IAEA inspectors find no indications of undeclared nuclear activities or materials in Ukraine
From CNN's Jennifer Hauser
International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have completed verification activities at three locations in Ukraine at the request of the Ukrainian government, and they have not found any indications of undeclared nuclear activities and materials, according to a statement by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi Thursday.
Ukraine made the request after Russia made allegations about activities related to the possible production of “dirty bombs” in three locations: the Institute for Nuclear Research in Kyiv, Eastern Mining and Processing Plant in Zhovti Vody, and Production Association Pivdennyi Machine-Building Plant in Dnipro, according to the IAEA, the UN's nuclear watchdog.
"Over the past few days, the inspectors were able to carry out all activities that the IAEA had planned to conduct and were given unfettered access to the locations. Based on the evaluation of the results available to date and the information provided by Ukraine, the Agency did not find any indications of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at the locations," the IAEA statement said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Russia "the world's top liar" after the IAEA's announcement.
"IAEA has checked 3 Ukrainian facilities in focus of Russian disinfo and found no evidence of any ‘dirty bombs’. I thank @rafaelmgrossi for IAEA’s excellent and prompt cooperation which helped counter Russian falsehoods. Russia has confirmed its status of the world’s top liar," Kuleba tweeted Thursday.
Russia had accused Ukraine of planning to use a so-called dirty bomb — a weapon that combines conventional explosives like dynamite and radioactive material like uranium — an allegation dismissed by Kyiv and its Western allies as a false-flag operation that Moscow could use as a pretext to escalate the Kremlin’s war.
CNN's Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv contributed reporting to this post.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled the town of Zhovti Vody in Ukraine.
11:06 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022
G7 nations will work together on winter aid for Ukraine, German foreign minister says
From CNN's Claudia Otto and Nadine Schmidt
The G7 group of wealthy nations will coordinate their support for Ukraine as winter approaches, German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said Thursday, ahead of a meeting of the G7 foreign ministers in the western German city of Muenster.
''We will not allow the brutality of the war to lead to the death of lots of elderly people, children, teenagers and families to die from hunger or cold over the upcoming winter months due to the brutal tactics of the Russian president,” Baerbock told reporters as Russia continues its attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure that have caused blackouts and cuts to water supplies.
''We, as the group of G7, have already launched our measures to kick off winter aid together," she continued.
Germany has already sent 100 generators to Ukraine amongst other things such as heaters, blankets and tents, the minister said.
11:15 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022
107 Ukrainian prisoners of war were exchanged for 107 Russian prisoners of war, Moscow says
From CNN's Olga Voitovych, Uliana Pavlova and Yulia Kesaieva
Russia's defense ministry is reporting that 107 Russian prisoners of war (POW) were swapped for 107 Ukrainian POWs on Thursday.
Earlier on Thursday, Denis Pushilin, head of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), said that 107 "of our fighters" are being returned from "Ukrainian dungeons."
In exchange, 107 Ukrainian soldiers are being released, he added.
"Today we are returning 107 of our fighters from Ukrainian dungeons. We are giving Ukraine the same number of prisoners, mostly servicemen of the AFU (Armed Forces of Ukraine) again. 65 people of the total number of the released are from the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics. Soon they will be able to hug their loved ones," Pushilin said on his Telegram channel Thursday.
Ukraine confirmed the exchanged.
"I know how Ukrainians wait for good news every day. And today we have them. We have returned home 107 of our people from Russian captivity. Among the liberated 107 soldiers: 6 officers, 101 privates and sergeants. 74 'Azovstal' defenders," said Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, on his Telegram channel Thursday.
Lubinets said that "seriously wounded and bedridden" prisoners from Mariupol were among those released with "with shrapnel wounds of arms and legs, gunshot wounds of different parts of the body. There are people with amputated limbs and burns, who cannot feel part of their face, with infected wounds."
Ukraine's Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War said Thursday that the POWs included service members from the National Guard, Navy, Armed Forces and other agencies. The POWs range in ages from 18 to 54. It said 83 were wounded during hostilities, with some in critical condition.
11:18 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022
US teams inspecting weapon stockpiles in Ukraine are not near the front lines, Pentagon says
From CNN's Michael Callahan
The Pentagon clarified that the team making inspections of weapons stockpiles in Ukraine are not near the front lines of the war and are conducting the inspections based on security conditions.
“When and where security conditions permit, a small team comprised of US Embassy Kyiv – Office of the Defense Attaché personnel have conducted multiple inspections of US security assistance deliveries within the last couple months at locations in Ukraine. These locations are not near the frontlines of Russia’s war against Ukraine. For operational security and force protection reasons, we won’t discuss specific numbers of personnel or inspection locations," according to Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder.
On Tuesday, CNN reported that the US had begun conducting on-site inspections of weapons stockpiles in Ukraine as part of a broad effort to assure US-provided weapons are not illegally diverted, according to the Pentagon. It was the first public acknowledgement that troops are being used for other than embassy protection.
"To be clear, these inspections are not reactive – we have no evidence of widespread diversion of US security assistance in Ukraine. Rather, our approach to ensuring accountability for our security assistance is deliberate and proactive, as described in the recently-released U.S. Plan to Counter Illicit Diversion of Certain Advanced Conventional Weapons in Eastern Europe," he said.
Ryder added that the US conducted inspections in Ukraine prior to Russia's invasion in February.
10:15 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022
Russia summons UK ambassador after alleging Britain's involvement in Crimea drone strike
From CNN’s Anna Chernova
Moscow on Thursday summoned the British ambassador to Russia, Deborah Bronnert, over its allegations that Britain was involved planning a Ukrainian drone attack on the Crimean port city of Sevastapol, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The ministry gave a note of protest to the ambassador over Britain's alleged involvement in the drone strike on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, the statement said.
Russia has accused the UK of helping Ukraine to plan Saturday's drone attack, saying it was conducted under the guidance of British Navy specialists.
Britain on Saturday denied the claim, saying Russia was “peddling false claims of an epic scale."
The Russian ministry said in its statement that “the démarche emphasized that such confrontational actions by the British threaten to escalate the situation and can lead to unpredictable and dangerous consequences."
The ministry claimed that “concrete facts of such activity of London were provided” to the British ambassador. It did not specify any evidence for the claim.
9:49 a.m. ET, November 3, 2022
Russian defense ministry says Ukrainian assaults in Kherson repelled
From CNN's Uliana Pavlova
The Russian military has repelled attacks by Ukrainian forces in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, according to the defense ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov.
"Russian troops repelled five attacks by motorized infantry companies of the Armed Forces of Ukraine" in the direction of the four settlements of the Kherson region, Konashenkov said at a briefing Thursday in Moscow.
Three of those settlements are in the northeastern part of Kherson region — about 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) from the capital. The area has seen heavy fighting over the last month.
"As a result of the fire defeat and decisive actions of the Russian troops, the enemy was thrown back to its original positions," Konashenkov said, adding that "the total losses of the enemy amounted to more than 80 Ukrainian servicemen killed and wounded, six armored fighting vehicles and seven vehicles for various purposes."
Russian forces had also shot down an Mi-8 helicopter in the same area, Konashenkov said.
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."
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
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.