November 17, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Eliza Mackintosh, Jack Guy, Aditi Sangal and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 2:32 a.m. ET, November 18, 2022
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7:17 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Verdict due in murder trial over Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 shot down over Ukraine

From CNN's Sophie Tanno

A part of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove, some 80km east of Donetsk, Ukraine, on August 2, 2014
A part of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove, some 80km east of Donetsk, Ukraine, on August 2, 2014 (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

Three Russians and a Ukrainian accused of mass murder and tried in absentia for their alleged involvement in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 are set to receive their verdict from a Dutch court Thursday. 

The Boeing 777 was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, when it was shot out of the sky over territory held by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

All 298 people on board were killed in the incident, including 15 crew members and 283 passengers from 17 countries.  

The downing of MH17 happened in the early phase of a conflict between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces.

An international investigation found that the plane was hit by a Russian Buk missile fired from a village in eastern Ukraine that was held at the time by pro-Russian rebels.

Prosecutors say the launcher belonged to Russia’s 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade and was returned to Russian territory the day after the strike. Moscow has repeatedly denied any responsibility for the incident.

The trial marks the first time that independent judgement will be made on the 2014 incident. 

Three Russians, Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov, were named as suspects, along with Ukrainian separatist Leonid Kharchenko.

According to investigators, Girkin is a former colonel of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Dubinskiy was employed by Russia’s military intelligence agency GRU and Pulatov was a former soldier of the Russian special forces, Spetsnaz-GRU.

Ukraine’s Kharchenko had no military background, but is believed to have led a combat unit in Donetsk in July 2014.

While the suspects are not accused of firing the missile at MH17, they are “just as punishable as the person who committed the crime,” according to Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke.

The men were tried in absentia at Schiphol Judicial Complex in Badhoevedorp, the Netherlands, and are unlikely to serve time if convicted.

Pulatov was the only suspect to be represented by lawyers and has maintained his innocence throughout. 

Prosecutors have demanded life sentences for the suspects on charges of murder and causing an aircraft to crash. They have presented thousands of pages of evidence to support their case. 

7:19 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Ukraine will likely be granted access to missile blast site in Poland, says Polish policy advisor 

From CNN’s Antonia Mortensen and Eve Brennan

Aerial showing the site where a missile strike killed two men in the eastern Poland village of Przewodow, near the border with Ukraine, November 17.
Aerial showing the site where a missile strike killed two men in the eastern Poland village of Przewodow, near the border with Ukraine, November 17. (Wojtek Radwanski and Damien Simonart/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukraine is likely to be granted access to the site in Przewodow, Poland, near the Ukrainian border, where a missile killed two people on Tuesday, according to a Polish official.

"A Polish-American investigating team is working at the site of the rocket's impact," Jakub Kumoch, top foreign policy advisor to Polish President Andrzej Duda, told Polish broadcaster TVN 24 in an interview on Thursday. If Poland and the United States agree, then the Ukrainians may soon receive access, he said.

“If both sides, Polish and American, agree, and as far as I know, there will be no objection from the American side,” Kumoch added. 

The leaders of Poland and NATO have said the missile was likely fired by Ukrainian air defense forces attempting to thwart a barrage of Russian strikes, but that Moscow bore "ultimate responsibility" for having started the war. 

On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has insisted the missile was not Ukrainian, said that Ukrainian experts must be allowed access to the site of the explosion and review all data available to its allies. 

"The Ukrainian position is very transparent: we want to establish all the details, every fact. That is why we need our experts to join the work of the international investigation and to get access to all the data available to our partners and to the site of the explosion," Zelensky said in his daily video address.

6:22 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Black Sea grain deal extended for 120 days, UN confirms

From CNN's Victoria Butenko in Kyiv, Ukraine

An inspection delegation boards the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni carrying 26,000 tonnes of corn from Ukraine, off the coast of Istanbul on August 3.
An inspection delegation boards the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni carrying 26,000 tonnes of corn from Ukraine, off the coast of Istanbul on August 3. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday confirmed all parties had agreed to extend the UN-brokered Black Sea grain deal aimed at easing a global food crisis after Russia had cast doubt on its continued participation in the agreement.

"I welcome the agreement by all parties to continue the Black Sea Grain Initiative to facilitate the safe navigation of export of grain, foodstuffs and fertilizers from Ukraine," Guterres said on Twitter. "The initiative demonstrates the importance of discreet diplomacy in finding multilateral solutions."

The deal, signed in July, had been due to expire on Saturday.

In a tweet, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the deal would be "prolonged for 120 days."

Some context: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday cast doubt on the future of the agreement, saying it depended on existing terms being met. Earlier this month, Russia rejoined the deal after saying it was pulling out.

Ukraine and Russia together account for nearly a third of global wheat exports and the grain deal has played a crucial role in lowering the price of wheat and other commodities globally.

3:53 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Analysis: G20's criticism of Russia shows the rise of a new Asian power. And it isn't China

Analysis from CNN's Rhea Mogul

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers his outlook on the opening ceremony of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Bali, Indonesia, on November 15.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers his outlook on the opening ceremony of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Bali, Indonesia, on November 15. (Prasetyo Utomo/Antara Photo/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

When world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, issued a joint statement condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine, a familiar sentence stood out from the 1,186-page document.

“Today’s era must not be of war,” it said, echoing what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian leader Vladimir Putin during a face-to-face meeting in September.

Media and officials in the country of 1.3 billion were quick to claim the inclusion as a sign that the world’s largest democracy had played a vital role in bridging differences between an increasingly isolated Russia, and the United States and its allies.

“How India united G20 on PM Modi’s idea of peace,” ran a headline in the Times of India, the country’s largest English-language paper.

“The Prime Minister’s message that this is not the era of war… resonated very deeply across all the delegations and helped bridge the gap across different parties,” India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told reporters Wednesday.

The declaration came as Indonesian President Joko Widodo handed over the G20 presidency to Modi, who will host the next leaders’ summit in the Indian capital New Delhi in September 2023 — about six months before he is expected to head to the polls in a general election and contest the country’s top seat for a third time.

As New Delhi deftly balances its ties to Russia and the West, Modi, analysts say, is emerging as a leader who has been courted by all sides, winning him support at home, while cementing India as a international power broker.

“The domestic narrative is that the G20 summit is being used as a big banner in Modi’s election campaign to show he’s a great global statesmen,” said Sushant Singh, a senior fellow at New Delhi-based think tank Center for Policy Research. “And the current Indian leadership now sees themselves as a powerful country seated at the high table.”

Read the full analysis here.

5:07 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Russian strikes on civilian infrastructure continue overnight, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Josh Pennington

Russian shelling and missile strikes continued to target civilian infrastructure overnight, including gas and electricity facilities, according to Ukrainian officials.

Five people were wounded after Russia shelled the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro on Thursday morning, Valentyn Reznichenko, head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration, said on Telegram, citing preliminary information.

“Among them, there is a 15-year-old girl. Everyone is in the hospital in moderate condition,” Reznichenko said, adding that two residential districts had been hit, and an “industrial enterprise” was now on fire.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told the Kyiv International Economic Forum on Thursday that “missiles are flying over Ukraine.”

“They are trying to hit our gas production facilities, Pivdenmash [a machine-building plant in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro] and some other facilities,” said Shmyhal.

And Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Head of the Office of the Ukrainian President said there had been "several hits to two infrastructure objects” in Dnipro in a post on Telegram.

Another three men were hospitalized after being wounded in missile strikes that hit "critical infrastructure” in Izium, in the Kharkiv region, on Thursday morning, said Oleh Syniehubov, governor of the region, on Telegram.

The southern region of Odesa was also hit by Russian strikes on Thursday, according to Maksym Marchenko, the head of Odesa’s regional administration, who said that there had been “a missile attack on a regional infrastructure facility" in a Telegram post.

Some context: Russia's renewed targeting of civilian infrastructure comes after Moscow's forces fired around 100 missiles on at least a dozen cities and districts Tuesday, according to Ukrainian officials and a CNN analysis of the strikes. The attacks appeared to be the largest since Oct. 10, when Russia stepped up its campaign to destroy electricity, water and gas infrastructure across Ukraine. 

1:20 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

"That's not the evidence": Biden casts doubt on Zelensky's Poland missile claim

From CNN's DJ Judd

President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday.
President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

US President Joe Biden on Thursday responded to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's claim that a Ukrainian missile was not responsible for a deadly explosion in Poland on Tuesday.

“That’s not the evidence,” Biden told reporters at the White House after returning from the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.

Two farmers died Tuesday when a missile landed outside the rural eastern Polish village of Przewodow, about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) west from the Ukrainian border.

Polish officials have indicated that it is likely a Ukrainian missile, deployed by its air defenses amid waves of Russian missile attacks Tuesday, fell inside Polish territory.

Zelensky's comments: Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Zelensky said he did not believe the missile was Ukrainian.

"I have no doubt that it was not our missile," he said.

Later, in his daily video address, Zelensky said "clarification of all the circumstances of how Russian aggression crossed the Polish border" was now an issue before the UN Security Council. He said he had spoken with Polish President Andrzej Duda and expressed his condolences but insisted it was "Russian aggression" that had claimed the lives of two Polish citizens.

"The Ukrainian position is very transparent: we want to establish all the details, every fact. That is why we need our experts to join the work of the international investigation and to get access to all the data available to our partners and to the site of the explosion," Zelensky said.
2:12 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Poland acted with "full restraint" in deadly missile incident, UN ambassador says

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

Krzysztof Szczerski addresses a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York City on April 19.
Krzysztof Szczerski addresses a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York City on April 19. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters/FILE)

Poland's Ambassador to the United Nations says the country acted with "full restraint" after a suspected Russian-made missile fell inside its border on Tuesday, killing two residents and sparking fears of an escalation in Russia's war against Ukraine.

Speaking at the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Krzysztof Szczerski said Poland immediately launched an "extensive multiphase investigation" into the missile, which Poland and NATO said was likely fired by Ukrainian forces defending their country against a barrage of Russian strikes.

"Poland is also conducting intensive consultations on the incident with its NATO allies and key partners," he said.

Two farmers died when the missile caused an explosion outside the rural eastern Polish village of Przewodow, about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) west from the Ukrainian border.

Szczerski said initial findings support the theory the event was not a deliberate attack. "But naturally, we need to wait for the final conclusion until the investigation is over," he said.

He also warned the incident "teaches us how close we actually live the potential escalation in the spillover of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine of far-reaching consequences that we all can perceive."

Some context: Tuesday's incident marks the first time a NATO country has been directly hit during the nearly nine-month conflict and prompted an emergency meeting of ambassadors from the US-led military alliance in Brussels on Wednesday.

NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said Russia bears "ultimate responsibility" for the incident, "as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine."

12:53 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Inside the US scramble to run down the facts as the Russia-Ukraine war spills into NATO territory

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand, Kevin Liptak, Oren Liebermann and Kylie Atwood

President Joe Biden was asleep on the other side of the world when aides woke him up in the middle of the night there with urgent news: a missile had struck Poland and killed two people.

By 5:30 am local time in Bali, where the president was attending the G20 summit, Biden, still in a t-shirt and khakis, was on the phone with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda seeking clarity on where the missile had actually come from — a critical fact due to the potentially dire implications of a Russian missile strike on a NATO ally.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was traveling with Biden, had also been roused with a knock on the door by his body man around 4 a.m. local time with news of the explosion, a US official said — news that most US officials only discovered from public reports and conversations with Polish officials.

Read the full story here.

3:52 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Ukrainian ambassador to UN says Kyiv is ready to cooperate with Poland on missile investigation

From CNN's Lauren Kent

Sergiy Kyslytsya, permanent representative of Ukraine to the United Nations listens as members of the Security Council speak about the current state of the Ukrainian conflict at the United Nations headquarters on November 16, in New York City, USA.
Sergiy Kyslytsya, permanent representative of Ukraine to the United Nations listens as members of the Security Council speak about the current state of the Ukrainian conflict at the United Nations headquarters on November 16, in New York City, USA. (John Lamparski/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)

Ukraine's Ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that the country is "ready to cooperate with the Polish side" on the investigation into the missile that killed two people in Poland on Tuesday.

"Ukraine expresses its solidarity with brotherly Polish people following yesterday's tragedy in the village of Przewodow, where two people were killed by missiles," Kyslytsya said. "We support a full and transparent investigation to establish all the facts of this tragic incident and we are ready to cooperate with the Polish side to contribute to this investigation."

Earlier on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country wants to establish all the facts surrounding the missile that landed in Poland and noted in his daily video address that "clarification of all the circumstances of how Russian aggression crossed the Polish border" was now an issue before the UN Security Council.

The ambassador also told the Security Council that Russia's attacks were creating a humanitarian disaster that could spill beyond Ukraine.

"We are grateful for the support of our friends, in particular Poland, in countering these attacks and bringing peace and security back to our region," he said. 

Some context: The leaders of Poland and NATO said the missile that killed two people in Polish territory on Tuesday was likely fired by Ukrainian forces defending their country against a barrage of Russian strikes and that the incident appeared to be an accident.

The blast occurred outside the rural eastern Polish town of Przewodow, about 4 miles (about 6.4 kilometers) west of the Ukrainian border on Tuesday afternoon, roughly the same time as Russia launched its biggest wave of missile attacks on Ukrainian cities in more than a month.

CNN's Tim Lister contributed to this report.