November 23, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

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

Updated 2:16 a.m. ET, November 24, 2022
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2:51 a.m. ET, November 23, 2022

2 killed in Russian shelling of Kharkiv region

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Alex Stambaugh

Two people were killed in Russian shelling overnight in Ukraine's Kharkiv region, a senior Ukrainian official said Wednesday.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian President's office, said on Telegram that a residential building, a health clinic and a school were hit in the town of Kupiansk.

For months, Russian shelling and missile strikes have targeted civilian infrastructure in various parts of Ukraine, including Kharkiv, where occupying Russian troops have been pushed out by Ukraine's counteroffensive.

2:41 a.m. ET, November 23, 2022

Mother rescued after newborn baby killed in Russian strike on Ukraine maternity ward

From CNN's Olga Voitovych

The damage of the Russian strike on the maternity ward.
The damage of the Russian strike on the maternity ward. (Oleksandr Starukh/Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration)

A mother was rescued Wednesday from the rubble of a hospital in southern Ukraine after a Russian strike destroyed the facility, killing her newborn baby, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukraine's State Emergency Services said the woman had just given birth to the child at the maternity ward in the city of Vilnyansk, in the Zaporizhzhia region. A doctor was also rescued they said.

According to preliminary information, no one else is under the rubble, they added. 

Earlier, the head of the Zaporizhzhia regional military administration said on Telegram that Russian forces had "launched huge rockets at a small maternity ward at the Vilnyansk hospital."

Vilnyansk is a Ukrainian-controlled city. Parts of the wider Zaporizhzhia region are occupied by Russia, which claims it as Russian territory in violation of international law.

3:14 a.m. ET, November 23, 2022

Russians grow more critical as Putin's military operation drags on and sanctions take a toll

From CNN's Frederik Pleitgen, Claudia Otto and Ana Archen

November and December are known as the most depressing months in Moscow. The days are short and dark, and the weather is too cold and wet to be outdoors much but still too warm and rainy to enjoy the real Russian winter.

This year, the feeling of melancholy is increased by the sight of shuttered shops on many of the capital’s streets, as businesses face the economic fall-out from massive Western sanctions in response to the war in Ukraine, which Russian officials still call the “special military operation.”

“The mood in Moscow and the country is now extremely gloomy, quiet, intimidated, and hopeless,” said 34-year-old Lisa, who declined to give her last name and said she was a film producer. “The planning horizon is as low as ever. People have no idea what might happen tomorrow or in a year.”

While the shelves in most stores remain well stocked, Western products are becoming increasingly scarce and very expensive, further driving prices that are already hammering many Russian households.

“Familiar goods disappear, starting from toilet paper and Coca-Cola, ending with clothes,” said Lisa.

“Of course, you can get used to all this, this is not the worst thing at all,” she said.

But she also took a jab at Western governments and companies that have left the Russian market in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

“I do not really know how this helps in resolving the conflict, because it affects ordinary people, not those who make decisions,” Lisa said.

Read the full story here.

3:05 a.m. ET, November 23, 2022

Newborn killed in Russian strikes on maternity ward in southern Ukraine

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Mohammed Tawfeeq

Rescuers work at the site of a maternity ward of a hospital in Vilniansk, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on November 23, in this still image from video.
Rescuers work at the site of a maternity ward of a hospital in Vilniansk, Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, on November 23, in this still image from video. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Reuters)

A newborn baby was killed in Russian strikes on a maternity ward in Ukraine's southern Zaporizhzhia region overnight, according to a Ukrainian military official.

Oleksandr Starukh, head of the Zaporizhzhia regional military administration, said on Telegram Wednesday that Russian forces had "launched huge rockets at a small maternity ward at the Vilnyansk hospital" in the city of Vilnyansk.

"Our hearts are filled with grief, as a newborn baby was killed," he said.

Starukh said rescue teams have responded to the site of the attack.

Some context: Vilnyansk is a Ukrainian-controlled city. Parts of the wider Zaporizhzhia region are occupied by Russia, which claims it as Russian territory in violation of international law.

3:33 a.m. ET, November 23, 2022

Kyiv outraged after Viktor Orban's scarf shows western Ukraine as part of Hungary

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Lindsay Isaac

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was seen wearing a scarf that appeared to show parts of western Ukraine in a map of Hungary at a football match between Greece and Hungary on November 20.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban was seen wearing a scarf that appeared to show parts of western Ukraine in a map of Hungary at a football match between Greece and Hungary on November 20. Viktor Orban/Instagram

Ukraine is demanding an apology from Hungary after Prime Minister Viktor Orban was seen wearing a scarf that appeared to show parts of western Ukraine in a map of Hungary.

Orban was pictured on his Instagram wearing the scarf at a football match between Greece and Hungary on Sunday.

The Hungarian Ambassador to Ukraine, Istvan Igyar, was summoned to the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, where he was told the incident was "unacceptable," according to a statement from the ministry.

“The attention of the Hungarian diplomat was drawn to the fact that such actions do not contribute to the development of good neighborly relations between Ukraine and Hungary,” MFA spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko said. “It was emphasized that Ukraine expects an apology for this incident and hopes that in the future the Hungarian side will refrain from steps that may be regarded as disrespect for the territorial integrity of our state.”

What was on the scarf: The map appeared to represent Greater Hungary as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was defeated in World War I. It also includes parts of Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Austria, Croatia and Slovenia. 

A Romanian member of the European Parliament, Alin Mituta, called it an “irresponsible act” by Orban. 

“It's a revisionist gesture that puts Orban alongside [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, who also dreams of border changes. He should be sanctioned and isolated by EU leaders in the European Council,” Mituta said on Twitter.
2:41 a.m. ET, November 23, 2022

Russia will reduce gas supply to Europe through Ukraine

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

Russian energy giant Gazprom said it will reduce natural gas supply to Europe as of next Monday by pinching flow to a pipeline that runs through Ukraine.

On its official Telegram account, the state-owned company said gas meant for Moldova is being held in Ukraine so it will reduce supply to the Sudzha pipeline to account for the difference. 

“The volume of gas supplied by Gazprom to the GIS Sudzha for transit to Moldova through the territory of Ukraine exceeds the physical volume transmitted at the border of Ukraine with Moldova,” it said.
“While maintaining the transit imbalance through Ukraine for Moldovan consumers, on November 28, from 10:00, Gazprom will begin reducing gas supply to the Sudzha GIS for transit through Ukraine in the amount of the daily under delivery."

A wider trend: Europe has raced to replenish its stocks this year ahead of winter as Russia dramatically cut its flows of pipeline gas, including halting all shipments through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in September.

But a bigger challenge could emerge in the spring when Europe tries to refill its stores with a much-reduced supply of Russian pipeline gas. Flows to Europe are just 20% of their pre-war levels, according to research firm Wood Mackenzie.

CNN's Anna Cooban contributed reporting to this post. 

8:03 p.m. ET, November 22, 2022

Russian strikes caused "colossal" damage to Ukraine's power facilities, official says

From CNN's Lindsay Isaac

An attack last week by Russian forces on Ukraine’s power grid caused “colossal” damage, leaving no thermal or hydroelectric power plant in Ukraine intact, according to the head of the government-owned electricity transmission system operator. 

“This was the biggest attack, the biggest in history. Over 100 heavy missiles were launched. Their targets were Ukrainian energy system facilities, mainly, Ukrenergo substations and Ukrainian thermal power stations producing energy for Ukrainian consumers,” Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, CEO of Ukrenergo, said Tuesday.
“To understand the scale of these attacks, what we're dealing with, almost all thermal and power generation from large power plants suffered damage from missile strikes. There are almost no Ukrenergo hub substations that are intact. Practically every key substation has been hit at least once, and some three, five or eight times.”

Ukraine’s grid is currently “stabilized” with scheduled blackouts due to the war's massive damage to power stations, leaving them unable to provide enough electricity for the country. Kherson, located in southern Ukraine, remains the most “problematic” region for power, though local workers are concentrated on demining the grid in the wake of retreating Russian troops, he said. 

In the absence of new massive attacks the situation should be stable with four-hour outages a day planned, he added.

“As we see it, the role of the energy sector is to make the energy system work in a way that enables Ukrainians to remain in their country and spend the winter here. It is our everyday battle to make the energy system meet the electricity needs of Ukrainians,” he said.

Kherson authorities have urged residents to evacuate to areas of the country with more stable power supplies as the region is still without electricity.

8:02 p.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

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.

7:59 p.m. ET, November 22, 2022

Boris Johnson claims France was "in denial" before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

From CNN's Rob Picheta

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed France was “in denial” about the prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, and accused the German government of initially favoring a quick Ukrainian military defeat over a long conflict.

Johnson told CNN’s partner network CNN Portugal on Monday that the attitudes of Western nations varied widely before Moscow launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, singling out three leading EU countries in comments that are unlikely to be welcomed in European capitals.

While Johnson stressed that EU nations later rallied behind Ukraine and are now providing steadfast support, that was not universally the case in the period before the Russian invasion.

“This thing was a huge shock … we could see the Russian battalion tactical groups amassing, but different countries had very different perspectives,” Johnson told CNN’s Richard Quest in Portugal. “The German view was at one stage that if it were going to happen, which would be a disaster, then it would be better for the whole thing to be over quickly, and for Ukraine to fold,” Johnson claimed, citing “all sorts of sound economic reasons” for that approach.

“I couldn’t support that, I thought that was a disastrous way of looking at it. But I can understand why they thought and felt as they did,” Johnson went on. Germany has rapidly sought to reduce its reliance on Russian energy since Moscow’s invasion.

“Be in no doubt that the French were in denial right up until the last moment,” Johnson also said.

Read more here.