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November 27, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news
By Matt Meyer and Mike Hayes, CNN
Russian attacks in Ukraine have damaged about 32,000 civilian targets and more than 700 critical infrastructure facilities since the Russian invasion began in February, a Ukrainian government official said Sunday.
"As one would expect of the terrorists, Russians target civilian targets. To date, about 32,000 such targets have been damaged by Russian missiles and shells. These are primarily private houses or civilian apartment buildings,” Yevhenii Yenin, a Ukrainian diplomat, said in an interview with Ukrainian media Sunday.
“Only 3% of recorded attacks have been on military facilities,” he added.
“As of now, more than 700 critical infrastructure facilities — airfields, bridges, oil depots, electricity substations, etc — all of these got hit," Yenin said.
The diplomat said Moscow has "a maniacal desire to plunge Ukraine into darkness, and there is no reason to believe that they will stop."
Russia has repeatedly targeted civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, causing widespread power outages ahead of winter. CNN has not independently verified the specific numbers cited by Yenin.
Ukraine can get by for the next two years with its existing nuclear fuel reserves, the president of Ukraine’s state nuclear company said Sunday.
Petro Kotin, who heads Energoatom, made the comment in an interview with Ukrainian media.
Since the start of the war, Ukraine has not bought Russian nuclear fuel, relying on its own reserves. Energoatom says it is transitioning any units from its nuclear power plants that relied on Russian fuel to Westinghouse Electric, a Pennsylvania-based, nuclear-focused technology company in the United States.
"We are working with Westinghouse to create our own fuel production line, based on their technologies. We already produce heads and tails of fuel cartridges that have been licensed by this American company. So, we will produce half of it ourselves, and the other half will be supplied by Westinghouse," Kotin said.
The head of Ukraine’s nuclear energy provider says the company has received information that Russian forces may be leaving the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
“We are now observing signs that the Russian invaders may be preparing to leave,” Petro Kotin, the head of Energoatom, said in a statement Sunday.
“First of all, a lot of publications began to appear in the Russian media that the Zaporizhzhia NPP should perhaps be left alone, perhaps it should be handed over to the (International Atomic Energy Agency) for control,” Kotin said in an interview with Ukrainian media Sunday. “It's like, you know, they're packing and they're stealing whatever they can find."
The IAEA has not released any information supporting Kotin’s statement, and CNN has reached out to the UN nuclear watchdog for comment.
The head of Energoatom emphasized that "it is still too early to say that the Russian military is leaving the plant," but that they are "preparing."
Kotin also claimed that Russians "crammed everything they could into the Zaporizhzhia NPP site — both military equipment and personnel, trucks, probably with weapons and explosives," and that they mined the territory of the plant.
Remember: Zaporizhzhia is home to Europe’s largest nuclear power facility, which provided up to 20% of the country’s electricity before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It has been under Russian control since March.
The plant and the area around it, including the nearby city of Enerhodar, have endured persistent shelling that has raised fears of a nuclear accident through the interruption of the power supply to the plant. Russia and Ukraine continue to blame each other for the shelling.
Russian shelling killed two people and injured another in Kurakhove, a city in the Donetsk region, a Ukrainian official said Sunday.
“The Russians shelled Kurakhove with artillery," Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk region military administration, said via Telegram. He reported that, in addition to the three victims, four homes were damaged.
“This is not the first time Kurakhove has come under enemy fire — the Russians are consistently and purposefully aiming at civilians,” Kyrylenko said.
The official urged the remaining civilians to leave the Donetsk region in order for their safety.
Top House Republicans vowed continued bipartisan support for Ukraine once the GOP takes control of the House in January.
But they also stood by Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s pledge for more accountability, and his position that there will be no “blank check” for Ukraine funding.
“We're not going to write a blank check,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs committee, in a joint interview on ABC’s “This Week." He was joined by Rep. Mike Turner, the top Republican on House Intelligence.
McCaul said the most recent aid package for Ukraine “was given to us the day of the vote, and members only had a matter of hours to go through all these pages.”
“Republicans are not going to rule like that. We have a voice now, and we're going to do this in an accountable way and with transparency to the American people," McCaul said. "These are American taxpayer dollars going in. Does that diminish our will to help the Ukrainian people fight? No, though, we're going to do it in a responsible way."
Turner echoed McCaul’s confidence that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “will have bipartisan support. The issue obviously is, we don't need to pass $40 billion large Democrat bills that have been being passed to send $8 billion to Ukraine.”
Both Republicans expressed their support for sending long-range missiles to Ukraine, and Turner stressed the importance of providing air defense systems that are easy to use. They stressed the potential global consequences of a theoretical Russian victory.
Turner also pushed back on the narrative that the opposition to Ukraine aid comes only from within the GOP conference. He cited a since-withdrawn letter from House Democrats that called for President Joe Biden to pursue a “diplomatic push” as well as continued aid, noting “that certainly isn’t helpful to the White House.”
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said Sunday that Kyiv is making a "mistake" by putting forward preconditions for negotiations with Russia, arguing that such preconditions do not allow negotiations to start.
"The mistake of the Ukrainians, of (President) Volodymyr Zelensky, is that he violates the classic principles of the negotiation process. Especially when talking with giant Russia. Well, you can’t put forward conditions in advance,” said Lukashenko during an interview with Russia state TV.
“Sit down at the negotiating table and put forward all the conditions there. And the second principle is a classic one – compromises," Lukashenko said.
Some background: Moscow uses Minsk as a satellite base for its unprovoked war on Ukraine. At the start of the conflict, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine through the Russian and Belarusian borders.
Belarus has been used as a springboard for many of Russia’s air operations in Ukraine, according to intelligence collected by NATO surveillance planes. And the two militaries have coordinated on joint exercises.
What Ukraine and its allies are saying: Zelensky signed a decree in early October ruling out any negotiations with Putin.
“We are ready for a dialogue with Russia, but with another president of Russia,” Zelensky said last month.
Senior US officials have in recent weeks been urging Ukraine to signal that it is still open to diplomatic discussions with Russia.
But the US will not push Ukraine unwillingly to the negotiating table, according to sources familiar with the discussions, especially because it is clear that Russia has not shown it would negotiate in good faith.
American sanctions on Russia have made a “real difference” on the war in Ukraine, the top U.S. diplomat on sanctions policy told CNN Sunday in an exclusive interview.
“Russia is unable to run a war in any modern terms,” Ambassador Jim O’Brien, head of the State Department’s Office of Sanctions Coordination, told CNN at Odesa’s port. “You see the communications are lacking. Precision weapons. Rapid movement of troops. So it’s fighting a different kind of war.”
Russia has been forced to abandon what O’Brien called its “imperial project” of quickly conquering Ukraine. Sanctions, together with Ukrainian “courage and ingenuity” on the battlefield, have changed Russia’s stated aims.
“It began with a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, an effort to take the capital. It shifted to a sort of increment improvement on the land that it had taken before the war. And now it’s giving that territory back.
"And so these are real changes in Russian behavior. It’s related partly to the sanctions, partly to export controls – they can’t buy the kinds of inputs they need for their military to function,” the ambassador told CNN.
He said that America’s commitment to Ukraine would continue “from now until the end of this war until Ukraine succeeds.”
O’Brien visited Odesa’s main port on Sunday to highlight Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s "Grain from Ukraine" initiative, to help ensure that food products from the country reach the world’s most needy nations. Ukrainian grain has for some time been able to leave ports under a deal brokered between the UN, Turkey and Russia, but many poorer nations have been priced out of buying it.
“Just yesterday there were announcements of grain going to Somalia, Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan eventually, and a variety of other countries eventually that are most in need,” O’Brien said.
A group of mothers of Russian soldiers joined an activist group to demand the withdrawal of Moscow's troops from Ukraine, launching a petition online Sunday.
The drive, organized by the Russian Feminist Anti-War Resistance group, coincides with Mother's Day in Russia.
The petition is published on Change.org and addressed to parliamentarians on relevant committees of the State Duma and the Federation Council. The petition had over 1,500 signatures by 5:45 p.m. Moscow time (9:45 a.m. ET) Sunday, and the number was climbing.
"For nine months now, the so-called ‘special military operation’ has been going on, which brings destruction, grief, blood and tears," the petition reads. "Everything that happens in Ukraine and Russia worries our hearts. Regardless of what nationality, religion or social status we are, we — the mothers of Russia — are united by one desire: to live in peace and harmony, raise our children under a peaceful sky and not be afraid for their future."
"In many regions, the families of the mobilized had to independently collect gear for their men to be sent to die, buying everything at their own expense, even bulletproof vests. Who will provide for families that have lost their breadwinners? We know the answer — all these hardships will be an additional burden on the already overloaded shoulders of mothers!" the petition continues.
The appeal describes the mothers of conscripts and mobilized soldiers as being "forced to humiliatingly knock on the thresholds of city administrations,” trying to return their men home. They hold pickets, write collective appeals, file petitions, but "no one hears them."
“We are against the participation of our sons, brothers, husbands, fathers in this. Your duty is to protect the rights and freedoms of mothers and children, you should not turn a blind eye to all this,” the petition reads.