December 2, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Amy Woodyatt, Hannah Strange and Heather Chen, CNN

Updated 9:00 p.m. ET, December 2, 2022
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5:38 a.m. ET, December 2, 2022

Between 10,000 and 13,000 Ukrainian troops killed, says Zelensky adviser -- a number far lower than US estimates

From CNN’s Sarah Dean in London

Soldiers attend the farewell ceremony for senior sergeant Yuriy Chernenko in Lviv, Ukraine on November 24.
Soldiers attend the farewell ceremony for senior sergeant Yuriy Chernenko in Lviv, Ukraine on November 24. (Pavlo Palamarchuk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Between 10,000 and 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the war in Ukraine, according to Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

This figure is much lower than estimates suggested by the United States.

"We have official figures from the General Staff, official figures from the high command, and according to them we have between 10,000 and 12,500 to 13,000 killed," Podolyak said speaking on national TV on Thursday.

On November 10, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Russia has suffered more than 100,000 killed and wounded soldiers as a result of the war in Ukraine and that Kyiv is probably looking at similar numbers.

There is no confirmed number of troop casualties on either side for the war in Ukraine.

CNN has contacted the Ukrainian military for comment. However, Bohdan Senyk, head of the public relations department of the Armed Forces of Ukraine previously declined to confirm Ukrainian army losses.

3:21 a.m. ET, December 2, 2022

Russian military starts census in parts of Zaporizhzhia, Ukrainian mayor says

From CNN's Sarah Dean

Russia's military has begun conducting a census in parts of occupied territory in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, according to the Ukrainian mayor-in-exile of the city of Melitopol.

"Over the past few days, the Russians have been in a fuss," Ivan Fedorov said in a televised broadcast Friday. "First, they were taking the wounded out of the hospital. Then they started a census in the towns of Mykhailivka and Burchak to allegedly prepare for evacuation."

Melitopol has been occupied by Russian forces since the early days of the invasion and analysts have suggested the next offensive front for Ukrainian forces was likely to be a thrust southward toward the city.

Fedorov added that hospitals in the cities of Tokmak and Mykhailivka were also "turned into military hospitals for Russian forces."

"[Russians] are massively treating thousands of their wounded there," Fedrov said. "Only one hospital in Melitopol city, an ambulance hospital, provides assistance to civilians."

New Russian military bases had also been set up, he claimed, noting there were now "tens of thousands of Russian manpower in the territory of Melitopol."

Last month, Fedorov highlighted difficulties civilians faced to leave the city.

It comes after the Ukrainian military claimed some Russian troops are withdrawing from their positions in the Zaporizhzhia region. CNN is unable to confirm the claims made by the General Staff.

3:39 a.m. ET, December 2, 2022

Russia told US about Brittney Griner's transfer to penal colony weeks after she was moved

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Penal colony IK-2in the town of Yavas in Mordovia, central Russia, where Brittney Griner is being held, on November 19.
Penal colony IK-2in the town of Yavas in Mordovia, central Russia, where Brittney Griner is being held, on November 19. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

The Russian government formally told the US Embassy last week about Brittney Griner’s transfer to a remote penal colony, weeks after the wrongfully detained WNBA star had been moved, according to the Biden administration.

“The U.S. Embassy in Moscow was formally notified by the Russian government of Ms. Griner’s transfer on November 23, more than two weeks after she was moved from a prison in Moscow to IK-2 in Mordovia,” a State Department spokesperson told CNN Thursday.
“We are in frequent contact with Ms. Griner’s legal team and aware that they were able to visit her this week,” the spokesperson said.

Read more here.

7:37 p.m. ET, December 1, 2022

Biden and Macron diverge on willingness to engage with Putin

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez, Donald Judd, Betsy Klein and Sam Fossum

US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday demonstrated a united front in addressing the ongoing war in Ukraine but offered divergent answers over their willingness to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin, relaying that they spent much their recent meeting discussing the invasion.

Biden told reporters during a joint White House news conference with Macron that he “has no immediate plans” to contact Putin, but added that he’s prepared to speak with the Russian leader if he’s looking for a way to end the war in Ukraine. Biden also clarified that Putin has not done so yet.

“He’s just miscalculated across the board,” Biden said of Putin following his bilateral meeting in the Oval Office with the French president. “And so the question is … how does he get himself out of the circumstances in? I’m prepared, if he’s willing to talk, to find out what he’s willing to do, but I’ll only do it in consultation with my NATO allies. I’m not going to do it on my own.”

Macron said that once Ukraine sets conditions for a peace agreement, he’s willing to speak with Putin. The French leader told ABC’s “Good Morning America” earlier Thursday that he intends to speak with the Russian president in the coming days.

Read more here.

3:46 a.m. ET, December 2, 2022

Ukraine claims some Russian units in Zaporizhzhia are withdrawing as it strikes ammunition and troop depots

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

A Russian service member sits near an automatic grenade launcher at a combat position on the left bank of the Dnipro river in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on November 26.
A Russian service member sits near an automatic grenade launcher at a combat position on the left bank of the Dnipro river in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on November 26. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The Ukrainian military claims that some Russian troops are withdrawing from their positions in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia.

It also says that the Russians are preparing the evacuation of "the personnel of the occupation administrations" in the Zaporizhzhia region.

In its daily update, the military's General Staff said Russian units had left the settlements of Mykhailivka, Polohy and Inzhenerne, all towns south of the city of Zaporizhzhia. Front lines in the region run for 200 kilometers (about 124 miles) across rolling farmland. Geolocated footage posted on Wednesday shows the aftermath of strikes on buildings in Polohy.

The General Staff said that in the settlement of Burchak, the occupation authorities are conducting a census for the so-called voluntary evacuation of the population.

The Ukrainians appear to be repeating actions they undertook in Kherson — striking bridges, supply hubs and Russian troop concentrations behind the front lines. The General Staff said that in recent days strikes about half a dozen places had wounded more than 230 Russian soldiers and destroyed ammunition and equipment.

CNN is unable to confirm the claims made by the General Staff.

What could happen next: Analysts have suggested that the next offensive front for the Ukrainians is likely to be a thrust south toward the occupied city of Melitopol. 

The General Staff said that elsewhere Russian forces continued to defend their positions in eastern Luhansk region using tanks, mortars and artillery to prevent further advances of Ukrainian forces.

Russian units were also shelling several settlements in recently liberated parts of Kherson region. But Brig. Gen. Oleksii Hromov claimed that last week Russian forces had accidentally fired on their own unit near the village of Tsukury in Kherson, killing 14 servicemen. CNN cannot verify the claim.

Hromov said Russian forces had gathered in the city of Dzankhoi in Crimea, which had "actually turned into the largest military base on the territory... from where the Russian occupation troops and weapons and military equipment of the Russian Armed Forces are redeployed."
8:02 p.m. ET, December 1, 2022

Russian units appear to make some progress near Bakhmut in Donetsk, but suffer heavy casualties

From CNN's Tim Lister, Julia Kesaieva in Kyiv and Vasco Cotovio in Kramatorsk

Social media videos indicate that Russian troops in the areas around Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region are taking heavy casualties, even as they take some territory, especially south of the city. 

Some videos from Ukrainian military drones show Russian troops in foxholes and trenches being targeted by explosive charges dropped from the drones. Other videos at ground level show the bodies of Russian soldiers littering the countryside. 

One video shot by the Ukrainian military and published on Telegram shows different weapons systems being used in a coordinated attack on Russian positions, including 155 mm Howitzers and mortars. It appears from some videos that Russian positions have little protection and are exposed in open countryside.

Russian forces have been attacking the area around Bakhmut for months — and more recently have sent newly mobilized but less experienced units forward. 

Some Russian units — including those affiliated with the Wagner group — appear to have made incremental progress, taking a string of small villages to the south of the city. On Thursday the Russian Ministry of Defense said that, "as a result of the offensive actions of the Russian troops, the settlement of Kurdiumivka of the Donetsk People's Republic was completely liberated from the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine."

The Defense Ministry had previously announced the capture of three other settlements —but all are small villages.

What Ukraine says: Ukrainians say fighting continues in the area, and that during combat missions near Kurdiumivka, Ukrainian forces destroyed three ammunition depots, one mortar crew "and manpower of the enemy."

Analysts say the Ukrainians are also clearly taking casualties as they are targeted by Russian artillery and tanks. The Ukrainian military has said that fighting continues in many areas close to Bakhmut but has not acknowledged losing any ground. 

The Ukrainian National Guard said that over the past week, units had repelled enemy attacks in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka sectors of Donetsk and "destroyed ammunition depots, equipment and personnel of the enemy."

Its spokesman said that in strikes near the northeastern outskirts of Bakhmut, "the enemy's losses amounted to 79 servicemen, of which 46 were irrecoverable.

A CNN team in nearby Kramatorsk reported hearing heavy artillery exchanges for much of Thursday.

In its latest analysis, the Institute for the Study of War says that the Russian campaign around Bakhmut indicates "that Russian forces have fundamentally failed to learn from previous high-casualty campaigns concentrated on objectives of limited operational or strategic significance."

7:33 p.m. ET, December 1, 2022

Kremlin says it will not engage with US on prisoner swap talks before end of year

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Tara John

The Kremlin said on Thursday that any details of prisoner swap discussions with the United States will not be publicly disclosed and that Moscow is not planning to engage with the Biden administration before the end of the year, according to Russian state media.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin considers it unnecessary to publicly disclose the details of prisoner swap negotiations between Russia and the US, state news agency TASS reported.

“We do not talk about this and we urge everyone to be silent on this subject. Such matters can only be discussed in silence,” Peskov told TASS.

Read more here.

3:50 a.m. ET, December 2, 2022

Power is being restored in Kherson after Russian strike

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva and Olga Voitovych

Electricity workers wearing bulletproof vests and helmets work to fix a destroyed high voltage power line on December 1, in Kherson, Ukraine.
Electricity workers wearing bulletproof vests and helmets work to fix a destroyed high voltage power line on December 1, in Kherson, Ukraine. (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.”

7:57 p.m. ET, December 1, 2022

Russia says its open to a "new start" in talks with the West but it won't be "business as usual"

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Anna Chernova

Russia would be ready to restart conversations with the United States and NATO on security guarantees, but so far Moscow hasn't seen willingness on their part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed Thursday.

"If our Western interlocutors realize their mistakes and express their readiness to return to the discussion of the documents that we proposed in December, I think that this will be a positive move," Lavrov said during his annual news conference in Moscow, when asked whether it is possible to reach an agreement on the security guarantees proposed by Russia.
"I doubt that they will find the energy and mind to do it. However, if this suddenly happens, we will be ready to return to the conversation with them.
"But, since they rejected our proposals, they have already taken a number of steps that completely contradict the prospects for resuming the dialogue."

Lavrov reiterated that Russia is open to dialogue with Western partners as the security situation in Europe has deteriorated, but said it won't be "business as usual." 

"If the West understands that it is better to develop neighborly relations based on mutually agreed foundations, we will listen to what the West would propose," he said. "But it is clear that it needs to be a completely new start. Whether there is a chance of this new start in the near future, I don't know. It is up to the West," he added. 

On a possible meeting with US President Joe Biden: Moscow "never avoids contacts," Lavrov claimed, but there haven't been "substantial ideas" when it comes to a possible meeting between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.