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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Nov. 29

People stand in front of the heating tent "Point of Invincibility" in Kyiv, Ukraine, Nov. 28, 2022.

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

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

11:35 p.m.: From watermelons to Saint Javelin, The Kyiv Independent reports.

11 p.m.: Russia and the United States have repeatedly been on the verge of agreement on a prisoner exchange, a senior Russian diplomat said Tuesday, adding that a deal is still possible before the year's end, according to The Associated Press.

The Biden administration has been trying for months to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner and another American jailed in Russia, Michigan corporate security executive Paul Whelan, including through a possible prisoner swap with Moscow.

Asked by reporters whether a swap is possible before the year's end, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov responded that "there always is a chance."

He reiterated Moscow's call for the U.S. to discuss the issue discreetly and refrain from making public statements. He lamented that "Washington has been abusing 'loudspeaker diplomacy' instead of a quiet one, which didn't help us to do business."

Earlier this month, Briner began serving a nine-year sentence for drug possession at a Russian penal colony in Mordovia, about 350 kilometers east of Moscow, after a Russian court had rejected her appeal of her August's conviction.

Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence in Russia after being convicted on espionage charges that he denied.

9:10 p.m.: A first shipment of Russian fertilizer left the Netherlands on Tuesday bound for Malawi after days of wrangling to ensure it was not snagged by Western sanctions, Agence France-Presse reported.

Dutch and U.N. customs officials said some 20,000 metric tons of nitrogen phosphorus potassium (NPK) left on board the MV Greenwich from the southern Dutch port of Terneuzen on Tuesday afternoon.

The ship was chartered by the U.N.'s food security agency, the World Food Program (WFP).

The shipment is the first of about 260,000 metric tons of Russian fertilizer stored in ports around Europe, which the U.N. said would help prevent "catastrophic crop loss in Africa" where the planting season was underway.

The shipment "is the first of a series of shipments of fertilizer destined for a number of other countries on the African continent in the coming months," the U.N. said in a statement issued in New York.

A second batch of fertilizer should head to West Africa, the U.N. said on Friday.

8 p.m.:

7:20 p.m.: The United States and NATO allies on Tuesday promised more arms for Kyiv and equipment to help restore Ukrainian power and heat knocked out by Russian missile and drone strikes, as air raid sirens blared across Ukraine for the first time this week, Reuters reported.

Foreign ministers from the NATO alliance, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, began a two-day meeting in Bucharest, seeking ways both to keep Ukrainians safe and warm and to sustain Kyiv's military through a coming winter campaign.

"We need air defense, IRIS, Hawks, Patriots, and we need transformers (for our energy needs)," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters on the sidelines of the NATO meeting, enumerating various Western air defense systems.

"If we have transformers and generators, we can restore our energy needs. If we have air defense systems, we can protect from the next Russian missile strikes. In a nutshell: Patriots and transformers are what Ukraine needs the most."

6:29 p.m.: Germany will provide Ukraine with more than 350 generators, a government spokesman said Tuesday, after Russian missile strikes severely damaged Ukrainian energy infrastructure, Agence France-Presse reported.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and said Germany would dispatch the generators, as well as provide financial assistance to repair energy infrastructure worth $57 million, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.

5:42 p.m.:

5 p.m.: The son of a Russian businessman close to President Vladimir Putin denied any wrongdoing as his trial started in northern Norway, where he is accused of violating a law that bars Russians from flying drones, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Andrei Yakunin, who holds both Russian and British passports, was arrested on October 17 after he had sailed around the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and along the coast of Norway.

The 47-year-old had been filming with the drone while mountaineering, glacier walking, and sailing, according to his lawyer, John Christian Elden, who has said that Yakunin should be considered a British citizen, rather than Russian.

4:06 p.m.: Ukraine has detained a deputy head of newly liberated Kherson's city council on suspicion of aiding and abetting Russian occupation forces that seized control of the city in March, Reuters quoted Ukraine's state prosecutor as saying.

The Kherson official, who was not named in the statement, cooperated with the occupation authorities and helped with the functioning of public services under the Russians, the prosecutor said.

Ukraine faces a challenge restoring order in Kherson. Tens of thousands of residents have fled, electricity and basic utilities are unavailable and security forces are hunting for possible collaborators and Russian soldiers in disguise.

3:15 p.m.: Poland plans to charge Ukrainian refugees for food and housing after 4 months of staying in state accommodation, the government said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

More than a million Ukrainian refugees made a temporary home in Poland, Ukraine's western neighbor, after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, relying on the kindness of strangers who opened up their homes and government aid.

But after an initial outpouring of public support for refugees, resources are drying up and refugees are having a harder time finding flats and getting support with Poland facing a cost of living crisis and budget strains.

2:30 p.m.:

2:10 p.m.: Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned NATO on Tuesday against providing Ukraine with Patriot missile defense systems, denouncing the alliance as a "criminal entity" for delivering arms to what he called "extremist regimes," Reuters reported.

Medvedev, who once cast himself as a liberal modernizer as president from 2008 to 2012, has increasingly emerged as one of the most hawkish proponents of Russia's war in Ukraine, posting scathing denunciations of the West on his social media channels.

"If, as (NATO Secretary-General Jens) Stoltenberg hinted, NATO were to supply the Ukrainian fanatics with Patriot systems along with NATO personnel, they would immediately become a legitimate target of our armed forces," Medvedev wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

1:50 p.m.: Ukrainian artillery crews make regular use of the Western-supplied M777 howitzer and say it has had a major impact against Russian forces. Crews operating one in a muddy field in the Donetsk region say the key to its success is its targeting precision. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

1:35 p.m.: Reuters reports that Ukrainian soldiers face a new adversary: muddy trenches.

Squelching through thick mud on Tuesday, Petro, a Ukrainian soldier dug in not far from Russian positions in the Donbas, recounted matter-of-factly how his unit had to use buckets to clear out water-logged trenches.

"We're more or less okay, but it's bit harder now because of the rain and a light frost. It's a swamp. It's dried a bit today...," the 35-year-old said, warming up in a dugout near the trenches.

Heavy rain and falling temperatures are making conditions even grimmer along the frontlines, where tens of thousands of Ukrainians and Russians are facing off as the war, now in its 10th month, grinds into winter.

1:05 p.m.:

12:55 p.m.: A court in Moscow on Tuesday opened the trial of a prominent Russian opposition figure who faces charges stemming from his criticism of the Kremlin’s action in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

Ilya Yashin, one of the few Kremlin critics to have remained in the country amid an intensifying crackdown on dissent, has been in custody since his arrest in July.

He was charged with spreading false information about the military — a new offense added to the contry’s criminal law after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine. Yashin faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The charges against Yashin relate to a YouTube livestream video in which he talked about Ukrainians being killed in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. He rejects the charges as politically motivated.

12:40 p.m.:

12:25 p.m.: Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said on Tuesday that a Zambian student who died in Ukraine had been fighting for his Wagner Private Military Group, Reuters reported.

Russia previously notified Zambia that Lemekhani Nyirenda had been killed on the battlefield in Ukraine in September, prompting Zambia to ask Moscow for more details and an explanation of how he had ended up fighting in the war.

Nyirenda's father said he had been serving a nine-year jail sentence on the outskirts of Moscow for a drug offence when he was "conscripted" to fight. His family said it was unclear how he was recruited or by whom.

On Tuesday, Prigozhin's Concord catering group said Nyirenda had been recruited by Wagner. Prigozhin and other Wagner representatives have toured Russian prisons offering amnesty in return for signing up to fight for Russia in Ukraine.

12:10 p.m.: The chief of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, met with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Tuesday, and said that the IAEA will strengthen its presence at all nuclear power plant facilities in Ukraine.

11:50 a.m.: Russia is trying to make the United States understand that Washington's increasing involvement in the Ukraine conflict carries growing risks, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday, Reuters reported, quoting Russian news agencies.

Moscow has repeatedly complained that Western military support for Ukraine is dragging out the conflict, now in its 10th month, while risking a possible direct confrontation between Russia and the West.

Kyiv and the West say Russia is to blame for any further escalation following what they say was Moscow's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, ongoing occupation of Ukrainian territory, and thinly veiled nuclear threats.

A U.S. official told Reuters earlier on Tuesday that a special "deconfliction" line between the Russian and U.S. militaries had been used once since the start of the war.

"I am not aware of any deconfliction channel in relation to what is happening in Ukraine ... We do not have any dialogue with the United States on the Ukraine topic because our positions are radically different," Ryabkov was cited as saying.

11:45 a.m.:

11:40 a.m.: The Group of Seven wealthy democracies (G7) agreed on Tuesday to set up a network to coordinate investigations into war crimes, as part of a push to prosecute suspected atrocities in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

"Judicial examination of the atrocities committed in Ukraine will take years, perhaps even decades. But we will be well prepared – and we will persist for as long as it takes," German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said in a statement.

11:35 a.m.:

11:20 a.m.: The United States on Tuesday announced $53 million to support the purchase of power grid equipment to Ukraine to help Kyiv fight Russian attacks targeting its energy infrastructure that left millions in the dark with no heating, Reuters reported.

"This equipment will be rapidly delivered to Ukraine on an emergency basis to help Ukrainians persevere through the winter," a State Department statement said, adding that the package would include distribution transformers, circuit breakers, surge arresters among other equipment.

Russia has been carrying out huge attacks on Ukraine's electricity transmission and heating infrastructure roughly weekly since October, in what Kyiv and its allies say is a deliberate campaign to harm civilians, a war crime.

11:05 a.m.: Living without heat, power, fuel, or water in apartment buildings damaged by Russian shells, residents of the Ukrainian frontline city of Bakhmut get a lifeline from volunteers delivering small wood-burning stoves. Others have organized online sites for obtaining kindling and logs for the fires -- but even these supplies won't help some at-risk residents, who must be evacuated before winter arrives. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

10:45 a.m.: An uneasy calm hung over Kyiv on Tuesday as residents of the Ukrainian capital did what they could to prepare for anticipated Russian missile attacks aiming to take out more energy infrastructure as winter sets in, The Associated Press reported.

To ease that burden, NATO allies made plans to boost provisions of blankets, generators and other basic necessities to ensure Ukraine’s 43 million people can maintain their resolve in the 10th month of fighting against Russia’s invasion.

Ukraine’s first lady implored the West to show the same kind of steadfastness that Ukrainians had shown against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military campaign.

“Ukrainians are very tired of this war, but we have no choice in the matter,” Olena Zelenska, the wife of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said in a BBC interview during a visit to Britain.

“We do hope that the approaching season of Christmas doesn’t make you forget about our tragedy and get used to our suffering,” she said.

10:30 a.m.:

10:15 a.m.: Italy's ruling rightist parties are preparing to vote on allowing the government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine throughout 2023, a draft amendment and a parliamentary motion seen by Reuters showed on Tuesday.

The proposal, still subject to approval, is under discussion at the upper-house Senate and would amend a decree passed earlier this month by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's government.

It would extend the authorization to send "military assets, materials and equipment" until December 31, 2023. Lawmakers will discuss the decree on Tuesday, but it was not clear when a vote would take place.

Together the amendment and the decree would allow the government to send more arms supplies to Kyiv if and when it sees fit, without seeking parliamentary authorization for each shipment.

10:00 a.m.:

9:50 a.m.: Moscow said on Tuesday it had been left with "no other choice" but to cancel talks with the United States about the "New START" nuclear weapons control treaty, Russian state-run news agencies reported, according to Reuters.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Washington had only wanted to discuss resuming inspections while Moscow had other priorities.

The situation in Ukraine also played a part in Russia's last-minute decision to scrap the meeting of the bilateral commission, which had been due to begin in Cairo on Tuesday.

9:35 a.m.:

9:20 a.m.: The U.S. State Department has approved a second significant arms sale to Finland within a month, helping Russia's Nordic neighbor in its bid to strengthen its defenses due to the war in Ukraine, Finland and the United States said, according to Reuters.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Finland's government decided to grant an additional 1.7 billion euros ($1.76 billion) to arms and other defense material purchases this year alone.

"A very significant share of it will go to (purchases) from the U.S.," Governmental Counsellor Iikka Marttila from Finland's Defence Ministry said on Tuesday.

The State Department said the proposed sale of AIM 9X Block II tactical missiles, AGM-154 Joint Stand Off weapons and related equipment, for an estimated $323.3 million, would improve Finland’s air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons capabilities.

9:05 a.m.:

8:50 a.m.: U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland is scheduled to travel to Poland November 30 to December 1, to attend the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the State Department said Tuesday.

“Under Secretary Nuland will reiterate the United States’ commitment to the OSCE’s foundational principles to advance security, prosperity, human rights, and territorial integrity — particularly in the face of Russia’s war on Ukraine,” it said.

“Under Secretary Nuland will also meet with Polish officials to thank Poland for its leadership as OSCE chair and underscore the U.S. commitment to NATO’s Eastern Flank,” according to the statement.

8:30 a.m.:

8:05 a.m.: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reaffirmed the military alliance’s commitment to Ukraine on Tuesday, saying that the war-torn nation will one day become a member of the world’s largest security organization, The Associated Press reported.

Stoltenberg’s remarks came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his NATO counterparts gathered in Romania to drum up urgently needed support for Ukraine aimed at ensuring that Moscow fails to defeat the country as it bombards energy infrastructure.

“NATO’s door is open,” Stoltenberg said. “Russia does not have a veto” on countries joining, he said in reference to the recent entry of North Macedonia and Montenegro into the security alliance. He said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “will get Finland and Sweden as NATO members” soon. The Nordic neighbors applied for membership in April, concerned that Russia might target them next.

In essence, Stoltenberg repeated a vow made by NATO leaders in Bucharest in 2008 — in the same sprawling Palace of the Parliament where the foreign ministers are meeting this week — that Ukraine, and also Georgia, would join the alliance one day.

Even so, Ukraine will not join NATO anytime soon. Many of NATO’s 30 allies believe the focus now must solely be on defeating Russia, and Stoltenberg stressed that any attempt to move ahead on membership could divide them.

7:45 a.m.:

7:15 a.m.: Air raid sirens wailed across Ukraine on Tuesday for the first time this week, as the United States and NATO allies unveiled new pledges of money and equipment to help restore power and heat knocked out by Moscow's missile and drone strikes, Reuters reported.

Ukrainians fled the streets for bomb shelters, although there were no immediate reports of major attacks away from the front. The all-clear was later sounded in the capital Kyiv, but officials said the threat had not necessarily lifted.

Foreign ministers from the NATO alliance were starting a two-day meeting in Bucharest, looking for ways both to keep millions of Ukrainian civilians safe and warm, and to sustain Kyiv's military through the coming winter campaign.

"NATO will continue to stand for Ukraine as long as it takes. We will not back down," alliance General-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said in a speech in Bucharest.

He told reporters Russian President Vladimir Putin was "trying to use winter as a weapon of war" as Moscow's forces lose on the battlefield, and that Western allies would step in to help.

6:35 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Romanian officials Tuesday ahead of a conference of NATO foreign ministers in Bucharest which is focused on the war in Ukraine.

The State Department released Blinken’s remarks following his meeting with Romania’s Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca, and a statement regarding Blinken’s meeting with Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis.

Additionally, Blinken tweeted about his meeting with Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu.

6:15 a.m.: Sweden is on track to meet Turkey's requirements for accepting it and Finland as new members of NATO, Reuters reported Tuesday quoting Sweden's foreign minister Tobias Billstrom.

"We are on a steady path to meet Turkey's conditions," he said before a meeting with colleagues from NATO countries. He that he hoped talks with Turkey and Finland later in the day would help speed process along.

6:05 a.m.: Reuters reported in an exclusive that Moscow has sent India a list of more than 500 products for potential delivery including parts for cars, aircraft and trains, four sources familiar with the matter said, as sanctions squeeze Russia's ability to keep vital industries running.

The list, a version of which has been seen by Reuters in New Delhi, is provisional and it is unclear how many of the items will eventually be exported and in what quantity, but an Indian government source said the request was unusual in its scope.

5:35 a.m.: Russia's envoy has expressed Moscow's strong dissatisfaction to the Vatican following Pope Francis' latest condemnation of the "cruelty" of Russia's actions in Ukraine, Reuters reported Tuesday citing the RIA Novosti news agency.

Francis had told the Jesuit magazine America in an interview: "When I speak about Ukraine, I speak about the cruelty because I have much information about the cruelty of the troops that come in. Generally, the cruelest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryati and so on. Certainly, the one who invades is the Russian state. This is very clear."

5:05 a.m.: In the past several weeks, Ukraine has rolled out hundreds of “Points of Invincibility” — government-built help stations that offer food, drink and heat to thousands of Ukrainians.

In its report, The Associated Press spoke with a few of the 67,000 Ukrainians that these nearly 1,000 centers have helped.

4:30 a.m.: China is willing to forge a closer partnership with Russia on energy issues to ensure global energy security, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday, as the G-7 grouping of nations prepares to impose new measures on Russia's oil exports.

Reuters reported Xi's comments Tuesday, citing state broadcaster CCTV which carried the message made to the Fourth China-Russia energy forum.

"China is willing to work with Russia to forge a closer energy partnership, promote clean and green energy development and jointly maintain international energy security and the stability of industry supply chains," CCTV quoted the message as saying.

The meeting of businesses from the two trade partners comes amid preparations for a G-7 price cap to be imposed from December 5 on Russian oil, in efforts to curb Moscow's ability to fund its invasion of Ukraine.

4 a.m.: Dozens of modern artworks removed from Kyiv to protect them from Russian strikes that have already done huge damage to Ukraine's cultural heritage will go on display at a Madrid museum on Tuesday.

The works on show at the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum of Art as part of the "In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine 1900-1930" exhibition include oil paintings, sketches and collages.

Agence France-Presse reported that the Madrid exhibition is one of a number of showings of Ukraine's cultural heritage across Europe, as well as an effort to raise awareness of the threat posed to the war-torn country's artistic legacy as fighting grinds on.

3:43 a.m.: Qatar has agreed to send Germany two million tons of liquefied natural gas a year for at least 15 years, officials said Tuesday, as Europe's biggest economy scrambles for alternative supplies after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.

With the deal, Qatar aims to "contribute to efforts to support energy security in Germany and Europe" said Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, Qatar's energy minister and CEO of QatarEnergy.

3 a.m.: The Associated Press reported that Ukrainian police are investigating suspected torture sites in the formerly occupied city of Kherson. Police said five such rooms have been found in the city and four more in the surrounding area since the Russian retreat more than two weeks ago.

2:30 a.m.: More than 146,000 have fled to the U.K. under a scheme that offers Ukrainians the opportunity to live, work and study for up to three years with access to state benefits. The scheme relies on goodwill from ordinary people.

In this Agence France-Presse story, Ukrainians hosted in the U.K. share their struggle to find housing.

2:10 a.m.:

2 a.m.: The pace of global shipping activity is set to lose steam next year as economic turmoil, conflict in Ukraine and the impact of the pandemic weaken the outlook for trade, Reuters reported Tuesday citing U.N. agency UNCTAD.

The world's largest investment banks expect global economic growth to slow further in 2023 following a year roiled by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and soaring inflation. The slowdown is expected to impact shipping, which transports more than 80% of global trade, although tanker freight rates could stay high.

"The recovery in maritime transport and logistics is now at risk from the war in Ukraine, the continued grip of the pandemic, lingering supply-chain constraints, and China’s cooling economy and zero-COVID policy, along with inflationary pressures and the cost-of-living squeeze," UNCTAD said in the report.

UNCTAD called for investment in maritime supply chains to enable ports, shipping fleets and hinterland connections to be better prepared for future global crises, climate change and the transition to low-carbon energy.

1:33 a.m.: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg will call on allies to pledge more winter aid for Kyiv at a meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, after Ukraine's president told residents to brace for another week of cold and darkness due to Russian attacks on infrastructure.

Reuters reported that the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Bucharest will focus on ramping up military assistance for Ukraine such as air defense systems and ammunition, even as diplomats acknowledge supply and capacity issues, but also discuss non-lethal aid as well.

Part of this non-lethal aid — goods such as fuel, medical supplies, winter equipment and drone jammers — has been delivered through a NATO assistance package that allies can contribute to and which Stoltenberg aims to increase.

1 a.m.: The United States will announce new aid on Tuesday to help Ukraine restore electricity as its people faced another week of brutal cold and darkness after Russian missile strikes on its power grid caused rolling blackouts, Reuters reported.

Russia has targeted Ukraine's power plants, transmission and distribution facilities and water pumping stations since early October, with each barrage having greater impact than the last as damage accumulates and winter sets in.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he expects new attacks that could be as bad as last week's bombardment, which left millions of people with no heat, water or power.

12:45 a.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Bucharest ahead of Tuesday’s NATO Foreign Ministers meeting.

The meeting, hosted for the first time by Romania, will focus on the war in Ukraine and how to protect critical civilian infrastructure, among other topics, The Associated Press reported.

12:05 a.m.: Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz has asked the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, to help with additional natural gas volumes for the heating season, Oleksiy Chernyshov, Reuters reported quoting the company's chief executive.

Russia has been carrying out massive missile bombardments on Ukraine's energy and power infrastructure roughly weekly since early October, with each barrage having greater impact than the last as damage accumulates and a frigid winter sets in.

Snow has been falling for a couple of days in a row in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, a city that had 2.8 million residents before the war, as people struggle with disruptions to electricity supply and central heating.

"The key is the additional volume of gas needed to get through this heating season," Chernyshov wrote on his Facebook page after a meeting with Elizabeth McKee, the assistant administrator of the USAID for Europe and Eurasia.

Chernyshov also said that his talks with McKee included sending necessary materials and equipment to Ukraine - on provision of which the Agency has already been working.

"We are talking, in particular, about methanol, gas compressors, diesel generators and equipment for gas production," Chernyshov said.

In October, USAID said it would invest $55 million in Ukraine's heating infrastructure to aid the country's preparations for winter, according to a statement on the Agency's website.

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