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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Nov. 23

Rescuers work at the site of a maternity ward of a hospital destroyed by a Russian missile attack, as their attack on Ukraine continues, in Vilniansk, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine Nov. 23, 2022.
Rescuers work at the site of a maternity ward of a hospital destroyed by a Russian missile attack, as their attack on Ukraine continues, in Vilniansk, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine Nov. 23, 2022.

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

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

9:14 p.m.: Stuhna Missiles Help Ukrainian Troops Keep Russian Armor At Bay Near Bakhmut: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Yehor Lohinov traveled with members of the Ukrainian Army's 58th Independent Motorized Infantry Brigade and watched as they remotely fired Ukrainian-built Stuhna missiles from a shelter. The brigade is defending the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine's Donetsk region.

8:13 p.m.: A Russian parliamentary commission investigating the alleged interference of foreign nations in the country's internal affairs has recommended recognizing dozens of international NGOs as extremist or undesirable, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The commission's chief, Vasily Piskaryov, wrote on Telegram on November 23 that 30 NGOs from Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United States "are controlled by NATO members' governments and aim to destroy Russia."

Russia has been under unprecedented international sanctions over its ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

7:20 p.m.: Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said he had asked Germany to send Patriot missile launchers offered to Poland to Ukraine, Reuters reported.

"After further Russian missile attacks, I asked Germany to have the Patriot batteries offered to Poland transferred to Ukraine and deployed at its western border," Blaszczak wrote on Twitter. "This will protect Ukraine from further deaths and blackouts and will increase security at our eastern border."

The missile that hit Poland last week, killing two people, appeared to have been fired accidentally by Ukraine's air defenses rather than to have been a Russian strike, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has said.

6:25 p.m.: A Moscow court has begun the trial of opposition politician Ilya Yashin, who was arrested in July on a charge of spreading false information about the Russian military amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Yashin is an outspoken Kremlin critic and one of the few prominent opposition politicians still in Russia. The charge against him stems from his YouTube posts about alleged crimes committed by the Russian military in the Ukrainian city of Bucha. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

5:12 p.m.:

4:17 p.m.: Armenians Protest Russian Leader's Visit: Hundreds of Armenians unhappy about Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to their country gathered at two separate rallies in Yerevan on Wednesday, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

In one of his rare recent trips abroad, Putin arrived in the Armenian capital for a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) -- a Russian-dominated military bloc.

One rally was organized by the pro-Western opposition alliance National-Democratic Pole, the other by civil-society activists and attended by Ukrainian expatriates. The protesters slammed Armenia's engagement with the CSTO, arguing that it did them no service in the recent conflict with Azerbaijan.

3:10 p.m.: Armenia's leader vented his frustration on Wednesday at the failure of a Russian-led security alliance to come to his country's aid in the face of what he called aggression by Azerbaijan, Reuters reported.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called into question the effectiveness of the six-nation Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) in pointed opening remarks to a summit as Russian President Vladimir Putin looked on.

Russia, the dominant player in the CSTO, has long been the main power broker in the south Caucasus, bordering Turkey and Iran, where Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two major wars since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

But as Russia struggles in its nine-month-old war in Ukraine, it risks losing influence in parts of the former Soviet Union that it has long seen as its sphere of influence.

2:29 p.m.: Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) once again lost access to external electricity and “is instead relying on its emergency diesel generators for the power it needs for reactor cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions,” Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement Wednesday, using information provided by the IAEA staff on the site.

The statement continued: “Also today, Ukraine’s national operator Energoatom said that ‘due to a decrease in the frequency in the power system of Ukraine at the Rivne, South Ukraine and Khmelnytskyy nuclear power plants, emergency protection worked, as a result of which all power units were automatically disconnected. Currently, they work in the design mode, without generation into the power system.’ It also said that the radiation background at the NPP sites is normal.”

“The latest incident at the ZNPP highlights the increasingly precarious and challenging nuclear safety and security situation at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, coming just a few days after it was repeatedly shelled,” Director General Grossi said in a statement.

1:53 p.m.: Officials in Moldova, which borders Ukraine, are reporting power outages following the latest Russian attacks on infrastructure in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

"Massive blackout in Moldova after today's Russian attack on Ukraine's energy infrastructure," Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said on Twitter, adding the grid operator was trying to reconnect "more than 50% of the country to electricity."

Moldova, like Ukraine a former Soviet republic once dominated by Moscow but now pro-Western, has long worried about the prospect of fighting spreading across its borders.

12:28 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for the urgent U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss Russia’s latest attacks targeting Ukraine’s infrastructure.

“Murder of civilians, ruining of civilian infrastructure are acts of terror,” Zelenskyy said on Twitter.

In a letter seen by VOA U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer, Ukraine is asking that Zelenskyy address the council meeting by video since he can’t attend in person.

11:59 a.m.: Widespread power outages are reported after the latest Russian airstrikes against Ukraine’s already-battered power grid, with Moscow’s forces apparently intent on inflicting anguish on Ukrainians at the onset of winter.

Authorities in the capital, Kyiv, said three people were killed in a strike that hit a two-story building. Ukrainian officials reported power outages in numerous cities, including parts of Kyiv, and in neighboring Moldova.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko posted on Telegram that "one of the capital's infrastructure facilities has been hit," wounding one person.

In the western city of Lviv, near the border with Poland, the mayor said the whole city had lost power, although there was no immediate information on how many targets had been hit.

11:23 a.m.:

10:48 a.m.: The United States has authorized an additional $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This $400 million drawdown includes additional arms, munitions, and air defense equipment from U.S. Department of Defense inventories. This drawdown will bring the total U.S. military assistance for Ukraine to an unprecedented level of approximately $19.7 billion, since the beginning of the Administration,” Blinken said. “The United States will continue to stand with more than 40 allies and partners in support of the people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom and independence with extraordinary courage and boundless determination.“

10 a.m.: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi has met with a delegation from Russia over safety concerns at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, which again came under attack last week, RFE/RL reported.

"IAEA Director General @rafaelmgrossi met a Russian delegation led by Rosatom DG Alexey Likhachev in Istanbul today, for consultations on operational aspects related to safety at #Zaporizhzhya NPP in Ukraine & on urgently establishing a nuclear safety & security protection zone," the UN nuclear watchdog said in a tweet on Wednesday.

An IAEA team on the ground reported on November 20 that some of the plant's buildings, systems, and equipment were damaged in the attacks, raising safety concerns at Europe's largest nuclear power station.

Ukraine's energy agency Enerhoatom accused Russian forces of shelling the facility.

Russia's Defense Ministry countered that Ukrainian forces were the ones firing on power lines that supply the plant.

9:01 a.m.: Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko accused Moscow on Wednesday of using "gas blackmail" for geopolitical purposes after Russia's state-run Gazprom said it could start reducing gas supplies to Moldova via Ukraine from November 28, Reuters reported.

Gazprom threatened its action after accusing Ukraine of withholding gas that was meant for Moldova.

"Gas blackmail is an established Russian practice that the Kremlin continues to use for geopolitical purposes," Galushchenko said in a written statement to Reuters.

"Having been defeated by the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the battlefield, Russia is using dirty gas lies to once again try to tarnish Ukraine's international standing."

He said: "Ukraine has for decades been, and continues to be, a reliable gas transit country for European partners."

He said Gazprom's accusations against Ukraine were groundless and "may have another geopolitical purpose — to increase political pressure on Moldova."

"After the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia began to rapidly lose the European gas market. The Kremlin cannot accept this, which is why it is inventing new ways to regain its influence," he said.

8:14 a.m.: An air-raid alert was issued across all Ukraine on Wednesday and Interfax Ukraine news agency reported explosions in several regions of southern and southeastern Ukraine, citing local channels in the Telegram messaging app.

Russian forces have increasingly targeted Ukrainian critical infrastructure in recent weeks as they faced setbacks on the battlefield following their February 24 invasion.

7:30 a.m.: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed European parliament decision to recognize Russia as state sponsor of terrorism. Zelenskyy said on Twitter, "Russia must be isolated at all levels and held accountable in order to end its long-standing policy of terrorism in Ukraine and across the globe."

The resolution approved by EU lawmakers Wednesday cited “deliberate attacks and atrocities carried out by the Russian Federation against the civilian population of Ukraine, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and other serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.”

6:30 a.m.: There is evidence that Russian commanders in several instances were aware of sexual violence by military personnel in Ukraine "and in some cases, encouraging it or even ordering it," according to an international criminal lawyer assisting Kyiv’s war crimes investigations.

British lawyer Wayne Jordash told Reuters that in some areas around the capital of Kyiv in the north, where the probes are most advanced, some of the sexual violence involved a level of organization by Russian armed forces that "speaks to planning on a more systematic level." He didn’t identify specific individuals under scrutiny.

The previously unreported findings by investigators about the alleged role of commanders and the systematic nature of attacks in some locations are part of patterns of alleged sexual violence that are emerging as Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its ninth month.

6:15 a.m.: The European Parliament on Wednesday decided to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, arguing Moscow's military strikes on civilian targets such as energy infrastructure, hospitals, schools and shelters violate international law.

The move is largely symbolic, though, as the European Union does not have a legal framework in place to back it up. At the same time, the bloc has already slapped unprecedented sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

6:03 a.m.: The Group of Seven nations are looking at a price cap on Russian sea-borne oil in the range of $65-70 per barrel, Reuters reported Wednesday citing a European Union diplomat.

Ambassadors from the 27 EU countries were discussing the proposal with the aim of reaching a common position by the end of the day.

The G-7, including the United States, the EU and Australia, are slated to implement the price cap on sea-borne exports of Russian oil on December 5, as part of sanctions intended to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

5:30 a.m.: Britain is to send helicopters to Ukraine for the first time since Russia's invasion, the defense ministry in London said on Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reported.

Ten crews of Ukrainian service personnel and engineers underwent a six-week training program in the U.K., as part of the "first helicopter capability the UK has donated to Ukraine," the ministry said.

In addition to the three former British military Sea King helicopters, the first of which has already arrived, the U.K. will also supply an additional 10,000 artillery rounds.

"Our support for Ukraine is unwavering. These additional artillery rounds will help Ukraine to secure the land it has reclaimed from Russia in recent weeks," defense secretary Ben Wallace said.

5 a.m.: The heads of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, and Russia's state-run nuclear energy agency Rosatom met in Istanbul to discuss the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power in southern Ukraine, Reuters reported citing statements by Rosatom and the IAEA.

The two sides agreed to continue cooperation and dialog over the facility, Europe's largest nuclear power plant, the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Rosatom as saying. Renewed shelling last weekend — which Moscow and Kyiv blamed on each other — raised fresh fears of a possible nuclear disaster at the site.

4:30 a.m.: Pope Francis said on Wednesday that Ukrainians today were suffering from the "martyrdom of aggression" and compared the war to the "terrible genocide" of the 1930s, when Soviet leader Josef Stalin inflicted famine on the people there.

He was speaking at the end of his general audience before thousands of people in St. Peter's Square, Reuters reported.

4:15 a.m.: As reported in an earlier update, Moldova said on Wednesday Russia had sent no signals that it would stop supplying it with gas next month but that it was ready for any scenario because Moscow was using energy resources as "a tool of blackmail."

State-run Russian gas company Gazprom accused Ukraine on Tuesday of keeping gas supplies destined for Moldova, and that it could from November 28 start reducing gas supplies to Moldova that pass through Ukraine.

Ukraine, which has been invaded by Russia, has denied withholding Russian gas meant for Moldova. Chisinau, which is dependent on Russia for its gas, said on Wednesday it would pay for any gas deliveries, according to Reuters.

"There are no signals that Russia will stop supplying gas to Moldova in December. But the government is ready for any scenario, as Russia continues to use energy resources as a tool of blackmail," Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita told PRO-TV television.

Dismissing Gazprom's accusations, Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said on the Telegram messaging app: "Gazprom accuses Ukraine and Moldova of something that is not happening."

3:30 a.m.: Russia's President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia is ready to increase its fertilizer exports, the TASS news agency reported, according to Reuters.

Russia is pushing for the West to ease sanctions which it says complicate Moscow's ability to ship fertilizers and agricultural products around the world, and which Moscow says are aggravating a global food crisis.

3 a.m.: A newborn baby was killed following a Russian strike that hit a maternity ward in Ukraine's southern Zaporizhzhia region, which Moscow claims to have annexed, Ukrainian emergency services said Wednesday, according to Agence France-Presse.

Overnight on Tuesday to Wednesday, "in the city of Vilniansk in Zaporizhzhia region, as a result of a rocket attack on the territory of the local hospital, the two-story building of the maternity ward was destroyed," rescuers said on social media.

They added that there was "a woman with a newborn baby as well as a doctor" inside the building.

"As a result of the attack, a baby born in 2022 died; the woman and doctor were rescued from the rubble," rescuers said, adding that according to preliminary information there was nobody else trapped under the debris.

The emergency services distributed a video of rescuers working to free a man trapped waist-deep in the rubble of what appears to be the destroyed maternity ward.

2:40 a.m.: The Russian foreign ministry criticized Ukraine as "godless", "wild" and "immoral" on Wednesday for raiding an old Orthodox Christian Monastery in Kyiv, per Reuters.

Ukraine's SBU security service and police raided the 1,000-year-old Kyiv Pechersk Lavra complex — or Kyiv Monastery of the Caves — early on Tuesday as part of operations to counter suspected "subversive activities by Russian special services," the SBU said.

The site is a Ukrainian cultural treasure and the headquarters of the Russian-backed wing of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that falls under the Moscow Patriarchate.

On Wednesday, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said there was no justification for the raid and compared the "Kyiv regime" to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine whose name is often associated in Russian with immoral mayhem, chaos and revelry.

"This is just some kind of total godless Bacchanalia. There is no justification or explanation for this. And there cannot be," Zakharova said on Sputnik radio.

"This is another part of the absolutely immoral and wild actions of the Kyiv regime."

Russia's Orthodox Church said on Tuesday the search was an "act of intimidation."

2 a.m.: Moldova's Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita said on Wednesday that there have been no signals from Moscow that Russia will stop supplying gas to Moldova in December, Reuters reported.

"But the government is ready for any scenario, as Russia continues to use energy resources as a tool of blackmail," Gavrilita told the Pro TV television.

1:52 a.m.: Russia has likely launched a number of Iranian manufactured un-crewed aerial vehicles, or UAVs, against Ukraine since September, Britain's Ministry of Defense said on Wednesday.

It's also likely that Russia has nearly exhausted its current stock of Iran-made weapons and will seek resupply, the ministry said in its daily intelligence update posted on Twitter.

The Russian attacks have been a combination of UAVs and traditional reusable armed systems, it added.

1:13 a.m.:

12:30 a.m.:

12:05 a.m.: Ukraine's government promised to create shelters to provide heat and water and encouraged citizens to conserve energy as a harsh winter loomed amid relentless Russian strikes that have left its power structure in tatters, Reuters reported.

Special "invincibility centers" will be set up around Ukraine to provide electricity, heat, water, internet, mobile phone connections and a pharmacy, free of charge and around the clock, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Tuesday.

Russian attacks have knocked out power for long periods for up to 10 million consumers at a time. Ukraine's national power grid operator said on Tuesday the damage had been colossal.

"If massive Russian strikes happen again and it's clear power will not be restored for hours, the 'invincibility centers' will go into action with all key services," Zelenskyy said.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said this week that some 8,500 power generator sets are being imported to Ukraine daily.

The first snow of the winter has fallen in much of the country over the past week.

Authorities have warned of power cuts that could affect millions of people to the end of March — the latest impact from Russia's nine-month invasion that has already killed tens of thousands, uprooted millions and pummeled the global economy.

Russia's attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities follow a series of battlefield setbacks that have included a retreat of its forces from the southern city of Kherson to the east bank of the Dnipro River that bisects the country.

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

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