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November 18, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news
By Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Hannah Strange, Sana Noor Haq and Matt Meyer, CNN
Zelensky says energy supply issues persist after Russian strikes
From CNN's Jennifer Hauser
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says energy supply issues persist in the capital and 17 other regions Friday, even after utility officials indicated that power access had been restored across the country.
Speaking in his nightly address, Zelensky said it's still difficult to get enough electricity to "Kyiv region and Kyiv. It’s very difficult in the Odesa region, and also the Vinnytsia region and Ternopil region."
The director of Ukraine's Energy Industry Research Center said earlier Friday that power had been restored nearly everywhere in the country, after 10 million customers lost service due to missile attacks Thursday.
Even when utilities repair infrastructure in Ukraine and customers regain access, operators have had to widely impose emergency cuts to deal with the country's diminished supply. That means regions only receive a limited amount of energy and are sometimes subject to intentional blackouts aimed at stabilizing and maintaining the fragile grid.
Fighting in the east: In his update, Zelensky also reported "fierce fighting" in the (eastern) Donetsk region. He claimed that about 100 Russian attacks were repelled in the region on Thursday alone.
Donetsk, which is one of four Ukrainian regions illegally annexed by Moscow, has been subject to some of the conflict's fiercest fighting.
First train leaves Kyiv for liberated Kherson after 8 months of occupation
From CNN's Dennis Lapin in Kyiv
The first train from Kyiv to the recently liberated city of Kherson left Friday.
"This is our train of victory!" Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said on Telegram.
There were about 200 passengers on board.
"Like this train, we will return to Kherson everything for normal life!" Tymoshenko wrote.
Some context: Kherson residents lived under Russian occupation for eight months, but last week, Ukrainian forces swept into the city as Moscow's troops retreated east.
The return of the city, which was the only regional capital held by the Kremlin's forces, brought scenes of jubilation in the streets, where locals sang, waved flags and embraced Ukrainian soldiers.
Much work remains to restore basic services to the city and the region surrounding it, however, and Ukrainian officials are now investigating the brutality and torture suffered by detainees in the city.
Russian official claims possibility of prisoner swap for arms trafficker is getting stronger
From CNN's Darya Tarasova and Lauren Kent
The Kremlin hopes for a "positive outcome" in negotiations on a prisoner exchange for Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, an official told Russian state media Friday.
That remark comes as the US blames Moscow for bringing unreasonable demands to the table in discussions on two Americans jailed in Russia.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told the state media agency TASS that Bout, who is serving a 25-year US prison sentence, is "one of those that are being discussed" in conversations with the Biden administration.
Ryabkov said that while the two sides "haven't reached a common denominator yet," the possibility of a prisoner swap is not only possible but getting stronger.
"The time will come when the prospect will become a concrete agreement," he said, according to the state media report.
In August, Bout’s attorney Steve Zissou told CNN's "New Day" he was confident the proposed prisoner swap of his client is going to happen.
"Look, it’s no secret they’ve been wanting him back for several years now," he said. "They’ve been trying to get him back for decades."
What the US is saying: In July, CNN reported that the Biden administration offered to exchange Bout as part of a potential deal to secure the release of two Americans held by Russia, basketball star Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.
The State Department has declared both Griner and Whelan wrongfully detained. And US officials have blamed Moscow for not bringing reasonable expectations to the negotiations on their release.
Asked about Ryabkov's comments Friday, state department spokesperson Vedant Patel said Russia's "failure to seriously negotiate on these issues ... runs counter to its public statements."
“Ultimately here, actions speak louder than words,” Patel added.
Russian officials have requested that Vadim Krasikov, a former colonel from the country’s domestic spy agency, be included in the proposed swap of Bout for Griner and Whelan, multiple sources familiar with the discussions have told CNN.
More background: Whelan has been held by Russia for alleged espionage since 2018, while Griner was recently transferred to a penal colony after she was sentenced to 9 years in jail for smuggling drugs into Russia.
Griner’s detention has raised concerns she is being used as a political pawn in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
CNN's Natasha Bertrand and Fred Pleitgen contributed to this report.
Power has been restored for nearly 100% of Ukrainians, energy official says
From CNN’s Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv and Jennifer Hauser in Atlanta
Power has been restored nearly everywhere in Ukraine after more than 10 million customers were disconnected Thursday, according to Oleksandr Kharchenko, the director of the Energy Industry Research Center.
"Maybe nearly 300 consumers are still out of connection, but most of them are near the frontline," Kharchenko told reporters Friday, while giving updates on restoration work after Thursday's missile attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure.
The situation is getting better with each hour, he said, adding that he hopes "we can have at least 10- to 12-days pause so that we can restore the network sustainability."
There was a shutdown at Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant in the west and one power unit of the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant in the northwest caused by damage to substations and power lines Thursday, he confirmed.
"The power units shut down for several hours and diesel generators had to be used. Nevertheless, the situation is much better now, access to the network of most power units has been restored and I think that in the near future we will be able to resume their work," Kharchenko said.
He said that a lack of electricity affects not just power but also mobile phone networks, electrical pumps used to supply water and waste treatment. Several cities, including Kyiv, were without water for four to 10 hours.
A Ukrainian teen fled his home with a backpack and his dad’s bassoon. Soon he'll debut at Carnegie Hall
From CNN's Aditi Sangal
While his family picks up rocket fragments in their backyard in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, 15-year-old Dmytro Tishyn is about to make his debut on the New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
His choice of instrument: his dad's bassoon.
Tishyn left Dnipro with just his backpack and bassoon. After waiting in a packed crowd of evacuees, he took a 24-hour train ride to Poland, making his way to Berlin and eventually arriving in the United States.
His family is still in Ukraine. His mother was with him for a short period, but chose to return to their home country. His brother couldn't leave because he was of the eligible age to serve in the army as Ukraine defends its territory from Russia's invasion.
"I try to call them or text at least every day. But the time difference is pretty big so it's sometimes it is hard," Tishyn said. "It's definitely not safe there because there are rockets and drones flying around Dnipro every day. And yesterday, my mom found a rocket fragments on my grandma's garden. But they're trying to stay positive."
As his debut approaches, the orchestra plans to send videos of Tishyn's performance to his family.
"I'm really excited because New York symphony is the best orchestra I've ever played in. It is just going to be great," he told CNN.
Tishyn also played a portion of a sonata for CNN. Watch here:
"Almost half of our energy system has been disabled," Ukraine prime minister says
From CNN's Jennifer Hauser
Almost half of Ukraine's energy system has been disabled by Russian strikes, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told reporters Friday in Kyiv.
"Just on Nov. 15, Russia fired about 100 missiles at Ukrainian cities. Almost half of our energy system has been disabled," Shmygal said.
He called for additional support from European partners as Russia continues to launch missile strikes on Ukraine's civilian infrastructure and temperatures continue to drop.
"In these conditions, we need additional support from our European partners, both in the field of energy, supply of additional equipment and additional financial resources for the purchase of additional volumes of gas, as well as for other support of the energy sector," Shmygal said.
On the ground: Kyiv residents describe life without power and phone service as snow falls
From CNN's Dennis Lapin in Kyiv
Ten million Ukrainians are without power just as temperatures fall to freezing and below after more Russian missile attacks, President Volodymyr Zelensky said. CNN spoke to Kyiv residents and how they're coping under these conditions.
Volodimyr Hontar, 32, is the head of the training department of the Emergency Medical Care Center in Kyiv. Due to the nature of his work, ambulance stations are always independent of power outages and have electricity. However, it's when he comes home that problems begin.
"I live on the 9th floor, it's hard to go up without the elevator, which is turned off during power outages," he says. "But with my wife, it's romantic by candlelight in the evenings."
But Hontar is most concerned about soldiers at the front line. He says that if they're alright, everyone will be alright.
Olena Kravchuk, 35, is a utility worker who lives in Irpin and works in Kyiv. The blackouts aren't affecting her job because she works outside, but at home, her kids have trouble logging into school online and miss classes.
"If there is no electricity and gas, there will be no heat, we are very worried about it," Kravchuck says. "When you come home from work, there's no light, you can't call your children, there's no cell phone or internet."
Elena Khaykina, 63, and Larisa Polyakova, 66, are pensioners displaced from Kharkiv who have been living in Kyiv for the past three months. Both women are very concerned about their loved ones who remain in Kharkiv.
"My son in Kharkiv has no electricity 24 hours a day, it worries me a lot," Polyakova says. The power cuts are not as intense in the capital.
"We are from Kharkiv, and we are united here in Kyiv and try to support each other," Khaykina says. The windows in her Kharkiv apartment are broken from shelling, and she cannot go back and survive winter there.
Bogdan, 30, is a food delivery man in Kyiv. Bogdan, who did not want to give his last name, says power outages affect his work because many cafes have to close, and there are less orders.
He also finds it difficult to charge his electric bike that he uses for deliveries. Heavier snow will make it more difficult to bike around the city.
When there is no power at home, he listens to audiobooks downloaded on his phone.
He worries about the soldiers in the trenches facing a harsh winter. And the rest, he says, "we will get through the rest."
Gates Foundation pledges $7 billion for Africa as Ukraine war diverts donor cash
Story by Reuters
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on Thursday it was committing $7 billion to Africa over the next four years, as Bill Gates warned that the Ukraine crisis was reducing the amount of aid flowing to the continent.
The Foundation’s pledge, which is up 40% on the amount spent during the previous four years, will target projects tackling hunger, disease, poverty and gender inequality.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, will take the biggest share.
“The European budgets are deeply affected by the Ukraine war and so right now the trend for aid is not to go up,” the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) told journalists at the University of Nairobi during a visit to Kenya.
“If you take all aid (into Africa) including all climate aid -- we’ll have a few years where it’ll probably go down.”
Read the full story: