November 3, 2022 Russia Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Hafsa Khalil, Ed Upright, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Matt Meyer and Seán Federico O'Murchú, CNN

Updated 3:02 a.m. ET, November 4, 2022
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9:28 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022

Claims of Russian troops withdrawing to Dnieper's east bank leads to confusion in Kherson

From CNN's Tim Lister, Olga Voitovych, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Maria Avdeeva and Mick Krever

A senior Russian-appointed official in Kherson saying Russian troops will "most likely" withdraw to the east bank of the Dnieper River has led to an unclear situation in the southern Ukrainian region.

Speaking on Russian television Thursday, deputy head of the regional administration Kirill Stremousov said: "Most likely, our troops will be withdrawing to the east bank of the Kherson region."

Yet he did not give a timeline for the withdrawal and, with no apparent signs of Russian troops on the west bank making any substantial movements to leave, the statement has caused confusion on the ground.

A resident of Kherson told CNN that as far as they could tell there is no mass withdrawal of Russian troops from the city, but there was unusual movement among Russian forces, with some checkpoints in the city having been removed.

The deputy head of Kherson regional council, Yurii Sobolevskyi, told CNN the Russians had "left some of their checkpoints in Chornobaivka, Stepanivka and Bilozerka (settlements to the north and west of the city, closer to the frontlines)," confirming that there are also "less checkpoints in Kherson."

Sobolevskyi believes the statements about a possible withdrawal of troops is "more like a trap" as he sees "no mass withdrawal."

(Observafr/Twitter)
(Observafr/Twitter)

A social media video from Kherson Thursday showed that the Russian flag was no longer flying at the main administration building. This video has been confirmed by Sobolevskyi.

The photo was taken today. The mysterious disappearance of you know what..." he said on Telegram.

A Russian reporter in the area disputed this, saying he drove around Kherson and this was "not a systemic phenomenon," adding that the Russian flag still "hangs over other administrative buildings and educational institutions.”

"The roar of tanks moving in large numbers at night": The Kherson resident, meanwhile, whose identity CNN is not disclosing for their own security, stated that "during the day there are very few large military vehicles; they used to run endlessly all day."

In northern Kherson, in the direction of Mykolaiv, the resident said "there is a large accumulation of manpower and equipment. Residents of the suburbs hear the roar of tanks moving in large numbers at night" in neighborhoods near the airport."

The Ukrainian military says fighting has continued around Beryslav, up the river from Kherson city, the Operational Command South saying that enemy troops continue to launch rocket and artillery attacks on peaceful settlements.

It also said that the occupation authorities had "temporarily banned the movement of civilian vehicles across the (Dnieper) river," opposing Stremousov's call for civilians in the city to leave for the east bank.

Russian-appointed authorities said there was a "temporary evacuation of civilians from all settlements in the 15-kilometer zone of the east bank of the (Dnieper) is being held."

Strikes on Russian targets: Ukrainian forces have stepped up attacks on critical supply hubs for the Russians in Kherson this week, with fresh attacks on Nova Kakhovka and pontoon bridges across the Dnieper River near Kherson city. Images geolocated by CNN Thursday showed wrecked boats on the shore close to Kherson city.

Ukrainian forces also struck an administration building on the east bank at Hola Prystan. 

Stremousov confirmed the strike and said no one was injured during the shelling, but the Hola Prystan administration building was "completely destroyed."

Russian forces are fortifying a zone on the east bank, stretching some 15 to 20 kilometers downriver from Nova Kakhovka.

Stremousov has previously said that Russian forces are dug in and will defend the areas of the west bank of the Dnieper they still hold. At the same time, Russian forces have begun building fortifications on the east bank, according to both Ukrainian officials and the Russian-backed local administrations.

If Russian forces do withdraw from the west bank altogether, they will cede thousands of square kilometers of occupied territory they annexed in September, to Ukrainian forces.

8:12 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022

G7 foreign ministers will discuss further support for Ukraine in meeting Thursday

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, meets Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, left, for talks at the meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Münster, Germany, on November 3.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, meets Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, left, for talks at the meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Münster, Germany, on November 3. (Rolf Vennenbernd/picture alliance/Getty Images)

Foreign ministers from the G7 countries are meeting in Germany today to discuss further support for Ukraine, with the focus on Russia's recent attacks on the country's energy infrastructure.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will participate in the US-German Futures Forum discussion with G7 host and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Münster at 8 a.m. ET. At 10:30 a.m. Blinken will attend a closed meeting specifically concerning Russia's war on Ukraine.

Other topics on the agenda will address pressing global challenges such as the climate crisis, global food security and democratic resilience in Africa and the Indo-Pacific.

Reuters has reported that as well as counterparts from the participating G7 members, according to the British foreign ministry, Germany has also invited Ghana, Kenya and the African Union to join the G7 meeting for various discussions.

Last month, a joint statement from the G7 on Ukraine condemned the attacks on civilian infrastructure and lives, holding Russian President Vladimir Putin to account.

"We call upon all countries to unequivocally reject these violations of international law and demand that Russia cease all hostilities and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its troops and military equipment from Ukraine," the statement said, adding that they reaffirmed their unequivocal support to Ukraine and its independence.

7:40 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022

Switzerland provides $100 million to help Ukraine through the winter

From CNN's Nadine Schmidt

The Swiss government on Wednesday agreed to provide $100 million in aid to Ukraine as winter approaches the conflict-torn country. 

In a statement, the Swiss Federal council said it has "adopted an action plan to mitigate the impact of the coming winter on the people of Ukraine." The Swiss government said it will in particular help to provide drinking water and rehabilitate Ukraine's damaged energy infrastructure as winter approaches.

Some 18 million people in Ukraine – around 40% of the population – are already dependant on aid since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the statement said, adding ''with the onset of winter, this number threatens to increase to 24 million'' and ''as around a third of Ukraine's energy infrastructure had been damaged.''

Switzerland's President Ignazio Cassis and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky during their meeting in Kyiv last month had discussed how best to provide help to those affected by the war as winter approached. 

''The humanitarian situation of the war-affected population in Ukraine has become even more precarious in recent weeks due to targeted attacks on energy infrastructure and basic supply systems,” the statement warned. 

Switzerland is calling for the international community to step up with additional aid to help with what it calls an urgent situation in Ukraine.

6:28 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022

7 grain ships leave Ukrainian ports after revival of Black Sea corridor

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Jomana Karadsheh

Seven ships carrying food left Ukrainian ports on Thursday following the revival of the Black Sea grain deal, according to Oleksandr Kubrakov, the Ukrainian minister of Infrastructure.

Kubrakov tweeted: "7 vessels carried out grain from 🇺🇦 ports in the morning. No matter what, 🇺🇦 continues to support the world in overcoming food crisis."

Shipments of grain from Ukraine had been in jeopardy after Russian suspended its participation in the initiative at the weekend. It resumed its role on Wednesday.  

Ukraine's Ministry of Infrastructure said the ships are loaded with 290,000 metric tons of Ukrainian agricultural products, and had left the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny. 

The vessels are headed to Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Oman, and three to China.

The Russian Federation delegation resumed work at the Joint Coordination Centre Thursday and joined vessel inspections, the United Nations Secretariat said. On Wednesday, inspections on five outbound vessels were conducted by United Nations and Turkish inspectors.

Some context: In July, following months of negotiations, ministers from both Ukraine and Russia signed the grain deal brokered by the UN and Turkey. Russia pledged to unblock ports on the Black Sea to allow the safe passage of grain and oilseeds — some of Ukraine’s most important exports.

According to Ukraine's Infrastructure Ministry on Thursday, the country has exported more than 10 million metric tons of grain on 430 ships since August 1.

6:13 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022

Blackouts in Kyiv leave hospitals without running water

From CNN's Salma Abdelaziz in Kyiv, Ukraine

A hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine, that has been left without water.
A hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine, that has been left without water. (CNN)

Medical facilities across Ukraine have been setting up generators to cope with the routine Russian bombardment that has been degrading the country's power grid. But when Russia targeted Ukraine's electrical facilities on Monday, it interrupted another essential utility: water.

For the first time since the start of Russia's invasion in February, four of the Ukrainian capital's biggest hospitals were left without running water for most of a day. 

The Kyiv Regional Clinical Center was among the facilities impacted. Doctors and nurses scrambled to transfer the most urgent cases to functioning hospitals. Surgeries were canceled and life-saving treatments like dialysis were postponed, leaving lives in the balance.

“We need to be prepared for the worst scenario. Russia is even talking about nuclear weapons so we must be prepared for the most difficult challenges,” Vice Governor of the Kyiv Region Vitaliy Vlasyuk told CNN. 

Russian forces have pounded Ukraine's critical infrastructure for weeks, severely damaging its electrical grid and forcing many towns and cities across the country to impose scheduled hours-long blackouts. 

Hospitals had so far been spared because they rely on back-up generator power during outages. But Monday’s attacks were so severe that the city's water pumps stopped working, leaving some 1,500 patients across the city in limbo.  

"We are ready for emergency situations every day, and we are prepared for power cuts, but the lack of water was absolutely catastrophic for us," said Daryna Melnyk, the medical director at the Kyiv Regional Clinical Hospital.

The hospital had over 50 surgeries scheduled that day, but with staff unable to clean their surgical tools without running water, the hospital's sterilization rooms fell quiet and those awaiting non-emergency procedures told to go home.  

“Russia wants to deprive us of critical components of social life. If our people are not killed by bombs, they may be deprived of water, electricity and medical care,” Melnyk said.

Kyiv’s water system back to functional, but hospital staff are already preparing evacuation plans for the next time that Russia strikes. 

6:14 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022

Emergency power outages across Ukraine amid Russian attacks on infrastructure

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv, Ukraine

A car drives on a dark street on November 2, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
A car drives on a dark street on November 2, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Ed Ram/Getty Images)

Emergency power outages and restrictions to limit electricity use were put in place across Ukraine on Thursday, according to national energy company Ukrenergo, amid Russia's attacks against critical infrastructure.

“In Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kirovohrad regions, the schedules of emergency power outages are still in use. Power supply restrictions are applied to all categories of consumers,” Ukrenergo said in a Facebook post. 
"For consumers in the city of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Kharkiv, Kyiv and Poltava regions, hourly power outage schedules are in use."

Ukrenergo added that the restrictions were in place to balance Ukraine’s power system, following repeated attacks on its grids by Russian missiles and drones.  

Some background: Ukraine has faced a wide assault on critical infrastructure and power sources since early October.

This week alone, attacks on critical infrastructure in the regions of Kyiv, Cherkasy, Kirovohrad, Kharkiv, and Zaporizhzhia have left millions without electricity and water intermittently. 

3:44 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022

Kryvyi Rih energy and water infrastructure hit overnight, says Ukrainian official 

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych

Russian forces have attacked energy and water infrastructure facilities in the central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih, according to a local military official.

"In the evening and overnight the enemy made another attack on the energy infrastructure of the region. Four enemy drones were destroyed over the region by our air defense, but there are hits," said Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the city’s military administration, in a post on Telegram.
"There were two strikes in Kryvyi Rih. One hit on the energy infrastructure facility (drone), another one - on the water infrastructure facility (missile). The destruction is significant."

Vikul said there were no casualties, adding that water supply had been restored across the city but work on restoring electricity was ongoing.  

Ukraine has been facing a wide assault on critical infrastructure and power sources since early October.

3:20 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant disconnected from Ukraine's power grid again due to shelling

From CNN’s Josh Pennington

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is seen on October 14.
The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is seen on October 14. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has again been disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid due to Russian shelling that damaged the remaining high voltage lines, state nuclear firm Energoatom said in a statement Thursday. 

“Yesterday the last two high-voltage power lines connecting the Zaporizhzhia NPP with the Ukrainian power grid were damaged by Russian shelling. At 11:04 pm (local time), the station switched to full blackout mode,” the statement read. 
“All 20 diesel generators were switched on. Currently, the power supply scheme for ZNPP is optimized for its own needs: 9 diesel generators have been left in operation.”

The nuclear plant has been disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid as a result of Russian shelling on several occasions in recent months, according to Ukrainian authorities. 

Some background: The plant sits in the Russian-occupied part of the Zaporizhzhia region and is the largest in Europe. It has been held by Russian forces for some eight months but is operated by its Ukrainian staff.

In a separate statement, the secretary of the Zaporizhzhia city council Anatoliy Kurtiev confirmed the region is once again experiencing scheduled rolling blackouts, as the result of damage to energy facilities overnight.

2:58 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022

In newly liberated villages, Ukrainian investigators uncover horrific claims of Russian sexual violence

From  Mick Krever, Clarissa Ward and Scott McWhinnie

Tatiana, age 56, recalls the shame she felt after she says she was raped by a Russian soldier.
Tatiana, age 56, recalls the shame she felt after she says she was raped by a Russian soldier. (Mick Krever/CNN)

Day after day, in town after town, a police officer and prosecutor go door to door in Ukraine’s Kherson region.

Treading muddy streets, past homes damaged by artillery strikes, they look for those left behind. The two men form a specialist unit that’s traveled from the capital, Kyiv.

A mother and daughter come out to their yard. “We are looking for sexual crimes,” the prosecutor, Oleksandr Kleshchenko, says.

Until early October, this area of the country was occupied by Russian troops. Burnt-out cars litter the fields. The letter ‘Z’ — a symbol used by Russian forces — marks the walls.

The scars of war run deep here. Russia has used sexual violence as a “weapon of war” — a deliberate “military strategy” — in its conquest of Ukraine, United Nations investigators have said. They have even relayed allegations of Russian soldiers carrying Viagra.

Russian authorities have denied accusations of war crimes in Ukraine.

In two weeks of work in the Kherson region, the team from Kyiv has documented six allegations of sexual assault. The real number is almost certainly much higher, they say.

Tatiana, age 56, says she is one of the victims. CNN is withholding her last name and that of her village to protect her identity.

Walking over broken glass, she shows us into her brother’s house, where she says two Russian soldiers forced their way through her door on August 26.

“They walked around those rooms,” she says. “One stayed there, and the other one, who raped me, came in here. He came in, walked a little bit around the room and here in this place, he started groping me.”

“I told him, ‘No, no, I am not of the age that I can give you something, look for younger girls.’”
He pinned her against the wardrobe, she says, and tore at her clothes. “I was crying, begging him to stop, but with no success,” she says. “The only thought I had was to stay alive.”

Read more here.