Ukraine civilian death toll from war tops 6,500; NATO assembly seeks special tribunal on

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More than 7.8 million Ukrainians have become refugees from Russia’s war, U.N. estimates

Children who fled the war in Ukraine rests inside a temporary refugee shelter that was an abandoned TESCO supermarket after being transported from the Polish Ukrainian border on March 08, 2022 in Przemysl, Poland.

Omar Marques | Getty Images

More than 7.8 million Ukrainians have become refugees and moved to neighboring countries since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the U.N. Refugee Agency estimates.

Nearly 5 million of those people have applied for temporary resident status in neighboring Western European countries, according to data collected by the agency.

“The escalation of conflict in Ukraine has caused civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure, forcing people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance,” the U.N. Refugee Agency wrote.

— Amanda Macias

Iran has agreed to help Russia manufacture drones

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi hold a meeting in Tehran on July 19, 2022.

Sergei Savostyanov | AFP | Getty Images

Iran has agreed to help Russia manufacture drones, two U.S. officials and a Western official confirmed to NBC News.

Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that Moscow and Tehran reached an agreement during a meeting in early November to produce Iranian-designed weapons on Russian soil.

The two countries are moving quickly to transfer designs and components to Russia that would allow production to begin within the next few months, U.S. intelligence officials told The Post.

Iran had previously been accused by Ukraine and Western allies of supplying Russia with self-detonating drones that were used on Ukrainian territory, heightening concerns about an arms exchange between the two nations.

— Rocio Fabbro

One dead, four injured by Russian shelling in Kherson, top Ukrainian official says

A fisherman sails his boat on the Dnipro River as black smoke rises after an attack on an oil reserve in Kherson, on November 20, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Bulent Kilic | AFP | Getty Images

One person was killed and four others injured from Russian shelling in the Kherson region, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.

Despite Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson earlier this month, shelling has continued in the southern Ukrainian region. same t

Over the past several months, Russia has consistently attacked civilian infrastructure, including energy systems and residential buildings.

Ukrainian officials began evacuating civilians from Kherson and a neighboring province as infrastructure damage was deemed too critical for inhabitants to safely remain during the winter.

— Rocio Fabbro

More than 6,590 people have died in Ukraine, United Nations says

This photograph taken on September 25, 2022, shows empty graves after exhumation of bodies in the mass grave created during the Russian’s occupation in Izyum, Kharkiv region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images

At least 6,595 civilians have died and 10,189 have been injured in Ukraine since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor on Feb. 24, according to the United Nations.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the death toll in Ukraine is likely higher than that because armed conflict can delay fatality reports.

Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as missiles and airstrikes, according to the organization.

— Amanda Macias

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy: Nuclear plants need protection from Russian sabotage

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits Kherson, Ukraine November 14, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged NATO members to guarantee the protection of Ukraine’s nuclear plants from Russian sabotage, a day after the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant was rocked by heavy shelling.

“All our nations are interested in not having any dangerous incidents at our nuclear facilities,” Zelenskyy said in a video address to NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly in Madrid.

“We all need guaranteed protection from Russian sabotage at nuclear facilities,” he added.

The Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine was shelled on Saturday and Sunday, raising concern about the potential for a serious accident just 500 km (300 miles) from Chornobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

— Reuters

NATO Parliamentary Assembly calls for creation of special tribunal on Russian aggression in Ukraine, recognizes Russia as a terrorist state

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during the plenary session of the third day of the 68th Annual Session of the Parliamentary Assembly in the Auditorium Ground Floor Room at the Hotel Melia Castilla, Nov. 21, 2022, in Madrid, Spain.

Alberta Ortego | Europa Press | Getty Images

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Madrid called for the creation of a special international tribunal on Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and recognized Russia as a terrorist state, according to a statement from the head of Ukraine’s permanent delegation to the NATO assembly.

“All 30 NATO countries supported the proposals of our delegation,” Yehor Chernev said in the statement.

“Such a tribunal will make it possible to convict not only the direct perpetrators of war crimes, but also the senior leadership of the Russian Federation.”

The resolution, which also includes proposals to increase arms supplies to Ukraine, develop further steps for Ukraine’s accession to NATO, and create a reparation collection mechanism, will be sent to all NATO member countries, Chernev said.

“The adoption of this resolution is an important political step that reflects the mood in Western parliamentary circles, and therefore influences the leadership of countries in decision-making,” he said.

At the assembly, NATO Allies and the European Union also reinforced their commitment to long-term, sustained financial and military support for Ukraine.

— Rocio Fabbro

Graffiti by the anonymous street artist Banksy popping up across Ukraine.

People take pictures in the background of graffiti by the famous anonymous street artist Banksy which is shown on one of the apartment buildings destroyed by the Russian army in Gorenka.

Sergei Chuzavkov | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Graffiti by the famous anonymous street artist Banksy have been popping up on destroyed buildings from Russia’s continued war in Ukraine.

Banksy posted a video on his Instagram account and website detailing him doing some of the work in the village of Horenka.

“Don’t be sad honey,” one Ukraine mother said on the video as she comforted her small daughter outside the bombed-out rubble of a school where the girl had attended kindergarten.

“We already cried so much. We don’t have any more tears left,” the woman said.

Banksy last week confirmed to The Art Newspaper that he created seven murals in different locations in Ukraine.

— Dan Mangan and Adam Jeffrey

Graffiti in the city of Borodyanka, Ukraine, on November 12, 2022. In the cities of the Kyiv region affected by the Russian aggression in the spring of 2022, graffiti, probably by Banksy, appeared. 

Oleg Pereverzev | Nurphoto | Getty Images

A view of graffiti created by England-based street artist, Banksy, in Borodianka located Kyiv district, Ukraine on November 19, 2022. 

Metin Atkas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

A person takes a photo of graffiti created by England-based street artist, Banksy, in Irpin located Kyiv district, Ukraine on November 19, 2022.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

England-based street artist Banksy has transformed an anti-tank obstacle (Czech hedgehog) in Maidan Nezalezhnosti into a seesaw for a boy and a girl in his mural, Kyiv, capital of Ukraine. 

Oleksandra Butova | Future Publishing | Getty Images

This photograph taken on November 16, 2022 shows a graffiti made by Banksy on the wall of a destroyed building in the town of Gostomel, near Kyiv, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Genya Savilov | AFP | Getty Images

The mural created by England-based street artist Banksy on the wall of a five-storey apartment building destroyed by a Russian aerial bomb in March 2022 features a bearded man having a bath, Horenka, Kyiv Region, northern Ukraine. 

Oleksandra Butova | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Ukraine urges civilians to leave liberated areas for winter

Ukrainian authorities have started evacuating civilians from the recently-liberated areas of the Kherson region and the neighboring province of Mykolaiv, fearing that damage to the infrastructure is too severe for people to endure the upcoming winter, officials said Monday.

A column of Ukrainian BMP-2 vehicles navigate a muddy road in Kherson region on November 20, 2022 in Kherson, Ukraine.

Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

Residents of the two southern regions, regularly shelled in the past months by Russian forces, have been advised to move to safer areas in the central and and western parts of the country, said Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk.

The government will provide “transportation, accommodation, medical care,” she said.

The evacuations come just over a week after Ukraine retook the city of Kherson and areas around it. The liberation of the area marked a major battlefield gain, while the evacuations now highlight the difficulties the country is facing following heavy Russian shelling of its power infrastructure as winter weather sets in.

— The Associated Press

NATO chief says member nations must be prepared to support Ukraine ‘for the long haul’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium January 12, 2022.

Johanna Geron | Reuters

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged members to continue their support of Ukraine, noting that the long-term costs of Russian victory outweigh the current financial cost on member nations.

“If we allow Putin to win, all of us will have to pay a much higher price,” Stoltenberg told the 68th Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. “Authoritarian regimes around the world will learn that they can get what they want with brute force. This would have direct consequences for our security. It would make the world more dangerous. And us more vulnerable.”

Stoltenberg recognized the cost-of-living crisis around the world and the concerns about the cost of support for NATO Allies, as many countries have begun to experience what has become known as “Ukraine fatigue.” However, Stoltenberg contrasted the monetary price paid by Allies to the massive loss of life in Ukraine: “the Ukrainians, they pay a price which is measured in blood.”

NATO significantly stepped up its support to Ukraine earlier this year, following the Alliance’s June summit in Madrid. It is because of this continued military and financial support, along with Ukrainian bravery, according to Stoltenberg, that Russia faces “setback after setback” including the withdrawal from Kherson.

“But it would be a great mistake to underestimate Russia,” he warned. “It retains significant military capabilities and a high number of troops. Russia is willing to suffer substantial casualties. And is willing to inflict horrific suffering on Ukrainian people.”

“So we must be prepared to support Ukraine for the long haul,” he said.

 — Rocio Fabbro

Top Russian official warns of potential accident at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, in the Russian-controlled area of Enerhodar, seen from Nikopol in April 27, 2022.

Ed Jones | AFP | Getty Images

The head of Russia’s state-run atomic energy agency, Rosatom, warned that there’s a risk of a nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant a day after several attacks on the Russian-occupied site, which Rosatom CEO Alexey Likhachev blamed on Ukraine.

“We are informing the world community that the plant is at risk of a nuclear accident, and it is obvious that Kyiv considers a small nuclear incident acceptable,” Russian state news agency Tass quoted Likhachev as telling reporters.

“Large or small radioactivity, this will be a precedent that will forever change [the] course of history. Therefore, everything must be done so that no one has in their minds to encroach on the safety of the nuclear power plant,” he said.

Russia and Ukraine have repeatedly accused each other of shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and risking a massive nuclear accident.

It’s unknown who was behind the attacks at the weekend that damaged buildings, systems and equipment, with some of the explosions occurring near the reactors but not directly striking them.

The IAEA has called for the creation of a security zone around the plant, something Likhachev said would only be possible if it was approved by the U.S.

— Holly Ellyatt

Kremlin says it will ‘bring to justice’ those responsible for alleged execution of Russian solders

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov waits to watch the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in central Moscow on May 9, 2022.

Kirill Kudryavtsev | Afp | Getty Images

The Kremlin said that it will “bring to justice” those responsible for the alleged execution of Russian solders as a dispute over the alleged killings continues between Moscow and Kyiv.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “Russia will do everything possible within the framework of international mechanisms in order to draw attention to this crime and call to order and to the law those who may be involved in it.”

Ukraine has said it would investigate video footage circulated on Russian social media which Moscow claims shows Ukrainian forces killing Russian troops who may have been trying to surrender.

“Of course Ukrainian authorities will investigate this video,” Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, said on the sidelines of a security forum in Nova Scotia, AP reported earlier Monday.

However, Stefanishyna, speaking late Saturday, said “it is very unlikely” that the short, edited snippets show what Moscow claims to be a “brutal murder.”

Conversely, Ukraine says Russia has been responsible for multiple alleged war crimes on Ukrainian soil since the start of the invasion, including the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, and residential buildings. Allegations of torture chambers set up to interrogate Ukrainian civilians and captured troops is also being investigated. Moscow denies targeting civilians during the war.

— Holly Ellyatt

Spain to deploy police in Ukraine to assist war crime investigations

Spanish police will deploy in Ukraine over the coming weeks to help investigate alleged war crimes, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Madrid on Monday.

An advance delegation of Spanish police officials has already arrived in Kyiv to meet with representatives of the Ukrainian public prosecutor’s office, the Spanish Interior Ministry said.

In their initial meeting, the two countries established the terms of cooperation and specified the areas of deployment, the ministry said.

Forensic experts collect the pieces of evidence at the District Police Department allegedly used by Russian occupiers for torture, Balakliia, Kharkiv Region, northeastern Ukraine.

Future Publishing | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Spanish officers are set to work alongside Ukrainian investigators and prosecutors in the collection of evidence that could be incorporated into cases probing alleged violations of international law following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Sanchez also announced that a new training center for Ukrainian troops in the central Spanish city of Toledo will start operating at the end of November.

— Reuters

Ukraine says will look into alleged prisoner shooting video

Ukraine says it will investigate video footage circulated on Russian social media which Moscow alleged shows that Ukrainian forces killed Russian troops who may have been trying to surrender, after one of the men seemingly refused to lay down his weapon and opened fire, AP reported.

“Of course Ukrainian authorities will investigate this video,” Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister overseeing the country’s push to join the European Union, said on the sidelines of a security forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Stefanishyna, speaking late Saturday, said “it is very unlikely” that the short, edited snippets show what Moscow claims.

Russian authorities announced the opening Friday of a criminal investigation based on the snippets posted on Russian Telegram channels and relayed on other social media. They present a muddled and incomplete picture.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed the footage shows an “execution” and said Russia wants an international investigation.

– The Associated Press

‘We may not be so lucky’ next time, IAEA chief says after nuclear plant attacked again

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which came under heavy shelling over the weekend, had a lucky escape, according to the head of the U.N.’s nuclear energy agency.

“Once again, we were fortunate that a potentially serious nuclear incident did not happen. Next time, we may not be so lucky. We must do everything in our power to make sure there is no next time,” the International Atomic Energy Agency’s director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement Sunday.

The IAEA said repeated shelling at the Zaporizhzhya plant on Saturday evening and Sunday morning damaged buildings, systems and equipment, with some of the explosions occurring near the reactors and damaging parts of the plant, including a radioactive waste and storage building and cooling pond sprinkler systems.

A Russian serviceman guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, in southeastern Ukraine, on May 1, 2022.


Grossi reiterated his call for urgent measures to protect the plant and prevent a nuclear accident during the current conflict in Ukraine. He added that agreeing and implementing a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the nuclear power plant must happen now.  

“Even though there was no direct impact on key nuclear safety and security systems at the plant, the shelling came dangerously close to them. We are talking metres, not kilometres. Whoever is shelling at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, is taking huge risks and gambling with many people’s lives,” Grossi said.

Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of shelling the nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest of its kind, which has been occupied by Russian troops since near the start of the war. The IAEA team of experts plan to assess the shelling impact on the site on Monday.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukrainian forces likely well prepared to fight through winter, U.S. defense secretary says

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Indonesia’s Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto in Jakarta on Nov. 21, 2022.

Adek Berry | Afp | Getty Images

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Ukraine is in a good position to keep fighting Russia’s invading forces through winter.

“As we go forward into the winter, we’ve done a lot to try to prepare the Ukrainians to be prepared for a fight in the winter, and enable them to continue to keep pressure on our adversaries throughout the winter months,” he told a press conference as he prepared to meet his Indonesian counterpart, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, Monday.

“I think they’ll be in much better condition than their adversaries, because of the things that we provide. And again, our focus is to support them throughout. Their focus is to make sure that they’re doing everything to take back every edge of their sovereign territory,” he said.

He added that it’s “hard to predict how things will evolve” or what kind of timeline there might be for the war ending, however.

Austin said Ukraine had put the military assistance from its allies to good use in the war, noting “we’ve seen Ukraine use that assistance in very artful ways and they they’ve been very successful on the battlefield … they’ve taken back Kharkiv, and they’ve also most recently taken back as the important town of Kherson. And so we’ve seen a number of successes on the battlefield.”

An area of Luhansk looks vulnerable for Russian forces, UK says

Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region has been the focus of intense fighting for weeks, if not months, but Britain’s Ministry of Defense said it believes a key area of vulnerability for Russian forces is Svatove, an administrative hub in the neighboring Luhansk region.

“With Russia’s south-western front line now more readily defendable along the east bank of the Dnipro River, the Svatove sector is likely now a more vulnerable operational flank of the Russian force,” the ministry said on Twitter Monday.

An aerial view of Svatove city, in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. The British Ministry of Defense said Ukrainian formations can now approach the city to strike Russian supplies.

Future Publishing | Future Publishing | Getty Images

“As a significant population centre within Luhansk Oblast [province], Russian leaders will highly likely see retaining control of Svatove as a political priority.”

“However, commanders are likely struggling with the military realities of maintaining a credible defence, while also attempting to resource offensive operations further south in Donetsk,” it added. “As on other parts of the front, Russian forces continue to prioritise constructing defensive positions, almost certainly partially manned by poorly trained mobilised reservists.”

The ministry noted that both Russia’s defensive and offensive capability continues to be hampered by these severe shortages of skilled personnel and munitions.

The ministry said that in the last week, “intense artillery exchanges” have continued in the area of Svatove in Luhansk.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s shelling of Ukraine intensifies as winter approaches

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said fierce battles are still ongoing, with the most intense being in the Donetsk region, but that ground attacks have declined as winter sets in.

“The fiercest battles, as before, are in the Donetsk region. Although there are fewer attacks today due to the deterioration of the weather, the number of Russian shelling occasions remains, unfortunately, extremely high,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Sunday.

In Luhansk, the region next to Donetsk, Zelenskyy said Ukrainian forces are advancing “little by little,” but added there have been almost 400 instances of shelling in the eastern region on Sunday alone. The president said forces in the southern part of Ukraine are “holding the line,” although the situation around de-occupied Kherson remains tense, with Russians shelling the city last night.

Black smoke rises from an oil reserve in Kherson on Nov. 20, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Bulent Kilic | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine’s damaged energy networks remain a massive problem for the government, with Zelenskyy noting that the “restoration of networks and technical supply capabilities, demining of power transmission lines, repairs – everything goes on round the clock.”

He said energy workers had managed to alleviate the situation in some regions “where there were a lot of real problems yesterday.” Nonetheless, “stabilization shutdowns” (scheduled energy shutdowns) have taken place in 15 regions and in Kyiv.

— Holly Ellyatt

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