November 21, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Jack Guy and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

Updated 2:28 a.m. ET, November 22, 2022
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2:41 a.m. ET, November 21, 2022

"Returning fire is not a war crime," Ukrainian official says of incident in eastern Luhansk

From CNN's Olga Vitovych and Radina Gigova

The edited video purports to show captured Russian soldiers in an act of surrender, with several men lying on the ground on their fronts with their hands over their heads.
The edited video purports to show captured Russian soldiers in an act of surrender, with several men lying on the ground on their fronts with their hands over their heads. Telegram/Tvezda

The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, commented Sunday on an incident in eastern Luhansk, saying Russian servicemen "are those who are fighting and committing treachery" and that "returning fire is not a war crime." 

Russia has accused Ukraine of war crimes after video emerged on social media, which Moscow says shows Russian soldiers killed after surrendering to Ukrainian forces.

The precise details of what happened remain unclear.

"From some pieces of video about the incident with the Russian military in Luhansk region it may be concluded that using the staged surrender, the Russians committed a war crime — they opened fire on the military of the Armed Forces of Ukraine," Lubinets said in a Telegram post on Sunday, implying that the Russians from the video may have acted as if they would surrender but did not.

"In this case, persons among the Russian servicemen cannot be considered prisoners of war, but are those who are fighting and committing treachery," he said. "Returning fire is not a war crime. On the contrary, those who want to use the protection of international law to kill must be punished."

What the video appears to show: The edited video purports to show captured Russian soldiers in an act of surrender, with several men lying on the ground on their fronts with their hands over their heads. More soldiers are seen emerging one by one from a building and lying down next to them in the yard.

A voice apparently directing the surrender can be heard shouting: “Come on out, one by one. Which of you is the officer? Has everyone come out? Come out!"

After about 10 men are down on the ground, another soldier emerges from the same building and appears to open fire in the direction of the Ukrainian soldiers conducting the surrender. 

A short burst of gunfire is heard before the video clip ends abruptly.

A second clip filmed later from a drone above the same location shows the bodies of what appear to be the same Russian soldiers in the yard, most just a few meters from where they had been lying in the first clip.

CNN has been unable to verify exactly what happened in the first video clip, and it is unclear exactly what happened in the period that elapsed between the first clip and the filming of the drone footage.

The UN investigates: Marta Hurtado, a spokesperson for the United Nations Human Rights Office, said, according to Reuters: "We are aware of the videos and we are looking into them. Allegations of summary executions of people hors de combat should be promptly, fully and effectively investigated, and any perpetrators held to account."

More context: A UN panel of experts said in September that their investigation has found evidence that war crimes have been committed during Russia's war in Ukraine, including cases of rape and torture of children.

7:45 p.m. ET, November 20, 2022

More than $2.7 million allocated for restoration of newly liberated Kherson region, Ukrainian officials say

From CNN’s Mariya Knight

More than $2.7 million has been allocated for the restoration of the newly liberated Kherson region, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal wrote in a Facebook post Sunday. 

“The government allocated 100 million hryvnia ($2.7 million) for the priority restoration of the liberated Kherson region,” Shmyhal wrote.

“This is the beginning of the reconstruction of the region. First of all, we are talking about the critical needs of the residents of the region: access to light, water, heat, communication and medicine,” he continued. “People will receive pensions that were accrued to them during the occupation."

Shmyhal also elaborated on the financial support Ukraine has received from its partners.

“Canada issued five-year government bonds that are worth 500 million Canadian dollars (nearly $374 million)," he wrote. “The Ukrainian government made a decision to attract an additional $4.5 billion in grant funds from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association.”

The Prime Minister said these resources will be directed to social security and salaries of state employees.

“Next week, Ukraine will also receive 2.5 billion euros from the European Union,” he added. 

Shmyhal also noted that, amid Russian attacks on the Ukrainian energy sector, the Kyiv government is “activating the import of energy-generating means.” 

“Every Ukrainian can import a generator or charging station from abroad without paying customs duties and VAT,” he said. “About 8,500 generator sets are imported to Ukraine a day.” 

3:20 a.m. ET, November 21, 2022

IAEA warns whoever was behind "powerful explosions" at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is "playing with fire"

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Joshua Berlinger

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Russian-controlled Ukraine, on October 14.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Russian-controlled Ukraine, on October 14. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Powerful explosions rocked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine on the weekend, renewing concerns that fighting so close to the facility could cause a nuclear accident.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said whoever was responsible for the attacks was “playing with fire,” reiterating a warning he made in September.

IAEA experts at the plant said more than a dozen blasts were heard within a short period of time Sunday morning local time, the nuclear watchdog said in a statement. Shelling was observed both near and at the site of the facility. IAEA officials could even see some explosions from their windows, the nuclear watchdog said.

“Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately,” Grossi added.

Based on information provided by the plant management, the IAEA team said there had been damage to some buildings, systems and equipment at the plant’s site, “but none of them so far critical for nuclear safety and security,” the agency said. There were no reports of casualties.

Kyiv and Moscow blamed each other for the attacks.

Read more here.

7:44 p.m. ET, November 20, 2022

Zelensky says regions of Kyiv, Odesa and Kharkiv are experiencing most electricity issues

From CNN's Mariya Knight

In his nightly address on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that work continues to restore power in areas targeted by Russian strikes on infrastructure this week.

"We are working throughout the country to stabilize the situation," he said.

"The most problems with electricity are in the city of Kyiv and Kyiv region, the city of Odesa and Odesa region, the city of Kharkiv and Kharkiv region. Vinnytsia, Ternopil, Cherkasy, Chernihiv and other regions — energy workers are doing everything possible to give people a normal life."

Zelensky also thanked UK Prime Minster Rishi Sunak for meeting with him in Kyiv.

"Thank you, Rishi, Mr. Prime Minister, for your willingness to defend freedom even more strongly with us. We also have some very necessary decisions — we agreed on them today," Zelensky said.