NATO is looking to invest in Soviet-era weapon systems in Ukraine, US secretary of state tells CNN
From CNN’s Arnaud Siad and Ben Kirby
NATO is looking to invest in Soviet-era weapon systems used in Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN on Wednesday.
“We’re looking at every option to make sure that, again, [the Ukrainians] get what they need and what can be most effective for them. Some of that does go to Soviet-era systems that they’ve had in their inventory for decades and, for example, making sure that the ammunition is there for those systems. And in some cases, that may require producing things that haven’t been produced for some time. So we are looking across the board at all of that,” Blinken told CNN in Bucharest, Romania, where he is attending a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that NATO was discussing investing in old factories in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bulgaria to restart the manufacturing of Soviet-era shells for Ukraine’s still largely Soviet-era artillery armory.
9:23 a.m. ET, November 30, 2022
Ukrainian foreign minister urges Germany to provide air defense systems following Polish proposal
From CNN's Amy Cassidy in London
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday asked Germany to provide Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine as soon as possible.
“The message is simple: give Patriots as soon as you can,” Kuleba said while speaking at a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Bucharest, “because this is the system that Ukraine needs to protect its civilian population and critical infrastructure.”
Kuleba's remarks come after Poland's Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said last week that Berlin should send Patriot missile air defense systems directly to Ukraine rather than Poland. German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht responded by stressing that the use of NATO defense systems outside its territory needs to be agreed by all member states.
“This is not an offensive weapon. … If Germany is ready to provide Patriots to Poland, and Poland has nothing against handing these batteries over to Ukraine, then I think that the solution for the German government is obvious,” Kuleba said.
“We are ready to accept them; we are ready to operate them in the safest and most efficient way. And once again, I would like to reiterate that this is a purely defensive weapon. We will be working with the German government on this particular issue," Kuleba said.
9:21 a.m. ET, November 30, 2022
1 injured in explosion at Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid
From Pau Mosquera, Claudia Rebaza and Al Goodman in Madrid
An explosion has occurred at the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid, according to a Spanish Ministry of Interior statement. One person is slightly injured after handling a letter and is being treated at hospital, the ministry said.
The Spanish National Police said an explosive device has gone off at the embassy and they are investigating.
Police said it is too early to know if the explosion took place when an embassy worker tried to open an envelope or simply move the envelope.
“Minister Dmytro Kuleba (Ukrainian Foreign minister) has issued an urgent instruction to step up security at all Ukrainian embassies abroad,” said the Ukrainian foreign minister’s spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko.
“Whoever is behind this explosion they will not succeed in intimidating Ukrainian diplomats or stopping their daily work to strengthen Ukraine and to counter Russian aggression,” Nikolenko quotes Kuleba as saying.
11:04 a.m. ET, November 30, 2022
US is focused on providing air defense systems to Ukraine, US secretary of state tells CNN
From CNN’s Arnaud Siad and Ben Kirby
The United States is “very focused” on providing air defense systems to Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN on Wednesday.
“We’re now very focused on air defense systems and not just us, many other countries,” Blinken told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.
“And we’re working to make sure that the Ukrainians get those systems as quickly as possible but also as effectively as possible, making sure that they are trained on them, making sure they have the ability to maintain them, and all of that has to come together and it is. We have a very deliberate process established by the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Ramstein, Germany, that meets regularly to make sure that the Ukrainians are getting what they need, when they need it,” he added.
Blinken was speaking from Bucharest, Romania, where he is attending a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.
While Blinken would not elaborate on whether the Pentagon would provide the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine, he told Amanpour that the United States had been working on making sure that “at any given time, [the Ukrainians] have the most effective systems possible to deal with the threat they are facing.”
“We just recently, for example, provided them with a very effective system called NASAMS that they are using very effectively. Before that of course, we had the HIMARS, which they used to great effect both in southern and eastern Ukraine,” Blinken said.
8:40 a.m. ET, November 30, 2022
US secretary of state condemns Putin's attacks on civilians as "barbaric" and pledges ongoing support
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken strongly condemned the targeting of Ukrainian civilians by Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling it “barbaric.” He also promised that the United States and NATO allies would continue to support Kyiv in the face of Russian efforts to “splinter our coalition.”
“As Ukraine continues to seize momentum on the battlefield, President Putin has focused his ire and his fire on Ukraine's civilian population,” Blinken said at a news conference Wednesday at the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Bucharest. “Over the past several weeks, Russia has bombed out more than a third of Ukraine's energy system, plunging millions into cold, into darkness, as frigid temperatures set in.”
“Heat, water, electricity, for children, for the elderly, for the sick — these are President Putin's new targets. He's hitting them hard,” the top US diplomat said. “This brutalization of Ukraine's people is barbaric.”
On Tuesday, the United States government pledged more than $50 million dollars in equipment to support Ukraine’s electrical system. Blinken said Wednesday that the equipment – generators, transformers, spare parts – would be arriving in Ukraine “not in a matter of months, but in a matter of days, or weeks.”
Blinken said the attacks on civilian infrastructure were part of Putin’s “playbook” to “freeze and starve Ukrainians, force them from their homes,” drive up costs for energy and food around the world, “and then try to splinter our coalition.”
“President Putin thinks that if he can just raise the costs high enough, the world will abandon Ukraine, that it will leave them to fend for themselves. His strategy has not and will not work,” Blinken said.
Allies are aware that “standing up for Ukraine means accepting difficult costs,” Blinken said, “but the cost of inaction would be far higher.”
Blinken said that diplomacy would be necessary to fully end Russia’s war in Ukraine, but noted that “Russia's savage attacks on Ukrainian civilians are the latest demonstration that President Putin currently has no interest in meaningful diplomacy.”
“The best way to actually hasten the prospects for real diplomacy is to sustain our support to Ukraine and continue to tilt the battlefield in its favor,” Blinken said. “That will also help ensure that Ukraine has the strongest possible negotiating position and hand to play when a negotiating table emerges.”
“Short of Russia ending the aggression had started that is the only path to a peace that is both just and durable,” Blinken said.
8:37 a.m. ET, November 30, 2022
2,500 Kherson residents evacuated and given cash for humanitarian support
From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv
The Ministry of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories has said that 2,500 civilians have left Kherson to other safe regions around Ukraine.
People are moved through “proven routes” to Lviv and Khmelnytskyi, a statement said.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Iryna Vereshchuk, added that people leaving will receive “cash payments” when they arrive at train station: 2,000 UAH ($53) per adult and 3,000 UAH ($80) per child or person with disabilities.
“People count on cash support. Therefore, they receive it immediately upon arrival. This gives confidence that the state will take care of them in the new place,” Vereshchuk said.
Those leaving are also issued IDP certificates and humanitarian aid.
11:11 a.m. ET, November 30, 2022
It's mid-afternoon in Ukraine. Catch up here
From CNN staff
Ukraine's energy minister has said that his country's power situation "is improving every day." Read the latest developments below:
Energy situation: Ukraine's Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said that without any more waves of air strikes, "in the short term we will be able to stabilize and reduce the duration of the outage." He said that while there would still be outages, the aim was to make them as planned as possible. Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s state-run energy operator, said Wednesday that the country's energy deficit stood at 27% as of 11 a.m. local time.
EU court: The European Union will try to set up a specialized court that would investigate and prosecute alleged crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Zelensky warning: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky cautioned in his nightly video address Tuesday that the Russians are "planning something in the south." The warning comes just weeks after the southern city of Kherson was liberated from Russian troops on Nov. 11, after eight months of occupation. The city has since been rocked by heavy Russian shelling, shattering an initial sense of calm.
Deaths in Donetsk: At least five civilians were killed in Russian strikes in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, according to a Ukrainian military official. Some of the fiercest fighting in eastern Ukraine is taking place around Bakhmut, which has been besieged for months by Russian forces.
7:29 a.m. ET, November 30, 2022
Russia’s upper house of parliament passes tougher ban on 'LGBT propaganda'
From CNN's Uliana Pavlova
Russia’s upper house of parliament unanimously voted on Wednesday to toughen a controversial law banning what the bill describes as “LGBT propaganda,” making it apply to Russians of all ages.
The bill has to be signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin after being passed by the Federation Council. It passed the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, on November 24.
The law proposes to ban all Russians from promoting or “praising” homosexual relationships or publicly suggesting that they are “normal.” It also prohibits “propaganda” of pedophilia and gender reassignment in advertising, books, films.
The original version of the law adopted in 2013 banned “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors. Now Russian lawmakers are applying it to adults as well.
The controversial law was met with criticism and ridicule in Western countries, including a ruling in the European Court of Human Rights in 2017 that stated Russia’s “gay propaganda law” is discriminatory, promotes homophobia and violates the European Convention on Human Rights.
Halushchenko added that without any more waves of air strikes, "in the short term we will be able to stabilize and reduce the duration of the outage."
He said that while there would still be outages, the aim was to make them as planned as possible.
Speaking on Ukrainian television, Halushchenko outlined his vision for the future of the Ukrainian grid. “We do not want to restore the system as it was before. We will make it modern,” he said.
He spoke of two paths for Ukraine's energy infrastructure, short term and long term. The short-term aim was to restore as much as possible quickly, while in the long term, the entire grid would have a “completely different look."
Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s state-run energy operator, said Wednesday that the country's energy deficit stood at 27% as of 11 a.m. local time.
The update, posted on Facebook, said “capacity is gradually increasing, which will slightly reduce the deficit in the power system.”
It added that there are now consumptions limits for each region and that exceeding the consumption “limits leads to the need for emergency outages to avoid grid overload and ensure balance in the power system.”
Ukrenergo urged Ukrainians to continue limiting their electricity consumption so that engineers can focus on repairs.