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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Nov. 26

Lilia Kristenko, 38, cries as city responders collect the dead body of her mother, Natalia Kristenko, in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Nov. 25, 2022.
Lilia Kristenko, 38, cries as city responders collect the dead body of her mother, Natalia Kristenko, in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Nov. 25, 2022.

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

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

9:41 p.m.:

Tom McCarthy, a contractor in Skowhegan, has no familial connection to Ukraine, explains it this way:

“The majority of people in Maine know what struggle is, from the pulp woods to the potato fields, to blueberry patches to lobster waters — we know that one day you have something and another day you don’t,” he said. "The people of Ukraine, they’re survivors, too, and putting up their flag, well, that’s a small token. But it’s something I could do.”

8:21 p.m.: Electricity has been restored in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson after its liberation earlier this month from Russian occupation, a senior presidential aide said on Saturday, according to Reuters.

"First we are supplying power to the city's critical infrastructure and then immediately to household consumers," Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine's presidential administration, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

The city had been without electricity, central heating and running water when Ukrainian forces reclaimed it on November 11.

Russian troops seized Kherson shortly after Moscow's February 24 invasion and it was the only regional capital they had managed to capture.

Their retreat marked a significant setback for Moscow but Ukrainian officials say Russian forces are still shelling the city from across the Dnipro River.

The head of the local administration said on Friday that 15 people had been killed and 35 wounded in the past six days.

7:19 p.m.: Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimer Makei has died, he was 64, the BelTA state news agency reported on November 26, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

No cause of death was cited and a spokesman said there were no indications he had been in poor health.

Before the presidential elections and mass anti-government protests in Belarus in 2020, Makei had been one of the initiators of efforts to improve Belarus' relations with the West and had criticized Russia.

However, he abruptly changed his stance after the start of the protests, saying they were inspired by agents of the West.

He had attended a conference of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance of several post Soviet states, in Yerevan earlier this week and was to meet Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Monday.

6:22 p.m.:

5:30 p.m.: After Russia’s November 23 attacks across Ukraine, authorities set up 4,000 of so-called "invincibility centers" to help people cope with power outages, lack of water, and telecommunications, according to The Kyiv Independent. Set up in tents or inside public institutions such as schools, the centers offer an opportunity to warm up, charge their phones, and connect to the internet.

5:15 p.m.: Each year, on the fourth Saturday of November, Ukraine remembers the millions who died during the Holodomor, the Stalin-era famine that devastated the Ukrainian population in 1932-1933. Many countries consider it to have been genocide.

4:45 p.m.: War crimes are part of war culture said Oleksandra Matviychuk, head of the organization that jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize this year.

"For decades, Russia has used war as a method of achieving its geopolitical interests and war crimes as a way to win these wars," Matviychuk told RFE/RL.

"They learned that they can do whatever they want because they weren't punished for war crimes in Chechnya, Moldova, Georgia, Mali, or in Syria. Therefore, until we can bring justice, there will be no sustainable peace in our region," she said.

Matviychuk, a lawyer by trade, says she wants to use the organization’s elevated stature to call for international action against human rights violations and the growing list of evidence pointing toward war crimes committed by Russian forces since the Kremlin’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

"We see that all these crimes have a systemic nature," she said. "It's clear that this is not done by any specific unit of the Russian armed forces but that it is part of the culture of how Russia conducts war," she said.

4:20 p.m.: Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said Russian forces hit a residential area in the regional capital Dnipro, partially destroying seven residential houses and causing a fire, on Saturday.

According to Reznichenko, a woman was hospitalized in critical condition following the attack.

Dnipro Mayor Borys Filatov said the city’s infrastructure wasn't damaged, but there might be power outages, The Kyiv Independent reports.

4:15 p.m.: On the 90th anniversary of Holodomor, the Soviet induced Ukraine famine in 1932-1933, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy honored the victims of the famine saying hunger should never again be used as a weapon.

In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy also referred to his Grain from Ukraine initiative to stave off hunger in vulnerable nations that suffer from drought and famine.

“Thanks to our export grain initiative from three Black Sea ports, we sent about 12 million tons of food to the world market. 40 countries of the world. Of this amount, more than two and a half million tons are for countries that are not just short of food, but in a severe crisis," he said. “If it weren't for Ukrainian food, if it weren't for our joint leadership with our partners, social stability in such regions as North Africa or the Middle East would not have been maintained.”

3:35 p.m.: One of Russia's most prominent nationalist politicians said the Russian military does not have an adequate number of doctors, a message he delivered in a meeting Saturday with the mothers of soldiers mobilized for the fight in Ukraine, The Associated Press reports.

The comments by Leonid Slutsky, leader of the populist Liberal Democratic Party and chairman of the foreign relations committee in the lower house of parliament, was an unusually public admission of problems within the military as Russian forces suffer a series of battlefield setbacks.

“There are not enough doctors in the military units; everyone says this. I cannot say they do not exist at all, but they are practically not seen there,” Slutsky said at the meeting in St. Petersburg.

Olga Suyetina, foster mother of a soldier mobilized for the Ukraine conflict said she has heard from her son that the troops are underequipped.

“There are no gunsights, nothing, we have to buy them by crowdfunding," she said, referring to a device on a gun that helps to aim it. “There is nothing; they left Kharkiv, there was zero, there was not even polyethylene to cover the dugouts,” she said.

3:25 p.m.: At least 32 people in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson have been killed by Russian shelling since Russian forces pulled out on November 11 after an almost nine-month occupation the head of Ukraine's police said on Saturday.

According to The Kyiv Independent, police are investigating more than 10,000 Russian war crimes committed since February, said National Police chief Ihor Klymenk.

Russian soldiers are now positioned on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, from where they have been shelling the city regularly, Reuters reports.

"Daily Russian shelling is destroying the city and killing peaceful local residents. In all, Russia has killed 32 civilians in the Kherson region since the deoccupation," Klymenko said in a Facebook post.

"Many people are evacuating to seek refuge in calmer regions of the country. But many residents remain in their homes, and we need to provide them with the maximum possible security," he continued, saying police were once again on duty in the region.

Electricity in the city has been restored, a senior presidential aide said on Saturday.

12:15 p.m.: Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal met with the prime ministers of Lithuania, and Poland in Kyiv, Saturday to seal their commitment to work together against Russian aggression.

In a joint statement the participants condemned the “systemic war crimes committed by Russia’s forces in regions of Ukraine, including deliberate, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against the civilian population and elements of the civilian infrastructure.”

11:45 a.m.: Hundreds of civilians on Saturday streamed out of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, whose recapture they had celebrated just weeks earlier.

The exodus happened after days of intensive Russian shelling.

The attacks on the city have killed 15 civilians from 20-25 November and injured another 35. AP reports.

A line of trucks, vans and cars, some towing trailers or ferrying out pets and other belongings, stretched a kilometer or more on the outskirts of the city of Kherson.

Many civilians were happy that their city had been won back but lamented that they couldn't stay.

“It is sad that we are leaving our home,” said Yevhen Yankov, as a van he was in inched forward. "Now we are free, but we have to leave, because there is shelling, and there are dead among the population.”

10:55 a.m.: European officials are wrestling with the dilemma of choosing between a bright or a sober Christmas season. High energy prices, due to the war in Ukraine, have squeezed people across Europe with higher utility bills. Dimming Christmas lights would send the message of energy conservation and solidarity with Ukraine, the Associated Press reports.

On the other hand, bright Christmas lights, they feel, would be a welcome sight after two years of pandemic suppressed Christmas and will encourage consumers to spend more.

Fewer lights will sparkle from the centerpiece tree at France's famed Strasbourg Christmas market, and lights on Paris' Champs-Elysees and London's Oxford Street are reducing hours. But the holiday will shine brightly in Germany, and the Spanish port city of Vigo is keeping up its tradition of staging the country’s most extravagant Christmas light display.

10:50 a.m.: Ten separatist soldiers returned home to Russian-controlled Donetsk on Saturday as part of a recent prisoner swap with Ukraine.

The soldiers were greeted by their families in the town of Kharthyzk outside Donetsk on Saturday morning.

According to the local commissioner for human rights, around 250 separatist soldiers remain in Ukrainian captivity.

According to the Associated press, 85 servicemen were exchanged with Ukraine in two prisoner swaps this week, the Russian Defense Ministry reported.

10:15 a.m.: Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, visited Kyiv in a show of support to Ukraine. De Croo and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a declaration of support for Ukraine’s membership with the EU and NATO.

The Ukrainian president thanked De Croo for Belgium’s defense support and its tough sanctions against Russia. "We appreciate that Belgium is the leader in the volume of frozen Russian assets – EUR 50 billion, even more. It is important that the assets of the terrorist state are directed to compensation for the damage caused by its terror,” he said.

Zelenskyy also briefed De Croo on Ukraine’s power infrastructure after the Russian missile attacks and the needs of Ukrainian people in the dead of winter. "Belgium is ready to provide the necessary power generators and other equipment that is now vitally necessary for our society, for Ukraine as a whole," he said.

10 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Saturday a grain initiative program that will subsidize exports of grain to poor countries. Zelenskyy told The Guardian that by the middle of next year Ukraine will send up to 60 grain ships to some of the poorest countries in Africa which have suffered food shortages due to the war in Ukraine.

The program aims to deliver vital grain to countries such as Yemen, Sudan and Somalia for “vulnerable people in their hour of need.”

“Even as the country struggles with food shortages, devastated farmland, and widespread blackouts, we will never forget our role as a responsible global citizen,” Zelensky said.

The program was symbolically launched on the memorial day for Holodomor, an organized Soviet-era famine, which killed millions of Ukrainians in 1932-1933. Ukraine considers Holodomor an act of genocide of Ukrainians.

9:15 a.m.: Ukraine says Russia will pay for a Soviet-era famine that left millions of Ukrainians dead during the winter of 1932-33 and for its actions in the current war.

Reuters reports, the head of Ukraine's presidential administration, Andriy Yermak, marked the memorial day for the victims of Holodomor on Saturday. He said, "the Russians will pay for all of the victims of the Holodomor and answer for today's crimes."

In November 1932, Soviet leader Josef Stalin seized 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."

5:15 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday criticized the mayor of Kyiv for doing what he said was a poor job setting up emergency shelters to help those without power and heat after Russian attacks.

The remarks were unusual since Zelenskyy has cultivated an image of national unity during the war and usually showers officials with praise.

In the wake of crushing Russian missile strikes against the power-generating system, Ukraine has established thousands of so-called invincibility centers where people can access heat, water, internet and mobile phone links.

In an evening address, Zelenskyy indicated that Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko and his officials had not done enough to help.

Klitschko, a 51-year-old former professional boxer, was elected mayor of Kyiv in 2014. There was no immediate reaction from his office.

4:15 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said Russia is likely removing the nuclear warheads from ageing nuclear cruise missiles and firing the unarmed munitions at Ukraine.

3:19 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that Russian military leadership may be circulating a document stating that Russia needs to mobilize 5 million personnel to win the war in Ukraine, which Russia cannot do.

Russian forces conducted limited counterattacks to regain lost positions northwest of Svatove, the assessment said, and Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations toward Kreminna.

Russian forces also continued to conduct offensive operations in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka areas, and influential Russian figures may be setting informational conditions to deflect blame for a lack of progress in the Bakhmut area.

2:07 a.m.: Poland is seeking German support to put EU sanctions on the Polish-German section of the Druzhba crude pipeline so Warsaw can abandon a deal to buy Russian oil next year without paying penalties, two sources familiar with the talks told Reuters.

The sources also said the pair were nearing an agreement for Poland to coordinate seaborne oil supplies to Germany via Gdansk and part of Druzhba to facilitate Poland's purchase of the Russian-owned Schwedt refinery in Germany.

The EU has pledged to stop buying Russian oil via maritime routes from Dec. 5, but Druzhba is currently exempt from sanctions. That presents a problem for Polish refiner PKN Arlen, which has a long-term deal to purchase Russian oil via the pipeline and would need to pay penalties to break the contract.

If the EU were to impose sanctions on Druzhba, or at least its northern section supplying Poland and Germany, both countries would be able to get out of their Russian oil importing commitments penalty-free.

The southern section of the pipeline supplies Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic which, unlike Poland and Germany, would struggle to diversify their oil imports.

1:06 a.m.: Ukrainian authorities on Friday gradually restored power, aided by the reconnection of the country's four nuclear plants, Reuters reported, but millions of people were still in the dark after the most devastating Russian air strikes of the war.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded with Ukrainians to use energy sparingly.

"If there is electricity, this doesn't mean you can turn on several powerful electrical appliances at once," he said in an evening video address.

He said 6 million people were still without power, half as many as there were in the immediate aftermath of the Russian assault on Wednesday.

National power grid operator Ukrenergo said several hours earlier that 30% of electricity supplies were still out, and asked people to cut back on their energy use.

"Repairs crews are working around the clock," it said in a statement on Telegram.

12:02 a.m.: Ukraine has set up more than 4,000 points of invincibility, which are centers spread across the country that offer electricity, heat, water, internet service, mobile phone connections and a pharmacy, free of charge and around the clock.

Some information in this report came from Reuters.

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