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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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.

10:12 p.m. ET, November 21, 2022

US official: There's "mounting evidence" of "systemic war crimes" by Russian troops in Ukraine

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Inside a cell at a preliminary detention centre, which is believed to have been used by Russian forces to jail and torture civilians, on November 16, in Kherson, Ukraine.
Inside a cell at a preliminary detention centre, which is believed to have been used by Russian forces to jail and torture civilians, on November 16, in Kherson, Ukraine. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

There is “mounting evidence” of “systemic war crimes" being committed in "every region where Russia's forces have been deployed” in Ukraine, a top US State Department official said Monday.

“This includes deliberate, indiscriminate, and disproportionate attacks against the civilian population and elements of the civilian infrastructure,” abuses of civilians and prisoners of war and “efforts to cover up these crimes,” reports of executions, torture, and sexual violence, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack told reporters on a call. 

Russia has been accused of deliberately targeting Ukraine’s civilian power grid in an effort to leave the civilian population without electricity and heat — an act that would amount to a war crime.

Van Schaack said it is difficult to determine particular individual strikes would be war crimes, noting that “each individual strike has to be evaluated as against whether there were military objectives in the vicinity, or whether these were purely civilian objects,” but said “there is a consistent pattern of attacks on civilians elements.”

Van Schaack also highlighted Russia’s “construction of a vast transnational infrastructure of filtration operations, to which thousands of Ukrainian citizens have now been subjected,” which is a violation of international law.

“There are compelling reports describing physical and psychological abuse, including summary executions, as part of the operations and the forcible transfer and deportation including thousands of Ukrainian children, who've been abducted and forcibly adopted by families within Russia,” she said.

The United States is supporting the International Criminal Court, the Ukrainian Office of the Prosecutor General — which “has already identified thousands of incidents that may constitute war crimes” — the UN Commission of Inquiry, a European joint investigative team, Van Schaack said.