaller than Kherson and lies on the Sea of Azov.

Russia’s Interfax news agency says the authorities evacuated all the regional offices as well as “statues and historic artefacts” from the west bank of the Dnipro River – that is, from Kherson city and its surroundings. More than 115,000 people were evacuated from that area, it reports.

10:35 a.m.: The White House on November 12 hailed Russia’s withdrawal from the Ukrainian city of Kherson as an "extraordinary victory" for Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said "It does look as though the Ukrainians have just won an extraordinary victory where the one regional capital that Russia had seized in this war is now back under a Ukrainian flag - and that is quite a remarkable thing," RFE/RL reports.

10:20 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met today with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh.

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said Blinken discussed with Kuleba the United States’ unwavering commitment to assist Ukraine in mitigating the effects of Russia’s continued attacks on critical infrastructure, including with accelerated humanitarian aid and winterization efforts.

The two reaffirmed the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative’s renewal before it expires on November 19 and its role in supporting global food security.

They also discussed Ukraine’s continued effectiveness on the battlefield, with Blinken reiterating that the timing and substance of any negotiation framework remains Ukraine’s decision.

10:15 a.m.: Russian forces retreating from Kherson city and surrounding areas have stolen around 15,000 paintings, including historic icons and other religious art, from the region, Ukraine's National Resistance Center reports.

The center said that the Russian soldiers had robbed the Oleksiy Shovkunenko Kherson Art Museum among others. The museum’s collection includes religious paintings of the 17th and early 20th centuries, Ukrainian art from the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and works of contemporary artists.

According to the Center, four trucks with the stolen art arrived in Simferopol, a city in Russia-occupied Crimea.

9:45 am.: Renowned graffiti artist Banksy has unveiled his latest work, this time in the Ukrainian town of Borodyanka, fueling speculation that the anonymous artist was working in the war-torn country, the BBC reports.

Borodyanka, was one of the towns hardest hit by Russia’s shelling in the early days of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine,

Banksy posted a photo of the mural - a girl gymnast performing a handstand on a small pile of concrete rubble - on Instagram late on Friday. The work is painted onto the wall of a destroyed building.

Another piece of new graffiti in Banksy's signature style was spotted in Borodyanka, portraying a man resembling Russian President Vladimir Putin being flipped in judo by a small child.

The symbolism is an apparent allusion to the biblical story of David and Goliath, the unlikely triumph of the underdog, and can be viewed as a subtle nod to Putin's much-publicized love of the Japanese martial art.

Ukraine's Defense Department tweeted a photo of it.

9:35 a.m.: Russia said on Saturday there was no agreement yet to extend the Black Sea initiative, a deal allowing Ukraine to export grain from Black Sea ports.

Russia repeated its insistence on unhindered access to world markets for its own food and fertilizer exports, which even though they are not directly targeted by Western sanctions, are blocked because the sanctions cut shippers' access to finance, insurance and ports, Reuters reports.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin was quoted by state news agency TASS as saying talks with U.N. officials in Geneva on Friday had been useful and detailed but the issue of renewing the deal - which expires in one week - had yet to be resolved.

He also said there could be no progress unless a Russian state bank that finances the farm sector was reconnected to the international SWIFT bank payments system, from which it has been cut off by Western sanctions.

9:20 a.m.: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is pressing Southeast Asian countries for political and material support in his county’s fight against Russia.

The Associated Press reports, Kuleba accused Moscow of playing “hunger games” with the world by blocking shipments of Ukrainian grain and other agricultural products from being exported to global markets.

Kuleba told reporters Saturday on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit that the world needs to pressure Russia not to object to the extension of a deal allowing Ukraine to export grain and fertilizer, which is due to expire November 19.

More than just calling for the deal to continue, however, Kuleba accused Russian inspectors of “quiet sabotage,” by intentionally dragging their feet in allowing shipments through.

9:15 a.m.: Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit (ASEAN) Saturday. He thanked the U.S. for the support the American people have shown Ukraine. Ukraine was invited to the ASEAN summit for the first time this year.

8:50 a.m.: The Ukrainian military is carrying out “stabilization measures” near the city of Kherson following the end of its eight-month occupation by Russian forces. People across Ukraine celebrated after the Kremlin announcement that its troops had withdrawn to the other side of the Dnipro River from Kherson, the only regional capital captured by Russia’s military during the ongoing invasion.

According to The Associated Press, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported Saturday that the Russians were fortifying their battle lines on the river’s eastern bank. Ukrainian officials from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on down cautioned that while special Ukrainian military units had reached Kherson city, a full “liberation” deployment still was underway.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's Ministry of Defense tweeted a video with snapshots of a liberated Kherson, pledging "we will never abandon those who are caught in the jaws of a monster."

5:29 a.m.: Brussels and its major development partners announced on Friday a billion-dollar boost to efforts to export Ukraine's grain harvest, despite Russia's invasion and threat to block Black Sea ports, Agence France-Presse reported.

The European Commission, European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank will invest the funds to improve and expand so-called "Solidarity Lanes."

These are routes to bring Kyiv's huge agricultural harvest, and some other imports and exports, overland from the war-torn country and onto the world market via safer European Union ports.

Friday's announcement commits a major funding boost to the project, with cash to reduce waiting times for trucks and trains crossing to Poland and Romania from Moldova and Ukraine.

4:59 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that Russian forces continued ground assaults around Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Vuhledar while Ukrainian forces continued to target Russian force concentrations in Zaporizhzhia oblast.

Ukrainian troops, the assessment noted, have made major territorial gains throughout Kherson Oblast on Nov. 11 and will continue consolidating control of the western bank in the coming days.

3:27 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said Russian forces likely destroyed road and rail bridges over the Dnipro River as part of their withdrawal from Kherson.

Kherson was the only regional capital city captured since February by Russian forces, the update said, so the withdrawal brings significant reputational damage. The withdrawal is a public recognition of the difficulties faced by Russian forces on the west bank of the Dnipro River.

It is likely that Ukraine has retaken large areas of Kherson oblast on the west bank of the Dnipro River, the update said, and that its forces are now largely in control of Kherson city itself.

2:11 a.m.: Once purely the stuff of action movie plots, the prospect of the lights going out in Europe's biggest economy has become a conceivable threat during the current energy crisis, Reuters reported.

Looking to be the heroes in a real-life blackout, a growing number of Germans are turning to citizens' courses to learn how to act if they find themselves plunged into darkness.

"If the electricity goes out then absolutely nothing works any more. And we need to understand what 'nothing working' really means," said Birgitt Eberlin, an instructor at the Workers' Samaritan Federation (ASB).

1:09 a.m.: The White House on Saturday hailed what it said appeared to be an "extraordinary victory" for Ukraine in recapturing the city of Kherson from Russian occupiers, Agence France-Presse reported.

"It does look as though the Ukrainians have just won an extraordinary victory where the one regional capital that Russia had seized in this war is now back under a Ukrainian flag -- and that is quite a remarkable thing," national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on the way to the ASEAN summit in Cambodia.

12:02 a.m.: