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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Nov. 3

FILE - Ukrainian artillerymen fire a 152 mm towed gun-howitzer (D20) at a position on the front line near the town of Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region, on October 31, 2022, amid Russian invasion of Ukraine.
FILE - Ukrainian artillerymen fire a 152 mm towed gun-howitzer (D20) at a position on the front line near the town of Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region, on October 31, 2022, amid 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 EDT.

10:08 p.m.: Bulgaria's parliament Thursday agreed to send military aid to Ukraine, after a previous decision to refrain from directly supplying arms to the war-torn country following Russia's invasion, Agence France-Presse reported.

Bulgaria, once a signatory to a defense pact with the USSR, still flies a small number of Soviet-built MiG-29 fighter jets that Ukraine has been asking for because its pilots know how to fly them.

The Balkan country also has S-300 long-range surface-to-air missiles, but Defense Minister Dimitar Stoyanov earlier this week said his country could not afford to part with them.

Bulgaria is a member of NATO and the European Union, but still has close historical, cultural and economic ties with Moscow.

9:15 p.m.: Ten million metric tons of grains and foodstuffs have left Ukraine in the past three months, the U.N. chief said Thursday, calling for the renewal of a deal vital to "reducing the risk of hunger" worldwide, Agence France-Presse reported.

The landmark announcement comes just days after the so-called Black Sea grain deal was called into question by Moscow's complaints over sanctions. The deal was put in place over the summer to ease the global food crisis caused by Russia's war in Ukraine.

"As of today, 10 million metric tons of grain and other foodstuffs have been shipped through the Black Sea corridor. It has taken just three months to reach this milestone," United Nation chief Antonio Guterres told journalists.

8:49 p.m.: A senior U.N. official said on Thursday that the global body was prioritizing efforts to export stranded Russian fertilizers from European ports and hopes to make advances before a deadline for renewing the Black Sea grains deal this month, Reuters reported.

Moscow on Wednesday resumed its participation in a U.N.-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative after a four-day suspension, easing pressure on food prices and allaying fears of a renewed global food crisis.

However, Russia has stopped short of giving its support for a renewal of the deal beyond its November 19 expiration and is urging the United Nations to help fulfill parts of the deal intended to ease Russia's food and fertilizer exports.

The U.N. World Food Program confirmed to Reuters that it stands ready to help ship an initial 20,000 metric tons of Russian fertilizer to Malawi.

8:15 p.m.: The UK government said Thursday it would ban ships and services used to transport Russian crude oil above the price cap set by the G-7 and Australia, Agence France-Presse reported.

This comes after a EU ban on insuring ships transporting Russian crude and as G-7 ministers have agreed on setting a price cap on Russian oil, aimed at crimping the Kremlin's revenues and containing soaring energy prices.

Australia and the European Union have backed the price cap.

The Treasury said that legislation taking effect on December 5 "introduces a ban on UK ships and services facilitating the maritime transport of Russian crude oil." It said this would apply unless oil was "purchased at or below the Oil Price Cap set by the Price Cap Coalition of the G-7 and Australia."

7:40 p.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered a one-time payment of 195,000 rubles ($3,200) for contract soldiers and those who have been mobilized to fight in Ukraine, the Kremlin said, according to Reuters.

Last week Moscow said the "partial mobilization" of 300,000 reservists was over but conceded there had been problems. More than 2,000 people were arrested at protests amid public outcry over cases of men being called up despite medical exemptions, or a lack of military experience.

In a decree published on the Kremlin website, Putin said the payment was designed "to provide additional measures of social support" to contract soldiers and those who had been called up. It did not give further details.

The minimum monthly wage on offer for contract soldiers is 160,000 rubles ($2,700), which is almost three times the national average.

6:42 p.m.: More than 100 men mobilized to the war in Ukraine from Russia's Chuvashia region have rebelled, demanding overdue salaries promised to them, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The group issued a video statement recorded on November 2 by the men in the military training center in the city of Ulyanovsk in which they say they "will fight for justice" until their overdue salaries are fully paid.

5:55 p.m.: Moldova has imported natural gas from Slovakia, for the first time obtaining volumes pumped from west to east, a senior member of the government said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

The comments by Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu demonstrated Moldova's ability to source gas from places other than Russia as it faces growing supply problems.

The small ex-Soviet state is reliant on Russian natural gas supplied by Gazprom and is grappling with a 40% cut in Russian deliveries that has hurt its ability to supply enough electricity to its 2.5 million population.

Spinu said Moldovan company Energocom had bought 5 million cubic meters of gas in Slovakia and lauded it as a step towards greater energy independence.

5 p.m.: Like much of Ukraine’s northern Kharkiv region, Vovchansk was occupied by Russian forces in the early hours of Moscow’s invasion on February 24. It was liberated in September during a lightning Ukrainian counteroffensive that sent Russian forces reeling out of the region, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

4:33 p.m.: Ukrainian forces can retake the strategic southern city of Kherson from Russian troops, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Thursday, in what would be a major defeat for Russia in its invasion of its neighbor, Reuters reported.

Austin's remarks coincided with a Russian-installed official in Kherson region saying Moscow was likely to pull its troops from the west bank of the Dnieper River, signaling a significant retreat, if confirmed.

Ukraine said it was still fighting in the area and was wary of the occupying Russian forces setting a trap.

Austin did not answer a question about whether Russian forces were preparing to leave. But, in perhaps his most optimistic comments yet on the Ukrainian counter-offensive, expressed confidence in their ability to beat back Russian forces.

3:56 p.m.: Officials from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow met with Brittney Griner on Thursday, officials said, according to Reuters, in the first visit in months for the WNBA star who is jailed in Russia and could soon be transferred to a penal colony.

"We are told she is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One as President Joe Biden flew to New Mexico.

The visit was the first consular access to Griner since early August, when the two-time Olympic gold medalist was found guilty of narcotics possession and smuggling for bringing cannabis-infused vape cartridges into Russia. A court last week rejected an appeal of her nine-year prison sentence.

Washington and Moscow have discussed swapping Griner and fellow detainee Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, for a Russian arms dealer jailed in the United States, but no deal has materialized amid heightened tensions over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

3:01 p.m.: The G-7 will not allow Russia to inflict "starvation" on Ukrainians this winter as a result of its assault on the country, Germany said Thursday ahead of a key meeting of the group of wealthy nations, Agence France-Presse reported.

Affirming support for Ukraine is expected to be the number one topic on the agenda at the two-day meeting of G-7 foreign ministers in the western city of Muenster.

Western allies will provide generators, heaters, container housing, tents, beds and blankets as some of the items that will be part of a "winter aid package" for Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba addressed the conference via a video link on Thursday.

2:33 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday his country would not participate in the upcoming G-20 summit in Indonesia if Russian President Vladimir Putin also attends, Agence France-Presse reported.

"If the leader of the Russian Federation was to take part in it, Ukraine would not be participating," Zelenskyy told a press conference with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou in Kyiv.

Putin is yet to say if he will attend.

1 p.m.: The U.N. nuclear agency said its inspectors investigating Russian claims that Ukraine is preparing to use a “dirty bomb” have not found any indications of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at the three sites they have inspected.

Ukraine has strongly denied Moscow's allegations that it is planning to detonate a dirty bomb on its own territory and in turn accused Russia of plotting to use the threat of a bomb laced with nuclear material as a pretext for an escalation in Ukraine.

Russia raised the matter at the U.N. Security Council last week and warned in a letter that it “will regard the use of the dirty bomb by the Kyiv regime as an act of nuclear terrorism.”

Ukraine invited the IAEA inspectors. The IAEA said they visited the locations where Russia made allegations about activities: the Institute for Nuclear Research in Kyiv, Eastern Mining and Processing Plant in Zhovti Kody, and Production Association Pivdennyi Machine-Building Plant in Dnipro.

The agency said its inspectors were given “unfettered access to the locations.”

12:35 p.m.: The International Atomic Energy Agency says the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine lost all access to external electricity following overnight shelling and is currently receiving backup power from its emergency diesel generators.

Nuclear operator Energoatom blamed Russia for shelling in the area that damaged power lines and electrical substations. Russia put the blame on Ukraine.

The IAEA said in a statement that senior Ukrainian operating staff informed their experts of indications that the power lines were physically damaged “at two different locations about 50-60 kilometers from the plant itself, in Ukrainian-controlled territory.” Repair work was under way at one of the locations.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in a statement that the development is “extremely concerning” and “again demonstrates the plant’s fragile and vulnerable situation.” He has been working with both sides to establish a demilitarized protection zone around the nuclear plant.

“Measures are needed to prevent a nuclear accident at the site. The establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone is urgently needed,” he said

11:51 a.m.: Russia and Ukraine on Thursday exchanged 214 captured service personnel in the latest of a series of prisoner swaps, many of the Ukrainians wounded survivors of a failed attempt to defend the city of Mariupol in April and May, Reuters reported.

Russia's Defense Ministry said in a statement that Ukraine had released 107 Russian personnel, and that they would be transferred to Moscow for "the necessary medical and psychological assistance."

Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president's chief of staff, said Russia had released 107 Ukrainian fighters, including 74 who had defended the Azovstal steel works, scene of Ukraine's last stand in Mariupol.

10 a.m.: Ukraine is counting on more Western technological support as its war against Russia drags on, with Microsoft pledging Thursday to extend its backing for Kyiv's “extraordinary" wartime innovation through the end of next year, the Associated Press reported.

Microsoft's financial commitment of more than $400 million enables the Ukraine government and other organizations to continue using the Microsoft cloud and its public data centers across Europe, the company’s president, Brad Smith, announced at the annual Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

Cloud technology offers resilience and security for Ukraine operations, Smith said, after Russia targeted Ukrainian data centers with air strikes when it invaded more than eight months ago.

The invasion triggered “extraordinary innovation” by the Ukrainian military, Smith said.

8:36 a.m.: As Russians seized parts of eastern and southern Ukraine in the opening stages of the war, mayors, civilian administrators and others, including nuclear power plant workers, say they have been abducted, threatened or beaten to force their cooperation. In some instances, they have been killed, the Associated Press reported.

Human rights activists say these actions could constitute a war crime. Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov said he was abducted from his office and “the bullying and threats did not stop for a minute. They tried to force me to continue leading the city under the Russian flag, but I refused.”

After six days in detention and an intervention from Ukraine's president, he was exchanged for nine Russian prisoners of war and expelled from the occupied city

7:30 a.m.: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday that Moscow had called on the United Nations to help fulfill part of the Black Sea grain deal that would ease Russia’s own food exports.

Lavrov was speaking at a news conference in Jordan, one day after Russia said it would resume its participation in the initiative, u-turning on its decision, taken last weekend, to suspend its role in the deal.

6:30 a.m.: Russian missile attacks hit energy infrastructure in the Ukrainian regions of Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk late on Wednesday, further complicating the work of the energy system, Ukraine's grid operator Ukrenergo said on Thursday.

The regions of Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk are both Ukrainian steelmaking hubs. Russian strikes have damaged 40% of Ukraine's energy infrastructure, President Volodymyr Zelenskiyy has said, Reuters reported.

6 a.m.: A senior Russian official said on Thursday that Russia had prevented a Ukrainian attack on the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.

Repeated shelling of the plant has raised the possibility of a grave accident just 500 kilometers (300 miles) from the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, the 1986 Chornobyl disaster, Reuters reported.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, or the IAEA, which has repeatedly expressed concerns over the shelling of the plant, has proposed the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the plant.

Ukraine says Russia has repeatedly shelled the plant while Russia says Ukraine has shelled the plant. Both sides deny the others’ claims.

Ukrainian forces “continue to shell the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant with Western weapons which could lead to a global catastrophe,” Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, said.

Patrushev said that Russian special services had prevented what he said was a “terrorist attack” on the plant.

Ukraine’s state nuclear company said on Thursday that Russian shelling had damaged high voltage lines at the plant.

After invading Ukraine on February 24, Russian forces took control of the plant in early March. Special Russian military units guard the facility and Russian nuclear specialists are on site. Ukrainian staff continue to help operate the plant.

5:30 a.m.: Hungary’s parliament will decide on when to schedule a debate on the ratification of Finland's and Sweden's applications to join NATO, Reuters reported Thursday, quoting Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto who was speaking at a press conference.

Szijjarto said the government has done its job by submitting the relevant bill to parliament. Hungary and Turkey are the only members not to have ratified the applications.

5 a.m.: Ukraine has made no new commitments that go beyond the terms of a deal signed in July to free up grain exports from its Black Sea ports following Russia’s invasion, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Thursday.

Spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook that Ukraine had never used the Black Sea grain “corridor” for military purposes and had never intended to do so.

4:30 a.m.: Seven ships carrying agricultural products left Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Thursday, a day after the resumption of a grain deal aimed at delivering Ukrainian food to foreign markets, the infrastructure ministry said, Reuters reported.

The vessels were loaded with 290,000 tons of food products and were headed towards European and Asian countries, the ministry said in a statement without elaborating.

4 a.m.: Disinformation and hatred against Jews has “flourished” online throughout Russia's invasion of Ukraine, further aggravating a trend set in motion during the COVID-19 pandemic, Agence France-Presse reported Thursday, citing an EU report.

“The coronavirus pandemic and Russia's aggression against Ukraine further fueled” anti-Semitism, which “remains a serious problem in our societies,” said Michael O’Flaherty, director of the Vienna-based Fundamental Rights Agency, or the FRA.

A working group meeting in June had already highlighted “the risks of fake narratives” and disinformation stoking up anti-Semitism, as Russia justified its war by misusing “terms such as ‘Nazi’ and ‘genocide’” to describe the government in Ukraine.

In its annual report, which was compiled this July, the FRA said that “Jewish communities across Europe” have been “profoundly affected” by online hate and disinformation in the context of the Russian invasion and the outbreak.

The bloc's rights agency reiterated that “recording of anti-Semitic incidents remains poor across Europe,” with data collection and classification varying in each country. No official data on recorded anti-Semitic incidents was available from two EU member states, Hungary and Portugal, making it difficult to meaningfully compare the situation across the bloc

In some countries, such as Austria and Finland, “most recorded incidents took place online.” The European Commission presented its first ever strategy to combat anti-Semitism in October 2021.

Brussels is expected to publish reports on the implementation of its strategy in 2024 and 2029 respectively, also relying on FRA data regarding anti-Semitic incidents for their assessment.

3:35 a.m.: The British ambassador arrived at the Russian foreign ministry on Thursday morning, Reuters reported quoting the RIA Novosti news agency, after she was summoned to discuss Moscow’s claims that Britain was involved in a Ukrainian drone strike on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.

3:15 a.m.:

2:58 a.m.: Russia’s Gazprom said it would ship 42.4 million cubic meters of gas to Europe via Ukraine on Thursday, levels similar to those reported in recent days.

2 a.m.: Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been disconnected from the power grid after Russian shelling damaged the remaining high voltage lines, leaving it with just diesel generators, Reuters reported Thursday, quoting Ukraine’s nuclear firm Energoatom.

The power plant has 15 days’ worth of fuel to run the generators, Energoatom said. The plant's blocks 5 and 6 are being switched into cold state, it said.

1:30 a.m.: Foreign ministers from the G-7 group of rich democracies will discuss how best to coordinate further support for Ukraine when they meet on Thursday in Germany following recent Russian attacks on energy infrastructure that have caused widespread power cuts, Reuters reported.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is expected to dominate the two-day meeting of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken with his G-7 counterparts in the western German city of Muenster, although China’s increasingly assertive role in the world and protests in Iran will also be high on the agenda.

“This G-7 ministerial is, for us, coming at an important time,” a senior State Department official said, noting that the group “has been a vital coordinating mechanism” for policy approaches on the most pressing issues.

The G-7 meeting, hosted by Germany, which holds the group’s rotating presidency, will provide an opportunity for the world’s richest democracies to discuss recent developments in China and security in the Indo Pacific after Chinese President Xi Jinping consolidated his grip on power at a Communist Party Congress.

12:30 a.m.:

12:01 a.m.: The U.N. Security Council has overwhelmingly rejected Russia’s attempt to establish a commission to investigate its unfounded claims that Ukraine and the United States are carrying out “military biological” activities that violate the convention prohibiting the use of biological weapons, The Associated Press reported.

Russia only got support from China in the vote on its resolution, with the U.S., Britain and France voting “no” and the 10 other council nations abstaining.

The 2-3-10 vote reflected the council’s continuing opposition to Russia’s actions since its February 24 invasion of Ukraine. Russia’s deputy ambassador Dmitry Polyansky said his government was “extremely disappointed” at the vote. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the resolution was “based on disinformation, dishonesty, bad faith.”

VOA’s United Nations correspondent Margaret Besheer has been following developments.

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

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