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December 10, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news
By Adrienne Vogt, Tori B. Powell and Matt Meyer, CNN
A Russian lawmaker announced Saturday that he invited freed arms dealer Viktor Bout to be in "broad cooperation" with a government committee that he leads.
The legislator, Leonid Slutsky, is head of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs. Slutsky said Bout could help the committee on "issues of assistance to Russian citizens who find themselves in a difficult life situation abroad."
"And the experience of interaction during the release of Victor will certainly be useful,” Slutsky said in a post on his Telegram account.
The Russian official said Bout is holding up well for "all the trials he had gone through."
"The first question he (Bout) asked me was: 'How can I help Donbas?'" Slutsky said.
The Council of the European Union adopted an 18 billion euro (about $19 billion) legislative package Saturday designed to help Ukraine financially next year.
The proposal aims to “provide short-term financial relief, financing Ukraine’s immediate needs, rehabilitation of critical infrastructure and initial support towards sustainable post-war reconstruction, with a view to supporting Ukraine on its path towards European integration,” the council announced Saturday.
The bulk of the package’s interest costs is to be covered by European Council member states through "external assigned revenues," and loans on the billion dollar assistance will have a 10-year grace period.
Zbyněk Stanjura, the Czech Republic's minister of finance, said the council will support Ukraine financially “for as long as it takes."
"The legislation which we adopted today means that Ukraine can count on regular financial help from the EU throughout 2023," Stanjura said in a statement Saturday.
Now, the proposal is set to be submitted next week to the European Parliament, where it could be fully adopted.
Most of the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa and parts of the Odesa region are without power Saturday following Russian shelling of energy infrastructure facilities, according to one of Ukraine's major electricity providers, DTEK.
"Tonight, there was another attack by the Russian Federation on energy infrastructure facilities in the Odesa region. Several facilities were destroyed at once. Due to the scale of the destruction of the energy infrastructure in Odesa, all consumers except for critical infrastructure were disconnected from electricity," DTEK reports.
“Emergency shutdowns also occur in populated areas of the region,” the provider continued. “Currently, the situation in the region remains difficult.”
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s President’s Office, took to telegram Saturday to comment on the situation in Odesa. He also confirmed the city is currently without power, and that electricity has only been restored at some critical facilities such as hospitals.
More background: What Russia cannot win on the battlefield, it is seeking to win by casting Ukrainian cities into the dark and cold as a long winter sets in.
The result is a grinding battle of attrition: Barrages of Russian missiles fly across Ukraine, and Ukrainian power engineers work for days in freezing temperatures to restore power.
Monday saw the largest wave of missile attacks since Nov. 23. Officials report smaller rounds of shelling near-daily in regions across the country.
CNN's Tim Lister, Olga Voitovych and Victoria Butenko contributed to this report.
Recently freed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout said Saturday he "wholeheartedly" supports Russia's war in Ukraine and that he'd volunteer to fight for Russia.
He said if he had the opportunity and the necessary skills, he would "certainly go as a volunteer" in what Russia calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine.
Bout, nicknamed the “Merchant of Death” by his accusers, was released on Thursday from US detention in a prisoner swap for US basketball star Brittney Griner.
Bout made these remarks in a video interview with Kremlin-controlled TV network RT. He was interviewed by Maria Butina, a Russian gun rights enthusiast-turned TV personality who now works for the network. Butina, who was convicted of conspiring to act as an agent for a foreign state in the United States, was deported to Russia in October 2019 after serving more than 15 months behind bars in Florida.
When asked if he had a portrait of President Vladimir Putin in his prison cell, Bout said: "Yes, always. Why not? I’m proud that I’m Russian and that our president is Putin."
Some background on Bout: The former Soviet military officer was serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States on charges of conspiring to kill Americans, acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles, and provide material support to a terrorist organization. Bout has maintained he is innocent.
The award-winning CNN film "Navalny," which follows Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, is airing Saturday on CNN. Directed by Daniel Roher, the movie paints an intimate portrait of one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's fiercest critics.
In 2020, Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent during a flight to Moscow. In the film, viewers are taken inside the harrowing search for answers.
When and where to watch:
Saturday, Dec. 10 at 9 p.m. ET on CNN. You can also stream anytime on HBO Max.
Who is Navalny?
Navalny is a Russian opposition leader, Kremlin critic and activist. He has been a prominent organizer of street protests and has exposed corruption in the Russian government on social media.
Earlier this year, Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison on fraud charges he said were politically motivated.
Where is Navalny now?
Navalny has been transferred into a solitary prison cell, according to tweets from himself and his staff, in what he described as a move designed to “shut me up.”
Human rights groups from Russia and Ukraine – Memorial and the Center for Civil Liberties – have officially been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2022, along with the jailed Belarusian advocate Ales Bialiatski, at a ceremony in Oslo on Saturday.
Bialiatski's wife received his award on his behalf. The three winners will share the prize money of 10,000,000 Swedish krona ($900,000).
The new laureates were honored for “an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power” in their respective countries.
“They have for many years promoted the right to criticize power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in a statement in October when the winners were announced.
Russian laureate blasts Moscow's war: Russian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Yan Rachinsky blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “insane and criminal” war on Ukraine in his acceptance speech.
Rachinsky, from Russia's human rights organization Memorial, claimed resistance to Russia is known as “fascism” under Putin, adding this has become “the ideological justification for the insane and criminal war of aggression against Ukraine.”
Memorial, one of Russia’s most well-known and respected human rights groups, worked to expose the abuses and atrocities of the Stalinist era for more than three decades before it was ordered to close by the country’s Supreme Court late last year.
Ukrainian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Oleksandra Matviichuk on Saturday called for an international tribunal to bring Putin and Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko to justice over “war crimes.”
The Center for Civil Liberties in Ukraine's Matviichuk said this would be a way to “ensure justice for those affected by the war.”
In her acceptance speech, Matviichuk warned war criminals should not only be convicted after the fall of authoritarian regimes, adding that “justice cannot wait.”
Heavy Russian artillery fire hit communities in Ukraine’s southern Nikopol district overnight Friday into Saturday, Valentyn Reznichenko, a local Ukrainian official said.
Four people were injured in the community of Nikopol, Yevhen Yevtushenko, the head of the Nikopol district military administration, said on Telegram.
Russian shelling also struck the Marganets community, but officials reported no injuries, according to Yevtushenko.
Eleven high-rise and private buildings, a kindergarten, administrative and office buildings, a car wash, a car park, several cars, a gas pipeline and power lines were all damaged, according to Reznichenko.
The Nikopol district is located in the Dnipropetrovsk region and sits across the river from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged Friday that the military situation in parts of eastern Ukraine was "very difficult" but said Ukrainian forces continued to resist Russian attacks.
In his daily video address, Zelensky said, "The frontline situation remains very difficult in the key areas of Donbas — Bakhmut, Soledar, Mariinka, Kreminna."
The four towns are on the frontlines in Donetsk and Luhansk, which have moved little in the last three months.
"There is no living place left on the ground in these areas that is undamaged by shells and fire," Zelensky said. "The occupiers have actually destroyed Bakhmut — another city of Donbas, which the Russian army turned into scorched ruins."
Zelensky said Ukrainian forces were holding the front, repelling attacks and inflicting "tangible losses on the enemy in response to the hell that came to Ukraine under the Russian flag."
Situation on the frontline: There's been heavy fighting around the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk for months. The city has suffered extensive destruction, as have dozens of settlements along the front lines in Donetsk.
Earlier Friday, an adviser to the president's office, Oleksiy Arestovych, said the Russians were making an unprecedented push towards Bakhmut. He also said that the situation around nearby Soledar "has worsened a little" with the Russians closing in on a village near an important highway.
In the Luhansk direction, Arestovych talked about dynamic front lines in which each side goes on the attack. But he said that at present, it was the Russians on the offensive, "meaning we are holding defenses."