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December 2, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news
By Amy Woodyatt, Hannah Strange and Heather Chen, CNN
US senators will get a classified briefing on Ukraine next Wednesday, according to a Senate aide.
The briefing comes as the administration is pushing for $37 billion more in aid to Ukraine, which could be folded into a year-end omnibus bill that must be approved before a Dec. 16 deadline to fund the government.
It’s still uncertain whether the administration will get a deal on a giant omnibus package or have to settle on a stop-gap resolution to fund federal agencies at last year’s levels — something the Pentagon has warned against.
Background on the funding: The Ukraine funding request is spread across four US government departments, according to a fact sheet shared last month with CNN. The funding would “ensure Ukraine has the funding, weapons, and support it needs to defend itself, and that vulnerable people continue to receive lifesaving aid," according to a letter Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It also addresses the critical food and energy shortages caused by Russia’s invasion, she said.
The breakdown, according to the fact sheet, runs like this:
- $21.7 billion for the Department of Defense that will be spent on “equipment for Ukraine, replenishment of Department of Defense stocks, and for continued military, intelligence and other defense support.”
- $14.5 billion for the State Department for “direct budget support to Ukraine, critical war time investments, security assistance, to strengthen global food security, and for humanitarian assistance,”
- $626 million for the Department of Energy “for nuclear security support to Ukraine and for modernizing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve”
- $900 million for the Department of Health and Human Services “to provide standard assistance health care and support services to Ukrainian parolees.”
Several Ukrainian officials have warned that the country faces a tough winter but can prevail in the face of Russian missile attacks on its infrastructure.
Maksym Tymchenko, Chief Executive Officer of DTEK, a major power company, said that he was confident that there was no chance "for the Russians to plunge Ukraine into darkness."
Yet, there was a power generation deficit and issues with electricity transmission, he told the Kyiv Security Forum on Friday.
In the capital, he said, the company was trying to introduce "rolling controlled blackouts: 3-4 hours of electricity supply, followed by 4 hours break. This situation will continue, we hope, until next week only, if there are no further attacks. But we are prepared for further attacks."
He said all six of DTEK's power stations had been attacked, some of them several times. As of Friday, he said, the company has managed to bring them all back to the grid.
Additionally, he said, "We managed to accumulate enough coal stock for the country, not just for our company. We have enough gas storage to use gas for power generation. So we have enough capacity for the whole country."
The problem, though, was with connections and transmission, Tymchenko said.
"Transformers, sub-stations, high-voltage transformers: these are what we've been in deficit of, and what we appeal to our international partners for. Some of the equipment is already on the way to Ukraine," he said.
Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said that last week that Kyiv faced an almost total blackout. "There was no heat and water supply. And about 4,000 employees of utility companies worked day and night to restore them."
Ukraine's Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, told the forum that the months ahead would be difficult.
He added: "The enemy still has significant resources, but there are more and more signs that he needs a pause at any cost."
Russian legislator Leonid Slutsky claimed to Russian state media on Friday that the European Union is jeopardizing its energy security for the sake of US interests and is violating the laws of the market by imposing price caps on Russian oil.
"The European Union is putting its energy security at risk. They didn't set a ceiling but hit the bottom again. And for what? To satisfy the ambitions of their overseas partners. But the Europeans can't wait for help from them," Slutsky told TASS.
The European Union approved a price cap on Russian oil at $60 a barrel, an EU official with knowledge of the situation told CNN on Friday.
The plan needs the agreement of all EU states.
Slutsky also said that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak had previously clearly outlined Moscow's position.
"No price restrictions are acceptable. There will be no oil supplies to countries under the terms of the price ceiling, even if it is more profitable," Slutsky said.
In October, Putin said that Russia would not supply energy resources to those countries that would set limits on their prices.
The skies above Kyiv and regional centers across Ukraine have been unusually quiet for the last week. No Russian missile or drone attacks of any consequence have been registered since Nov. 23, when nearly 70 air-launched cruise missiles were fired at targets across Ukraine.
According to Ukraine's air force spokesman Yurii Ihnat, one reason may be that Russia has run out of Iranian-made Shahed attack drones.
"The ones they received have already been exhausted," Ihnat told Ukrainian television this week. "Now the concern is the 1,700 or so more they have ordered."
Despite the sharp decline in attacks on power infrastructure in Ukraine, the state energy company Ukrenergo is struggling to bring damaged facilities back online.
Oleksii Kuleba, head of Kyiv region military administration, said Friday that emergency power outages continue in the Kyiv region.
"Overloading of the power system leads to new emergency shutdowns," he said.
Vitali Klitschko, Kyiv's mayor, says the city is bracing itself for new attacks and adopting contingency measures.
"In case of new enemy attacks on the critical infrastructure of Ukraine and the complete absence of electricity supply as a result, some retail chains, markets, shops and shopping malls will continue to operate in the capital," he said on Telegram Friday.
While tram services would be halted by an electricity shutdown, Klitschko said, "all bus fleets of the capital are provided with the necessary fuel and have automatic energy sources."
He said metro stations would again be available as shelters and would provide an internet connection, electricity, drinking water and sanitary facilities.
Ukraine’s foreign minister told CNN in an exclusive interview that the “time has come” for a decision on whether to provide his country with the Patriot missile defense system.
“We began our conversation about Patriots in the very beginning of the war – even actually before the war,” Dmytro Kuleba told CNN in Kyiv. “But now time has come to make decisions.”
The US is considering sending the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine to support their air defense capabilities against incoming Russian attacks, a senior US defense official told reporters Tuesday. NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday it is still “too early” to make a conclusion on Poland’s call to move the Patriot air-defense system, offered by Germany to Ukraine.
Kuleba also said that he does not have a “single doubt that we will get through this winter.”
“The question is what will be the price of getting through this winter. And definitely having Patriots, having other advanced air defense systems, having them delivered in Ukraine within weeks, not months, will dramatically lower the price. And will allow us to defend our cities and our critical energy infrastructure,” he said.
Kuleba said that he had spoken with his American and German counterparts about the missile defense system.
“I will not conceal that it would be a huge help. It would really help us to defend the country and to minimize the price we are paying for surviving during the winter,” he added.
CNN’s Ellie Kaufman, Barbara Starr and Xiaofei Xu contributed reporting to this post.
The European Union approves a price cap on Russian oil at $60 a barrel, an EU official with knowledge of the situation told CNN on Friday.
The plan, which stops all EU countries from setting more than $60 a barrel, needs the agreement of all EU states.
President of the European Commission Ursula von Der Leyen said on Friday the bloc and other G7 partners will have a “full import ban” on Russian seaborne oil starting Dec. 5.
In a video statement posted on Twitter, von der Leyen said the price cap has three objectives.
“First, it strengthens the effect of our sanction,” she said. “Second, it will further diminish Russia's revenues.”
“And thirdly, at the same time, it will stabilize global energy markets, because it allows some Russian seaborne oil to be traded broker transported by EU operators to third countries as long as it is sold below the cap.”
Von der Leyen said the price cap will directly benefit developing and emerging economies and will be adjustable over time so that “we can react to market developments.”
“Together with our partners, we stand united and firm in our opposition to Russia's atrocious war,” von der Leyen concluded.
Despite denials from Russian-appointed officials in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia, there appear to be plans to evacuate civilians from several towns that are occupied by Russian forces.
The preparations come as Ukrainian forces step up targeting of Russian weapons and ammunition stocks behind the front lines.
One Zaporizhzhia community group posted the image of a notice in the town of Vasylivka, which is Russian-held and close to the only crossing point between Russian-claimed and Ukrainian-held territory.
The notice, in Russian, says: "Administration of Vasylivka district warns! Due to the preparations to possible evacuation of the residents of the city and the district, and ensuring safety to the citizens, the relevant measures are being prepared."
It also asks people to register with the local military administration.
Ivan Fedorov, the Ukrainian mayor of occupied Melitopol, claimed on his Telegram account that Russian forces in Vasylivka were becoming anxious and had "hidden behind civilians as human shields."
"People who were going from Zaporizhzhia to support their loved ones in the occupation zone were not allowed to pass at the checkpoint in Vasylivka. The occupiers left the civilians to spend the night on the roadside in sub-zero temperatures. They say they are afraid of shelling. So they put a convoy of civilian cars in front of their military base," he claimed.
Further behind the front lines, Fedorov said that Russian forces "have started some fuss in recent days" and were "developing rapid activity — withdrawing equipment, conducting rotation, bringing in mobilized soldiers."
Fedorov said on Telegram that population censuses were underway in two towns "as if to prepare for evacuations." But he cautioned that the move might be a disinformation campaign.
Fedorov also mentioned two explosions at Russian headquarters and barracks in the towns of Myrne and Yasne, though gave no further details.
He also claimed that near Terpinnia, a strike by the Ukrainian military killed or wounded "dozens" of Russian soldiers.
CNN is unable to verify the claim. No images or video have emerged from the area.
The Ukrainian military said Friday that in some parts of occupied Zaporizhzhia, "the enemy is strengthening its advanced positions and conducting defense" while launching artillery barrages along several parts of the front line.
But it added that "the enemy continues to suffer losses," with a strike against a concentration of Russian troops near the village of Kamianske that left 100 people wounded.
There is no way to verify the claim.
Ukraine’s foreign minister told CNN in an exclusive interview that a series of letters containing explosives or animal parts are meant to terrorize Ukrainian diplomats around the world.
“This campaign is aimed at sowing fear and terrorizing Ukrainian diplomats,” Dmytro Kuleba told CNN’s Matthew Chance in Kyiv Friday.
Kuleba said that there had been 17 cases of embassies receiving either letter bombs, false bomb letters, or letters containing animals parts, like the eyes of cows and pigs.
CNN has been shown an image of one of the letters containing what officials said was the eyeball of a pig inside a padded envelope.
“It started with an explosion at the embassy of Ukraine in Spain,” he said. “But what followed this explosion was more weird, and I would even say sick.”
Asked who he thought was behind the letters, he said, “I feel tempted to say, to name Russia straight away, because first of all you have to answer the question, who benefits?”
“Maybe this terror response is the Russian answer to the diplomatic horror that we created for Russia on the international arena, and this is how they try to fight back while they are losing the real diplomatic battles one after another,” he said.
Investigators have not made any statement about any person or group behind the letters.
Kuleba added that he thought that Russia was either directly responsible, or someone “who sympathizes [with] the Russian cause and tries to spread fear.”
“The conclusion will be made by investigators, but I think these two versions make most of the sense,” he said.
A Ukrainian embassy staff member in Madrid was slightly injured Wednesday after handling an envelope that exploded in his hands, according to the Kubela’s spokesperson, Oleg Nikolenko.
Ukraine has put all embassies and consulates abroad under enhanced security measures. This week, Ukrainian embassies in Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Croatia, Italy, Austria, the consulates general in Naples and Krakow, and the consulate in Brno have received bloody packages containing animal eyes, Nikolenko said on Facebook.