November 29, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Heather Chen, Sana Noor Haq and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 2:14 a.m. ET, November 30, 2022
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7:49 a.m. ET, November 29, 2022

51 Ukrainian paintings secretly moved before Russian missile attack exhibited in Madrid 

From CNN’s Al Goodman in Madrid 

 A woman looks at one of the works in the exhibition 'In the Eye of the Storm', at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, on November 28, in Madrid, Spain.
 A woman looks at one of the works in the exhibition 'In the Eye of the Storm', at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, on November 28, in Madrid, Spain. (Carlos Lujan/Europa Press/Getty Images)

Some 51 Ukrainian paintings that secretly left Kyiv earlier this month, just hours before a massive Russian missile attack on the capital, began an exhibition at a leading museum in Spain on Tuesday. 

"The exhibition ‘In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine, 1900–1930s,’ presents ground-breaking art produced in Ukraine in the first decades of the 20th century," the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum in Madrid said in a statement. 

The works, on loan from the National Art Museum of Ukraine and other museums in the country, "were packed in secrecy" onto trucks and left Kyiv on November 15, said a statement from Museums for Ukraine, a group of museums which collaborate to help protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage. 

The trucks "faced a treacherous journey as they passed through areas of unexpected heavy missile fire" heading west, past the city of Lviv and finally across the Polish border, the statement added.

The convoy carrying the art reached Madrid on November 20 and went to the Thyssen museum, whose board member, Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, founded Museums for Ukraine in March, shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

"It is becoming clearer day by day that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war against Ukraine is not only about stealing territory, but it is also about controlling the nation’s narrative and its cultural heritage," Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza said. 

"This exhibition aims to recover the history of modernism in Ukraine. As we watch history repeat itself, this exhibition is a powerful reminder of how close we are to another disaster," she said. 

"This exhibition is the most comprehensive survey of Ukrainian avant-garde art in a major European museum to date," the Museums for Ukraine added.

In addition to the 51 paintings that left Ukraine in the convoy, the exhibition includes about 18 other Ukrainian works, from sketches and collages to theater designs, including from private collectors, museum organizers said. 

The exhibit will be shown in Madrid through to April 30, before heading to the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany. Further venues are to be decided after that.

8:24 a.m. ET, November 29, 2022

Putin to install federal courts in 4 annexed Ukrainian regions

From CNN's Anna Chernova

Federal courts will be instated in the four Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia and the courts of the territories will be integrated into the Russian judicial system "as soon as possible," according to Vladimir Putin.

"Four new subjects have become part of Russia – the DPR (Donetsk People’s Republic), the LPR (Luhansk People’s Republic), Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. In these territories, it is planned to create federal courts," Russian President Putin said Tuesday while speaking at the 10th All-Russian Congress of Judges in the Kremlin.

"The Supreme Court, together with other bodies, has a lot of work to do on the formation of new compositions of courts and the speedy integration of courts into the Russian judicial system. And this needs to be done as soon as possible," he said.

Some context: Through the annexation process, which is illegal under international law, Moscow has recognized four Ukrainian regions as Russian territory.

This includes Luhansk and Donetsk – home to two Russian-backed breakaway republics where fighting has been ongoing since 2014 – as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, two areas in southern Ukraine that have been occupied by Russian forces since shortly after the invasion began.

8:27 a.m. ET, November 29, 2022

Ukraine's energy deficit is 30%, says state owned electricity company

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

The power deficit in Ukraine was running at 30% as of 11 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET), according to the country's state-run electricity company.

The deficit on Monday was 27%, Ukrenergo said.

The deficit has been caused by the emergency shutdown of "several power plants" on Monday morning, as well as the increase in consumption given weather conditions, the company said in a statement.

It urged Ukrainians to be "economical" with consumption to "allow less application of restrictions aimed at preventing accidents" and also to enable urgent repairs to take place.

A recent barrage of Russian strikes devastated energy supplies in Ukraine, leaving millions of people across the country without access to heat and power amid plummeting temperatures this winter.

6:08 a.m. ET, November 29, 2022

Sirens heard in Kyiv as CNN crews take shelter

From CNN teams in Kyiv

Sirens have been heard in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and CNN teams are currently taking shelter. 

6:02 a.m. ET, November 29, 2022

Do not forget Ukraine's "tragedy" this Christmas, first lady Zelenska says

From CNN’s Allegra Goodwin in London

Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenska walks outside Downing Street in London, England, on November 28.
Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenska walks outside Downing Street in London, England, on November 28. (Peter Nicholls/Reuters)

Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska appealed to the British public not to forget the "tragedy" facing her country this Christmas, days after it marked nine months since the first day of Russia’s invasion. 

"I realize that nine months is a very long time, and Ukrainians are very tired of this war, but we have no choice in the matter. We are fighting for our lives. The British public do have a choice: They can get used to our tragedy and concentrate on their own important things in life," she said in a BBC radio interview on Tuesday.

But she added: "It’s not just a war for our freedom and our lives. This is the war of opposing worldviews: A war of values. It’s important that these are preserved."

We do hope that the approaching season of Christmas doesn’t make you forget about our tragedy and get used to our suffering."

The first lady’s words come amid relentless Russian attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, which have left millions of civilians without power and bracing themselves for a freezing winter with no central heating.  

Zelenska said Russia was aiming "to terrorize people in Ukraine this coming winter, to scare us that we might not survive the cold, the darkness, without internet."

"The winter is treacherous, and that’s what Russia leaders are counting on.

"Luckily, we are resilient. It would probably be wrong to say that these things do not scare us, they do, but we understand why we can and we should endure this, and we will fight for the world, for electricity and for the light," Zelenska said.

Asked how often she is able to see her husband, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the first lady said: "I can't complain, I'm just like everybody else. I can see my husband a couple of times a week at work because I visit the president's office often, but he rarely sees our children unfortunately."

Zelenska is due to address the British Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

8:12 a.m. ET, November 29, 2022

Pope Francis calls Chechens and Buryats "the cruelest" Russian troops fighting in Ukraine

From CNN's Sebastian Shukla

Pope Francis delivers his speech after his traditional Wednesday General Audience at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on November 23.
Pope Francis delivers his speech after his traditional Wednesday General Audience at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City on November 23. (Stefano Costantino/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

Pope Francis has described two of Russia’s ethnic minority groups, the Chechens and Buryats, as some of the "cruelest" troops fighting in Ukraine.

"The cruelest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryats and so on," the Pope said in an interview published Monday.

"I speak of a people who are martyred. If you have a martyred people, you have someone who martyrs them," he added in the interview with Jesuit magazine America, which took place on November 22, according to the outlet.

Chechens are an ethnic group originating from Chechnya in southern Russia. The leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has largely been supportive of the war in Ukraine — including, allegedly, sending his sons to fight there.

Buryats are an ethnic group from eastern-Siberia which borders Mongolia.

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova defended Russia’s ethnic make-up on her official Telegram channel.

"We are one family with Buryats, Chechens and other representatives of our multinational and multi-confessional country. And together we will definitely pray for the Holy See, each in his own way."

The leader of the Catholic Church also addressed the anniversary of the Holodomor, which usually takes place on the fourth Saturday of November.

The Holodomor was a man-made famine that is widely attributed to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. It led to millions of Ukrainians dying of starvation between 1932 and 1933.

"The genocide that Stalin committed against the Ukrainians [in 1932-33]. I believe it is appropriate to mention it as a historical antecedent of the [present] conflict," Pope Francis said in the interview.

Some background: Since the beginning of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the two figure heads of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, and Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill have been at loggerheads. In June, Pope Francis described the war as Russian "expansionism and imperialism," after urging Patriarch Kirill not to "become Putin’s altar boy."

Two meetings have also been cancelled between the two churches. One in April was due to be in Jerusalem, with the second scheduled to take place in Kazakhstan in September. The two leaders of the church have only ever met once, in Cuba in 2016, since the Great Schism in the 9th century.

5:11 a.m. ET, November 29, 2022

Festive trees to be installed around Kyiv, as mayor says: "We cannot let Putin steal our Christmas"

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

Christmas trees will be erected across Kyiv in celebration of the festive season, the mayor of the Ukrainian capital has said.

"We cannot let Putin steal our Christmas," Vitali Klitschko told Ukrainian news outlet RBC-Ukraine.

Though mass events will be prohibited under martial law, "no one is going to cancel the New Year and Christmas, and there should be an atmosphere of the New Year," he added.

The trees will be installed but without their lights on, according to Ukrainian energy company YASNO.

Millions of Ukrainians are in the throes of an energy crisis following Russian airstrikes targeting power infrastructure.

The Christmas trees will be set up at different sites across the city, including the iconic St. Sophia Square.

Klitschko said that the trees will be installed "to remind our children of the New Year mood. You know, we do not want to take away St. Nicholas from children."

8:24 a.m. ET, November 29, 2022

NATO will continue "critical" and unprecedented support of Ukraine, alliance chief says

From CNN's Lauren Kent in London

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at a press conference at the end of a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at Cotroceni Presidential Palace in Bucharest, Romania, on November 28.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks at a press conference at the end of a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis at Cotroceni Presidential Palace in Bucharest, Romania, on November 28. (Robert Ghement/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

NATO's "critical" and unprecedented support in Ukraine remains ongoing, the head of the alliance said Tuesday.

"Our relationship is a very close partnership — it is a relationship, where NATO allies have proven their willingness to support Ukraine in an unprecedented way," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

"When the invasion happened, NATO was not taken by surprise. Actually, we have been preparing, we have been ready to face situations like this since we started the big adaptation of NATO in 2014," Stoltenberg told reporters in Bucharest, Romania. 

Stoltenberg reiterated that the war began in 2014, referring to Moscow's annexation of Crimea, with Canadian troops, British troops, and US troops from NATO helping to train Ukrainian forces that year.

"The war didn’t start in February this year, the war started in the spring of 2014. And since then, NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcement, the biggest adaptation of our alliance since the end of the Cold War, with more presence in the eastern part of our alliance.

"So the reality was that when the invasion happened in February this year — compared to 2014 — the Ukrainian troops and armed forces were much better trained, much bigger, much better equipped, and much better led," Stoltenberg said. "That’s one of the main reasons why they were able to fight back."

Of course, the gains and the victories the Ukrainians have made, that belongs to the bravery, to the courage of Ukrainian troops and armed forces," Stoltenberg added. "But it has been critical that they have received support from partners in NATO, and we will continue to do so."

"The main focus now is on supporting Ukraine, ensuring that President Putin doesn’t win, but that Ukraine prevails as a sovereign, independent nation in Europe.

"It is a mixture of partly more presence in the east, we have already doubled the number of groups, but also working on how to scale those battle groups up from battalions to brigade size levels quickly." 

"So the combination of more presence, earmarked troops, higher readiness, prepositioned equipment, all of that will strengthen our ability to react and act.

"The purpose of all this, is every day, 24/7, to deliver credible deterrence and defense. And by doing that, we are not provoking conflict, but we are preserving peace, preventing a conflict."

Stoltenberg added that the alliance is working to build on the agreement made at the NATO summit in Madrid earlier this year. 

3:36 a.m. ET, November 29, 2022

Desperation and defiance on show in Kherson as Russians shell city just two weeks after pulling out

From CNN's Mick Krever and Matthew Chance

The site of a Russian shelling in Kherson where four were killed, according to the local administration.
The site of a Russian shelling in Kherson where four were killed, according to the local administration. (Mick Krever/CNN)

A pool of blood-stained water and the charred wreckage of a car mark the spot in Kherson where Russian shells tore into this city Thursday, killing four, according to local officials, and shattering any sense of calm.

Russian President Vladimir Putin claims he’s annexed this region, and that the people here are now Russians. But his troops have left, and now they’re killing the civilians they once vowed to protect.

Amid acute power and water shortages, the people of Kherson are suffering and, with winter fast approaching, it’s only set to get worse.

Soon after the invasion of Ukraine began, Kherson was taken over by Russian forces, only emerging from months of occupation on November 11 when the Kremlin’s troops withdrew. Now residents are suffering the kind of violence familiar to so many across this country.

In a small grocery store also destroyed by the recent shelling, a desperate local man searches in the rubble for scraps of food and rolls of toilet paper, scavenging for what little he can to survive.

“Is everything so bad?” we ask. “It’s not good,” he responds, bleakly.

Read the full story here.