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IAEA to permanently monitor nuclear plants; Belarus military drills put Ukraine, Poland on watch

Zelenskyy thanks allies for ‘new strength’ to get Ukraine through the winter

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the Memory Wall of Fallen Defenders of Ukraine, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, during marking the Defender of Ukraine Day in Kyiv, Ukraine October 14, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked his country’s allies for new aid that he said would help sustain his country through Russian assaults in the coming months.

“Every day we gain new strength for Ukraine to get through this winter, and I thank everyone who works for this and who helps our state,” he said, according to a translation of a nightly address.

He pointed to conferences in France designed to support critical Ukrainian infrastructure and help the country rebuild after the war. Zelenskyy said one event yielded $1 billion, primarily to support the country’s energy sector.

He added that multiple other European countries, including the Czech Republic, Spain, Switzerland and Italy, have either approved or are preparing assistance packages for Ukraine.

— Jacob Pramuk

U.S. Justice Department charges seven with smuggling sensitive military technology to benefit Russia

United States Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a press conference announcing a significant firearms trafficking enforcement action and ongoing efforts to protect communities from violent crime and gun violence at the Department of Justice in Washington, June 13, 2022.

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

The U.S. Justice Department has unsealed a federal indictment charging seven individuals with operating a sophisticated international smuggling network that obtained sensitive U.S. military technology and ammunition on behalf of the Kremlin.

Three of the seven defendants are in custody, the Justice Department said in a statement. They include a suspected officer in Russia’s intelligence service and two Americans, Alexey Brayman and Vadim Yermolenko, who were taken into custody.

Members of the so-called “Serniya network” allegedly created dozens of front corporations to disguise millions of dollars in payments for the military technology.

Once goods had been purchased, they were routed through multiple countries in Europe, Asia and North America before arriving at their ultimate destination in Russia.

— Christina Wilkie

U.S. set to send Patriot missile system to Ukraine, officials tell NBC

U.S. Army MIM-104 Patriots, surface-to-air missile (SAM) system launchers, are pictured at Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Poland March 24, 2022.

Stringer | Reuters

The Biden administration is finalizing plans to send a Patriot missile system to Ukraine, three Defense officials told NBC News.

The Pentagon could announce the decision as soon as this week.

The surface-to-air system would help Ukraine repel Russian aerial attacks. The Ukrainian government has pleaded for the capabilities after weeks of missile assaults wreaked havoc on cities.

— Jacob Pramuk

IAEA to establish continuous monitoring programs at Ukraine’s four nuclear plants

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi attends a news conference in Vienna, Austria March 4, 2022.

Leonhard Foeger | Reuters

The International Atomic Energy Agency announced that it will post a dedicated team of nuclear safety and security experts to each of Ukraine’s four nuclear power plants as part of a new, continuous monitoring program.

The joint venture was the result of IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi’s meeting in Paris with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

The organization’s mission at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant “has shown the vital importance of the IAEA being there to monitor the situation and give technical advice,” Grossi said.

The new, continuous monitoring teams will “expand and strengthen the IAEA’s nuclear safety and security role in the country,” he said. “This is especially important at a time when Ukraine’s energy infrastructure is facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the war and in the middle of the winter.”

Russian shelling has destroyed vast portions of Ukraine’s electric power grid in recent months, and Russian occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has raised worldwide fears of a nuclear disaster.

— Christina Wilkie

France and Ukraine hold bilateral business development forum

French President Emmanuel Macron, candidate for the 2022 French Presidential election, meets with supporters during a campaign trip in Fouras, France, March 31, 2022.

Stephane Mahe | Reuters

More than 700 French companies took part in a bilateral Franco-Ukrainian business forum in Paris on the sidelines of the major multinational aid conference, French President Emmanuel Macron said.

The forum resulted in the signing of contracts worth €100 million for French companies to supply rails, bridges and agricultural products, according to Macron.

Ukraine’s Economic Minister Yuliya Svyridenko later told Ukrainian TV that she and other visiting officials from Kyiv discussed with French business leaders “what tools we, as the Government, can use to ensure that French business enters the Ukrainian market and develops Ukraine even before our victory.”

The forum also resulted in a pledge to create a Franco-Ukrainian start-up fund.

 — Christina Wilkie

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Schumer says yearlong funding bill will include Ukraine aid

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), holds a news conference to discuss the expanded Democratic majority in the Senate for the next Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, December 7, 2022. 

Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he expects a yearlong government funding bill to include more funding for Ukraine and measures to reform the way Congress certifies presidential elections.

The Senate should be ready to vote on a bill to keep the federal government operating for one week past a Friday deadline, as negotiations continue between Democrats and Republicans over the longer-term measure, Schumer said on the Senate floor.

Both parties agree on support for Ukraine as it battles Russia and reforms aimed at avoiding a repeat of the turmoil of Jan. 6, 2021, Schumer said. He said negotiations continue on other matters.

“There’s a lot of work left to do,” Schumer said. “But we’re optimistic that if we preserve the good faith we’ve seen so far, we will get there.”

The yearlong measure, which is likely to spend more than $1.5 trillion, would fund the government until October 2023 and would have to be passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

— Reuters

Ukrainian, Polish officials discuss snap military drills in Belarus

Belarusian special forces take part in the International Army Games 2019 at a shooting range near the village of Mukhovets, Belarus, August 9, 2019.

Vasily Fedosenko | Reuters

Ukrainian and Polish military officials spoke about the snap Belarusian military drills that have sparked concerns about potential escalation of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In their conversation, Ukrainian Armed Forces Joint Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Serhiy Nayev and Polish Commander of the Operational Command of the Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Tomasz Piotrowski “discussed the security situation on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border” after the check on the combat readiness of troops in Belarus, according to NBC News.

The officials expressed their concerns about the movement of troops and equipment, and agreed to coordinate joint action in the days ahead.

Piotrowski expressed Poland’s support for Ukraine during the conversation.

Belarus borders Ukraine to the north and Poland to the east. While Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said his country will not join the war, he did allow passage of Russian troops through the country when Russia invaded Ukraine.

— Jacob Pramuk

EU tries to strike deal on gas cap price

The Zeebrugge liquefied natural gas terminal in Belgium.

Kurt Desplenter | Afp | Getty Images

European Union energy ministers are meeting in Brussels to try to agree a bloc-wide cap on gas prices after months of deadlock over whether the measure can ease Europe’s energy crisis.

After weeks of infighting between countries, the European Commission proposed a price cap last month – the latest EU response to a crisis caused by Russia cutting gas deliveries to Europe this year, leading to energy price spikes.

“European citizens are in agony, European businesses are closing and Europe has been needlessly debating,” Greek Energy Minister Konstantinos Skrekas said on Tuesday, calling for a swift deal on the cap.

Greece and other countries including Belgium, Italy and Poland say a cap is needed to shield their economies from high energy prices, while Austria, Germany and the Netherlands fear it could divert much-needed gas cargoes from Europe.

— Reuters

Paris Ukraine conference raises just over $1 billion

France’s Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna on Tuesday said parties to an international conference for Ukraine pledged payments of just over 1 billion euros ($1.05 billion).

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Ukraine’s allies gathered in Paris earlier he needed at least 800 million euros ($840 million) in urgent winter energy aid as Russian forces target civilian infrastructure across the country.

— Reuters

Kremlin says Putin is preparing for ‘further talks’ with Xi Jinping

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photograph during their meeting in Beijing, on Feb. 4, 2022. The two countries announced a “no limits” partnership prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, though Beijing has tried to position itself further away from Russia than portrayed after Xi and Putin met.

Alexei Druzhinin | AFP | Getty Images

Moscow is preparing for “further talks” between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, with “regular contact” maintained between the two countries, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said today, according to Russian state news agency Tass.

“When and how they will take place, we will let you know in due time,” Peskov said.

China has so far remained one of Russia’s few remaining trade partners and geopolitical allies following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

— Ruxandra Iordache

New UK sanctions target senior Russian commanders, Iranian officials

The U.K. announced a new package of sanctions on Tuesday that it said were in response to Russia’s continued strikes on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

The new package of 16 sanctions target high-level Russian officials for their roles in the Russian military “and its inhumane, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” the government said in a statement. Iranian businessmen and officials involved in the production and/or supply of drones to the Kremlin are also on the new sanctions list.

“Twelve senior commanders of Russian military forces, including units implicated in attacks on Ukrainian cities, have been sanctioned. Major General Robert Baranov, identified by a Bellingcat investigation as the commander of a unit responsible for programming and targeting Russian cruise missiles, is among those targeted,” the U.K. said.

A Russian soldier walks amid the rubble in Mariupol’s eastern side where fierce fighting between Russia/pro-Russia forces and Ukraine on March 15, 2022.

Maximilian Clarke | SOPA Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

It added that “Iranian-manufactured drones have played a central role in these evil attacks” on civilians and civilian infrastructure, with millions experiencing power and water shortages as a result of targeted attacks on energy infrastructure.

A list of the latest personnel to be sanctioned by the U.K. is here.

In the statement, U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said “the U.K. stands with Ukraine. Russian forces’ calculated attacks on cities and innocent civilians in Ukraine will not go unanswered.”

“The Iranian regime is increasingly isolated in the face of deafening calls for change from its own people and is striking sordid deals with Putin in a desperate attempt to survive,” he added. “Putin wants to break Ukraine’s spirit, but he will not succeed. Ukraine will win, and Ukraine will rebuild.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Kremlin says Russian troop withdrawal at Christmas is ‘out of the question’

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a concert marking the eighth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on March 18, 2022.

Mikhail Klimentyev | Afp | Getty Images

The Kremlin has dismissed calls from Ukraine’s president to withdraw troops from the country at Christmas time, saying the proposal is “out of the question” and that Kyiv had to accept “new realities.”

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy had addressed Group of Seven leaders virtually on Monday, saying the path to peace could be achieved if Russia stopped its aggression toward Ukraine and withdrew its troops at Christmas.

“This is out of the question,” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, answering a question about whether the Russian Federation is considering the possibility of starting the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine before the end of 2022, Russian state news agency Tass reported.

Peskov told reporters on Tuesday that in order to achieve peace Ukraine had to accept what he called “new realities” regarding annexed territories in Ukraine, that is, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk (which Russia claimed it had “annexed” following coercive referendums).

“The Ukrainian side needs to take into account the realities that have developed over all this time,” Peskov said. 

“These realities indicate that the Russian Federation has new subjects, they appeared as a result of referendums that took place in these territories,” the Kremlin spokesman emphasized. 

Peskov said that “without taking these new realities into account, any progress [on settlement] is impossible.” 

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia denies heavy weapons present at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied the presence of heavy weapons at the occupied Ukrainian nuclear power plant Zaporizhzhia, according to a Google translation of a Telegram report from Russian state news agency Tass.

He added that Moscow is interested in staying in contact with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over the nuclear facility. Russia seized the Zaporizhzhia plant toward the start of its invasion of Ukraine. Moscow and Kyiv have previously accused each other of shelling the facility, which the U.N. nuclear watchdog seeks to demilitarize.

IAEA head Rafael Grossi said on Twitter that the agency agreed to “deploy IAEA safety [and] security missions in all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants” during a meeting with Ukrainian premier Denys Shmyhal in Paris yesterday. The IAEA continues its work to establish a “protection zone” for the Zaporizhzhia plant, Grossi said.

Shmyhal said on Telegram that demilitarizing the nuclear facility is the first point of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s peace plan proposal, a NBC translation indicates.

—Ruxandra Iordache


Russian shelling leaves three Kherson civilians dead

The southern region of Kherson was shelled 57 times over the past 24 hours, according to an Ukrainian official Tuesday.

Three civilians were killed and another 15 were injured following attacks on the Kherson region yesterday, the head of the Regional Military Administration Yaroslav Yanushevych said on Telegram.

A school, a stadium, residences and medical and energy infrastructure suffered artillery and rocket bombardment, according to Yanushevych.

On Monday, Yanushevych described the recently liberated city of Kherson as coming under “massive fire” from Russian forces.

— Ruxandra Iordache

Belarus reportedly carries out more combat-readiness drills

Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko (C) attends a joint exercise of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at a firing range near Osipovichi outside Minsk, on Feb. 17, 2022.

Maxim Guchek | Afp | Getty Images

Belarus’ armed forces have begun combat readiness drills on the instruction of the country’s President Alexander Lukashenko, according to news agency BelTA, which cited information from the Belarusian Defense Ministry.

As part of the drills, troops will have to carry out “engineering, protection and defense activities, and build bridges across the Neman and Berezina rivers,” BelTA reported Tuesday.

The movement of military equipment and personnel will take place during the drills, meaning there will be temporary restrictions on civilian movement on certain public roads and areas.

Russia’s ally Belarus has not participated directly in the invasion of Ukraine by sending its own troops into the country but it has provided logistical support to Russia, which has launched attacks on Ukraine from Belarusian territory.

Belarus’ president has insisted that the country’s armed forces won’t enter the war, but its armed forces have been conducting an increasing number of military drills, and have formed a joint military task force with Russian forces.

— Holly Ellyatt

Viktor Bout claims he and Brittney Griner shook hands at prisoner swap

Viktor Bout, the Russian arms dealer freed after 14 years in U.S. custody in exchange for U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner, attends a convention of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), in Moscow, Russia December 12, 2022. 

Liberal Democratic Party Of Russia | Reuters

Convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout said he shook hands with U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner when they were exchanged as part of a high profile U.S.-Russia prisoner swap last week.

Speaking to Russian media, Bout said they exchanged pleasantries and shook hands on the airport tarmac in Abu Dhabi where the exchange procedure took place.

“When we were passing by, I wished her good luck; she wished me good luck in turn and then extended her hand. I shook hands with her. This looked decent,” Bout said in an interview with the KP-Petersburg news outlet.

Video footage released of the swap shows several men accompanying Griner, who had been imprisoned in Russia earlier this year on drug charges, as she walks toward Bout, who was also accompanied by a man, on the tarmac of Abu Dhabi airport.

Bout embraces one of the men and shakes the hand of an other but there’s a jump cut in the video as Griner and Bout — once nicknamed the “Merchant of Death” by a British official who was commenting on Bout’s arms dealing operations — approach each other.

— Holly Ellyatt

Putin press conference likely canceled because of concerns over growing anti-war sentiment: UK

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference appearance was canceled on Monday, and Britain’s Ministry of Defense said that’s likely because of the Kremlin’s concerns over rising anti-war sentiment in Russia.

“The press conference has become a significant fixture in Putin’s calendar of public engagement and has frequently been used as an opportunity to demonstrate the supposed integrity of Putin,” the ministry said on Twitter.

“Although questions are almost certainly usually vetted in advance, the cancellation is likely due to increasing concerns about the prevalence of anti-war feeling in Russia.”

“Kremlin officials are almost certainly extremely sensitive about the possibility that any event attended by Putin could be hijacked by unsanctioned discussion about the ‘special military operation’,” the ministry added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin during his annual press conference, on Dec. 17, 2020, in Moscow, Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Kremlin confirmed on Monday that Putin will not hold his traditional end-of-year press conference without citing a reason for the cancellation. Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said the press conference wouldn’t be held before the New Year but that the president would try to find an opportunity to speak to the media.

It’s the first time in 10 years that Putin will not hold the press conference. The annual public phone-in, in which Putin answers a wide range of (likely vetted) questions from the public, did not take place this year either.

Russian forces have experienced a series of setbacks in the war in Ukraine, with grumblings of discontent growing in Russia, particularly following the mass mobilization of reservists.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian forces should withdraw from Ukraine this Christmas, Zelenskyy says

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a working session of G-7 leaders via video link, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv,on June 27, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Russian forces to withdraw from Ukraine this Christmas as he addressed leaders of the Group of Seven on Monday.

“Very soon we’ll have holidays celebrated by billions of people. Christmas – according to the Gregorian calendar or the New Year and Christmas – according to the Julian calendar. This is the time for normal people to think about peace, not aggression. I suggest Russia to at least try to prove that it is capable of abandoning the aggression,” Zelenskyy said in his address to G-7 leaders who met virtually Monday. 

“The occupier must leave. It will certainly happen. I see no reason why Russia should not do it now – at Christmas. The answer from Moscow will show what they really want – further confrontation with the world or finally [a] cessation of the aggression. The one who brought the war upon us has to take it away,” Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy suggested a “Global Peace Formula” summit should be convened at which Ukraine’s proposals could be discussed.

“It would be right to start the withdrawal of Russian troops from the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine this Christmas. If Russia withdraws its troops from Ukraine, it will ensure a lasting cessation of hostilities,” he added.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia has started to use a new batch of Iranian drones, official says

Russian forces have begun to launch a new batch of Iranian drones, according to the Ukrainian Air Force’s spokesperson, who said the launch point has shifted to the eastern side of the Sea of Azov.

“It is difficult to speak about the volumes. But what is known for sure is that they have already started using them. They began to launch them from the eastern part of the Sea of Azov,” Yuriy Ihnat, the spokesperson for the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said during a nationwide telethon reported by news agency Ukrinform late Monday.

Ihnat said drones had already been downed in the southern regions of Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa. Russia has been accused of using Iranian-made “Shahed” drones to attack multiple targets in Ukraine, particularly energy infrastructure, for months.

Although it has not officially admitted using them, Iran has admitted to supplying Russia with drones and there have been reports that Russia was awaiting a new batch of the unmanned aerial vehicles.

Local residents look at parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle, what Ukrainian authorities consider to be an Iranian-made drone Shahed-136, after a Russian drone strike in Kyiv on Oct. 17, 2022.

Vladyslav Musiienko | Reuters

Ihnat explained that the shift in the launch point of the drones was related to a shift in the position of the front line in Ukraine.

“The battle line has shifted. Therefore, the enemy can slightly pull back the launch point. For Shahed [drones], distance is not such a problem. After all, they simply moved those launch sites, fearing that our defense forces could get them,” Ihnat said, adding that the possibility of new missile attacks remains.

Noting that Russia had moved strategic bomber aircraft further inland following several explosions at Russian airfields last week, for which Ukraine did not claim responsibility, Ihnat said such movement “does not mean that they are not preparing some kind of attack. Therefore, we all need to be ready for this.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine PM requests air defenses to counter Russia attacks

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, accompanied by Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov, speaks during a news briefing, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine November 7, 2022. 

Murad Sezer | Reuters

Ukraine’s prime minister has appealed for Patriot missile batteries and other high-tech air defense systems to counter Russian attacks that knocked out electricity and water supplies for millions of Ukrainians, putting Europe on alert to brace for more refugees.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told French broadcaster LCI that in addition to making Ukrainians suffer, Russia wants to swamp Europe with a new wave of Ukrainian refugees by continuing to strike power stations and other infrastructure.

Poland’s president said his nation already has seen an increased demand to shelter refugees due to the combination of such attacks coupled with the freezing weather in Ukraine.

“The number of refugees in Poland has risen (recently) to some 3 million. That will probably also mean an increase in their numbers in Germany,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said following talks with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin.

— Associated Press

Putin will not hold annual press conference, Kremlin says

The European Commission has repeatedly condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine, accusing President Vladimir Putin of using energy as a weapon to drive up commodity prices and sow uncertainty across the 27-nation bloc.

Mikhail Metzel | Afp | Getty Images

The Kremlin said that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not hold his annual press conference this year.

The news conference, which typically last multiple hours, is one of the few opportunities for journalists outside of the Kremlin press pool to ask Putin questions.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed reports by Russian-state owned media that Putin will not hold a press conference this year. Peskov declined to give a reason for the cancellation. 

— Amanda Macias

G-7 nations meet with Zelenskyy and reaffirm support for Ukraine against Russia

Group of Seven allies convened with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and reiterated their commitment to helping the country combat Russian aggression.

In a statement released after the meeting, G-7 leaders promised to support Ukraine “for as long as it takes,” calling Russia’s actions an “illegal, unjustifiable and unprovoked war of aggression.” The group further condemned actors facilitating the war.

“There can be no impunity for war crimes and other atrocities,” the statement read. “We will hold President Putin and those responsible to account in accordance with international law. We reiterate that Russia’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric is unacceptable and that any use of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons would be met with severe consequences.”

G-7 leaders vowed to have their finance ministers meet “shortly” to discuss how to support Ukraine financially into 2023. The leaders said the International Monetary Fund should be a central player.

The allies also reiterated they would continue to move away from purchasing Russian oil and would go ahead as planned with the plan to set a price cap on Russian oil in early February.

“Russia’s war of aggression must end,” the statement read. “To date, we have not seen evidence that Russia is committed to sustainable peace efforts. Russia can end this war immediately by ceasing its attacks against Ukraine and completely and unconditionally withdrawing its forces from the territory of Ukraine.”

Emma Kinery

Nearly 8 million Ukrainians have become refugees from Russia’s war, U.N. estimates

Refugee children fleeing Ukraine are given blankets by Slovakian rescue workers to keep warm at the Velke Slemence border crossing on March 09, 2022 in Velke Slemence, Slovakia.

Christopher Furlong | Getty Images

Nearly 8 million Ukrainians have become refugees and moved to neighboring countries since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the U.N. Refugee Agency estimates.

More than 4.8 million of those people have applied for temporary resident status in neighboring Western European countries, according to data collected by the agency.

“The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has caused civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, forcing people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance,” the U.N. Refugee Agency wrote.

— Amanda Macias

Kherson ‘under massive fire’ from Russian forces, official says

Kherson city, in the partially-liberated southern region of Kherson, is coming under “massive fire,” according to the head of the regional military administration there.

“Kherson is under massive fire from the Russian occupiers,” Yaroslav Yanushevych said on Telegram Monday, saying Russians had attacked two neighborhoods in the city. Five people were known to have been wounded in the attacks and two people to have died, he said.

“Emergency medical aid teams, together with the Red Cross, are heading to the Ostriv district. The number of victims [there] is currently unknown,” he said. CNBC was unable to verify the details within Yanushevych’s post.

Yanushevych called on civilians to stay within sheltered areas if they hear the sounds of explosions.

A destroyed school in Posad-Pokrovske in the Kherson region of Ukraine on Dec. 11, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine called on residents within Kherson to evacuate last month following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the city and the wider Kherson region to the west bank of the Dnieper river, given that Russian forces have tended to heavily bombard the settlements from which they have retreated.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian mercenaries suffered ‘very significant’ losses in Luhansk, official says

A mural praises the Russian Wagner group and its mercenaries fighting in Ukraine on March 30, 2022 in Belgrade, Serbia.

Pierre Crom | Getty Images

Russian mercenaries fighting in eastern Ukraine suffered heavy losses after the hotel they were using as their headquarters was hit by Ukrainian forces this weekend, according to an official.

There were “very significant” losses after the guest house in Kadiivka in Luhansk was hit, the head of the Luhansk Military Administration Serhiy Haidai said on his Telegram account on Sunday.

Haidai claimed the hotel was being used as the headquarters of the private military force, the “Wagner Group,” a state-sanctioned group founded by an ally of President Vladimir Putin.

Wagner soldiers, widely seen as mercenaries, are fighting alongside the regular Russian army in Ukraine, particularly in the east of the country, where fighting is intense as Russian forces try to occupy more of the region and Ukrainian forces try to reclaim more territory.

Haidai said Russian forces are looking to mobilize all the men in the region and that age or health is no barrier to being forcibly mobilized. CNBC was unable to immediately verify Haidai’s claims.

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

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