November 13, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

kherson liberation crowd robertson
'Absolute euphoria': CNN on the ground as Kherson celebrates liberation
02:32 - Source: CNN

What we covered here

  • Kherson is now a frontline city in the war in Ukraine after Russian forces withdrew from the region west of the Dnipro River. A CNN crew saw joyful scenes in the city following the pullback.
  • The Russian retreat marks one of the biggest setbacks for Moscow since the start of the war. Kherson was the only Ukrainian regional capital that Russian forces had captured since February’s invasion.
  • Ukrainian officials are restoring key services in parts of the region, but the military warns that Russian attacks are a present danger even in liberated areas.
  • The G20 summit begins this week, and it’s not yet clear whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend virtually — or how Western leaders would react.
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Zelensky: Investigators found evidence of more than 400 war crimes in liberated Kherson region

Investigators have uncovered more than 400 cases of alleged Russian war crimes in the Kherson region since the exit of Moscow’s forces from the area, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday.

“Investigators have already documented more than 400 Russian war crimes, the bodies of both civilians and military personnel are being found,” Zelensky said in his nightly address.

“In the Kherson region, the Russian army left behind the same atrocities as in other regions of our country where it was able to enter,” he said.

The president added that “detention of Russian soldiers and mercenaries who were left behind, and neutralization of saboteurs, are also ongoing.”

Zelensky warned “the situation in the Kherson region is still very dangerous.”

“First of all, there are mines. Unfortunately, one of our sappers was killed, and four others were injured while clearing mines,” he said.

Zelensky was echoing warnings voiced by a local Ukrainian official earlier Sunday, who told Kherson region residents to beware of encounters with Russian soldiers and to look out for mines or missile strikes from Moscow’s military.

Ukrainian military says it has liberated 179 settlements on the west bank of the Dnipro River

The Ukrainian military says it has liberated 179 settlements on the west bank of the Dnipro River in the past week.

Meanwhile, military spokesman Vladyslav Nazarov says the Russians “continue defensive operations and the construction of fortifications on the left (east) bank” of the river.

According to Nazarov, Russians have “14 ships on combat duty and one missile carrier equipped with eight cruise missiles ready for use” stationed in the Black Sea. 

“In the Sea of ​​Azov, the enemy continues to control sea communications by keeping one ship on combat duty, and in the Mediterranean Sea, there are 10 enemy ships on combat duty, 5 of them carrying Kalibr cruise missiles, with a total salvo of 76 missiles,” the Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Facebook Sunday. 

Russian forces caused as much as $270M in damage looting agricultural bases, Ukrainian MP claims

Russian soldiers stole 100,000 tons of sunflower and corn seeds from an agricultural base in the Kherson region, Oleksiy Goncharenko, a Ukrainian member of parliament, wrote in a Facebook post Sunday.

The base was located in the village of Novoraisk, and the damage there was extensive, according to the lawmaker.

“The base itself is destroyed,” Goncharenko wrote. “The occupiers stole almost everything that was on the territory of the base: fuel and sowing equipment, plant protection products worth 60 million dollars, about 100 thousand tons of sunflower and corn seeds.”

Goncharenko also said Russian soldiers stole harvesters, tractors and unmanned aerial vehicles for land cultivation. According to the politician, damages are estimated to be worth $250 to 270 million.

“The occupiers damaged the largest poultry factory in Europe, ‘Chornobaivska,’” he added, “More than 4 million adult chickens and about 700,000 young chickens died without an opportunity of being utilized.”

Goncharenko also posted a video from inside the base obtained from a Ukrainian soldier. The video shows piles of rubble, looted agricultural equipment and vehicles.

Officials restoring services in liberated parts of Kherson region, but still warn residents of danger

Residents use their mobile phones near a Starlink satellite-based broadband station in Kherson, Ukraine, on November 13.

The head of the regional military administration in the Kherson region shared an update on the state of liberated villages Sunday, including rules imposed under martial law and the restoration of key services.

Despite the return of Ukrainian control, residents should stay out of recently liberated areas for risk of Russian attacks, the official, Yaroslav Yanushevich, wrote in a Telegram post Sunday. 

“There remains a high probability of enemy shelling on the right (west) bank of Dnipro River in Kherson region. The Russian army, when fleeing, starts fighting with civilians out of hopelessness. We have repeatedly seen this in many liberated settlements,” he warned. 

But Ukrainian leaders say they have successfully reintroduced some essential services in the region.

“It has already been possible to restore the supply of natural gas to more than 300 residents of the liberated settlements of the Kherson region,” Yanushevich wrote.

He also said that mobile connection has been restored in the city of Kherson. 

“LTE from Kyivstar (the Ukrainian mobile operator) is already working in the city center on the square near the Regional State Administration,” he said. 

A CNN team saw one communication tower in Kherson city Sunday.

Yanushevich reported that during the Russian occupation of the city of Kherson, most pharmacies stopped working. He assured that “the pharmacies will resume work after demining of the territories.” 

The region remains under martial law, the official said. Ukrainian authorities have banned water transportation in the region through Nov. 19, saying it’s for the protection of residents.

Russia is focusing its efforts in Kherson region on equipping defensive lines, Ukrainian official says

Russian troops are focusing their efforts in the Kherson region on fortifying their defenses along the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, according to a Ukrainian military assessment.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine General Staff shared that report in an operational update Sunday night.

The AFU also said Russia is conducting assaults in the Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Novopavlikvka areas, which are all in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

Other eastern areas like Kupyansk and Lyman are also getting hit by artillery, the military said.

Within the last day, Russian troops carried out one missile attack and six air strikes, and conducted over 14 attacks from multiple rocket launchers, according to the AFU report.

Putin calls off mobilization of college students in two annexed regions of Ukraine, Russia state media says

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a press conference on October, 31, in Sochi, Russia.

University students of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic — in Russian-occupied Eastern Ukraine — will no longer be called to Russian military service, a Kremlin official told Russian state media Sunday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has given instructions to “demobilize” the students and organize for their return home, spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RIA Novosti.

The announcement refers to those students who were mobilized before the self-proclaimed republics were illegally annexed by Russia, according to RIA.

Peskov added that the students now will be sent home and continue their education.

Some background: Russia announced at the start of this month that its “partial mobilization” of hundreds of thousands of citizens to fight in the country’s war on Ukraine has been completed.

It brought to an end a controversial draft that sparked protests and an exodus of men from the country.

Officials said the draft’s target of recruiting 300,000 personnel had been met as of late October.

Russian shelling hits hospital in Donetsk region but no casualties reported, Ukrainian official says

Russia continued shelling Ukrainian cities Sunday, with Toretsk in the eastern Donetsk region coming under some of the heaviest fire, the head of the regional military administration said.

The official, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said on Telegram that a hospital complex with a maternity building and a sanatarium had been shelled, but there were no casualties.

Toretsk lies roughly between Donetsk city and Kramatorsk, east of the Dnipro River in one of the four regions illegally annexed by Russia. It’s an area with some of the most brutal fighting in the war.

A CNN team on the ground earlier this week saw heavy shelling of Toretsk and heard the hospital had been hit the previous week, as well.

Ukrainian troops told CNN that casualty figures had been high in the area. 

CNN has not independently verified Ukraine’s latest report on shelling.

Uncertainty surrounds whether Putin will virtually attend G20 — and how Western nations would react

US National security adviser Jake Sullivan on Sunday would not comment on the possibility of any European nations declining to participate in the G20 summit in order to send a message to Russia, saying that was not a move that he had heard about directly from his European counterparts. 

“I will look forward to the opportunity to hear their thinking before I comment on it,” Sullivan told reporters on Air Force One en route to Indonesia. 

Sullivan added that Russian President Vladimir Putin virtually participating in the G20 was a “hypothetical” at this point, so he couldn’t comment on what, if any reaction, Biden would have if that were to come to fruition. 

At the ASEAN summit that President Biden just participated in in Cambodia, Sullivan said that US officials did not have any substantive conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Russian Ministry of Defense says its forces captured a village in the Donetsk region

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov attends a briefing in Moscow, on March 25.

Russian troops have captured the settlement of Mayorsk in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, according to the daily briefing of the Russian Defense Ministry on Sunday.  

“As a result of successful offensive operations by Russian troops, the village of Mayorsk has been completely liberated in the Donetsk direction,” Igor Konashenkov, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, said.

Fighting has been particularly fierce along the frontlines in that eastern region.

Russian-backed official claims southern dam suffered "enormous" damage from Ukrainian shelling

A Russian official accused Kyiv’s forces of causing “enormous” damage to the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant and dam in southern Ukraine.

Vladimir Leontiev, the Russian-installed official in Nova Kakhovka, made the allegations on Russian state television Sunday, saying he believes repairs will take at least a year.

“We are not talking about a framework of few months, of course. It will take a year or more, it should be assessed by experts,” said Leontiev about the dam in Kherson region. 

“But, despite significant damage, the station continues to operate. Obviously, in such a situation, under such shelling, it will probably have to be conserved,” he added. 

Ukraine has not said it shelled the plant. CNN cannot independently verify Russia’s claim.

Leontiev claimed other infrastructure facilities were also damaged as a result of strikes by Ukraine’s forces. Among them are the Kakhovka Main Canal, the North Crimean Canal and others.

Some background: Pro-Russian officials in the annexed Kherson region claim that the evacuation of civilians and the retreat of Russian troops there is due to the threat of flooding. The Moscow-installed leaders say it could be devastating if the Ukrainian military hit the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam.

Ukraine has accused Russia itself of damaging critical infrastructure in the region, and of creating hysteria to justify the forced relocation of people from Kherson.

Kherson is now on the frontline of the war in Ukraine after Russian pullback, CNN reports

Ukrainian soldiers sit in a truck in Kherson, Ukraine, on November 13.

CNN’s Nic Robertson provided an update from the liberated Ukrainian city of Kherson Sunday morning. Robertson and his team witnessed the emotional liberation on Saturday. 

“Kherson is now a frontline city,” Robertson said, with Russian forces just across the Dnipro River.

This is not the end of the struggle against Russian occupation in the country, he said. 

“Last night and in the early hours of this morning you could hear outgoing fire towards the Russian forces,” Robertson reported.

“It is unclear what form the battle may take around here. It is a strategic river, I don’t think there is any likelihood that the Russian soldiers will come across,” Robertson said. 

Ukrainian authorities now have to work on restoring electricity, water and basic services, he added. “There is even a glimmer a few moments ago of a possible” return of 3G phone services coming back.

There is a curfew from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. local time every day, according to Robertson.

Security issues remain the city, with a threat of collaborators with the Russians.

Weather conditions are becoming more tough, with sub-zero temperatures at night. There is no heating in the city. Ukrainian authorities have said that those who find it too hard to live in Kherson can move to other parts of the country — they do have freedom of movement now.

A Ukrainian couple is making sure women fighting on the frontlines in the war have uniforms that fit

Twenty-one-year-old Roksolana, left, tries on her new boots while Kseniia Drahanyuk, the co-founder of the Zemlyachki NGO, helps her fill a suitcase with all kinds of items.

Andrii Kolesnyk and Kseniia Drahanyuk both beam with excitement as they crouch over a box.

They are about to unpack Ukraine’s first ever military uniform for pregnant women, which they recently commissioned after a pregnant sniper got in touch.

The young couple, both TV journalists before the war started, are now fully dedicated to their independent NGO, “Zemlyachki,” or “Compatriots,” which procures vital items for women in the armed forces.

The initiative started when Andrii’s sister was sent to the front on Feb. 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine.

“She received men’s uniform, men’s underwear,” he said. “Everything that (was) designed for men.”

It soon became clear that servicewomen needed a lot more than uniforms. Everything from smaller boots to lighter plates for bulletproof vests to hygiene products is in demand.

So, the couple turned to private company donations, charity funds and crowdfunding to purchase goods independently of the military. Some customized gear, such as women’s fatigues, is produced under their own brand by a factory in Kharkiv in the country’s east — including the new pregnancy uniform.

The NGO procures vital items for women in the armed forces.

Other items, including body armor plates, helmets and boots, come from companies as far afield as Sweden, Macedonia and Turkey. But Kolesnyk and Drahanyuk say they are struggling with the procurement of winter items like sleeping bags and thermal clothing that will be important for comfort as winter sets in.

Kolesnyk said they have distributed equipment worth $1 million so far and helped at least 3,000 women. If they’re on the frontline shooting rockets they might as well do it “in minimum comfort,” he tells CNN.

There are currently about 38,000 women in the armed forces, according to the country’s Ministry of Defense.

“We are doing this to help our government,” Kolesnyk said, not to compete with it. Their hub is overflowing with cardboard boxes full of kit, all paid for from crowdfunding and grants.

A physical disability prevents Kolesnyk from joining his sister, father and brother-in-law on the frontline, a fact that saddens him.

“For a man, it’s hard to understand that you can’t go there, and your sister is there. So, I’m trying to do my best here to help not only my family, but the whole army,” he said.

Twenty-one-year-old Roksolana, who gave only her first name for security reasons, walks in to pick up a uniform and other gear before heading out on her next assignment. An art school graduate, she joined the army in March and is now part of an intelligence unit.

“It’s so valuable to have these people who understand that we are tired of wearing clothes that are three sizes too big,” she said. “We had no helmets, we had old flak jackets, wore tracksuits and sneakers. Now we feel that we are humans.”

"I'm currently on leave and allowed myself designed nails for the first time in nine months," Roksolana tells CNN while she tries on her new military boots.

She giggles as she laces up her new boots with impeccable long fingernails. Before they hug goodbye, Drahanyuk hands Roksolana a copy of “The Choice,” the best-selling memoir by Holocaust survivor and psychologist Edith Eger. The aim is that this can be a tool to help process trauma. Zemlyachki has also formed partnerships with military psychologists to whom women in combat can reach out.

Read more here.

At least 430 children killed as a result of Russia's invasion, Ukraine's prosecutor general says

Relatives mourn at a funeral for two children and a mother in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 19.

At least 430 children have been killed as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and a further 1,260 children have been wounded, according to Ukraine’s prosecutor general.

In a statement Sunday, the prosecutor general’s office said it was still working on establishing the number of children killed or injured in frontline areas, recently liberated places and parts of Ukraine still occupied by Russian forces.

The eastern Donetsk region, where fighting has been particularly fierce, has seen the highest number of child victims. It is followed by Kharkiv, Kyiv and Mykolaiv, according to the prosecutor general.

At least 332 schools and educational institutions in Ukraine have been destroyed since February as the war rages, with a further 2,719 damaged.

What it's like to be in Kherson right now: full of hope but also uncertainty

A resident welcomes Ukrainian soldiers with flowers as the Ukrainian military enters the southern city of Kherson, Ukraine on November 12.

Once the scene of Russian occupation, the drive into newly liberated Kherson city was eerily quiet.

For much of the journey through smaller towns and settlements, our team of CNN journalists was forced to drive through diversions and fields; bridges over canals were blown up, and roads were full of craters and littered with anti-tank mines.

Trenches and checkpoints were empty, quickly abandoned by Russians who on Friday announced they had withdrawn from the west bank of the Dnipro River in the strategic southern region of Kherson, leaving the regional capital of the same name and surrounding areas to the Ukrainians.

The outskirts of the city, which had been occupied by Russian forces since March 3, were deserted, with no military presence except for a Ukrainian checkpoint around 5 miles outside of the city center, where half a dozen soldiers waved CNN’s crew in.

Once the scene of large protests against Russian plans to transform the region into a breakaway pro-Russian republic, the streets of Kherson are now filled with jubilant residents wrapped in Ukrainian flags or with painted faces, singing and shouting.

The military presence is still limited, but huge cheers erupt from crowds on the street every time a truck full of soldiers drives past, with Ukrainian soldiers being offered soup, bread, flowers, hugs and kisses by elated passersby.

After living under Russian occupation, every person we’ve spoken to has had experiences that terrified them. Earlier today, a teenager told CNN he had been taken and beaten by Russian soldiers who believed he was a spy. Residents told us they are emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed by what this newfound freedom means.

With the Russian forces gone, everyone wants you to understand what they’ve been through, how euphoric they feel right now and how much they’re grateful to the countries who have helped them.

But Ukrainians are under no illusion that Kherson’s freedom spells the end of their country’s ordeal or the difficulties that winter will bring.

Everyone we have spoken to is aware that there are tougher days to come, that the Russians across the river could shell them here. It is also unclear whether all Russian troops have left Kherson and the wider region. Behind this euphoria, there’s still that uncertainty.

Ukrainian foreign minister: There is “not a single indication that Russia is sincerely seeking negotiations”

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during a media briefing during the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on November 12.

Russia is not “sincerely seeking negotiations,” Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said Saturday, following the retreat of Russian forces from the western half of Kherson.

“As of now, everything we’ve seen, is the attempt of Russia to use negotiations … as a smokescreen for its continued aggression on the ground,” Kuleba said in a press conference during his visit to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Phnom Penh. Kuleba is visiting the Cambodian city to sign an amity and cooperation treaty with ASEAN on behalf of Ukraine.

“If you hear someone in the evening in Moscow speaking about negotiations, make no mistake, there will be a missile attack in the morning,” Kuleba added.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov did not request a meeting with him, Kuleba said, adding that if such request were made, Ukraine “will thoroughly consider his request, taking into account all aspects and reality on the ground.”

Kuleba urged Russia to “approach talks in good faith,” adding that “every war ends with diplomacy.”

Lavrov arrived in Phnom Penh on Saturday, according to Russia’s foreign ministry. 

Kuleba also urged ASEAN countries to “take every measure possible” to keep open the grain corridor, a UN and Turkey-brokered safe corridor to export Ukrainian agricultural products through the Black Sea.


No water, power or internet – only euphoria in newly liberated Kherson
Jubilant Kherson residents hug liberating soldiers – but know Russians are still just over the river
Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson is a humiliating setback. Here’s what it means for the war
Banksy unveils mural in Ukrainian town liberated from Russians


No water, power or internet – only euphoria in newly liberated Kherson
Jubilant Kherson residents hug liberating soldiers – but know Russians are still just over the river
Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson is a humiliating setback. Here’s what it means for the war
Banksy unveils mural in Ukrainian town liberated from Russians