November 18, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Aditi Sangal, Hannah Strange, Sana Noor Haq and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 8:59 p.m. ET, November 18, 2022
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4:18 p.m. ET, November 18, 2022

Russian official claims possibility of prisoner swap for arms trafficker is getting stronger

From CNN's Darya Tarasova and Lauren Kent

The Kremlin hopes for a "positive outcome" in negotiations on a prisoner exchange for Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, an official told Russian state media Friday.

That remark comes as the US blames Moscow for bringing unreasonable demands to the table in discussions on two Americans jailed in Russia.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told the state media agency TASS that Bout, who is serving a 25-year US prison sentence, is "one of those that are being discussed" in conversations with the Biden administration.

Ryabkov said that while the two sides "haven't reached a common denominator yet," the possibility of a prisoner swap is not only possible but getting stronger.

"The time will come when the prospect will become a concrete agreement," he said, according to the state media report.

In August, Bout’s attorney Steve Zissou told CNN's "New Day" he was confident the proposed prisoner swap of his client is going to happen.

"Look, it’s no secret they’ve been wanting him back for several years now," he said. "They’ve been trying to get him back for decades."

What the US is saying: In July, CNN reported that the Biden administration offered to exchange Bout as part of a potential deal to secure the release of two Americans held by Russia, basketball star Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.

The State Department has declared both Griner and Whelan wrongfully detained. And US officials have blamed Moscow for not bringing reasonable expectations to the negotiations on their release.

Asked about Ryabkov's comments Friday, state department spokesperson Vedant Patel said Russia's "failure to seriously negotiate on these issues ... runs counter to its public statements."

“Ultimately here, actions speak louder than words,” Patel added.

Russian officials have requested that Vadim Krasikov, a former colonel from the country’s domestic spy agency, be included in the proposed swap of Bout for Griner and Whelan, multiple sources familiar with the discussions have told CNN.

More background: Whelan has been held by Russia for alleged espionage since 2018, while Griner was recently transferred to a penal colony after she was sentenced to 9 years in jail for smuggling drugs into Russia.

Griner’s detention has raised concerns she is being used as a political pawn in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand and Fred Pleitgen contributed to this report.

12:51 p.m. ET, November 18, 2022

Power has been restored for nearly 100% of Ukrainians, energy official says

From CNN’s Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv and Jennifer Hauser in Atlanta

Power has been restored nearly everywhere in Ukraine after more than 10 million customers were disconnected Thursday, according to Oleksandr Kharchenko, the director of the Energy Industry Research Center.

"Maybe nearly 300 consumers are still out of connection, but most of them are near the frontline," Kharchenko told reporters Friday, while giving updates on restoration work after Thursday's missile attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure. 

The situation is getting better with each hour, he said, adding that he hopes "we can have at least 10- to 12-days pause so that we can restore the network sustainability."

There was a shutdown at Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant in the west and one power unit of the Rivne Nuclear Power Plant in the northwest caused by damage to substations and power lines Thursday, he confirmed.

"The power units shut down for several hours and diesel generators had to be used. Nevertheless, the situation is much better now, access to the network of most power units has been restored and I think that in the near future we will be able to resume their work," Kharchenko said.

He said that a lack of electricity affects not just power but also mobile phone networks, electrical pumps used to supply water and waste treatment. Several cities, including Kyiv, were without water for four to 10 hours.

12:09 p.m. ET, November 18, 2022

A Ukrainian teen fled his home with a backpack and his dad’s bassoon. Soon he'll debut at Carnegie Hall

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Dmytro Tishyn appears on CNN on November 18.
Dmytro Tishyn appears on CNN on November 18. (CNN)

While his family picks up rocket fragments in their backyard in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, 15-year-old Dmytro Tishyn is about to make his debut on the New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

His choice of instrument: his dad's bassoon.

Tishyn left Dnipro with just his backpack and bassoon. After waiting in a packed crowd of evacuees, he took a 24-hour train ride to Poland, making his way to Berlin and eventually arriving in the United States.

His family is still in Ukraine. His mother was with him for a short period, but chose to return to their home country. His brother couldn't leave because he was of the eligible age to serve in the army as Ukraine defends its territory from Russia's invasion.

"I try to call them or text at least every day. But the time difference is pretty big so it's sometimes it is hard," Tishyn said. "It's definitely not safe there because there are rockets and drones flying around Dnipro every day. And yesterday, my mom found a rocket fragments on my grandma's garden. But they're trying to stay positive."

As his debut approaches, the orchestra plans to send videos of Tishyn's performance to his family.

"I'm really excited because New York symphony is the best orchestra I've ever played in. It is just going to be great," he told CNN.

Tishyn also played a portion of a sonata for CNN. Watch here:

11:33 a.m. ET, November 18, 2022

"Almost half of our energy system has been disabled," Ukraine prime minister says

From CNN's Jennifer Hauser

Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine, on November 18.
Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal speaks in Kyiv, Ukraine, on November 18. (Ukrinform/Shutterstock)

Almost half of Ukraine's energy system has been disabled by Russian strikes, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told reporters Friday in Kyiv.

"Just on Nov. 15, Russia fired about 100 missiles at Ukrainian cities. Almost half of our energy system has been disabled," Shmygal said. 

He called for additional support from European partners as Russia continues to launch missile strikes on Ukraine's civilian infrastructure and temperatures continue to drop.

"In these conditions, we need additional support from our European partners, both in the field of energy, supply of additional equipment and additional financial resources for the purchase of additional volumes of gas, as well as for other support of the energy sector," Shmygal said.

9:50 a.m. ET, November 18, 2022

On the ground: Kyiv residents describe life without power and phone service as snow falls

From CNN's Dennis Lapin in Kyiv

Ten million Ukrainians are without power just as temperatures fall to freezing and below after more Russian missile attacks, President Volodymyr Zelensky said. CNN spoke to Kyiv residents and how they're coping under these conditions.

Volodimyr Hontar, 32, is the head of the training department of the Emergency Medical Care Center in Kyiv. Due to the nature of his work, ambulance stations are always independent of power outages and have electricity. However, it's when he comes home that problems begin.

"I live on the 9th floor, it's hard to go up without the elevator, which is turned off during power outages," he says. "But with my wife, it's romantic by candlelight in the evenings."

But Hontar is most concerned about soldiers at the front line. He says that if they're alright, everyone will be alright. 

(CNN)
(CNN)

Olena Kravchuk, 35, is a utility worker who lives in Irpin and works in Kyiv. The blackouts aren't affecting her job because she works outside, but at home, her kids have trouble logging into school online and miss classes.

"If there is no electricity and gas, there will be no heat, we are very worried about it," Kravchuck says. "When you come home from work, there's no light, you can't call your children, there's no cell phone or internet."

Elena Khaykina, 63, and Larisa Polyakova, 66, are pensioners displaced from Kharkiv who have been living in Kyiv for the past three months. 
Elena Khaykina, 63, and Larisa Polyakova, 66, are pensioners displaced from Kharkiv who have been living in Kyiv for the past three months.  (

Elena Khaykina, 63, and Larisa Polyakova, 66, are pensioners displaced from Kharkiv who have been living in Kyiv for the past three months. Both women are very concerned about their loved ones who remain in Kharkiv. 

"My son in Kharkiv has no electricity 24 hours a day, it worries me a lot," Polyakova says. The power cuts are not as intense in the capital. 

"We are from Kharkiv, and we are united here in Kyiv and try to support each other," Khaykina says. The windows in her Kharkiv apartment are broken from shelling, and she cannot go back and survive winter there.

Bogdan, 30, is a food delivery man in Kyiv. Bogdan, who did not want to give his last name, says power outages affect his work because many cafes have to close, and there are less orders.

He also finds it difficult to charge his electric bike that he uses for deliveries. Heavier snow will make it more difficult to bike around the city. 

When there is no power at home, he listens to audiobooks downloaded on his phone. 

He worries about the soldiers in the trenches facing a harsh winter. And the rest, he says, "we will get through the rest."

8:12 a.m. ET, November 18, 2022

Gates Foundation pledges $7 billion for Africa as Ukraine war diverts donor cash

Story by Reuters

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said on Thursday it was committing $7 billion to Africa over the next four years, as Bill Gates warned that the Ukraine crisis was reducing the amount of aid flowing to the continent.

The Foundation’s pledge, which is up 40% on the amount spent during the previous four years, will target projects tackling hunger, disease, poverty and gender inequality.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, will take the biggest share.

“The European budgets are deeply affected by the Ukraine war and so right now the trend for aid is not to go up,” the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) told journalists at the University of Nairobi during a visit to Kenya.

“If you take all aid (into Africa) including all climate aid -- we’ll have a few years where it’ll probably go down.”

Read the full story:

8:18 a.m. ET, November 18, 2022

Egypt may be a tourist hotspot for Russians but at COP27, Ukraine's pavilion is finding new allies

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová

Ukraine’s pavilion at the COP27 UN climate conference in Egypt is built of austere, dark gray walls. It feels like a bomb shelter, a bit out of place among all the brightly colored structures erected by other countries that are showcasing climate solutions and celebrating natural beauty.

The contrast is intentional. The Ukrainians came to Sharm el-Sheikh with a clear mission: to highlight the damage caused by Russia’s aggressive war -- a war that is funded mostly by oil and gas revenues.

Russia, meanwhile, has largely been invisible at the conference. It has not put up a pavilion, contrary to previous years, and its delegation has been largely sidelined.

That’s an unusual sight in Sharm. The Red Sea resort town is a popular holiday destination for Russians wealthy enough to travel abroad – now more than ever as sanctions and visa restrictions related to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine make many other tourist hotspots inaccessible to them.

Restaurant menus and signs in shops and entertainment venues are often in Russian as well as Arabic, making it clear that Russians – and their money – are welcomed here.

But inside the COP conference venue, the reception has been far less friendly. Ukrainian activists have staged several protests during Russia-hosted events at the summit and protests often include anti-war messages.

At one panel featuring the Russian Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology, one protestor shouted, “You are criminals, war criminals. You are killing my people. You are shooting bombs at our people,” before being escorted out of the venue.

Ukraine, on the other hand, has found many new allies among climate activists at the conference by making a clear link between fossil fuels and the invasion. Protests against the war and other conflicts have become part of the daily demonstrations at COP, where “fossil fuels kill” is one of activists’ key messages.

7:55 a.m. ET, November 18, 2022

Russia: Thursday’s missile strikes targeted Ukraine’s missile production facilities and energy infrastructure

From CNN's Anna Chernova 

Police officers carry a body that was found under debris of a residential house destroyed by a Russian missile strike in the town of Vilniansk in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on November 17.
Police officers carry a body that was found under debris of a residential house destroyed by a Russian missile strike in the town of Vilniansk in the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on November 17. (Reuters)

The Russian defense ministry said the strikes it launched against Ukraine on Thursday targeted missile manufacturing facilities along with “fuel and energy infrastructure” associated with the military. 

“On Nov. 17, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation delivered a concentrated strike with long-range precision weapons, air-, sea- and land-based, against military command and control facilities, the military-industrial complex of Ukraine and the fuel and energy infrastructure associated with them,” spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said. 

“As a result of the strike, the production facilities for the manufacture of rocket weapons were hit. An arsenal with artillery weapons supplied by Western countries, prepared for shipment to the troops, was destroyed. The transfer of reserves of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the delivery of foreign weapons to the areas of hostilities have been disrupted,” it added. 

7:53 a.m. ET, November 18, 2022

Ukrainian experts at site of missile incident in Poland

From CNN's Jo Shelley

Aerial view taken of the site where a missile strike killed two men in the eastern Poland village of Przewodow, near the border with Ukraine, November 17.
Aerial view taken of the site where a missile strike killed two men in the eastern Poland village of Przewodow, near the border with Ukraine, November 17. (Wojtek Radwanski and Damien Simonart/AFP/Getty Images)

Ukrainian experts are working at the site of a blast in Poland where a missile killed two people on Tuesday, according to a senior government minister.

“Ukrainian experts are already working at the site of the tragedy in Przewodów caused by Russian missile terror against Ukraine,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Friday.

“I am grateful to the Polish side for granting them access. We will continue our cooperation in an open and constructive manner, as closest friends do.”

The leaders of Poland and NATO said the missile that landed in the Polish village of Przewodow was likely fired by Ukrainian forces to defend against a wave of Russian strikes. The incident appeared to be an accident, they added.

CNN's Phil Mattingly, Kevin Liptak, Radina Gigova, Jim Sciutto and Sophie Tanno contributed reporting.