November 17, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Eliza Mackintosh, Jack Guy, Aditi Sangal and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 2:32 a.m. ET, November 18, 2022
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10:26 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Two Russians and one Ukrainian sentenced to life in prison over downing of MH17

From CNN's Jack Guy and Radina Gigova

The court under the direction of President Steenhuis, second left, waits prior to verdict in the trial of four men prosecuted for their involvement in the MH17 downing case on November 17.
The court under the direction of President Steenhuis, second left, waits prior to verdict in the trial of four men prosecuted for their involvement in the MH17 downing case on November 17. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

A Dutch court has sentenced two Russian nationals and one Ukrainian separatist to life imprisonment after they were convicted for their roles in the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, which killed all 298 people onboard.

The court found that "only the highest appropriate prison sentence would be appropriate" for former Russian intelligence officers Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy, and Ukrainian separatist leader Leonid Kharchenko.

The court stated that "the consequences [of their actions] are so severe and the attitude of the accused is so detestable that a mere time-prescribed sentence would not suffice."

The men all refused to take part in the trial and were tried in absentia, meaning it is highly unlikely they will serve those sentences.

10:02 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Two Russians, one Ukrainian convicted of murder over downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

By CNN's Jack Guy

A Dutch court has convicted two Russians and one Ukrainian separatist of murder for their roles in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 people onboard.

Russian nationals Igor Girkin, a former colonel of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), and Sergey Dubinskiy, who was employed by Russia’s military intelligence agency GRU, were convicted along with Ukrainian separatist Leonid Kharchenko, who had no military background but is believed to have led a combat unit in Donetsk in July 2014.

A fourth suspect, Russian national Oleg Pulatov, a former soldier of the Russian special forces Spetsnaz-GRU, was acquitted.

The plane was flying over a region at the epicenter of fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces -- the precursor to the current war.

The men refused to attend the trial and were tried in absentia at Schiphol Judicial Complex in Badhoevedorp, the Netherlands. 

Hendrik Steenhuis, the presiding judge, cited the wealth of evidence for the court's decision and ruled out any alternative explanations for the incident.

The court found that a Russian Buk missile was used to bring down the plane and that Moscow was in control of the separatists at the time of the attack.

The court found that the missile launch was carried out deliberately, citing the fact that firing a Buk missile involves a complex process, but believed that the operators likely thought they were targeting a military aircraft rather than a passenger jet.

Steenhuis said those operating the Buk system would have been aware of the destructive power of the missile and the consequences of the attack would have been "crystal clear," namely the downing of any aircraft and the death of all of those on board.

The evidence reviewed by the court included including fragments of a Buk missile found embedded in the aircraft and the bodies of some of the victims, along with videos and images showing a Buk system being moved into eastern Ukraine from Russia and then back into Russian territory following the downing of the plane.

Read CNN's full report here.

9:43 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Kremlin says it will continue war regardless of weather

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

 Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine will continue regardless of weather conditions, the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists Thursday, as snow and cold temperatures hit the country.

Asked about millions of people left without electricity after massive strikes on Ukraine this week as temperatures are expected to drop further in the country, Peskov said: “The special military operation continues and its continuation does not depend on climatic, weather conditions.”

According to Peskov, Kyiv authorities are not willing to negotiate anymore. And if they are, they want “public” negotiations, which Moscow does not see happening. 

“It is hard to imagine public negotiations, there is no such thing. And even more so with public negotiations in such a situation,” Peskov said.

Pressed further on why millions of civilians are suffering without electricity and heat, Peskov referred to “unwillingness of the Ukrainian side to solve problems, to enter into negotiations.” 

Some context: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky repeatedly said over the months of war that Ukraine was willing to engage in diplomatic talks with the Russians. But he signed a decree in early October ruling out any negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. That decree came in response to Russia’s self-declared annexation of territories in eastern Ukraine following sham referendums there.

9:35 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

23 injured in Russian strikes on Dnipro, regional authorities say

From CNN's Julia Kesaieva in Kyiv

Authorities in the Ukrainian region of Dnipropetrovsk say 23 people were injured in Russian missile attacks earlier Thursday, and 15 are hospitalized.

An industrial enterprise, houses, trolleybuses and a busy street were damaged, said Valentyn Reznichenko, head of Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration.

Missiles struck "when people were already on the streets. They were going to work, going about their business. Just living their usual lives," he added.

9:39 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Secretary of state says US is sharing all information on Poland missile incident with Ukraine

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken press conference during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 17.
U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken press conference during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 17. (Anusak Laowilas/NurPhoto/Getty Images)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that the United States is “sharing the information that we have” with Ukraine, adding that all partners – the US, NATO, Poland, and Ukraine – have “a commitment to follow the facts” regarding the deadly incident in eastern Poland.

“We've been in regular contact with our Ukrainian partners,” Blinken said at a press conference in Bangkok. “We’re sharing the information that we have.”

Blinken reiterated that the investigation is ongoing but the US has “seen nothing so far that contradicts President Duda’s preliminary assessment that that this was likely the result of Ukrainian air defense missile that unfortunately landed in in Poland.”

However, Blinken again said that “no matter the exact details of this incident, Russia is responsible for what happened,” because of Moscow's aggressive barrage of missile strikes and perpetuation of the war. 

Despite the Polish and NATO initial assessments, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had publicly argued on Tuesday and early Wednesday that the missile was not Ukrainian.

In his Wednesday night address, he said, "The Ukrainian position is very transparent: we want to establish all the details, every fact. That is why we need our experts to join the work of the international investigation and to get access to all the data available to our partners and to the site of the explosion."

Blinken said Thursday that Zelensky “has been in touch with the Polish president himself to clarify the facts.”

“The chair of Ukraine's national security and defense council said that Ukraine is pursuing a comprehensive analysis of what happened,” the top US diplomat said.

9:19 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Some US weapons and ammunition for Ukraine are low in supply

From CNN's Jim Sciutto, Jeremy Herb, Katie Bo Lillis and Oren Liebermann

The US is running low on some high-end weapons systems and ammunition available to transfer to Ukraine, three US officials with direct knowledge tell CNN.

The strain on weapons stockpiles – and the ability of the US industrial base to keep up with demand – is one of the key challenges facing the Biden administration as the US continues to send billions of dollars of weapons to Ukraine to support its fight against Russia. One of the officials said the stockpiles of certain systems are “dwindling” after nearly nine months of sending supplies to Kyiv during the high-intensity war, as there’s “finite amount” of excess stocks which the US has available to send.

Among the weapons systems where there’s particular concern about US stockpiles meeting Ukrainian demands are 155mm artillery ammunition and Stinger anti-aircraft shoulder-fired missiles, the sources said.

Some sources also raised concerns about US production of additional weapons systems, including HARMs anti-radiation missiles, GMLRS surface-to-surface missiles and the portable Javelin anti-tank missiles – although the US has moved to ramp up production for those and other systems.

For the first time in two decades, the US is not directly involved in a conflict after withdrawing from Afghanistan and transitioning to an advisory role in Iraq. Without the need to produce weapons and ammunition for a war, the US has not manufactured the quantities of material needed to sustain an enduring, high-intensity conflict.

Multiple officials underscored that the US would never put at risk its own readiness, and every shipment is measured against its impact on US strategic reserves and war plans.

10:21 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Investigators found 11 detention centers and evidence of "torture" in Kherson, minister says

From CNN’s Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv, and Katharina Krebs and Jo Shelley in London

In newly liberated parts of the Kherson region, Ukrainian war crimes investigators have found 11 detention centers and evidence of “torture” used in four of them, said Ukraine's internal affairs minister Wednesday evening. 

"Eleven places of detention have been discovered, of which torture was used in four places," Denys Monastyrskyi told Ukrainian TV.

After Russian forces retreated across the Dnipro river last week, Ukrainian forces reclaimed much of the Kherson region, including the regional capital.

The police and Ukrainian security services were working to gather evidence, “recording every fact of torture, finding witnesses, as well as exhuming the bodies of the dead,” Monastyrskyi said. 

While he did not specify locations, he said 63 bodies had been found so far.

CNN cannot independently verify Monastyrskyi’s claims.

Russia has previously denied allegations of war crimes and claimed its forces do not target civilians, despite extensive evidence gathered by international human rights experts, criminal investigators and international media in multiple locations. 

On Tuesday, Alexander Malkevich, a member of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, an advisory body largely packed with pro-government loyalists, said that Kyiv was planning to accuse the Russian military of crimes in Kherson, in an interview on Russian state-owned Sputnik radio.

10:21 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Ukrainian electricity company says 40% of consumers are without power as temperatures drop

From Julia Kesaieva in Kyiv

As Russia launches more missile attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, one of the country's electricity suppliers says the situation is "very difficult" but under control.

The CEO of DTEK, Dmytro Sakharuk, told Ukrainian television that "on average in the country, about 40% of consumers are left without electricity as of now."

DTEK Group is a leading private investor in Ukraine's energy sector.

Sakharuk said the "Russians have caused very serious damage to transmission facilities — these are substations that transmit electricity from one district to another, through which many regions in the center and west are supplied." 

He said one of the company's thermal power plants had been hit, and the damage had shut it down.

"All over the country, there are emergency shutdown schedules. Some areas are very significantly limited. And this will continue until the restoration work begins," he added.
"Partially the restoration works have already begun, partially the debris of the destroyed equipment needs to be removed and the territory de-mined."

He warned about the prospect for days-long power outages.

"Now we must be prepared for the fact that there may be no electricity for days," he said. "Now we are going to talk not about scheduled power outages, but about scheduled power supply. And, unfortunately, the number of hours during which these power supplies will be turned on will be very short, 2-3 hours maximum."

Sakharuk's comments came as temperatures dropped across Ukraine, and Kyiv saw its first snowfall of the winter. 

8:58 a.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Russia launched "up to 18 cruise missiles" at Ukraine on Thursday morning, Ukraine says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Kesaieva

Four KH-101 cruise missiles and five Iranian-made drones were shot down amid a wave of missile attacks by Russia on Thursday, the Ukrainian Air Force says.

"Russia again struck with strategic aircraft Tu-95M from the area of Volgodonsk of Rostov region," the Air Force Command said. "In total, nine missile-carrying bombers launched up to 18 cruise missiles of Kh-101/Kh-555 type."

The targets included an enterprise in Dnipropetrovsk region and a gas production facility, it noted. The Kremlin has stepped up attacks on Ukraine's critical energy infrastructure in the last several weeks.

The four cruise missiles brought down were destroyed by Air Command "Center" and all five Iranian-made Shahed UAVs that attacked Ukraine from the territory of Belarus were destroyed in the central region, it added.

In the south, the Air Force said, air defenses destroyed two Kh-59 guided missiles.

In recent weeks, Ukrainian air defenses have destroyed about two-thirds of incoming missiles, and a higher proportion of Iranian drones.