November 4, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Matt Meyer and Seán Federico O'Murchú, CNN

Updated 8:59 p.m. ET, November 4, 2022
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7:55 a.m. ET, November 4, 2022

Russian headquarters in occupied city of Melitopol "destroyed," says mayor

From CNN's Tim Lister

The Russian headquarters in Melitopol in southern Ukraine were attacked and destroyed on Thursday, according to the city's mayor.

Melitopol has been occupied by Russian forces since the early days of the invasion.

"The enemy headquarters was destroyed yesterday, where the FSB special forces personnel were located; there are killed and wounded," Ivan Fedorov said in a briefing.

"There was a barracks and equipment. It was one of the hardest targets in terms of reaching it, in terms of the air defense and the location."

It has been extremely difficult for civilians to leave the city, Fedorov added.

"Today 150 to 200 people per day leave through Vasylivka (the only available route from occupied territory to Ukrainian-held areas) compared to 1,000 people as it was."

"To leave Melitopol you need to submit an application, which is considered within a month term. There is a leaving route through Crimea, which takes 3 to 5 days."

Some children are being taken from occupied areas to Crimea and parts of Russia, Fedorov claimed. He said some 300 children had been removed so far.

"(School children in Melitopol) are not allowed to go outside during breaks between lessons. Children are being forced to study Russian history, sing the Russian anthem and other patriotic songs."

A shortage of medicines, high prices in pharmacies and unemployment meant that life had become difficult for civilians in the city, according to Fedorov.

"Lots of Melitopol residents are jobless so they are trying to leave."

7:18 a.m. ET, November 4, 2022

Ukrainians "getting more and more fearful" as Russia ramps up attacks on energy infrastructure

From CNN's Christiane Amanpour and Hannah Ritchie

A man sits at a table of a restaurant with a candle in Kyiv on November 02.
A man sits at a table of a restaurant with a candle in Kyiv on November 02. (Ed Ram/Getty Images)

Civilians in Ukraine are "getting more and more fearful" as Moscow escalates attacks on critical infrastructure, leaving many residents without power.

"We are seeing people actually getting more and more fearful about what an increasingly dark and cold winter might mean," CNN's Christiane Amanpour told Don Lemon on "CNN This Morning" from Kyiv.

The Kremlin's nationwide assault on energy facilities disrupted electricity in almost half a million homes in the capital on Friday, according to the city's mayor.

“450,000 consumers, that is households in Kyiv, are out of power this morning. It is one and a half times more than the recent days,” Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram. 

“Stabilization outages are applied due to overloading of the central unit of the country’s energy system. I urge all city residents to save electricity as much as possible because the situation remains difficult.”

The recent strikes came amid an expanding partnership between Iran and Russia in recent months, which has included Tehran dispatching drones and other equipment to Moscow for use in its war in Ukraine.

"If that continues at pace, it's going to be very, very hard for the people here," Amanpour said of the collaboration between both countries.

Some context: Ukraine has been facing a wide Russian assault on critical infrastructure and power sources since early October.

This week alone, attacks on infrastructure in the regions of Kyiv, Cherkasy, Kirovohrad, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia have left millions without electricity and water intermittently. About 4.5 million Ukrainian consumers were dealing with power outages as of Thursday evening, according to President Volodymr Zelensky.

9:32 a.m. ET, November 4, 2022

Exclusive: Iran is seeking Russia's help to bolster nuclear program, US intel officials believe

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand

Construction work at Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, Iran, on November 10, 2019.
Construction work at Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, Iran, on November 10, 2019. (Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Iran is seeking Russia's help to bolster its nuclear program, US intelligence officials believe, as Tehran looks for a backup plan should a lasting nuclear deal with world powers fail to materialize. 

The intelligence suggests that Iran has been asking Russia for help acquiring additional nuclear materials and with nuclear fuel fabrication, sources briefed on the matter said. The fuel could help Iran power its nuclear reactors and could potentially further shorten Iran's so-called "breakout time" to create a nuclear weapon.  

Experts emphasized to CNN, however, that the nuclear proliferation risk varies depending on which reactor the fuel is used for. And it is also not clear whether Russia has agreed to help — the Kremlin has long been outwardly opposed to Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. 

But the Iranian proposal has come amid an expanding partnership between Iran and Russia that in recent months has included Iran sending drones and other equipment to Russia for use in its war in Ukraine, and Moscow potentially advising Tehran on how to suppress a protest movement sweeping Iran, US officials said. 

Iran has said its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes and that it formally halted its weapons program, but US officials have stated that Iran's uranium enrichment activities have gone far beyond the parameters of the 2015 nuclear deal and that the amount of time it would take for Iran to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon has shortened to just months. 

In June, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned lawmakers that Iran's nuclear "program is galloping forward ... The longer this goes on, the more the breakout time gets down ... it's now down, by public reports, to a few months at best. And if this continues, it will get down to a matter of weeks."

The Biden administration is watching any new areas of cooperation between Iran and Russia with concern. Any covert Russian assistance to Iran that could boost Iranian efforts to produce a nuclear weapon would also mark a significant shift in Russian policy, given Russia's membership of the P5+1 group of countries that have been part of the negotiations to stymie Iran's nuclear program. 

"As we have said, the JCPOA is not on the agenda," National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson told CNN, referring to the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. "We have been working with partners to expose the growing ties between Iran and Russia — and hold them accountable. We will be firm in countering any cooperation that would be counter to our non-proliferation goals."

The Iranian Mission to the UN and the Russian Foreign Ministry did not return requests for comment. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story has been updated to clarify the description of Iran’s nuclear program. 

Read the full story here.

6:06 a.m. ET, November 4, 2022

Russian forces begin "census" in city adjacent to nuclear power plant

From CNN's Tim Lister

Russian forces and "collaborators" have begun a census in the southeastern city of Enerhodar, according to Ukrainian authorities.

For the second day running, Russian forces "along with collaborators with the so-called police are doing the door-to-door tours and intercepting people in the courtyards," said Dmytro Orlov, the displaced mayor of Enerhodar.

"This was reported by local residents who had to participate in the ‘census.'"

"In many cases the census ends up with a rummage and browsing through the apps of mobile phones. Please be aware!" he added.

Before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February, the population of Enerhodar was about 50,000. The city has been under Russian occupation since early March.

It is adjacent to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which was disconnected from Ukraine's power grid due to shelling from Moscow earlier this week as the Kremlin ramped up strikes targeting critical energy infrastructure.

Russian bombardments some 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the plant had disabled two high voltage transmission lines, according to state nuclear energy company Energoatom.

The plant had gone to "full black-out mode. All 20 diesel generators started operating," Energoatom said.

"Power units 5 and 6 are being transferred to a cold shutdown mode," it added. The other four units were already shut down.

The plant is run by Ukrainian technicians but is under the control of the Russian state nuclear energy operator Rusatom.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday that power had been cut late Wednesday evening and was "now receiving back-up power from its emergency diesel generators, further underlining the extremely precarious nuclear safety and security situation at the facility."

IAEA Director General Mariano Grossi said the cut-off underlined "the urgent need to establish a protection zone" around the plant.

“Despite the best efforts of the plant’s courageous staff to stabilize the external power situation in recent weeks, the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant has again lost all access to off-site electricity," Grossi said.

"For now, it receives the power it needs from the on-site diesel generators. But this is clearly not a sustainable way to operate a major nuclear facility. Measures are needed to prevent a nuclear accident at the site. The establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone is urgently needed."

5:04 a.m. ET, November 4, 2022

Ukrainian military says Russians stepping up rocket attacks in the east

From CNN's Tim Lister

People stand near a crater after a missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on November 3.
People stand near a crater after a missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on November 3. (Eugene Titov/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Russian forces have stepped up attacks in the east of Ukraine using multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), especially in the Donetsk region, according to the Ukrainian military.

The military's General Staff said 80 such attacks were recorded Wednesday, while on Thursday "the enemy carried out four missile and 28 airstrikes, and fired more than 45 times from MLRS."

On Thursday, Lt. Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine's armed forces, told NATO Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the alliance's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, that "the enemy tripled the intensity of hostilities on certain areas of the front" with up to 80 daily attacks.

But Zaluzhnyi said Ukrainian troops were holding their defensive lines.

He also said he and Cavoli had "discussed the problem of Russian missile attacks and the employment of attack drones."

"Our partners realize the necessity to supply air and missile defense systems to Ukraine and put significant efforts into it," Zaluzhnyi said.

Artillery fire: The General Staff said recently liberated parts of the Kharkiv and Luhansk regions had come under artillery and mortar fire, and the front lines around the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk had also been active.

There had also been artillery and mortar fire against more than 25 settlements along the front lines in the south, the General Staff said. 

It said the Ukrainian air force had been active Thursday and had "inflicted 21 strikes against the enemy."

"Up to 20 areas of concentration of troops and equipment were hit," the General Staff said.

Alleged looting: The General Staff added there was "an increased movement of trucks and cars with looted property on the roads of Kherson region." It said "significant robberies" are taking place in Beryslav and nearby settlements," including from power grid maintenance enterprises.  

1:18 a.m. ET, November 4, 2022

Millions of Ukrainians without power after latest attacks on civilian infrastructure, Zelensky says

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Jennifer Hauser

Communal workers repair power lines cut by shelling in the town of Kupiansk on November 3.
Communal workers repair power lines cut by shelling in the town of Kupiansk on November 3. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

About 4.5 million Ukrainian consumers were dealing with power outages as of Thursday evening, according to President Volodymr Zelensky.

Households across the country have been temporarily disconnected from energy supply under an emergency schedule aimed at stabilizing the nation's fragile electric grid. Russia has been bombing and destroying civilian infrastructure, ushering in fears of a cold, dark winter.

Most people are affected in the capital, Kyiv, and nine other regions: Dnipropetrovsk, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhzhia, Sumy, Kirovohrad, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Khmelnytskyi and Cherkasy. Power outages are also possible in other areas.

"The very fact that Russia has resorted to terror against the energy sector indicates the weakness of the enemy. They cannot defeat Ukraine on the battlefield and therefore they are trying to break our people in this way," Zelensky said.

Some background: Kyiv's Western allies have condemned Russia's focus on dismantling Ukrainian energy infrastructure ahead of winter.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Thursday that G7 countries have a "moral duty" to help Ukraine, as Putin counts on the winter to help his forces batter Ukraine.

8:32 p.m. ET, November 3, 2022

UN watchdog finds no indication of undeclared nuclear activities or materials in Ukraine

From CNN's Jennifer Hauser

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have completed verification activities at three locations in Ukraine at the request of the Ukrainian government, and they have not found any indications of undeclared nuclear activities and materials, according to a statement by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi Thursday.

Ukraine requested the inspection after Russia made allegations about activities related to the possible production of “dirty bombs” in three locations: the Institute for Nuclear Research in Kyiv, Eastern Mining and Processing Plant in Zhovti Vody, and Production Association Pivdennyi Machine-Building Plant in Dnipro, according to the IAEA, the UN's nuclear watchdog.

"Over the past few days, the inspectors were able to carry out all activities that the IAEA had planned to conduct and were given unfettered access to the locations. Based on the evaluation of the results available to date and the information provided by Ukraine, the Agency did not find any indications of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at the locations," the IAEA statement said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Russia "the world's top liar" after the IAEA's announcement.

"IAEA has checked 3 Ukrainian facilities in focus of Russian disinfo and found no evidence of any ‘dirty bombs’. I thank @rafaelmgrossi for IAEA’s excellent and prompt cooperation which helped counter Russian falsehoods. Russia has confirmed its status of the world’s top liar," Kuleba tweeted Thursday.

Some background: Russia had accused Ukraine of planning to use a so-called dirty bomb — a weapon that combines conventional explosives like dynamite and radioactive material like uranium — an allegation dismissed by Kyiv and its Western allies as a false-flag operation that Moscow could use as a pretext to escalate the Kremlin’s war.

8:26 p.m. ET, November 3, 2022

US Embassy officials visit detained basketball star Brittney Griner in Russia

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler and Sam Fossum

Officials from the US Embassy in Moscow met with detained American Brittney Griner on Thursday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

We are told she’s doing as well a“s can be expected under the circumstances,” Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a tweet Thursday that embassy officials “saw firsthand her tenacity and perseverance despite her present circumstances.”

Read more here.

4:19 a.m. ET, November 4, 2022

UN chief welcomes revival of Black Sea grain deal as food shipments leave ports

From CNN’s Samantha Beech

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the media at UN Headquarters in New York on November 3.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the media at UN Headquarters in New York on November 3. (Lev Radin/Sipa USA/AP)

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the revival of the Black Sea grain corridor this week, saying the ships departing Ukrainian ports provide “hopeful news in a world churning in turmoil.”

Seven vessels carrying food left Ukraine's ports Thursday after Russia agreed to rejoin the Black Sea grain deal. Shipments of grain from Ukraine had been in jeopardy after Russia suspended its participation in the initiative last weekend. It resumed its role on Wednesday.

“For stemming the food crisis, for easing prices and pressures for people around the world, for reducing the risks of hunger, poverty and instability, the Black Sea grain initiative is making a difference,” Guterres told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

Guterres said the initiative has reached a new milestone with 10 million metric tons of grain and other food products being shipped through the Black Sea corridor in three months.

“Despite all the obstacles we have seen, the beacon of hope in the Black Sea is still shining and the initiative is working,” he said. “It is our collective responsibility to keep it working smoothly.”

More background: In July, following months of negotiations, ministers from both Ukraine and Russia signed the grain deal brokered by the UN and Turkey. Russia pledged to unblock ports on the Black Sea to allow the safe passage of grain and oilseeds — some of Ukraine’s most important exports. The shipments are viewed as critical to addressing the global food shortage.

The UN chief said Thursday that he is grateful for Turkey's diplomatic efforts in establishing and helping reopen the vital food supply line.