Brace for ‘mass attacks’ on power grid, Zelenskyy says; Kyiv's residents told to prepare to evacuate

This is CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine. See below for the latest updates. 

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Sunday night that Iranian drones, which Ukraine says Russia is using to attack its cities and energy networks, could be used to launch another barrage of attacks on its energy infrastructure.

In his nightly address, Zelenskyy said Ukraine understands that Russia "is concentrating forces and means for a possible repetition of mass attacks on our infrastructure. First of all, energy. In particular, for this, Russia needs Iranian missiles." He said Ukraine is preparing to respond.

A fire engine stand in front of a burning electrical substation during extinguishing a fire on Sept. 11, 2022 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Two people died after a rocket hit an electrical substation on the outskirts of Kharkiv. Explosions in the city rang out at 8:00 p.m. As a result of the impact of two Russian cruise missiles, the administrative building was destroyed, transformers caught fire. The entire city was completely blacked out for about four hours.
Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Ukraine's capital Kyiv, said Sunday that residents have to be prepared for any eventuality, including evacuating the city, as Russia continues to target energy infrastructure, attacks that have left the capital without any power or water recently.

Lastly, defense experts are warning that Ukraine is at risk of running out of air defense weapons and needs the West's urgent help to defend against a tide of cheap Iranian-supplied drones targeting its energy infrastructure.

Backlog of 77 ships waiting to transport agricultural goods from Ukraine

Ships, including those carrying grain from Ukraine and awaiting inspections, are seen anchored off the Istanbul coastline on November 02, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

The organization overseeing the export of Ukrainian agriculture products said there is a backlog of 77 vessels waiting to be loaded with cargo.

The Joint Coordination Center also said that about 15 loaded vessels are waiting for inspection in Turkish territorial waters.

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. Since the deal with signed, more than 10 million metric tons of grain and foodstuffs have left for destinations around the world.

Kyiv has previously blamed Moscow for holding up inspections and delaying vessel movements.

— Amanda Macias

Eight vessels will depart Ukraine's ports under Black Sea Grain Initiative

A photograph taken on October 31, 2022 shows cargo ships loaded with grain in the anchorage area of the southern entrance to the Bosphorus in Istanbul.
Ozan Kose | Afp | Getty Images

The organization overseeing the export of Ukrainian agriculture products said that eight vessels will depart the besieged country.

The amount of grain and other foodstuffs exported under the Black Sea Grain Initiative so far exceeds 10 million metric tons.

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

Biden has 'no intention' on meeting with Putin on sidelines of the G-20

Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference after trilateral meeting with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Sochi, Russia October 31, 2022.
Sergey Bobylev | Sputnik | via Reuters

The White House said the Biden administration doesn't plan to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the upcoming G-20 summit.

"He has no intention of meeting with President Putin," White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre told reporters during a daily press briefing when asked if there were preparations for a bilateral.

She added that Ukraine should also be able to attend the G-20 meetings in Indonesia regardless if Putin attends.

"We've been very clear about how we see that invite," Jean Pierre added.

— Amanda Macias

White House says Russian influence in U.S. elections is "well known and well documented"

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, September 23, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin's claims that Russia interfered, and continues to interfere, in U.S. elections weren't suprising.

"These comments do not tell us anything new or surprising, as we all know," Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing. "It's well known and well documented in the public domain that entities associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin have sought to influence elections around the world, including the United States."

According to Jean-Pierre, Prigozhin "is a known bad actor who has been sanctioned by the United States, the United Kingdom, and also the European Union."

"We also know that part of Russia's efforts includes promoting narratives aimed at undermining democracy and sowing division and discord. It's not surprising that Russia would be highlighting their attempted efforts and fabricate ... a story about their successes on the eve of an election," she said in light of Tuesday's consequential midterm elections.

Prigozhin is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department offered a $10 million reward for information about Prigozhin and other Russian entities and persons that knowingly interfered in U.S. elections.

— Rocio Fabbro

UK and France discuss collaboration in clean energy and support for Ukraine on sidelines of COP27

Britain's Conservative MP Rishi Sunak leaves his home address in London, Britain October 24, 2022. 
Peter Nicholls | Reuters

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron met on the sidelines of the COP27 climate conference in Egypt to discuss ongoing collaboration in clean energy and support for Ukraine.

"They noted opportunities for the UK and France to collaborate further on the transition to clean energy, including on civil nuclear power," a Downing Street spokesperson said. "The leaders also discussed the ongoing Russian attacks on Ukraine and the continued importance of maintaining military and economic support for the defense of Ukraine."

Alternative energy sourcing has become a key issue for the UK, France and the rest of Europe, which have relied heavily on Russian natural gas and energy imports. As countries look towards climate-friendly energy solutions, including nuclear and other clean energy sources, to achieve their climate pledges, European leaders have also sought to decrease natural gas use and find alternative sources amidst fears that continued purchasing of Russian gas helps fund Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine.

— Rocio Fabbro

Zelenskyy advisor says Ukraine is ready for negotiations with Russia's next leader

A top advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine is ready for negotiations, just not with current Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Ukraine has never refused to negotiate. Our negotiating position is known and open," Mykhailo Podolyak said in a tweet. Negotiations, however, are contingent on Russia's withdrawal from Ukrainian territory, Podolyak added, which he believes Putin is "obviously not" ready for.

"Therefore, we are constructive in our assessment: we will talk with the next leader of RF," he said, referring to the Russian Federation.

This statement comes as increased calls for Ukrainian openness to negotiations have notably come from Turkey and the United States in the past week, as concerns among allies of "Ukraine fatigue" and constituent disapproval of continued financial support to Ukraine abound.

— Rocio Fabbro

Zelenskyy says Ukraine will not attend G-20 summit if Putin attends

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Jesco Denzel | BPA | via Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that his war-weary country will not participate in the G-20 summit if Russian President Vladimir Putin attends.

"My personal position and the position of Ukraine was that if the leader of the Russian Federation participates then Ukraine will not participate. Let's see how it will be in the future," Zelenskyy said on the Telegram messaging app, according to an NBC News translation.

Zelenskyy added that he has received multiple invitations to attend the G-20 in Indonesia.

Last week, Indonesia's president told the Financial Times that he has a "strong impression" Putin will miss G-20 summit.

— Amanda Macias

Ukraine suffers power outages amid intense attacks from Russia's military

A cafe without electricity in western Ukrainian city of Lviv, after three Russian missiles fired targeted energy infrastructure on Oct. 11, 2022. Lviv's mayor said that one-third of homes were without power.
Yuriy Dyachyshyn | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine's state electricity operator announced blackouts in Kyiv and seven other regions of the country in the aftermath of Russia's devastating strikes on energy infrastructure.

The move comes as Russian forces continue to pound Ukrainian cities and villages with missiles and drones, inflicting damage on power plants, water supplies and other civilian targets, in a grinding war that is nearing its nine-month mark.

Ukrenergo, the sole operator of Ukraine's high-voltage transmission lines, initially said in an online statement that scheduled blackouts will take place in the capital and the greater Kyiv region, as well as several regions around it — Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Poltava and Kharkiv.

Later in the day, however, the company released an update saying that scheduled outages for a specific number of hours aren't enough and instead there will be emergency outages, which could last an indefinite amount of time.

Ukraine has been grappling with power outages and the disruption of water supplies since Russia started unleashing massive barrages of missile and drone strikes on the country's energy infrastructure last month.

— Associated Press

Russian billionaire known as 'Putin's chef' says he interfered in U.S. elections

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, claimed in May that his mercenary fighters captured Bakhmut after nine months of intense fighting there.
Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images

Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Monday he interfered in U.S. elections and would continue doing so in the future, the first such admission from a figure who has been formally implicated by Washington in efforts to influence American politics.

In comments posted by the press service of his Concord catering firm on Russia's Facebook equivalent VKontakte, Prigozhin said: "We have interfered (in U.S. elections), we are interfering and we will continue to interfere. Carefully, accurately, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do."

The remark was posted on the eve of the U.S. midterm elections in response to a request for comment from a Russian news site.

"During our pinpoint operations, we will remove both kidneys and the liver at once," Prigozhin said. He did not elaborate on the cryptic comment.

Prigozhin, who is often referred to as "Putin's chef" because his catering company operates Kremlin contracts, has been formally accused of sponsoring Russia-based "troll farms" that seek to influence U.S. politics.

— Reuters

Iran acknowledges sending drones to Russia for first time

A drone flies over Kyiv during an attack on Oct. 17, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

Iran's foreign minister on Saturday acknowledged for the first time that his country has supplied Russia with drones, insisting the transfer came before Moscow's war on Ukraine.

The comments by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian come after months of confusing messaging from Iran about the weapons shipment, as Russia sends the drones slamming into Ukrainian energy infrastructure and civilian targets.

"We gave a limited number of drones to Russia months before the Ukraine war," Amirabdollahian told reporters after a meeting in Tehran.

Previously, Iranian officials had denied arming Russia in its war on Ukraine. Just earlier this week, Iran's Ambassador to the U.N. Amir Saeid Iravani called the allegations "totally unfounded" and reiterated Iran's position of neutrality in the war. The U.S. and its Western allies on the Security Council have called on U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to investigate if Russia has used Iranian drones to attack civilians in Ukraine.

— Associated Press

More than 6,400 people have died in Ukraine, UN says

A woman mourns while visiting the grave of Stanislav Hvostov, 22, a Ukrainian serviceman killed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the military section of the Kharkiv cemetery number 18 in Bezlioudivka, eastern Ukraine on May 21, 2022.
Dimitar Dilkoff | AFP | Getty Images

The United Nations has confirmed 6,490 civilian deaths and 9,972 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor on Feb. 24.

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

The international organization said 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.

— Amanda Macias

Ukraine central bank's main tasks unchanged, bank's new chief says

The new head of Ukraine's central bank said on Monday the bank's main tasks remained the same, including strengthening the bank's independence.

"The obligations remain unchanged," Andriy Pyshnyi, who was appointed last month, told a news conference at which he said that Ukraine's banking system was stable.

Other priorities he listed were prudent monetary policy aimed at ensuring price and financial stability, the rejection of "monetary financing of the state budget" and maintaining international reserves at an appropriate level.

— Reuters

Shares of five strategic companies taken over by Ukraine Defense Ministry, top officials say

Shares of five strategic companies have been taken over by Ukraine's Defense Ministry under wartime laws, according to the head of Ukraine's Security Council and other top officials.

"This is not nationalization, this is taking over assets in wartime," Security Council chief Alexey Danilov said in a press briefing, according to Reuters.

Ukrainian defense minister Oleksii Reznikov said the decision was made on Nov. 5 at a top security meeting and came into effect the following day. Reznikov declined to comment on which other companies could see their shares taken over in the future, reported Reuters.

Latest figures from the World Bank indicate that Ukraine's economy could shrink by 35% by the end of this year if these trends continue, down from an estimated 37.5% contraction earlier this year. Economic hits to several sectors have caused Ukraine's real GDP to plummet and industries to scramble to recoup losses as Russia's war in Ukraine stretches into its ninth month.

— Rocio Fabbro

Russian weaponization of energy hastens need for energy transition, U.S.-EU Task Force says

On Friday, Russian energy supplier Gazprom said it would not resume its supply of natural gas to Germany through the key Nord Stream 1 pipeline, blaming a malfunctioning turbine.
Hannibal Hanschke | Reuters

The U.S.-EU Task Force on Energy Security condemned Russia's attacks on civilian energy and energy infrastructure in Ukraine in a summary published Monday of a meeting held last week, and noted the increased urgency to transition away from dependence on Russian energy.

"Russia's war against Ukraine and its weaponization of energy resources pose significant challenges to European and global energy security," reads a joint statement. "Russia has acutely disrupted global energy markets leading to sharp increases in prices and threatening food security, with disproportionate consequences for the developing world and the most vulnerable populations."

As a result of Russia's weaponization of energy, the task force agreed that there is a need to "accelerate the energy transition and implement more ambitious policies to reduce dependence on gas and other fossil fuels."  

The EU is also seeking to introduce measures to ensure energy security and diversify natural gas supplies while reducing demand for natural gas ahead of winter, in line with its RePowerEU plan, according to the read-out.

By shifting demand for natural gas, the U.S. and EU hope to both accelerate the clean energy transition and curtail Russian energy revenues, "which are used to fund the unprovoked and unjustified war," according to the statement.

With winter approaching, Ukraine is also bracing for increased challenges in civilian energy as damage to infrastructure has caused widespread outages and the need for scheduled blackouts to stabilize power systems. The U.S. and EU have provided and will continue to provide emergency energy assistance to Ukraine and surrounding regions heavily impacted by Russia's attacks on energy, per the statement.

— Rocio Fabbro

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

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 hold meetings in Paris, London and Brussels this 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 Adeyemo's meetings.

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

Russia issues rare denial of 'pointless losses' by marines in Ukraine

Russia's defense ministry took the rare step on Monday of denying allegations that a naval infantry unit had suffered disastrous losses of men and equipment in a futile offensive in eastern Ukraine.

The ministry was responding to what Russian military bloggers said was an open letter from members of the 155th marine brigade of Russia's Pacific Fleet, complaining they had been thrown into an "incomprehensible" assault on Ukrainian forces southwest of Donetsk.

"As a result of the 'carefully' planned offensive by the 'great generals', we lost about 300 people killed, wounded and missing in the course of four days. (And) half of our equipment," said the letter.

People holding Russian flags gather at Red Square during a ceremony marking the annexation of four regions of Ukraine after referendums on September 30, 2022, in Moscow, Russia.
Sefa Karacan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The text was published by Grey Zone, a popular military blog. It was addressed to Oleg Kozhemyako, governor of the far eastern Primorye region, thousands of miles from Ukraine, where the unit is based.

Kozhemyako appeared to acknowledge the letter was genuine but said it exaggerated the scale of the true losses.

"We contacted the commanders. Yes there are losses, there's heavy fighting, but they are far from what is written in this appeal," he said in a video statement on his Telegram channel.

The defence ministry statement, quoted by state-owned RIA news agency, rejected the assertion that the marines unit had suffered "high, pointless losses in people and equipment".

On the contrary, in the course of 10 days it had advanced 5 km (over 3 miles) into Ukrainian defensive positions, RIA quoted the ministry as saying. The statement specifically denied that the brigade's commanders had shown incompetence.

The unusual denial suggested the reported losses had touched a raw nerve at a point in the war's ninth month when Russian forces are under heavy pressure in partly occupied regions of Ukraine that Moscow has proclaimed as its own territory — actions denounced as illegal by Kyiv, the West and most countries of the United Nations.

— Reuters

Ukraine praises arrival of more air defense systems

Ukraine's defense minister has praised the arrival of NASAMS air defense systems and the Aspide anti-aircraft missile complex in the country.

"Look who's here! NASAMS and Aspide air defence systems arrived in Ukraine! These weapons will significantly strengthen Ukraine's Army and will make our skies safer," Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Twitter.

He added that Ukraine would continue to shoot down the enemy targets attacking the country and thanked the countries that donated the weapons systems.

The delivery of the weapons came after U.K. defense analysts warned in a report Monday that the West should not be complacent about Ukraine's air defense needs.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine looks to technology to help rebuild its economy amid Russia’s onslaught

As the war in Ukraine rages on, the country's technology entrepreneurs are trying to stay positive.

"I don't think there's something in the world that could kill our ability to win and ability to do work or anything," Valery Krasovsky, CEO and co-founder of Sigma Software, told CNBC on the sidelines of the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon.

Sigma, which has 2,000 employees based in Ukraine, equipped its offices with diesel generators and Starlink internet terminals to allow employees to continue working amid Russian shelling of critical energy infrastructure.

"Nothing could happen that would stop us delivering business, even in these conditions," he added.

Ukraine Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov (right) and First Lady Olena Zelenska (center) attend the Ukraine booth at Web Summit 2022.
Rita Franca | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Sigma was one of 59 Ukrainian start-ups that attended the event last week. Ukraine had a notable presence at Web Summit, where it sought support from the global tech community to bolster its fight against Russia.

In 2021, Ukraine had a small booth at Web Summit, Krasovsky said. This year, it had a much larger stand, lit up in yellow and blue. It was surrounded by floods of visitors, with Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenska — accompanied by armed guards as she passed through the venue — among them.

Read the whole story here

— Ryan Browne

Kremlin declines to comment on reported Ukraine de-escalation talks with U.S.

The Kremlin towers and Ivan the Great Cathedral in Moscow.
Kirill Kudryavtsev | Afp | Getty Images

The Kremlin on Monday declined to comment on a Wall Street Journal report that Washington held undisclosed talks with top Russian officials about avoiding further escalation in the Ukraine war.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that while Russia remains "open" to talks, it is unable to negotiate with Kyiv due to its refusal to hold talks with Russia.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan held undisclosed talks with top Russian officials in the hope of reducing the risk the war in Ukraine spills over or escalates into a nuclear conflict.

— Reuters

Ukraine at risk of running out of air defense weapons, needs the West's help: Think tank

Ukraine is at risk of running out of air defense weapons and needs the West's urgent help to defend against a tide of cheap Iranian-supplied drones that are targeting its energy infrastructure, according to analysts at the defense and security think tank RUSI.

"Further Western support is needed to ensure that Kyiv can counter Moscow's updated approach to the air war in Ukraine," RUSI's defense analysts Justin Bronk, Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds said in a new report Monday, noting Russia's increased use in recent months of cheap Iranian Shahed-136 drones to disable Ukraine's energy networks.

Previously, they noted, "Russia's attempts at strategic air attack have been limited to expensive cruise and ballistic missile barrages at a much more limited scale. These failed to achieve strategically decisive damage during the first seven months of the invasion."

"However, the latest iteration is a more focused and sustainable bombardment of the Ukrainian electricity grid, blending hundreds of cheap Iranian-supplied Shahed-136 loitering munitions against substations with continued use of cruise and ballistic missiles against larger targets," they said.

Local residents look at parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle, what Ukrainian authorities consider to be an Iranian-made drone Shahed-136, after a Russian drone strike in Kyiv on Oct. 17, 2022.
Vladyslav Musiienko | Reuters

This combination poses a risk to Ukraine, with the West warned to "avoid complacency about the need to urgently bolster Ukrainian air-defence capacity."

Read the whole story here.

— Holly Ellyatt

Kyiv's mayor says residents have to be prepared to evacuate the capital

Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Ukraine's capital Kyiv, said Sunday that residents have to be prepared for any eventuality, including evacuating the city, in case of a total loss of energy and water.

"A few days ago, journalists asked me: does the capital have a blackout plan? I will answer again. In the war situation in which we live, it is necessary to have plans in case of various scenarios of development of events and emergency situations. And be ready to act," he said on Telegram.

While the city's authorities were preparing for winter, he said, "to ensure the life of the capital in these difficult conditions," he warned that Russia was "insidious and cynical" and was trying to cause Ukraine's energy network to collapse.

Kyiv in near-darkness after a military strike that partially brought down power infrastructure on Oct. 31, 2022.
Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

"Utility workers, energy workers concentrate and promptly eliminate damage to networks, do everything to ensure that residents have critical services. But we have to be prepared for various options for the development of events, although we hope that the worst will not happen," he said.

Elsewhere yesterday, Klitschko told Ukrainian media that Kyiv's residents should consider staying with relatives or friends outside the city. "If you have extended family or friends outside Kyiv, where there is autonomous water supply, an oven, heating, please keep in mind the possibility of staying there for a certain amount of time," he said.

Ukraine has introduced "stabilization blackouts" or timed blackouts in a bid to reduce pressure on the country's fragile energy system, which has been repeatedly attacked by Russia.

— Holly Ellyatt

Zelenskyy warns more mass attacks on infrastructure could take place

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned Sunday night that Iranian drones, which Ukraine says Russia is using to attack its cities and energy networks, could be used to launch another barrage of attacks on its energy infrastructure.

"Today, the occupiers used Iranian attack drones again. There are downed ones. But, unfortunately, there are also hits," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address Sunday.

"We also understand that the terrorist state [Russia] is concentrating forces and means for a possible repetition of mass attacks on our infrastructure. First of all, energy. In particular, for this, Russia needs Iranian missiles." He said Ukraine was preparing to respond.

Firefighters work to put out a fire in an energy infrastructure facility, damaged by a Russian missile strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, Oct. 18, 2022.
State Emergency Service Of Ukraine | via Reuters

Russian forces have repeatedly targeted Ukraine's energy infrastructure in recent weeks, with Kyiv accusing Moscow of aiming to deprive citizens of heat, power and water as winter approaches. Moscow denies using Iranian drones to target Ukraine, or targeting civilian infrastructure.

Eastern Ukraine continues to be the epicenter of hostilities this week, with Zelenskyy singling out the region, saying "very fierce Russian attacks in the Donetsk region continue."

"The enemy suffers serious losses there, but despite everything, despite any losses, he continues to drive his mobilized soldiers and mercenaries to their deaths," he said.

— Holly Ellyatt