Monday, December 5, 2022
HomeNewsWorldRussia-Ukraine live updates: Griner transferred to penal colony

Russia-Ukraine live updates: Griner transferred to penal colony

SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — More than six months after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion into neighboring Ukraine, the two countries are engaged in a struggle for control of areas throughout eastern and southern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose forces began an offensive in August, has vowed to take back all Russian-occupied territory. But Putin in September announced a mobilization of reservists, which is expected to call up as many as 300,000 additional troops.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Nov 09, 3:21 AM EST
White House denounces Griner transfer to penal colony

Brittney Griner, the WNBA star detained in Russia, has been transferred to a penal colony, a move decried by White House officials.

“Every minute that Brittney Griner must endure wrongful detention in Russia is a minute too long,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement early Wednesday. “As the Administration continues to work tirelessly to secure her release, the President has directed the Administration to prevail on her Russian captors to improve her treatment and the conditions she may be forced to endure in a penal colony.”

Griner’s lawyers said in a statement that she was transferred on Nov. 4 from a detention center in Iksha. She’s now on her way to a penal colony in an undisclosed location.

“We do not have any information on her exact current location or her final destination,” the lawyers, Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a statement. “In accordance with the standard Russian procedure the attorneys, as well as the U.S. Embassy, should be notified upon her arrival at her destination.”

The White House said it had made a “significant offer” to Russian officials to “resolve the current unacceptable and wrongful detentions of American citizens.”

“In the subsequent weeks, despite a lack of good faith negotiation by the Russians, the U.S. Government has continued to follow up on that offer and propose alternative potential ways forward with the Russians through all available channels,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

She added, “The U.S. Government is unwavering in its commitment to its work on behalf of Brittney and other Americans detained in Russia — including fellow wrongful detainee Paul Whelan.”

Nov 08, 11:56 AM EST
Moscow says it’s ‘following’ the US midterm elections

Moscow is closely “following” the midterm elections in the United States and knows that some Republican candidates have proposed to cut the country’s military aid to Ukraine, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko.

“Naturally, we are following the developments in the United States,” Grushko said in an interview with Russian state-owned television network Zvezda on Tuesday. “We are aware that a number of prominent Republicans favor reducing the military assistance to Ukraine, because they proceed from the position that what Democrats are currently doing is irrational.”

If Republicans are triumphant, Grushko said, the U.S. Congress could ramp up pressure on European nations regarding their defense budgets.

“We remember that one of [former U.S. President Donald] Trump’s key slogans when he came to power was that the Europeans should pay for their defense themselves,” he added. “Largely thanks to his efforts, European countries took enhanced commitments to increase their defense budgets to 2%. And there have been talks that defense spending should now reach at least 3%. The United States will continue to pursue the policy it has been running since 1949.”

Nov 08, 11:46 AM EST
Zelenskyy broaches ‘genuine peace talks’ in speech

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy raised the notion of holding “genuine peace talks” in his daily address to his nation on Tuesday.

Zelenskyy set out conditions for peace talks with the Russians, requiring the restoration of territorial integrity, compensation for all damages caused to his country, punishment of every war criminal and guarantees that another Russian invasion will not happen again.

“These are completely understandable conditions,” Zelenskyy said.

He said that earlier Tuesday he gave a virtual speech to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt, telling dozens of world leaders of the ongoing Russian aggression.

“Anyone who is serious about the climate agenda should also be serious about the need to immediately stop Russian aggression, restore our territorial integrity and force Russia into genuine peace negotiations,” Zelenskyy said.

He added that previous proposals from Ukraine for peace talks have prompted “insane Russian responses with new terrorist attacks, shelling or blackmail.”

Nov 08, 11:37 AM EST
US ambassador to UN meets with Zelenskyy

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and members of his leadership team in Kyiv on Tuesday “to discuss the unwavering U.S. commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” according to a statement from U.S. Mission to the U.N. spokesperson Nate Evans.

“She reiterated that the United States is steadfast in its support for Ukraine and is prepared to stand with Ukraine as long as it takes,” Evans said.

“Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield and President Zelenskyy discussed international efforts to minimize the impact of Russia’s aggression on global food security, including through sustaining and expanding the UN-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative, and to ensure accountability for war crimes and atrocities perpetrated on the Ukrainian people,” he added. “She committed to continuing to work at the United Nations to strengthen international support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and to urge Member States to defend international law and the Charter of the United Nations.”

Nov 08, 8:09 AM EST
Ukraine asks US for new capabilities in fighting Iranian drones

ABC News has obtained a letter sent by a top Ukrainian official to senior members of Congress, asking them to assist Ukraine’s calls for additional air defense systems to counter the attack drones built and supplied by Iran to bolster Russia’s war effort.

Russia has launched waves of deadly attacks in recent weeks, using Iranian-made drones that explode on impact to strike power plants, killing civilians and causing rolling blackouts, plunging millions of Ukrainian homes into darkness.

In the letter, the chairman of the Ukrainian parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, calls on the U.S. to provide Ukraine with highly mobile air defense systems known as C-RAMs, saying they would help protect “important objects, especially crucial power plants.”

Nov 08, 6:37 AM EST
US ambassador to UN travels to Ukraine

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield is traveling to Ukraine on Tuesday “to reiterate the United States’ unwavering support as Ukraine defends its freedom and territorial integrity amidst Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion,” according to a statement from the U.S. Mission to the U.N.

While in the country’s capital, Kyiv, Thomas-Greenfield “will meet with Ukrainian government leaders to discuss the ironclad American commitment to the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” and she “will observe efforts to document and preserve evidence of atrocities committed by Russian forces and will hear first-hand accounts of survivors,” according to the U.S. mission.

“Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield will also discuss the global food insecurity crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion and will underscore the critical need for an extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative into the coming year,” the U.S. mission said. “She will also meet with humanitarian organizations working to meet winterization needs for vulnerable people impacted by Russia’s attacks on energy and other civilian infrastructure.”

Nov 06, 1:57 PM EST
Biden, German chancellor call Russian nuclear threats ‘irresponsible’

President Joe Biden spoke to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday and both agreed Russia’s nuclear threats stemming the war in Ukraine are “irresponsible,” according to the White House.

Both leaders said they would continue to “provide Ukraine with the economic, humanitarian, and security support it needs to defend against Russia,” the White House said in a statement.

Biden and Scholz also spoke of the chancellor’s recent trip to the People’s Republic of China and, according to White House officials “affirmed their shared commitment to upholding the rules-based international order, human rights, and fair trade practices.”

-ABC News’ Justin Gomez

Nov 03, 12:02 PM EDT
Western officials believe Russia is planning ‘orderly, well-planned and deliberate’ military withdrawal from Kherson

Western officials are “confident” Russia’s military is “setting the conditions” for withdrawal from the Ukrainian city of Kherson, the only regional capital that has been occupied by Russian forces since the February.

The Russian military is preparing to make a “strategic” withdrawal and move its forces east across the Dnipro river, officials said.

“It looks like an orderly, well-planned and deliberate military process is taking place,” a Western official told ABC News.

The officials would not put a timeframe on when the withdrawal would happen and added that it is not guaranteed to take place. They downplayed, however, any speculation that the Russians are using the withdrawal to mask a more “nefarious” action in that area.

The officials said their assessment was that the Russians believe Kherson “is not worth fighting for.”

The advance of Ukrainian forces in Kherson has slowed over the past three weeks.

In mid-October, the newly appointed commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, General Surovikin, said “difficult decisions” may be necessary in Kherson.

Senior Ukrainian officials have suggested more recently that Russian forces are preparing to fight for Kherson and a source on the ground told ABC News that the Russian military is still moving in and out of the city.

-ABC News’ Tom Burridge

Nov 02, 12:14 PM EDT
North Korea covertly shipping ammunition to Russia for war in Ukraine, US says

North Korea was secreting sending ammunition to Russia to use in its invasion of Ukraine and is disguising the shipments as appearing to be destined to the Middle East or North Africa, the White House said Wednesday.

“Our information indicates that [North Korea] is covertly supplying Russia’s war in Ukraine with a significant number of artillery shells, while obfuscating the real destination of the arms shipments by trying to make it appear as though they’re being sent to countries in the Middle East or North Africa,” White House spokesman John Kirby said.

Kirby said North Korea was sending “a significant number of artillery shells.” He did not specify an exact number but said it was more than “dozens.”

“But we don’t believe that they are in such a quantity that they would tangibly change the direction of this war or tangibly change the momentum either in the east or in the south” of Ukraine, he said.

Kirby added, “We’re gonna continue to monitor whether these shipments are received.”

In September, the U.S. had said Russia is looking to purchase millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea, saying at the time that this indicated the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages in Ukraine.

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson

Nov 02, 12:01 PM EDT
Russia waives veiled threat on use of nuclear weapons

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a warning to nations with nuclear capabilities, calling on them to abandon attempts to infringe on each other’s vital interests, warning that direct armed conflict and provocations with weapons of mass destruction can lead to catastrophic consequences.

Russia claimed it believes there can be no winners of nuclear war and said it refarrims its commitment to the prevention of nuclear warm.

“A reaction with the use of nuclear weapons is hypothetically allowed by Russia only in response to aggression using weapons of mass destruction or aggression using conventional weapons, when the existence of the state is threatened,” the ministry said in a statement.

The White House has said it will not confirm or deny New York Times reporting that senior Russian military officials had recently discussed when and how Russia might use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine. The intelligence about the conversations was reportedly circulated inside the U.S. government in mid-October.

But, Russian President Vladimir Putin was not a part of these alleged conversations, according to the New York Times.

The White House on Wednesday said it still sees “no indications that Russia is making preparations” to use nuclear weapons.

-ABC News’ Natalia Shumskaia and Ben Gittleson

Nov 02, 12:14 PM EDT
North Korea covertly shipping ammunition to Russia for war in Ukraine, US says

North Korea was secretly sending ammunition to Russia to use in its invasion of Ukraine and is disguising the shipments as appearing to be destined to the Middle East or North Africa, the White House said Wednesday.

“Our information indicates that [North Korea] is covertly supplying Russia’s war in Ukraine with a significant number of artillery shells, while obfuscating the real destination of the arms shipments by trying to make it appear as though they’re being sent to countries in the Middle East or North Africa,” White House spokesman John Kirby said.

Kirby said North Korea was sending “a significant number of artillery shells.” He did not specify an exact number but said it was more than “dozens.”

“But we don’t believe that they are in such a quantity that they would tangibly change the direction of this war or tangibly change the momentum either in the east or in the south” of Ukraine, he said.

Kirby added, “We’re gonna continue to monitor whether these shipments are received.”

In September, the U.S. had said Russia is looking to purchase millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea, saying at the time that this indicated the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages in Ukraine.

Nov 02, 12:01 PM EDT
Russia waives veiled threat on use of nuclear weapons

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a warning to nations with nuclear capabilities, calling on them to abandon attempts to infringe on each other’s vital interests, warning that direct armed conflict and provocations with weapons of mass destruction can lead to catastrophic consequences.

Russia claimed it believes there can be no winners of nuclear war and said it reaffirms its commitment to the prevention of nuclear warm.

“A reaction with the use of nuclear weapons is hypothetically allowed by Russia only in response to aggression using weapons of mass destruction or aggression using conventional weapons, when the existence of the state is threatened,” the ministry said in a statement.

The White House has said it will not confirm or deny New York Times reporting that senior Russian military officials had recently discussed when and how Russia might use a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine. The intelligence about the conversations was reportedly circulated inside the U.S. government in mid-October.

But, Russian President Vladimir Putin was not a part of these alleged conversations, according to the New York Times.

The White House on Wednesday said it still sees “no indications that Russia is making preparations” to use nuclear weapons.

Nov 02, 8:40 AM EDT
Russia rejoins wartime deal on Ukrainian grain exports

Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Wednesday that Russia has agreed to resume its participation in a deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations to keep grain and other commodities shipping out of Ukraine’s ports amid the ongoing war.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, that the so-called Black Sea Grain Initiative would “continue in the same way as before” as of noon Wednesday, according to Erdogan.

The renewed agreement, first reached over the summer, will prioritize shipments to African countries, including drought-ravaged Somalia, after Russia expressed concerns that most of the grain was ending up in richer nations.

Moscow agreed to return to the deal after receiving written guarantees from Kyiv that Ukraine would not use the safe shipping corridors through the Black Sea for military actions against Russian forces, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Russia had suspended its role in the deal over the weekend, after accusing Ukrainian forces of carrying out a “massive” drone attack on its Black Sea fleet on Saturday.

Turkey and the U.N. brokered separate deals with Russia and Ukraine in July to allow Ukraine to resume its shipment of grain from the Black Sea to world markets and for Russia to export grain and fertilizers.

Since Russian forces invaded neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24, the cost of grain, fertilizer and fuel has skyrocketed worldwide. Russia and Ukraine — often referred to collectively as Europe’s breadbasket — produce a third of the global supply of wheat and barley, but a Russian blockade in the Black Sea combined with Ukrainian naval mines have made exporting siloed grain and other foodstuffs virtually impossible. As a result, millions of people around the world — particularly in Africa and the Middle East — are now on the brink of famine.

Nov 01, 3:01 PM EDT
Ukraine does not have effective defenses against Iranian ballistic missiles, air force official claims

Iranian ballistic missiles, which Russia plans to purchase from Iran, will probably be placed on the northern border of Ukraine, the spokesman of the Ukrainian Airborne Forces Yuri Ignat said Tuesday.

Ignat claimed the ballistic missiles’ range was 300 km for one and 700 km for another.

“We have no effective defense against these missiles. It is theoretically possible to shoot them down, but in fact it is very difficult to do it with the means we have at our disposal. We have air defense, not missile defense,” he said.

-ABC News’ Yulia Drozd

Nov 01, 3:01 PM EDT
Russia announces wider evacuation of occupied southern Ukraine

As Ukrainian forces advance to capture the city of Kherson, Russian forces are ordering civilians out of parts of the now-occupied city. Some 70,000 people along a 15 kilometer (10 mile) stretch of the left bank of the Dnipro River will be evacuated deeper into the Kherson region or to Russia, according to the Russian-installed leader of the occupied Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo.

Russia had previously ordered civilians out of an area it controls on the west bank of the river.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Oct 31, 7:07 PM EDT
Russia’s withdrawal from grain deal ‘collective punishment’ for world: State Department

State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Monday lambasted Russia’s recent decision to withdraw from the U.N.-brokered deal that allowed for grain to be exported through the Black Sea — likely to be a chief focus of this week’s G-7 ministerial meeting and potentially the G-20 Leaders’ Summit next month.

“We deeply regret Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is having immediate, harmful impacts on global food security,” Price said during a press briefing. “Russia should return to full participation in the initiative, and we urge all parties to swiftly agree to sustain this crucial program through the months to come.”

“Any disruption to the initiative risks spiking food prices, lowering the confidence of insurers and commercial shippers who have returned to Black Sea routes, and further imposing hardships on low-income countries already reeling from dire humanitarian crises and global food insecurity,” he added.

Price said Russia’s reneging had already caused future contracts for foodstuff to rise, even though some ships appear to have been allowed to pass through the water routes with their cargo following Moscow’s announcement.

“We’ve seen Russia engage in what appears to be collective punishment for the people of Ukraine,” he said. “But Moscow’s suspension of the initiative would be tantamount to collective punishment for the rest of the world — but especially lower- and middle-income countries that so desperately needed this grain.”

ABC News’ Shannon Crawford

Oct 31, 3:32 PM EDT
Ukraine energy company warns about attacks on energy infrastructure

Following a series of coordinated strikes across Ukraine this Monday morning, Ukraine’s largest private energy company DTEK says it’s running out of equipment and spare parts needed for repairs of the damaged infrastructure facilities.

“Unfortunately, we have already used up the stock of equipment that we had in our warehouses after the first two waves of attacks that have been taking place since Oct. 10,” said DTEK Executive Director Dmytro Sakharuk. “We were able to purchase some equipment. But unfortunately, the cost of the equipment is now measured in hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Most parts have been already used for repairs following previous Russian strikes, he added.

Oct 31, 4:54 AM EDT
Russia launches waves of missiles at energy targets

Russia on Monday morning again launched a series of coordinated strikes across Ukraine, targeting energy infrastructure, including in the Kyiv region.

Ukraine’s military said it shot down 44 cruise missiles as the Russians launched “several waves of missile attacks on critical infrastructure facilities” across the country.

About five distant booms could be heard in central Kyiv at about 8 a.m. local time.

Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, confirmed that a power plant has been hit, meaning mid-morning around 350,000 homes in the capital were left without power. Kyiv’s water supply has also been compromised, according to a water company.

A local official said “critical infrastructure” had also been hit in the Chernivtsi region in southwestern Ukraine.

Critical infrastructure has also been hit and damaged in Zaporizhzhia in the south, according to another local official.

Other regions of Ukraine appear to have been targeted, including Kharkiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Poltava and Lviv.

There are currently no reports of significant casualties.

ABC News’ Tom Soufi Burridge

Oct 30, 10:02 AM EDT
Blinken accuses Russia of ‘weaponizing food’

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken slammed Russia’s decision to pull out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative as a statement from the Kremlin that “people and families around the world should pay more for food or go hungry.”

Russia announced it is withdrawing from the U.N.-brokered grain deal in response to a drone attack Saturday in the waters of the Sevastopol Bay, in the Black Sea near Crimea.

Russia’s decision, Blinken said, is jeopardizing grain shipments he described as “life-saving.”

“In suspending this arrangement, Russia is again weaponizing food in the war it started, directly impacting low- and middle-income countries and global food prices, and exacerbating already dire humanitarian crises and food insecurity,” Blinken said in a statement released Saturday night.

He said 9 million metric tons of food has been shipped under the agreement, which was signed and launched in July. He said the shipments have reduced food prices around the world.

“We urge the Government of Russia to resume its participation in the Initiative, fully comply with the arrangement, and work to ensure that people around the world continue to be able to receive the benefits facilitated by the Initiative,” Blinken said.

Blinken’s statement echoed what President Joe Biden said earlier Saturday, calling Russia’s withdrawal from the initiative, “purely outrageous.”

“It’s going to increase starvation. There’s no reason for them to do that, but they’re always looking for some rationale to be able to say the reason they’re doing something outrageous is because the West made them do it. And it’s just not,” Biden said. “There’s no merit to what they’re doing. The UN negotiated that deal and that should be the end of it.”

 

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