December 1, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Heather Chen, Jack Guy, Ed Upright, Adrienne Vogt and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 3:01 a.m. ET, December 2, 2022
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1:55 p.m. ET, December 1, 2022

Biden: Macron and I will continue to work together to hold Putin accountable for his actions

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a news conference with President Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House on Thursday, December 1.
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a news conference with President Joe Biden in the East Room of the White House on Thursday, December 1. (Susan Walsh/AP)

US President Joe Biden noted that he and French President Emmanuel Macron are determined to hold Russia and President Vladimir Putin accountable for his "war on the rest of the world."

"Putin thinks he can crush the will of all those [who] oppose his imperial ambitions, but attacking civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, choking off energy to Europe to drive up prices, exacerbating the food crisis, that's hurting very vulnerable people, not just in Ukraine but around the world. And he's not going to succeed," Biden said during a bilateral news conference at the White House.

"President Macron and I have resolved that we're going to continue working together to hold Russia accountable for their actions and to mitigate the global impacts of Putin's war on the rest of the world," Biden said.
1:57 p.m. ET, December 1, 2022

Biden reaffirms US and French "stand as strong as ever" against Russia's "brutal war" in Ukraine

US President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, December 1.
US President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, December 1. (Susan Walsh/AP)

US President Joe Biden reaffirmed both the US and France's support for Ukraine, along with other European allies.

"Today we affirm that France and the United States together with all our allies ... stand as strong as ever against Russia's brutal war against Ukraine. We talked a lot about that in our bilateral meeting," Biden said at a joint news conference following his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday.

"We'll continue the strong support for the people of Ukraine as they defend their home and their families and their sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russian aggression which has been incredibly brutal," Biden said. "I knew Russia was, but didn't anticipate it to be as brutal as it."

Biden also thanked Macron for taking in Ukrainian refugees during the course of the war so far.

Macron reiterated the US president's pledges of support, saying in translated remarks that "we support both the Ukrainian army that is resisting" as well as Ukrainian civilians who are facing the attacks as well.

He thanked the US for its investments aimed at trying to mitigate the effects of the war on Europe, adding during their bilateral meeting, the two leaders also agreed to continue to invest in helping Ukraine.

"We also agreed to continue to work together to support the Ukrainian people … to help them resist because we can very well see today that the Russian war effort is very much targeting the civilian infrastructure,” Macron said via a translator, adding that "more violence" is making it harder for Ukrainians to survive winter with damaged energy systems.

1:57 p.m. ET, December 1, 2022

NOW: Biden and Macron hold White House news conference 

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

French President Emmanuel Macron and President Joe Biden speak at a joint press conference in the East Room of The White House on Thursday.
French President Emmanuel Macron and President Joe Biden speak at a joint press conference in the East Room of The White House on Thursday. (Pete Marovich/Sipa/AP)

US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron are holding a news conference now at the White House as part of the French leader's state visit.

Russia's war in Ukraine and NATO's support for Kyiv are expected to be key topics.

During a welcome ceremony earlier Thursday, Biden referred to the Macrons as “close friends,” remarking that it is a “genuine honor to host you for the first state visit of my administration and to celebrate the current strength and vitality between France and the United States of America.”

France, Biden said, is the United States’ “oldest ally” and an “unwavering partner,” referencing the history of the relationship from the US Revolutionary War's Marquis de Lafayette to the beaches of Normandy during World War II. He said the alliance will “grow stronger for decades to come.”

Macron referenced common values of the US and France, referring to the nations as “sisters in the fight for freedom” and calling for their countries “to become brothers in arms once more” in the midst of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The Macrons return for another state visit also follows a dramatic bounce-back in US-French relations compared to just a year ago, when Macron took the extraordinary step of recalling his ambassador to Washington over a US-Australia submarine deal that blindsided the French and cost them a multi-billion dollar defense contract.

The riff appears to largely be behind them, and Biden and Macron have deepened their ties even more over the last year in their united efforts to combat the war on Ukraine.

2:40 p.m. ET, December 1, 2022

After Oval Office meeting, Biden and Macron release joint statement that condemns Russia's war

From CNN's DJ Judd

French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden meet in the Oval Office of the White House on December 1.
French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Joe Biden meet in the Oval Office of the White House on December 1. (Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron released a joint statement following their bilateral meeting at the White House Thursday, which denounced Russia's war in Ukraine.

The two leaders wrote that they “strongly condemn Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine and stress that intentionally targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure constitutes war crimes whose perpetrators must be held accountable.” 

“The United States and France deplore Russia’s deliberate escalatory steps, notably its irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and its disinformation regarding alleged chemical attacks, and biological and nuclear weapons programs. They reaffirm their nations’ continued support for Ukraine’s defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, including the provision of political, security, humanitarian, and economic assistance to Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the statement continued.

The two leaders also wrote that they “outlined a shared vision to strengthen security and increase prosperity worldwide, combat climate change, build greater resilience to its effects, and advance democratic values.”  

“This vision is built on a shared conviction that the United States and its European allies and partners can better face our greatest challenges and capitalize on our most promising opportunities together,” according to the statement. “This includes addressing global issues such as climate change and energy transition, investing in technologies and building resilient value chains in strategic sectors such as health, semiconductors, and critical minerals, as well as strengthening our security and defense cooperation.” 

2:42 p.m. ET, December 1, 2022

NATO chief says it's "too early" to decide on Poland’s request to move Patriot system into Ukraine

From CNN’s Xiaofei Xu

NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg attends a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on December 1.
NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg attends a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on December 1. (Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images)

NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday it is still “too early” to make a conclusion on Poland’s call to move Patriot air defense systems, which were offered by Germany, to Ukraine. 

“It’s important to separate the discussion about those three Patriot which Germany has offered to help protect Polish airspace from the issue of more air defense to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.

“We all agree on the urgent need to help Ukraine, including with air defense systems,” he said, adding that ensuring the good operation of already-delivered systems is equally important as giving out new ones. 

“There is a need for ammunition to existing systems, there is a need for spare parts and maintenance,” Stoltenberg said. 

More context: On Wednesday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged Germany to provide Patriot air-defense systems to Ukraine “as soon as” it can. Kuleba’s comments come after Poland's Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak last week said Berlin should send Patriot missile air-defense systems directly to Ukraine rather than Poland. 

2:45 p.m. ET, December 1, 2022

Power is being restored in Kherson after Russian strike

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva and Olga Voitovych

Electrical workers fix a power line in Kherson, Ukraine, on December 1.
Electrical workers fix a power line in Kherson, Ukraine, on December 1. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Electricity supplies are being restored in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson after it was left without power by Russian shelling early Thursday, a local official said.

Crews "have been relentlessly repairing the power lines in Kherson after the morning enemy shelling, [and] 65% of the city electricity is restored," said Yaroslav Yanushevych, head of Kherson region military administration.

Earlier Thursday, Yanushevych had said Kherson was without power in the wake of heavy Russian shelling.

“The voltage in the power grids has disappeared,” the local official wrote on Telegram, adding that energy company Khersonoblenergo was “already working to fix the problem.”

11:51 a.m. ET, December 1, 2022

Lion cubs rescued from war in Ukraine taken to US wildlife sanctuary

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Four lion cubs were rescued from Ukraine and brought to a sanctuary in Minnesota. 
Four lion cubs were rescued from Ukraine and brought to a sanctuary in Minnesota.  (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Four lion cubs rescued from Ukraine were flown from Poland to a sanctuary in Minnesota, on Tuesday, according to a release from International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), a global nonprofit animal rescue organization.

The four cubs — one male and three females — were born during the war in Ukraine at breeding facilities and orphaned at a few weeks old, according to the IFAW.

“These cubs have endured more in their short lives than any animal should,” said Meredith Whitney, wildlife rescue program manager at IFAW.

According to the release, the cubs survived sporadic bombings and drone attacks in Ukraine.

Four lion cubs were rescued from Ukraine and brought to a sanctuary in Minnesota. 
Four lion cubs were rescued from Ukraine and brought to a sanctuary in Minnesota.  (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

After a nine-hour flight, the cubs landed at Chicago O'Hare International Airport around noon local time on Tuesday. Once they cleared customs, the cubs were met by care staff from The Wildcat Sanctuary to transport them from the airport to the sanctuary in Sandstone, Minnesota, the release said.

According to the release, the cubs will now live together as a pride at the sanctuary, which has a specially designed habitat for lions.

“From the moment IFAW reached out to request our partnership, we knew these cubs had found their forever home at our sanctuary,” said Tammy Thies, founder and executive director of The Wildcat Sanctuary. “They have a custom, open space to explore and soft grass or hay to rest their tired bodies on.”

11:35 a.m. ET, December 1, 2022

Macron says he and Biden will discuss ways "to fix the direct and indirect consequences" of Russia's war

From CNN's Sam Fossum

During a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron said that Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine will be one of the two leaders' main topics of discussion and that "sustainable peace" is about respecting sovereign nations. 

"We want to build peace and a sustainable peace means full respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine but at the same time a new architecture to make sure we have a sustainable peace in the long run," Macron said at the White House.

Macron also said that they will discuss energy, economy and space and emphasized the importance of "synchronization" and "close coordination." 

"I think this is extremely important precisely to have close coordination between us on these different issues because we want to fix the direct and indirect consequences of the war on our economies and our people. But at the same time we want to prepare for future generations," he said.  

"When we look at our common history, this friendship has always prevailed — with quite good results by the way," Macron later added.

Biden said that the two nations have stood together since the time of the US Revolutionary War.

“We are at a real inflection point. Things are changing rapidly, really rapidly. And it’s really important we stay in close communication — doesn’t mean that every single solitary thing we agree on. That does mean we agree on almost everything,” Biden said, adding that they would work toward strengthening “security and prosperity.”

11:00 a.m. ET, December 1, 2022

Switzerland has frozen more than $7 billion in Russian financial assets

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Switzerland has frozen over $7 billion in Russian financial assets, according to the Swiss State Secretary of Economy (SECO).

The total amount of seized financial assets since the start of the Ukraine war now amounts to US $7.89 billion as of Nov. 25, the SECO said in a news release on Thursday. Additionally, 15 properties attributed to sanctioned Russians in Switzerland have been seized.

A total of $48.5 billion belonging to Russian nationals have been reported to SECO for investigation. 

Some context: In response to Russia's military aggression in Ukraine, the Swiss Federal Council broke with its tradition of neutrality and adopted European Union sanctions against Russia.

Switzerland has also said it would seek closer ties to NATO and the European Union to strengthen its “defense capabilities” in the wake of Russia’s war.