November 25, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Amy Woodyatt, Ed Upright and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 9:00 p.m. ET, November 25, 2022
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12:16 a.m. ET, November 25, 2022

Hungary to ratify NATO membership for Finland and Sweden, Prime Minister Orban says

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary, on October 23.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary, on October 23. (Bernadett Szabo/Reuters/FILE)

Hungary's Parliament will ratify Sweden and Finland's NATO membership in its first session in 2023, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Thursday, bringing an end to several weeks of speculation that he would further delay the move.

Orban made the announcement in the Slovak city of Kosice after a meeting with leaders of the Visegrad Group of central European nations, known as the V4. The group includes Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.

"Hungary is supporting the NATO membership of Finland and Sweden, and that Parliament will also be placing the issue on its agenda at the first session of next year," Orban said. "The Swedes and the Finns have not lost a single minute because of Hungary so far, and they will not do so in future; Hungary will certainly be providing the support required for their accession."

Some context: Sweden and Finland are set formally to end decades of neutrality and join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in a historic breakthrough for the alliance that deals a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

While all 30 NATO members formally invited Sweden and Finland to join the alliance after approving their applications back in the summer, Turkey and Hungary have yet to ratify the accession protocol. 

Orban, an authoritarian and longtime Russian ally, won a fourth consecutive term in power in April, following a landslide election win that he touted as a rebuke of liberalism, the European Union and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.

1:32 a.m. ET, November 25, 2022

UN watchdog providing support to four more Ukraine nuclear plants following shutdowns

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has started providing onsite support to four more nuclear power plants in Ukraine in response to a request from the country, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a video statement on Thursday.

The four additional plants are Rivne, Khmelnytskyi, South Ukraine, and Chornobyl. Since September, IAEA experts have been providing onsite support to Zaporizhzhia, Europe's largest nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russian forces.

Following Russian strikes on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, Ukraine's operational nuclear power plants of Zaporizhzhia, Rivne, South Ukraine, and Khmelnytskyi were disconnected from the grid and "forced to rely on emergency diesel generators for the electricity they needed to ensure their continued safety and security," Grossi said.

"This unprecedented situation would have been unimaginable just months ago. It's deeply worrying," he said.

"We must do everything to prevent a nuclear accident at any of these nuclear facilities, which would only add to the terrible suffering we are already witnessing in Ukraine. The time to act is now."

Some context: Wednesday was the first time that Ukraine’s four operational nuclear power plants were simultaneously shut down in 40 years, the head of state nuclear energy company Energoatom said in a statement. Petro Kotin said it was a precautionary measure and that he expected they would be reconnected by Thursday evening. The three fully functioning plants in Ukrainian hands would help supply electricity to the national grid, he said.

Ukraine is heavily dependent on nuclear energy, according to the World Nuclear Association. It has 15 reactors at four plants that, before Russia’s full-scale invasion in February, generated about half of its electricity.

Russia has turned its attention to destroying energy infrastructure in Ukraine ahead of the bitter winter season, and successive waves of strikes have left much of the country facing rolling blackouts.

8:12 p.m. ET, November 24, 2022

Russian shelling kills 7 people in Kherson

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Jonny Hallam

At least seven people were killed on Thursday and another 21 injured, after Russian forces shelled the southern Ukrainian port city of Kherson, Ukraine’s top official in the region said on Telegram.

Yaroslav Yanushevych, the head of the Kherson region military administration, offered his condolences to the families of victims and wished for "eternal memory to those killed by Russian invaders." Their deaths marked "another terrible page in the history of our hero city," he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier on Thursday said the Russian artillery attacks on Kherson city and the surrounding area "began immediately after the Russian army was forced to flee from the Kherson region" early in November.

Zelensky said Thursday's deadly shelling was an act of revenge for those defeated Russian forces. The Russians do not know how to fight he said, "The only thing they can do is terrorize."

Some context: With temperatures dropping, Ukraine began voluntary evacuations from parts of Kherson this week as damage to infrastructure from Russian strikes has made it perilous for residents to survive winter, according to authorities.

8:27 p.m. ET, November 24, 2022

Ukraine battles to restore power after Russian strikes leave "vast majority" of people without electricity

From CNN's Jo Shelley, Olga Voitovych and Victoria Butenko

Ukraine raced to restore power across the country on Thursday, a day after Russia sent a new barrage of missiles to target critical infrastructure, resulting in the temporary shutdown of most of its power plants and leaving the “vast majority” of people without electricity.

The national energy company Ukrenergo said work was “taking longer than after previous attacks” because Wednesday’s assault targeted power generation facilities and caused a “systemic incident.”

By Thursday afternoon, electricity had been restored to “all regions” but individual households were still “gradually being connected to the grid,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, an official in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office, said on Telegram.

The Ukrainian armed forces said 70 Russian missiles were launched on Wednesday afternoon and 51 shot down, along with five attack drones.

The attack killed at least 10 people, including a teenage girl, and “led to the temporary de-energization of all nuclear power plants, and most thermal and hydroelectric power plants,” the Ministry of Energy said. It left much of the country without power, with knock-on effects on heating, the water supply and internet access in some areas.

Read more here.

8:29 p.m. ET, November 24, 2022

Putin says oil price caps would have "grave consequences"

From CNN's Radina Gigova and Uliana Pavlova

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Western plans to introduce oil price caps would have "grave consequences" for energy markets, during a telephone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. 

"Putin stressed that such actions go against the principles of market relations and are highly likely to lead to grave consequences for the global energy market," according to the Kremlin's readout of the call. 

Putin's remarks come as energy ministers from the European Union held an extraordinary meeting Thursday aimed at containing the economic fallout from surging gas prices triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

8:31 p.m. ET, November 24, 2022

100 prisoners of war exchanged between Russia and Ukraine

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Olga Voitovych

Russia and Ukraine carried out a prisoner exchange Thursday with 100 soldiers in total returning to their respective home countries. 

According to Russian and Ukrainian officials, each side returned 50 captive soldiers following negotiations.

“On Nov. 24, as a result of the negotiation process, 50 Russian servicemen were returned from the territory controlled by the Kyiv regime, who were in mortal danger in captivity,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement. 

The soldiers will be taken to Moscow for treatment and provided with the “necessary medical and psychological assistance,” it added. 

According to the head of the Ukrainian President's office, Andrii Yermak, two officers were among 50 returned soldiers who were captured in battles in Mariupol, Azovstal, Chernobyl power plant and Snake Island.  

“We continue to work on the release of all our people from captivity. I am grateful for the work of the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War. We will return everyone,” he said in a statement. 

Over the past two days, 86 Ukrainian service members have been returned and a total of 1,269 people have been released over the course of the Russian invasion, he added.