December 8, 2022 Brittney Griner and Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Sana Noor Haq, Eliza Mackintosh, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury and Elise Hammond, CNN

Updated 0800 GMT (1600 HKT) December 9, 2022
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3:53 a.m. ET, December 8, 2022

Russia's Belgorod shelled by Ukrainian forces, governor claims

From CNN's Olga Voitovych, Josh Pennington and Seb Shukla

Ukrainian forces have shelled the western Russian city of Belgorod, according to the region's governor Vyacheslav Gladkov. 

Gladkov said on Telegram Thursday that the city, located about 35 kilometers (21 miles) from the Ukrainian border, had sustained damage to a power line caused by “shell fragment.”

Preliminary indications show there are no civilian casualties, he said.

Some context: It's not the first time Belgorod has been targeted, according to the governor. On Nov. 15, he claimed two people had been killed in the city by Ukrainian shelling.

The alleged shelling of Belgorod comes after Russia accused Kyiv of using drones to strike military airfields far inside its territory on Monday and Tuesday — an extraordinary breach of Moscow’s assumptions that it can protect its deep interior.

1:18 a.m. ET, December 8, 2022

Ukraine war is going to "take a while," Putin says as he warns nuclear risk is increasing

From CNN's Jessie Yeung and Katharina Krebs

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a forum on November 29.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during a forum on November 29. (Stringer/Getty Images)

Nearly 10 months after his invasion of Ukraine began, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday acknowledged that the conflict is “going to take a while,” as he also warned of the “increasing” threat of nuclear war.

Speaking at a meeting of Russia’s Human Rights Council at the Kremlin, Putin said Moscow will fight by “all available means at our disposal,” in what he insists on calling a “special military operation,” but also said he saw no immediate need to mobilize more troops.

“With regard to the protracted nature of the special military operation and its results, of course, it’s going to take a while, perhaps,” he said.

And without categorically ruling out the first use of nuclear weapons, Putin said he viewed the Russian nuclear arsenal as a deterrent rather than a provocation.

“As for the idea that Russia wouldn’t use such weapons first under any circumstances, then it means we wouldn’t be able to be the second to use them either – because the possibility to do so in case of an attack on our territory would be very limited,” he said.
“Nevertheless, we have a strategy… namely, as a defense, we consider weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons – it is all based around the so-called retaliatory strike,” he said. “That is, when we are struck, we strike in response.”

Read more here.

7:55 p.m. ET, December 7, 2022

CNN Exclusive: US weighs Ukrainian requests for access to stockpile of controversial cluster munitions

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand, Alex Marquardt and Zachary Cohen

Ukrainian officials and lawmakers have in recent months urged the Biden administration and members of Congress to provide the Ukrainian military with cluster munition warheads, weapons that are banned by more than 100 countries but that Russia continues to use to devastating effect inside Ukraine.

The Ukrainian request for the cluster munitions, which was described to CNN by multiple US and Ukrainian officials, is one of the most controversial requests the Ukrainians have made to the US since the war began in February.

Senior Biden administration officials have been fielding this request for months and have not rejected it outright, CNN has learned, a detail that has not been previously reported.

Cluster munitions are imprecise by design, and scatter “bomblets” across large areas that can fail to explode on impact and can pose a long-term risk to anyone who encounters them, similar to landmines. They also create “nasty, bloody fragmentation” to anyone hit by them because of the dozens of submunitions that detonate at once across a large area, Mark Hiznay, a weapons expert and the associate arms director for Human Rights Watch, previously told CNN.

Top US officials have publicly stated that they plan to give the Ukrainians as much support as they need to give them an upper hand at the negotiating table with Russia, should it come to that. But western military equipment is not infinite, and as stockpiles of warheads dwindle, the Ukrainians have made plain to the US that it could use the cluster munitions currently gathering dust in storage.

Read the full story here.

8:15 p.m. ET, December 7, 2022

Germany to send 18 more self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine

From CNN's Fred Pleitgen and Chris Stern in Berlin

Germany plans to supply Ukraine with 18 RCH 155 wheeled howitzers, according to the government's updated list of arms deliveries to Ukraine.

The delivery is in "preparation/implementation" phase, according to the list. 

Germany will also be providing an additional 100 drone defense sensors and jammers, two hangar tents and seven load-handling trucks, according to the list.

Germany and the Netherlands have already sent 14 self-propelled howitzers PzH2000 to Ukraine, along with thousands of rounds of ammunition. 

The RCH 155 is a modernized version of the PzH 2000 on wheels instead of tracks and with a higher degree of automation and crew safety, according to the company producing the howitzer, Krauss Maffei Wegmann. The German government legally cleared the way for RCH 155s to be sent to Ukraine in late September.

8:06 p.m. ET, December 7, 2022

Zelensky says 10 civilians killed in one Russian strike against town in Donetsk

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says 10 civilians were killed Wednesday in a Russian rocket attack on the town of Kurakhove in Donetsk. Additionally, he said four police officers were killed by Russian mines in Kherson in the south.

In what he said had been a long and difficult day, Zelensky accused the Russian army of "a very brutal, absolutely deliberate strike at Kurakhove, precisely at civilians. At ordinary people. At the market, elevator, gas station, bus station, residential buildings," he said in his daily video message.

He said battles continue to rage around Bakhmut in Donetsk.

Zelensky said that among the dead in Kherson was the chief of police of the Cherkasy region in northern Ukraine, Mykhailo Kuratchenko, who had gone to the south to help with "stabilization" measures after Kherson was liberated last month.

On energy: The Ukrainian president said that for now the energy situation is improving but it will not reach its maximum capacity.

"We are constantly increasing the generation and supply of electricity — we are adding more volume almost every day. But we should not forget, and everyone should not forget, that it is now impossible to restore 100% of the energy system as it was before the beginning of the Russian energy terror. We need time. That is why power outages schedules remain in most cities and districts," he said.

Zelensky said Kyiv and Lviv regions were among the most affected by outages.

9:42 p.m. ET, December 7, 2022

Inside a Kramatorsk hospital saving the lives of Ukraine's war wounded

From CNN's Jo Shelley, Sam Kiley, Peter Rudden and Olha Konovalova

Doctors lift a patient onto a bed to have CT scan
Doctors lift a patient onto a bed to have CT scan (Jo Shelley/CNN)

As the young soldier lies motionless in the machine, a group of doctors huddle over a computer in an adjoining room.

The images from the CT scanner show shrapnel lodged deep in the left-hand side of the man’s brain. “He needs urgent surgery,” 37-year-old neurosurgeon Oleg Serkiz says.

As one patient is prepared for the operating table, paramedics in military fatigues deliver another soldier on a stretcher, and then another — a constant stream of Ukraine’s fittest bodies now torn by metal and punctured by bullets.

These men were rushed from the front line to a specialist trauma hospital in the city of Kramatorsk on Wednesday afternoon after being wounded in the bloody battle for the eastern town of Bakhmut. Only hours earlier, they were the adrenaline-pumped vanguard of the Ukrainian army’s attempt to take on the Russian troops – among them mercenaries that hold much of the area. Now they wait, cold and pale, for their turn on the operating table.

Chief surgeon Dr. Vitaly Malanchuk is often the first to assess the men’s injuries.

“We’re dealing with shrapnel wounds and gunshot wounds,” he says. “People can have severed limbs, with large facial defects… Plus there’s polytrauma, where different organs are involved.”

“Polytrauma” is what a lay person would call many holes in the body.

Read more here.

7:47 p.m. ET, December 7, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is named TIME magazine's person of the year

From CNN's Amy Woodyatt, Sebastian Shukla and Nimi Princewill

TIME magazine has named Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian leader whose attempt to fight off Russia’s invasion of his country has won widespread acclaim, as its person of the year, alongside “the spirit of Ukraine.”

“Whether the battle for Ukraine fills one with hope or with fear, Volodymyr Zelensky galvanized the world in a way we haven’t seen in decades,” Edward Felsenthal, editor-in-chief of TIME explained Wednesday.

Read more here.