Zelenskyy hails UN nuclear investigation result; UK says Russia likely shooting its retreating soldiers

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine on Nov.4, 2022. See here for the latest updates. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency after it wrapped up its inspection of three nuclear power facilities in Ukraine and found no evidence of undeclared nuclear material or activities.

The inspection, which was prompted by Kyiv inviting IAEA officials to its facilities, was welcome news after Moscow accused Ukraine of building a so-called radioactive "dirty bomb" to use on its own territory.

The results of the inspection confirmed Russia's "status of the world's top liar," Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, Russian missiles hit populated areas of Ukraine's southern Zaporizhzhia, the region's governor said, although no casualties were reported. As the battles around Kherson and other parts of Ukraine's southeast press on, reports of low Russian troop morale continue, with the UK's Defence Ministry suggesting that Russian troops are being ordered to shoot their own soldiers if they try to retreat. Accounts of this have been shared in independent Russian media outlets.

Russian military leaders reportedly considered using tactical nukes in Ukraine
Russian military leaders reportedly considered using tactical nukes in Ukraine

Zelenskyy thanks Biden for latest security assistance package worth $400 million

A Ukrainian rocket launches from a vehicle of the 53rd Mechanized Brigade of the Ukrainian Military forces in Donetsk Oblast on October 28, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked U.S. President Joe Biden for the additional security package worth $400 million.

"I am thankful to POTUS and the people of the United States for another $400 million military assistance package. For armored vehicles that will help us liberate Ukrainian land. We appreciate this continued support," Zelenskyy wrote via Twitter.

The latest security aid package brings U.S. commitment to $18.2 billion since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor in late February.

— Amanda Macias

Nearly 8 million Ukrainians have become refugees from Russia's war, U.N. estimates

A man holds his child as families, who fled Ukraine due to the Russian invasion, wait to enter a refugee camp in the Moldovan capital Chisinau on March 3, 2022.
Nikolay Doychinov | Afp | Getty Images

Nearly 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.

More than 4.5 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

Biden's top security aide meets with officials in Ukraine

Jake Sullivan, White House national security advisor, in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 2022. Sullivan met with Oscar Stenstrom, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the Prime Minister of Sweden, to discuss the security situation in Europe in view of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and others in Kyiv today to "underscore the United State's steadfast support to Ukraine and its people as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Sullivan also shared the details of the latest security assistance package for Ukraine, according to a statement by NSC spokeswoman Adrienne Watson.

"He also affirmed the continued provision of economic and humanitarian assistance, as well as ongoing efforts with partners to hold Russia accountable for its aggression," according to the statement.

— Amanda Macias

WHO records more than 640 attacks on vital health services in Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion

Members of the Ukrainian military receive treatment for concussions and light injuries from Ukrainian military medics at a frontline field hospital on May 10, 2022 in Popasna, Ukraine.
Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, there have been at least 645 attacks on vital health services in the country, the World Health Organization's Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care estimates.

The organization reports that healthcare facilities were damaged 562 times, ambulances were targeted in 83 cases and at least 159 attacks affected crucial medical supplies. The group also estimated that attacks on health services led to at least 100 deaths and 129 injuries.

The Kremlin has previously denied that it targets civilian infrastructure like hospitals, schools and apartment buildings.

— Amanda Macias

One ship carrying agricultural goods under the Black Sea Grain Initiative deal

An aerial view of "Glory" named empty grain ship as Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations (UN) of the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) conduct inspection on vessel in Istanbul, Turkiye on August 09, 2022.
Ali Atmaca | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The organization overseeing the export of Ukrainian agriculture products said that one vessel will depart the besieged country for Romania.

The ship leaving under the Black Sea Grain Initiative is carrying 12,500 metric tons of sunflower oil.

On Saturday, Moscow suspended its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, citing retaliation for Kyiv's "act of terrorism" against Russian warships. Moscow returned to the deal on Wednesday.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered in July among Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, eased Russia's naval blockade and saw the reopening of three key Ukrainian ports.

— Amanda Macias

Blinken meets with British, French and Germany counterparts at G-7 to discuss war in Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about US policy towards China during an event hosted by the Asia Society Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on May 26, 2022.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his counterparts from Germany, France and the U.K. on the sidelines of the G-7 meeting to discuss Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine.

"They discussed continued transatlantic cooperation on a number of key issues, including consistent support for Ukraine in the face of Russia's brutal war of aggression," State Department spokesman Ned Price wrote in a readout of the meeting between Blinken and French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.  

Price added that the leaders also discussed Iran's military support of Russia.

In recent weeks, Moscow has carried out several devastating missile and drone strikes against what Ukraine said were civilian targets and critical infrastructure such as energy facilities.

Iran and Russia have sharply denied reports that Tehran supplied Moscow with a fleet of drones for the Kremlin's war in Ukraine. The Kremlin has also repeatedly denied that it uses Iranian-made drones to target residential and other high civilian areas.

— Amanda Macias

Deputy Treasury secretary will discuss price cap on Russian oil with counterparts in Paris, London and Brussels

Wally Adeyemo, deputy U.S. Treasury secretary, speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo will travel to Paris, London and Brussels early next week to "continue close coordination with allies on sanctions against Russia for its brutal war against Ukraine."

In meetings with government counterparts, he will discuss "maintaining strong support for the Ukrainian government and people through direct economic assistance, Treasury wrote in a readout of his upcoming travel.

He is also expected to discuss a price cap on Russian oil that will "facilitate the flow of Russian oil onto global markets at lower prices and cut into Putin's main source of revenue," Treasury added.

Adeyemo will also discuss concerns regarding higher energy prices and exacerbated food insecurity, triggered in part by Russia's war in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

Pentagon announces $400 million in additional security assistance for Ukraine

A Ukrainian serviceman stands on a tank near Borivske, Kharkiv region on October 23, 2022.
Yevhen Titov | AFP | Getty Images

The Pentagon announced a security assistance package worth $400 million for Ukraine, bringing America's commitment to $18.2 billion since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor in late February.

The latest round of aid consists of the following:

  • Funding to refurbish HAWK air defense missiles
  • 45 refurbished T-72B tanks with advanced optics, communications, and armor packages
  • 1,100 Phoenix Ghost Tactical unmanned aerial systems
  • 40 armored riverine boats
  • Funding to refurbish 250 M1117 armored security vehicles
  • Tactical secure communications systems and surveillance systems

"The overhauled T-72B tanks included in this package are part of a trilateral, coordinated effort with the Netherlands and Czech Republic," the Pentagon said in a statement.

— Amanda Macias

Russia signals a surprise withdrawal from a key city, but Ukrainians are wary

A village in the border of the Kherson region on Oct. 7, 2022.
Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian control of the key southern Ukrainian city of Kherson appeared increasingly in doubt after officials suggested that the Kremlin's troops would withdraw from the west bank of the Dnieper River

Just weeks after Moscow claimed the area, Kirill Stremousov, the Russian-installed deputy civilian administrator of the Kherson region, said that the troops would try and regroup on the other side of the river. 

"Most likely, our units, our soldiers, will leave for the left (eastern) bank," he said in an interview with Solovyov Live, a pro-Kremlin online media outlet. Civilians remaining in Kherson city should leave immediately as they are putting their lives in danger, he added.

His comments came after several pro-Kremlin bloggers posted videos and images that NBC News has verified of the Kherson administration building without the Russian flag, although the white, blue and red tricolor still appeared to be flying above several other government buildings.

Read more on NBC News.

Ukraine agriculture exports top 10 million metric tons since ports reopened under U.N.-backed deal

The basic food security of tens of millions of people across the globe hung by a thread this week as the United Nations, Turkey and Ukraine desperately worked to preserve a deal that has permitted Ukrainian grain to move through the Black Sea.

Before Moscow's full-scale invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbor, Ukraine and Russia accounted for almost a quarter of global grain exports, until those shipments came to a severe halt for nearly six months.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative eased Russia's naval blockade and saw the reopening of three key Ukrainian ports. 

Last week, Moscow suspended its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative citing retaliation for what it called Kyiv's "act of terrorism" against Russian warships. Russia rejoined the humanitarian agreement on Wednesday — but with the caveat that the Kremlin may decline to renew the deal, which is set to expire in two weeks.

Here's a look at what Ukraine is exporting and to where:

— Amanda Macias

Putin says civilians in Kherson must be evacuated from conflict zone

People arrived from Kherson wait for further evacuation into the depths of Russia inside the Dzhankoi's railway station in Crimea on October 21, 2022.
Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that civilians should be evacuated from areas of conflict in Ukraine's southern Kherson region, which Moscow illegally annexed at the end of September.

He reportedly said during a meeting with pro-Kremlin activists that "those who live in Kherson should be removed from the zone of the most dangerous actions, because the civilian population should not suffer." The remarks were reported by Reuters quoting state news agency RIA.

Moscow says it does not target civilians, but the Russian president and his generals have directed numerous well-documented attacks against civilian areas and infrastructure in Ukraine, killing thousands of people if not more.

Putin's words come as Ukrainian forces are several weeks into a counteroffensive to retake Kherson which has put many Russian troops on the back food and led to evacuations of tens of thousands of civilians. Kyiv says that the Ukrainians being evacuated are being forcibly deported from their homes and taken to Russia.

CNBC has not been able to verify where all the evacuees are taken, but rights groups and various governments have raised the alarm over what they say is Russia's forced deportation of Ukrainians, including children, which would constitute a war crime. Moscow says the civilians are moved willingly.

— Natasha Turak

UK's Rishi Sunak and Polish counterpart speak, agree to send "strong signal" to Putin

Britain's new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak waves in front of Number 10 Downing Street, in London, Britain, October 25, 2022.
Hannah Mckay | Reuters

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke with his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki about the buildup of Russian mobilized troops and activity in Belarus, which borders Poland and which has been used as a launching ground for Russian forces to attack Ukraine.

The two leaders agreed on the importance of sending a clear message to Moscow that its intimidation tactics would not be effective, a statement from Sunak's office said.

According to the statement, Sunak told Morawiecki over the phone that "As part of deterrence efforts across the eastern flank, the UK was increasing the capability of its forces, and had increased activity with the Joint Expeditionary Force in the Baltic region."

It added: "Both agreed on the need to send a continued strong signal to Putin that intimidation would not work."

— Natasha Turak

Turkey's Erdogan says he agreed with Putin that grain shipments should be free for poor African countries

A cargo ship carrying Ukrainian grain, and another originating from Ukraine, sail at the entrance of Bosphorus, in the Black Sea off the coast off Kumkoy, north of Istanbul, on November 2, 2022.
Ozan Kose | AFP | Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he agreed with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, during negotiations on Friday, that grain shipments should to go poor African countries for free.

"In my phone call with Vladimir Putin, he said 'Let's send this grain to countries such as Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan for free' – and we agreed," Erdogan said during a speech in Istanbul.

Erdogan has been a crucial mediator in the Black Sea grain deal, a condition of which was that Ukraine's grain had to get to poor countries that risked starvation without it. Russia and Ukraine together provide a huge proportion of the world's grain, and shortages and price increases caused by Russia's military blocking Ukrainian ports have put many developing nations under severe strain.

Putin threatened last week to withdraw from the deal, which would have tipped some of those countries into crisis. He made a U-turn this week and said he would keep Russia in the deal, though could still choose to leave it, which would put significant pressure on the international community.

— Natasha Turak

More missiles hit Zaporizhzhia, local governor says

Municipality workers clean debris at Zestafoni Street in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, on Oct. 25, 2022.
Photo by Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Zaporizhzhia Governor Oleksandr Starukh said in a Telegram post that populated areas in the southern Ukrainian region were hit by Russian S-300 missiles overnight.

"As a result of the impact of one of the rockets, a gas pipe was damaged in an open area, a fire broke out, which was extinguished by our rescuers," he wrote on the messaging platform.

CNBC has not been able to independently verify the information. Russia claims Zaporizhzhia as its own after illegally annexing the territory in late September and occupying it since March. The area is home to Europe's largest nuclear power plant.

— Natasha Turak

Russia may be using troops to shoot its own soldiers who retreat, UK says

Russia may be using "barrier troops" or "blocking units" in their deployed forces, which are assigned to shoot any soldiers that attempt to retreat, Britain's Defense Ministry wrote in its daily intelligence update.

"Recently, Russian generals likely wanted their commanders to use weapons against deserters, including possibly authorising shooting to kill such defaulters after a warning had been given. Generals also likely wanted to maintain defensive positions to the death," the ministry wrote in its post on Twitter.

"The tactic of shooting deserters likely attests to the low quality, low morale and indiscipline of Russian forces," it added.

— Natasha Turak

Zelenskyy lauds IAEA investigation result into nuclear material in Ukraine

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shakes hands with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, who is to head a planned mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine August 30, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, after it finished its inspection of three nuclear sites in Ukraine and said it found no evidence of undeclared nuclear activities or materials.

Zelenskyy invited the inspectors to the country after Russia accused Kyiv of preparing to use a "dirty bomb" on its own territory, which is a bomb made with radioactive material. Ukrainian and Western leaders rejected and ridiculed the notion.

"We have invited the IAEA to check, we have given them full freedom of action at the relevant facilities, and we have clear and irrefutable evidence that no one in Ukraine has created or is creating any dirty bombs," Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.

"The only thing that is dirty in our region now is the heads of those in Moscow who, unfortunately, seized control of the Russian state and are terrorizing Ukraine and the whole world," he added.

— Natasha Turak

U.S. Defense secretary says Ukraine capable of retaking Kherson from Russia

A bridge and dam of hydro are seen after clashes in the village of Velyka Oleksandrivka in Kherson, Ukraine.
Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he is confident Ukrainian forces are capable of retaking Kherson from Russia.

"On the issue of whether or not the Ukrainians can take the remaining territory on the west side of the Dnieper River in Kherson, I certainly believe that they have the capability to do that," Austin told reporters at the Pentagon.

"Most importantly, the Ukrainians believe they have the capability to do that. We've seen them engage in a very methodical but effective effort to take back their sovereign territory."

— Natalie Tham

Russia softens nuclear rhetoric over Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference following the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) leaders' summit in Astana, Kazakhstan October 14, 2022.
Ramil Sitdikov | Sputnik | via Reuters

Is Russian President Vladimir Putin stepping back from the nuclear ledge?

After weeks of apocalyptic atomic innuendo, Russia issued a bland statement Wednesday reaffirming its long-standing policies on the use of nuclear weapons — a possible sign that the Kremlin is trying to cool the escalatory rhetoric it used throughout October.

"Russia is strictly and consistently guided by the tenet that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought," said the statement on the Russian Foreign Ministry website.

The statement added that Russian nuclear doctrine was unambiguous and did not allow for "expansive interpretation," indicating Moscow may be trying to walk back a number of statements calling the doctrine into question.

The statement also included an appeal for talks about the kinds of "security guarantees" Russia had demanded of NATO before it invaded Ukraine in February

Read more on NBC News.

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