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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6:50 p.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Far-right House Republicans, led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, seek to cut off Ukraine aid

From CNN's Melanie Zanona

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene  speaks as Rep. Matt Gaetz, left, and Rep. Thomas Massie listen during a news conference at the US Capitol on Thursday, November 17.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks as Rep. Matt Gaetz, left, and Rep. Thomas Massie listen during a news conference at the US Capitol on Thursday, November 17. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In a preview of the intra-party battle ahead, far-right House Republicans, led by MAGA firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, vowed Thursday to fight against Ukraine aid.

She said, at a news conference with other members, that she'd introduced an effort to force a vote on a resolution requiring the Biden administration to provide all documents related to the security assistance that has already been appropriated to Ukraine.

The long-shot bid does not have buy-in from members of the Republican leadership, though they were given a heads-up about the news conference. 

The far-right members also seized on House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s previous promise of no more “blank checks” to Ukraine, even though McCarthy later clarified he just wants to ensure greater oversight of any federal dollars. 

“Is Ukraine now the 51st state of the United States of America and what position does Zelensky have in our government?” Greene said, referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“I will not vote for one more dollar to Ukraine,” added Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Some background: While the anti-Ukraine wing of the party only represents a fraction of the GOP, this group could have leverage in a razor-thin majority.

CNN projects that Republicans will win control of the House – but their majority will be a narrow one. As of Thursday evening, CNN projected Republicans will control 218 seats compared to 210 for the Democrats. If the current leaders of the remaining uncalled races wind up winning, that would leave Republicans with 221 seats.

5:33 p.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Poland will move quickly with investigation into missile incident, official says

From CNN's Niamh Kennedy, Zoe Cantley and Anna Gorzkowska

A Polish official told CNN on Thursday that his country will move quickly with its investigation into the missile that landed on the Polish village of Przewodow on Tuesday.

Speaking to CNN’s Isa Soares, Polish Ministry for Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lukasz Jasina said that Poland is pushing ahead with its investigation into the incident, adding that the authorities expect to receive the results in the next few days.

Jasina said that Ukrainian experts will also be allowed access to the site, stressing there first needs to be “some legal arrangements to create a good space for their expertise.”

Some background: Earlier today, Polish President Andrzej Duda said that Ukrainian investigators will be allowed to observe the investigation, “but when it comes to participation in proceedings and access to documents and information, it requires specific treaty grounds, specific grounds in the field of international law and international agreements.”

Jasina, who told CNN that he comes from the region where the missile exploded, said the mood among his friends and neighbors is “very very sad.”

“Russian threat is direct not only for Ukraine but also for Poland and other European states. That war is against all of us, against our values, against Europe, against our style of life,” he added.

5:43 p.m. ET, November 17, 2022

10 million Ukrainians are without electricity after another wave of missile attacks, Zelensky says

From CNN's Denis Lapin in Kyiv and Tim Lister

A view of the dark streets after a massive Russian missile strike on critical infrastructure in Lviv, Ukraine, November 15.
A view of the dark streets after a massive Russian missile strike on critical infrastructure in Lviv, Ukraine, November 15. (Olena Znak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country is enduring emergency power cuts Thursday night after more Russian missile attacks, just as temperatures fall to freezing and below.

In his daily video message, Zelensky said crews are doing everything to normalize supply, but there were "emergency power cuts again in addition to the planned stabilization ones."

"As of now, more than 10 million Ukrainians are without electricity," he said — the same number as on Tuesday night after a barrage of missile attacks.

Most of the outages are in Vinnytsia, Odesa, Sumy and Kyiv regions, the president said.

Yasno, a power supplier in Kyiv, said the city had experienced emergency blackouts all day, with the grid having less than half of its normal supply. It said power engineers were trying to stabilize the system to avoid even greater damage. 

Zelensky said that dozens of people were wounded as a result of a missile strike in Dnipro. In Zaporizhzhia, seven bodies had been recovered from the debris of a residential building destroyed by Russian shelling on Wednesday night, he said.

"Again and again, we repeat to our partners that only full protection of Ukrainian skies will save both Ukraine and Europe from many possible escalations of Russian aggression and will definitely encourage Russia to truly end the war," Zelensky said as Ukraine endures waves of missile strikes.

Zelensky also welcomed the renewal for four months of the Black Sea grain export accord and the verdict at the MH17 trial in the Netherlands.

3:54 p.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Brittney Griner moved to Russian penal colony

From CNN’s Frederik Pleitgen, Zahra Ullah and Kylie Atwood

US basketball player Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony in August for drug smuggling, is seen on a screen via a video link from a remand prison during a court hearing to consider an appeal against her sentence, at the Moscow regional court on October 25.
US basketball player Brittney Griner, who was sentenced to nine years in a Russian penal colony in August for drug smuggling, is seen on a screen via a video link from a remand prison during a court hearing to consider an appeal against her sentence, at the Moscow regional court on October 25. (Kirll Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

US basketball star Brittney Griner has been moved to a penal colony in Russia’s Mordovia region, her legal team told CNN in a statement Thursday.

“We can confirm that Brittney began serving her sentence at IK-2 in Mordovia. We visited her early this week. Brittney is doing as well as could be expected and trying to stay strong as she adapts to a new environment,” Griner’s lawyers, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, told CNN on Thursday.

Griner's lawyers said they would like to “thank everyone who has expressed care for her,” and that they have received “numerous messages of support.”

They added that “considering that this is a very challenging period for her,” there will be no further comment from them.

The US State Department said that Griner’s location has still not been shared with them by the Russian government. 

“We are aware of reports of her location, and in frequent contact with Ms. Griner's legal team,” a State Department spokesperson said Thursday.

“However, the Russian Federation has still failed to provide any official notification for such a move of a U.S. citizen, which we strongly protest. The Embassy has continued to press for more information about her transfer and current location,” the spokesperson added.

Griner's agent, Lindsay Colas, also told CNN that the Russian legal team has seen the WNBA star at the penal colony, where she has begun serving her 9-year sentence.

“Despite the fact she is alone and now nearing her ninth month in detention separated from her loved ones, she is trying to stay strong. At this time, we will not be sharing any further details, but want to express our deepest thanks to the Biden Administration, the Richardson Center, and to everyone who has reached out to offer words of encouragement to her,” Colas said.

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport shortly before the war began and accused by Russian prosecutors of trying to smuggle less than 1 gram of cannabis oil in her luggage.

The Russian region of Mordovia, which is more than 300 miles from Moscow, is the same region where American Paul Whelan is being held. The former US Marine is serving 16 years in a different penal colony on espionage charges that he denies.

What is life like in a penal colony? While the conditions vary greatly in different Russian penal colonies, there are reports of political prisoners being placed in harsh conditions. Prisoners can be subjected to “solitary confinement or punitive stays in psychiatric units,” the State Department’s human rights report says.

Russian law also allows for forced labor in penal colonies, and in some cases, inmates have been tortured to death, the report says. There are also reports of prison authorities recruiting inmates to abuse other inmates, the report adds.

3:08 p.m. ET, November 17, 2022

“No indication” that Poland is dealing with a direct threat, says Polish government spokesman

From CNN's Antonia Mortensen and Chris Liakos

There is “no indication” that Poland is dealing with a direct threat, Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller told reporters in Warsaw on Thursday, following Tuesday’s incident that left two people dead when a missile landed in the Polish village of Przewodow.

Based on the materials that have been collected by expert teams, “the reason for this event were Ukraine's defensive actions against Russia's offensive actions. There is no indication that we are dealing with a direct threat to our country,” he added. “At the moment, we know that on Nov. 15, Russia, which carried out a massive missile attack on the territory of Ukraine, led to a situation in which the Ukrainian anti-aircraft forces had to take defensive measures.”

Ukrainian officials said on Thursday that their investigators were getting access to the site of the blast.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said earlier today that Ukrainian investigators will be allowed to observe the investigation, “but when it comes to participation in proceedings and access to documents and information, it requires specific treaty grounds, specific grounds in the field of international law and international agreements.”

2:57 p.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Russian Foreign Ministry announces automatic extension of grain deal for 120 days

From CNN's Katharina Krebs

The UN-brokered deal that allows Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports during the war will be extended for 120 days in the same format, according to a news release from the Russian Foreign Ministry published on Thursday.

“The four-party deal by Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations, signed in Istanbul on July 22, will expire on November 18. The text of the document provides for its automatic extension for another 120 days in the absence of objections from any of the parties,” the ministry said.

“No such objections have been received,” it added.

According to the ministry, Moscow “has clearly and openly emphasised that the agreements on Ukrainian food and the effective implementation of the Russian-UN Memorandum on the normalisation of Russian agricultural exports is a package deal, and that remains unchanged.”

“We took note of the intensification of the UN Secretariat’s effort to fulfill its obligations in this regard and the information provided to us on the intermediate results of its work to remove obstacles to Russian fertiliser and food exports. All these issues must be resolved within 120 days, the period for which the package deal is to be extended,” the ministry said.

The ministry added that “any attempt to use the humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea for military provocations will receive a harsh response.”

Some context: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday cast doubt on the future of the agreement, saying it depended on existing terms being met. Earlier this month, Russia rejoined the deal after saying it was pulling out.

Ukraine and Russia together account for nearly a third of global wheat exports, and the grain deal has played a crucial role in lowering the price of wheat and other commodities globally.

1:51 p.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Russia will not extradite its citizens sentenced to life in prison by Dutch court in MH17 case, state media reports

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London

Russia says it will not extradite its citizens who were sentenced in absentia by a Dutch court to life imprisonment, Russian state media TASS reported on Thursday.

“The court decision does not create any legal consequences for us,” TASS reported, quoting Andrei Klishas, chairman of the Federation Council committee on constitutional legislation. “In general, we do not extradite Russian citizens to other states under any circumstances.”

This comes after a Dutch court sentenced three men — former Russian intelligence officers Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy, and Leonid Kharchenko, a Ukrainian separatist leader — to life imprisonment after they were convicted for their roles in the 2014 downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, which killed all 298 people onboard.

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.

1:24 p.m. ET, November 17, 2022

Russia continues rocket and artillery fire on the front lines, Ukraine's military says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Denis Lapin in Kyiv

Russian forces have carried out rocket and artillery attacks along the front lines in seven different regions — from Kherson and Mykolaiv in the south to Luhansk and Kharkiv in the northeast, the Ukrainian military said. The military added that these attacks are separate from the spate of Russian cruise missile attacks on Thursday against infrastructure.

There have been 25 missile strikes, and civilian infrastructure was hit in six regions, the Ukrainian military's General Staff said, adding that 23 people were injured in missile strikes in Dnipro and several people were killed in Zaporizhzhia.

Some of the shelling in the northeastern corner of Kharkiv appears to have come from Russian territory. 

In Donetsk and Luhansk regions, there was also heavy shelling in several areas — both where Ukrainian forces are on the attack around Svatove and where Russian units have been trying to break through around Bakhmut. In occupied Luhansk, it said, the movement of civilians had been restricted. 

The General Staff did not indicate any territory had been won or lost. 

1:22 p.m. ET, November 17, 2022

It's just after 8 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

Thursday saw some big developments in the Russia-Ukraine conflict — including a spate of Russian strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure, a Dutch court's verdict in the MH17 case and an extension for the Black Sea grain deal. If you're just joining us, catch up on the latest here.

  • Three men convicted in Flight MH17 tragedy: A Dutch court sentenced two Russian nationals — Igor Girkin and Sergey Dubinskiy — and one Ukrainian separatist, Leonid Kharchenko, 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 men all refused to take part in the trial and were tried in absentia, meaning it is highly unlikely they will serve those sentences. the crash took place in 2014, in the early phase of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The families of the victims of the MH17 tragedy were also awarded damages exceeding $16.5 million by a Dutch court on Thursday. Russia called the verdict "politically motivated," while the Ukrainian president, Dutch prime minister, US secretary of state and NATO chief welcomed the sentence.
  • Przewodow missile fired by Ukraine, analysis suggests: NATO, Polish and US officials have said that the deadly missile strike in Poland Tuesday was likely launched by Ukrainian air defenses, but that Russia bore ultimate responsibility. Ukrainian investigators arrived at the site of the strike after President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has said the missile was not Ukrainian, demanded that a Ukrainian team join the investigation, which is being led by Polish and US experts. Russia denied “any relation” with the missile incident on Wednesday, and a Kremlin spokesperson said that some leaders have made statements without understanding “what actually happened.”

  • Russian strikes on civilian infrastructure continue: Russian shelling and missile strikes on civilian infrastructure hit various parts of Ukraine overnight. A missile strike in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia region killed at least four people, while five people were wounded by Russian shelling in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro and another three men were hospitalized after being wounded in missile strikes in Izium in the Kharkiv region. Several gas production facilities in eastern Ukraine were destroyed and others damaged by shelling, and the southern region of Odesa was also hit by Russian strikes on Thursday.
  • Agreement reached to extend Black Sea grain deal: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres confirmed all parties had agreed to extend the UN-brokered Black Sea grain deal aimed at easing a global food crisis after Russia had cast doubt on its continued participation in the agreement. The deal, signed in July, had been due to expire on Saturday. In a tweet, Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said the deal would be "prolonged for 120 days."