Western governments struggle to agree on Russian oil price cap
This photograph taken on May 13, 2022 shows a view of Russian oil company Lukoil fuel storage tank in Brussels.
Kenzo Tribouillard | AFP | Getty Images
Western governments want to set a maximum purchase price for Russian oil on the world market to limit Moscow’s ability to raise money for its war on Ukraine.
The plan is meant to punish Russia while at the same time keeping its vast petroleum exports flowing to energy-starved global markets to tamp down inflation.
But so far, the countries have failed to agree on what the price limit should be, reflecting divisions over how badly the scheme should seek to hurt Moscow.
If they can’t reach a deal by Dec. 5, an outright ban on Russian imports into the European Union will take effect, crimping supplies heading into peak winter heating season.
Russian opposition figure Yashin goes on trial
Russian opposition figure and Moscow city councillor Ilya Yashin, charged with “discrediting” the Russian army fighting in Ukraine, gestures inside a defendants’ cage during a hearing at the Tverskoy district court in Moscow on November 23, 2022.
Alexander Nemenov | AFP | Getty Images
A court in Moscow opened the trial of a prominent Russian opposition figure who faces charges stemming from his criticism of the Kremlin’s action in Ukraine.
Ilya Yashin, one of the few Kremlin critics to have remained in the country amid an intensifying crackdown on dissent, has been in custody since his arrest in July.
He was charged with spreading false information about the military — a new offense added to the country’s criminal law after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine. Yashin faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
The charges against Yashin relate to a YouTube livestream video in which he talked about Ukrainians being killed in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. He rejects the charges as politically motivated.
Speaking Tuesday during his trial at Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court, Yashin argued that his case has been fabricated and “has all the markings of illegal political persecution.” He noted that in the video he cited Russian official sources along with Ukrainian statements to give his audience an objective view.
— Associated Press
Italy lawmakers call off vote on extending Ukraine arms supplies
President of the Italian party Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) Giorgia Meloni next to former Prime Minister and leader of Forza Italia (FI) party Silvio Berlusconi (L), addresses the media after a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella for the first round of formal political consultations for new government at the Quirinale Palace in Rome on October 21, 2022.
Ettore Ferrari | AFP | Getty Images
ROME — Italy’s ruling rightist parties withdrew an amendment that would have allowed the government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine throughout 2023, a parliamentary source said, after the opposition called for a separate decree on the issue.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, former Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s administration introduced measures that made it possible to send weapons to Kyiv without seeking parliamentary authorization for each shipment.
This arrangement expires at the end of the year and the coalition backing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni initially tried to extend it until Dec. 31, 2023, by amending a government decree currently going through parliament.
However the main opposition group — the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) — complained that the decree in question was not specifically related to Ukraine and accused the government of bending parliamentary rules.
Torture allegations mount in aftermath of Kherson occupation
Editors note: This post includes graphic descriptions of torture in Ukraine.
Igor shows the remains of marks on his back after allegedly being tortured by Russian forces in Kherson. The 22-year-old, accused of providing Ukrainians with Russia’s military positions, was stung with a taser along his back for two and half hours and then forced to stay awake, seated in a chair all night. He was freed after two days but not before writing a letter providing details about a relative of his uncle’s who the Russians wanted information on.
Bernat Armangue | AP
When a dozen Russian soldiers stormed into Dmytro Bilyi’s home in August, the 24-year-old police officer said they gave him a chilling choice: Hand in his pistol or his mother and brother would disappear.
Bilyi turned his gun over to the soldiers, who carried machine guns and had their faces concealed. But it didn’t matter. They dragged him from his house in Ukraine’s southern village of Chornobaivka to a prison in the nearby regional capital of Kherson, where he said he was locked in a cell and tortured for days, his genitals and ears shocked with electricity.
“It was like hell all over my body,” Bilyi recalled. “It burns so bad it’s like the blood is boiling … I just wanted it to stop,” he said.
More than two weeks after Russians retreated from the city, accounts such as his are helping to uncover sites where torture allegedly took place in Kherson, which Kremlin forces occupied for eight months. Five such rooms have been found in the city, along with at least four more in the wider Kherson region, where people allege that they were confined, beaten, shocked, interrogated and threatened with death, police said.
Human rights experts warn that the accusations made so far are likely only the beginning.
— Associated Press
Uneasy calm grips Ukraine as West prepares winter aid
People use their mobile phone lamps to look at items at a sporting goods store during a power outage, after critical civil infrastructure was hit by a Russian missile attacks in Ukraine, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, November 26, 2022.
Gleb Garanich | Reuters
An uneasy calm hung over Kyiv as residents of the Ukrainian capital did what they could to prepare for anticipated Russian missile attacks aiming to take out more energy infrastructure as winter sets in.
To ease that burden, NATO allies made plans to boost provisions of blankets, generators and other basic necessities to ensure Ukraine’s 43 million people can maintain their resolve in the 10th month of fighting against Russia’s invasion.
Ukraine’s first lady implored the West to show the same kind of steadfastness that Ukrainians had shown against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military campaign.
“Ukrainians are very tired of this war, but we have no choice in the matter,” Olena Zelenska, the wife of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said in a BBC interview during a visit to Britain.
“We do hope that the approaching season of Christmas doesn’t make you forget about our tragedy and get used to our suffering,” she said.
A two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Bucharest, Romania, was likely to see the 30-nation alliance make fresh pledges of nonlethal support to Ukraine: fuel, generators, medical supplies and winter equipment, on top of new military support.
— Associated Press
Paul Whelan’s family sounds the alarm after days without contact
Source: Marines | DoD
American diplomats in Moscow are trying to locate and ascertain the condition of American detainee Paul Whelan, a former Marine who is currently imprisoned in Russia.
The embassy staff has been working “to understand Paul’s condition and why his family has not heard from him,” a senior administration official told NBC News.
In a statement, Whelan’s brother David Whelan said they began to worry after Paul missed a longstanding appointment to speak to his family by phone, without explanation.
When the Whelans alerted the U.S. Embassy, they learned that Paul had missed a second scheduled call, this one on Thanksgiving Day, also without explanation.
“It’s incredibly unusual for Paul to miss trying to call home on a holiday like Thanksgiving,” said David.
Whelan was convicted of espionage in a Russian court in 2020 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. The White House says it has offered to swap prisoners with Russia, but talks stalled earlier this year.
— Christina Wilkie
U.S. announces additional $53 million in electricity grid assistance to Ukraine
LYMAN, UKRAINE – NOVEMBER 27: A view of damaged electrical wires after Ukrainian army retaken control from the Russian forces in Lyman, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on November 27, 2022.
Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new $53 million assistance package from the United States to help repair Ukraine’s electrical grid, which has been decimated by Russian shelling.
The package will include distribution transformers, circuit breakers, surge arresters, disconnectors, vehicles and other key equipment, according to a State Department fact sheet.
The announcement comes as millions of Ukrainians remain without power, and many without water, as a result of Russia’s coordinated bombing campaign.
The new U.S. assistance is on top of $55 million that has already been committed to emergency energy sector support.
— Christina Wilkie
Ukraine is ready to repel new Russian missile attack, air force says
Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Assault Brigade of Ukraine unload munitions from a BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher near the frontlines in Donbas, Ukraine.
Laurel Chor | Lightrocket | Getty Images
Ukraine’s Air Force said it’s ready to repel a new missile attack by Russian forces, adding to a warning from the country’s president yesterday that civilians should prepare for a new wave of bombing.
“Ukrainians are ready to repel another air attack,” the spokesperson for Ukraine’s Air Force Command, Yurii Ihnat, said on Telegram Tuesday.
“Ukrainians experienced the worst in February-March, when hundreds of rockets flew at our heads every day, Russian aircraft flew in many regions, and active air battles took place. Is it possible to scare us with something else?,” the statement said.
Ihnat said that Russia did not have “so many high-precision long-range missiles left” while the commander of Ukraine’s Air Force had “assured us that we are ready, our missiles are loaded, and we will fight back no matter how many missiles” Russia launched.
Ihnat did not give any details as to the evidence of a forthcoming Russian attack, or as to how many missiles it had left with analysts agreeing that it’s difficult to gauge what weapons Moscow has left in its arsenal.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Monday that Russia was preparing new missile attacks that could be even more destructive than those experienced by the country last week that left around 6 million people without power.
“We understand that the terrorists are planning new strikes. We know this for a fact,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Sunday. “And as long as they have missiles, they, unfortunately, will not calm down.”
— Holly Ellyatt
Anxiety is rising in Moscow over the war and how it could end, analysts note
Russian President Vladimir Putin grimaces during the SCTO Summit on November 23, 2022 in Yerevan, Armenia.
Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Political analysts from Russia say anxiety is rising in Moscow as the country’s forces face what’s likely to be months more fighting and military losses, and even starts to consider it may be defeated.
That would be catastrophic for Putin and the Kremlin, who have banked Russia’s global capital on winning the war against Ukraine, analysts said, noting that anxiety was rising in Moscow over how the war was progressing.
“Since September, I see a lot of changes [in Russia] and a lot of fears,” Tatiana Stanovaya, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and founder and head of political analysis firm R.Politik, told CNBC.
“For the first time since the war started people are beginning to consider the worst case scenario, that Russia can lose, and they don’t see and don’t understand how Russia can get out from this conflict without being destroyed. People are very anxious, they believe that what is going on is a disaster,” she said Monday.
Read the whole story here: ‘Losing is not an option’: Russia analysts fear a ‘desperate’ Putin as Ukraine war drags on
NATO will ramp up aid for Kyiv, says Putin uses winter as ‘weapon of war’
NATO allies will ramp up aid for Ukraine as Russian President Vladimir Putin is using winter as a weapon of war because his forces are failing on the battlefield, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.
“I think we all have seen these pictures taken from satellites where you see Europe in light and then you see Ukraine dark…so there is a huge task to rebuild all of this,” Stoltenberg said.
“President Putin is trying to use winter as a weapon of war,” he told reporters as NATO foreign ministers gathered in Bucharest for a two-day meeting which he said would serve as a platform to mobilise more support for Ukraine.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during the plenary session of the third day of the 68th Annual Session of the Parliamentary Assembly in the Auditorium Ground Floor Room at the Hotel Melia Castilla, Nov. 21, 2022, in Madrid, Spain.
Alberta Ortego | Europa Press | Getty Images
NATO foreign ministers will focus on increasing military assistance for Ukraine such as air defence systems and ammunition, even as diplomats acknowledge supply and capacity issues, but also discuss non-lethal aid.
Part of this non-lethal aid – goods such as fuel, medical supplies, winter equipment and drone jammers – has been delivered through a NATO assistance package that allies can contribute to and which Stoltenberg aims to increase.
Stoltenberg’s comments were echoed by several ministers from the 30-member alliance, who were also be joined by Finland and Sweden, as they look to secure full membership pending Turkish and Hungarian ratifications.
Russia seems to have abandoned a major part of its ‘military doctrine,’ UK says
A convoy of pro-Russian troops in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 16, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters
Over the last three months, Russian forces in Ukraine have likely largely stopped deploying as Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs), according to the latest military intelligence update from Britain’s Ministry of Defence.
It said that “the BTG concept has played a major part in Russian military doctrine for the last ten years, and saw battalions integrated with a full range of supporting sub-units, including armour, reconnaissance and (in a departure from usual Western practice) artillery.”
However, it noted that several intrinsic weaknesses of the BTG concept have been exposed in the high intensity, large-scale combat of the Ukraine war so far.
“BTGs’ relatively small allocation of combat infantry has often proved insufficient” and the “decentralised distribution of artillery has not allowed Russia to fully leverage its advantage in numbers of guns.”
In addition, few BTG commanders have been empowered to flexibly exploit opportunities in the way the BTG model was designed to promote, the ministry noted.
— Holly Ellyatt
Russia could be about to mobilize men in occupied southern Ukraine
A destroyed van used by Russian forces, in Kherson, Ukraine, on Nov. 24, 2022.
Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Speculation is mounting that Russia could try to mobilize men in the occupied part of Kherson, in southern Ukraine, in December.
The Center of National Resistance, a part of Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces to support Ukrainian resistance efforts, said on its website that “Russians are bringing riot police to carry out the mobilization of men in the southern temporarily occupied territories.”
It said riot police units from Dagestan had arrived on the left bank of the Dnipro river of the Kherson region, together with employees of the military commissariats from the pro-Russian, so-called “people’s republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, to conduct the mobilization.
“The newly arrived occupiers do not hide that in December the personnel will be involved in the illegal conscription of residents of the region with Russian passports. However, it is not exclusive that all men will fall under the ‘mobilization’, and not only the holders of enemy passports.”
Russian forces withdrew from the western bank of the Dnipro river to the eastern (or “left”) bank earlier in November. They have built up defensive lines and fortifications on that side of the river. Russia has already attempted to “Russify” occupied areas by handing out Russian passports and promoting Russian language and culture while suppressing that of Ukraine.
The Center of National Resistance called on the residents in the “TOT,” or “temporarily occupied territory,” to leave the region “and not become a resource for the enemy.”
— Holly Ellyatt
Blinken could announce help for Ukraine’s power transmission
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives at Henri Coanda airport, in Bucarest, on November 29, 2022, ahead of a NATO meeting.
Daniel Mihailescu | Afp | Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday will announce new assistance to help restore Ukraine’s power transmission ability in the face of Russian attacks targeting the country’s energy grid, a senior State Department official said.
Blinken arrived in Romania on Monday evening ahead of a meetings with NATO allies and foreign ministers from the Group of Seven advanced economies.
Ukraine’s foreign minister told some NATO diplomats visiting Kyiv earlier in the day that transformers were the biggest element of the country’s power infrastructure that needed to be restored.
Kherson region shelled 258 times in the past week, Zelenskyy says
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia continues to pound the southern region of Kherson, a part of which Russian forces withdrew from several weeks ago.
“This day, as well as every single day, the occupants again shelled Kherson and the communities of the region. In just one week, the enemy shelled 30 settlements of our Kherson region 258 times,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Monday. Russian forces had also damaged a pumping station supplying water to Mykolaiv, he added.
“Ukraine will never be a place for destruction. Ukraine will never accept orders from these ‘comrades’ from Moscow. We will do everything to restore every object, every house, every enterprise destroyed by the occupiers,” Zelenskyy said.
Destroyed Russian vehicles and tanks in Mykhailivska Square on Nov. 19, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Millions of Ukrainians are facing severe power disruptions after recent waves of Russian missile and drone strikes reportedly left almost half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure disabled and in need of repair, as temperatures plunge.
Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Russia has targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure for weeks, causing widespread power blackouts and shortages of energy, water and heat, leaving millions of people in tough circumstances as temperatures plummet. Temperatures in the capital Kyiv are below freezing and are even colder in the countryside.
— Holly Ellyatt
U.S., Russia have used their military hotline once so far during Ukraine war
Aerial view of the United States military headquarters, the Pentagon.
Jason Reed | Reuters
A communications line created between the militaries of the United States and Russia at the start of Moscow’s war against Ukraine has been used only once so far, a U.S. official told Reuters.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the United States initiated a call through the “deconfliction” line to communicate its concerns about Russian military operations near critical infrastructure in Ukraine.
Reuters is the first to report on the use of the deconfliction line, beyond regular testing.
Few details are known surrounding the specific incident that led to the call on the line, which connects the U.S. military’s European Command and Russia’s National Defense Management Center.
The official declined to elaborate but said it was not used when an errant missile landed in NATO-member Poland on Nov. 15, killing two people. The blast was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile but Russia was ultimately responsible because it started the war in late February, NATO said.
Although the U.S. official declined to specify which Russian activity raised the U.S. alarm, there have been publicly acknowledged incidents involving Russian fighting around critical Ukrainian infrastructure. These include Russian operations around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s biggest, which is under Russian control.
Russia is using winter as a weapon of war against Ukraine, White House says
Russia is targeting civilian infrastructure in Ukraine in an effort to erode morale as its invasion stalls, John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council, said Monday.
“This is a guy who’s used food as a weapon. He’s used fear as a weapon. Now he’s using the cold weather here to try to bring the Ukrainian people to their knees,” Kirby said.
Kirby said nearly all of the recent Russian military hits have been on civilian infrastructure like water and energy.
“It’s the kind of resources that people need as they get ready to brace for what will no doubt be a cold winter,” he said.
Kirby called the recent attacks despicable and said the U.S. and its allies are working to provide the Ukrainians with the training and tools they need to be successful militarily and to keep essential systems up and running.
“These targets are largely civilian and it’s designed to work for one reason and that’s to try to bring the Ukrainian people to their knees because he can’t bring the Ukrainian armed forces to its knees,” Kirby said.
— Emma Kinery
Mon, Nov 28 202212:59 PM EST
Russia preventing staff from entering Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant unless they sign a contract with Russian nuclear company
Overview of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and fires, in Enerhodar in Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, August 24, 2022.
European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-2 Imagery | via Reuters
Russia is preventing staff from entering the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant unless they sign contracts with Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear energy company, claimed Ukraine’s General Staff in a Facebook post.
Russia occupied the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in March. However, it continues to be operated by Ukrainian staff.
In early October, Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed four Ukrainian regions, including the Zaporizhzhia region where the plant, Europe’s largest, resides. Along with the annexation, Putin transferred control and oversight of the Zaporizhzhia plant to Russia.
The plant remains at the frontlines of fighting between Russia and Ukraine, with damage from shelling causing it to go into blackout mode last week. The International Atomic Energy Agency has warned of instability in the plant’s leadership and its oversight under Russian military control. It’s also sounded alarms over potentially catastrophic consequences that could arise from continued shelling around the plant.
— Rocio Fabbro
Mon, Nov 28 20229:36 AM EST
Russia has launched over 16,000 missile attacks at Ukraine since the start of war, 97% at civilian targets
A militant of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic inspects the remains of a missile that landed on a street in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine February 26, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters
Russia has launched more than 16,000 missiles attacks on Ukraine since the start its invasion of the sovereign nation on Feb. 24, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said.
The majority of these strikes — 97% of them — were aimed at civilian targets, he said over Twitter.
“We are fighting against a terrorist state,” Reznikov said. “Ukraine will prevail and will bring the war criminals to justice.”
Last week, the European Parliament declared Russia a state sponsor of terrorism for its attacks on civilian sites.
Russia has increasingly turned to missile and drone strikes as its battlefield losses mount. The energy sector became a primary target for Russian strikes, which have left large swaths of the Ukrainian population without power. Fears of a harsh and deadly winter grow as Russia’s ongoing attacks continue to debilitate Ukraine’s already unstable energy infrastructure.
— Rocio Fabbro
Mon, Nov 28 20226:38 AM EST
Kremlin denies Russian forces are about to withdraw from nuclear power plant
This photo taken on Sept. 11, 2022, shows a security person standing in front of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia, amid the Ukraine war.
Stringer | Afp | Getty Images
The Kremlin denied a claim made by the head of Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company that Russian forces could be preparing to withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant that they’ve occupied since March.
The head of Energoatom, Petr Kotin, said Sunday that he saw signs Russia could be preparing to leave the plant, Europe’s largest nuclear facility and the center of bitter missile attacks between Russia and Ukraine.
“In recent weeks we are effectively receiving information that signs have appeared that they are possibly preparing to leave the [plant],” Kotin said on national television, Reuters reported.
“Firstly, there are a very large number of reports in Russian media that it would be worth vacating the [plant] and maybe worth handing control [of it] to the [International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA],” he said, referring to the United Nations nuclear watchdog.
“One gets the impression they’re packing their bags and stealing everything they can.”
The Kremlin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov denied the claim Monday, stating “there is no need to look for some signs where they are not and cannot be,” state news agency Tass reported.