November 22, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Sana Noor Haq, Aditi Sangal and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 9:20 a.m. ET, November 23, 2022
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8:21 a.m. ET, November 22, 2022

Fighting escalates in eastern Ukraine, with "massive shelling" of Avdiivka

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych in Kyiv and Jo Shelley in London

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the Head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, stands at the site of a mass burial on October 11, in Lyman, Ukraine.
Pavlo Kyrylenko, the Head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, stands at the site of a mass burial on October 11, in Lyman, Ukraine. (Oleksii Samsonov/Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images)

Fighting raged on in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on Tuesday, as Russia launched “massive shelling” in towns and villages on the eastern front line, according to a local official.

The town of Avdiivka was hit by a wave of artillery fire, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk region military administration.

“Avdiivka suffered the most in the Donetsk direction: There were incoming hits overnight, and in the morning, there was massive shelling of the city center,” Kyrylenko said on Telegram. “According to preliminary information, there are no casualties.”

Avdiivka has been within a few miles of the front lines of the war for several months, but remains in Ukrainian hands.

There was also “massive shelling” in two areas near the strategic city of Lyman in the Donetsk region, Kyrylenko said. Four civilians in the region were killed on Monday, he added in a separate post.

The Ukrainian military said it was under sustained attack in the Donetsk region.

“The enemy does not stop shelling the positions of our troops and settlements near the contact line,” the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Tuesday.

“They continue firing at the critical infrastructure and civilian housing ... In the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions the enemy is focusing its efforts on conducting offensive actions.”

Russia is pursuing offensive combat operations in Donetsk and Luhansk, which together form the Donbas, the eastern part of Ukraine where the conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists started in 2014.

5:22 a.m. ET, November 22, 2022

More than 6,500 civilians have died since the war in Ukraine started

From CNN's Teele Rebane

Ukrainian civilians who lost their lives during the Russian invasion are buried in the cemetery in Irpin, Ukraine, on April 18.
Ukrainian civilians who lost their lives during the Russian invasion are buried in the cemetery in Irpin, Ukraine, on April 18. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

At least 6,595 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and 10,189 injured since Russia invaded the country in February, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Among those killed were at least 415 children, 2,575 men, 1,767 women and 1,838 other adults whose gender is yet to be identified, according to data released Monday's figures.

Many of the civilian casualties have occurred in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the Donbas -- an eastern region at the heart of the war that has seen the most intense fighting in recent months.

The OHCHR report said 3,939 civilians were killed and 5,338 others injured in Donetsk and Luhansk, including 449 in Russian-controlled territory. 

The commission said actual figures are “considerably higher” due to a lack of or delayed information in areas where the conflict has intensified, including in cities such as Mariupol, Izium, Lysychansk, Popasna and Severodonetsk.

Most of the casualties recorded were a result of explosive weapons with wide area effects such as shelling from heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, missiles and air strikes, the report added.

2:26 a.m. ET, November 22, 2022

Russian forces shell Nikopol district in southern Ukraine

From CNN's Olga Voitovych 

Russian forces fired almost 60 shells at Nikopol overnight into Tuesday as they maintained a dayslong onslaught of the southern Ukrainian district, according to a Ukrainian military official.

"They shelled several villages of the Marhanets community with Grad and heavy artillery," the head of the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration, Valentyn Reznichenko, wrote on Telegram Tuesday morning.

He said no one was injured in the shelling overnight. Emergency workers are inspecting the affected areas, he added. 

Some context: Nikopol, located in the Dnipropetrovsk region across the river from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, has been under heavy Russian fire since last Friday, according to Ukrainian officials. Russian and Ukrainian officials have blamed each other for recent shelling at the nuclear plant, with the IAEA chief warning that whoever was responsible was "playing with fire."

2:15 a.m. ET, November 22, 2022

NATO supplying weapons to Ukraine and calls for peace are "opposite" actions, says senior Russian senator

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Alex Stambaugh 

A senior Russian senator on Tuesday said that supplying weapons to Kyiv and the desire for peace are "opposite" actions, following renewed calls by NATO's chief for greater support to Ukraine. 

"It is time for obsessed politicians in the West to understand that the desire for peace and an end to the bloodshed and the desire to even further weaponize Ukraine are opposite and mutually exclusive actions," Sen. Konstantin Kosachev, deputy speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament, said on Telegram.

"More deaths for the sake of peace is definitely not what will bring the negotiations closer."

NATO calls: Speaking Monday at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Madrid, the defense alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on NATO allies to agree to step up support for Ukraine and strengthen deterrence and defense when they meet for their next summit in Vilnius, Lithuania in July 2023.

"We must be prepared to support Ukraine for the long haul," Stoltenberg said. "Yes, I know that this support comes with a price. In our countries, many people face a cost-of-living crisis, energy and food bills are rising. These are tough times for many. But the price we pay as NATO allies is measured in money while the Ukrainians, they pay a price which is measured in blood."

The NATO chief said allies may decide to spend more on defense than the current target of 2% of GDP, adding that "should be considered a floor, not a ceiling for our defense investments."

Peace plan: Russia launched its biggest wave of missile attacks on Ukrainian cities in more than a month last Tuesday, hours after Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky proposed a peace plan in front of world leaders at the G20 summit in Indonesia. The 10-point plan includes a path to nuclear safety, food security, a special tribunal for alleged Russian war crimes, and a final peace treaty with Moscow.

3:18 a.m. ET, November 22, 2022

Ukraine imposes additional power outages due to plummeting temperatures

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

Snow covers the bell tower and the domes of Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kyiv, Ukraine, on November 19.
Snow covers the bell tower and the domes of Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kyiv, Ukraine, on November 19. (Ukrinform/Shutterstock)

Ukrainian energy suppliers were forced to impose additional blackouts on Monday in addition to scheduled ones as temperatures across the country plummeted. 

According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the blackouts are due to a higher level of demand for electricity than the country’s war-damaged infrastructure can provide. During a daily address to the nation, Zelensky appealed to regional and local authorities to double down on the message to residents to consume electricity.  

Temperatures in Kyiv are expected to hover around zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least the next 10 days.

Yasno, Ukraine’s biggest energy supplier, said emergency outages affected almost a million households and businesses. 

Serhiy Kovalenko, CEO of Yasno, said engineers are working to restore power before even further cold weather sets in — but warned that Ukrainians will likely have to live with outages until at least the end of March. 

The best-case scenario, barring new attacks on the grid, was that power shortages could be evenly distributed throughout the country, he said in a post on the company's Facebook page.

In the event of severe damage to the grid by Russian attacks, he warned people can expect “not only hourly stabilization power outages but also emergency ones, when there may be no light for a very long time." 

Kovalenko urged citizens to be prepared for the worst-case scenario and to stock up on warm clothes, blankets and supplies in case of long blackouts.

10:10 p.m. ET, November 21, 2022

Ukrainian officials urge Kherson residents to evacuate for winter

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva

A resident boards an evacuation train on Monday, November 21, in Kherson, Ukraine.
A resident boards an evacuation train on Monday, November 21, in Kherson, Ukraine. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Residents of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson are to be evacuated to other regions of the country with working electricity and more intact infrastructure for the winter — specifically women, children, the elderly and other vulnerable people, according to officials.

The Black Sea port city, which was recently liberated from Russian troops, is without electricity and authorities say the city’s infrastructure has been too damaged for citizens to survive winter. 

Iryna Vereshchuk, the vice prime minister for the Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories, said Ukraine will offer free evacuation to citizens of Kherson to “Kryvyi Rih, Mykolaiv and Odesa cities, with possible further relocation to Kirovohrad region, Khmelnytskyi region or western regions of Ukraine.” 

Ukrainian authorities will offer free accommodation, food and medical attention to those who leave, she said. 

7:50 p.m. ET, November 21, 2022

Inside the battle for Kherson

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio, Sam Kiley, Peter Rudden and Olga Konovalova

Mangled metal, charred debris and shattered glass cover the floor as a Ukrainian reconnaissance unit storms a Russian command center on the outskirts of the recently liberated city of Kherson.

“Come on over here,” one of the Ukrainian troops suddenly shouts. “Get the stretcher and first aid kit over here.”

Moments later, a Russian soldier emerges from a bunker, wounded in the back of his legs. He is attended to by Ukrainian soldiers who place him face down on the floor and apply first aid.

“We got pinned down over here and everybody ran,” he tells the Ukrainian soldiers. “I fell down and lay there till evening. They came and took my captain and that was it. They said they’d come back for me but nobody came.”

The exchange was recorded by the reconnaissance team and shared with CNN. It offers a valuable insight into the grueling battle for the key southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, which culminated in a Russian withdrawal from a swathe of land on the west bank of the Dnipro river earlier this month, a major setback for the Kremlin’s war.

The Ukrainian unit says the Russian soldier was taken away to safety and his wounds tended to. But many of those sent here by the Kremlin have faced a very different outcome.

“They had the big losses here,” the head of the reconnaissance unit Andrii Pidlisnyi tells CNN, reviewing this with some of the other footage he and his unit have collected over the past few months.

Read the full story here.

3:10 a.m. ET, November 22, 2022

UN nuclear watchdog: No "immediate" safety concerns at Zaporizhzhia plant after latest shelling 

From CNN's Amy Cassidy in London

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant outside Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region of Russian-controlled Ukraine, on October 14.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant outside Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region of Russian-controlled Ukraine, on October 14. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

A team of independent inspectors from the UN’s nuclear watchdog on Monday reported “no immediate nuclear safety or security concerns” at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after shelling over the weekend, according to an official statement.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi in a statement said the team assessed the damage to the site Monday and concluded that “despite the severity of the shelling — key equipment remained intact and there were no immediate nuclear safety or security concerns."

All six reactors at Europe’s largest nuclear power station are “stable” and the team confirmed the integrity of fuel and radioactive waste in their storage facilities, the statement continues.

However, “widespread damage” was still observed at the site, it said, which maintenance staff have already begun to repair. Grossi described the damage as “a major cause of concern as it clearly demonstrates the sheer intensity of the attacks.”

Non-radioactive leaks were caused by damage to condensate storage tanks and the team observed “several impacts on the main road along the plant’s reactors as well as on a site railway that is now out of service,” the IAEA statement said.

The team also observed a “pressurised air pipeline hit by shrapnel, two impacts on the roof of a special auxiliary building, minor visible damage to a sprinkler charging pipeline, as well as two impacts in a guardhouse area.” 

No further attacks had taken place in the plant's vicinity overnight or throughout Monday so far, “though there had been shelling in the area of the nearby city of Enerhodar and the industrial area,” according to the IAEA team.

7:28 p.m. ET, November 21, 2022

Russia to build attack drones for Ukraine war with the help of Iran, intelligence assessment says

From CNN's Kylie Atwood

Iran and Russia have reached an agreement to begin the production of attack drones in Russia, according to a new intelligence assessment from a country that closely monitors Iran’s weapons program.

Iran is beginning to transfer blueprints and components for the drones to Russia after the initial agreement was struck earlier this month, said a source familiar with the assessment.

US officials have said that Russia has received hundreds of drones from Tehran which have had a deadly effect in Ukraine.

Earlier this month, the Iranian government acknowledged for the first time that it had sent a limited number of drones to Russia in the months before the start of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Some Western countries have accused Iran of helping the war in Ukraine by providing drones … we did provide a limited number of drones to Russia in the months before the start of the war in Ukraine,” Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told reporters in Tehran.

Read more here.