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Situation difficult along the entire frontline, Kyiv says; Moscow weighs up support for Ukraine in midterms

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine on Nov.9, 2022. See here for the latest updates.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that fighting remains intense along the entire front line in the south and east of the country as the war appears to enter a period of stalemate after solid gains by Ukraine in recent months.

"The situation is difficult on the entire front. Fierce positional battles continue in some areas, as before. And it is especially difficult in Donetsk region, as before. The occupiers are suffering extremely large-scale losses, but their order to move to the administrative border of Donetsk region has not changed. We are not surrendering a single centimeter of our land there," he said in his nightly address Tuesday.

Ukrainian soldiers of an artillery unit fire toward Russian positions outside Bakhmut on Nov. 8, 2022.
Bulent Kilic | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine has launched successful counteroffensives in both the east of the country, around Kharkiv and southward towards Donetsk, as well as in the southern Kherson region, making sizeable gains in the east in particular.

In recent weeks, however, the fighting appears to have entered a period of stalemate with neither side making any dramatic advances. Nonetheless, fighting remains intense around the Bakhmut and Avdiivka areas of Donetsk, a factor touched upon by Zelenskyy last night.

Zelenskyy warns against premature celebrations in his nightly address

Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked European nations to stop buying Russian oil.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy struck a more serious and restrained note in his nightly address, despite the "joy in the informational space" following Russia's decision to withdraw troops from Kherson.

"Maybe this doesn't sound like what everyone expects right now, maybe it doesn't sound like what's in the news [today]," he said. "But you need to understand: no one just moves anywhere if they feel strong. The enemy does not give us gifts, does not make 'gestures of goodwill'. We choose all of this."

Instead, Zelenskyy explained, Ukraine moves "very carefully, without emotions, without unnecessary risk," both in the interests of liberating the entire territory of Ukraine and minimizing loss of life on and off the battlefield.

That also means remaining silent on details of upcoming operations, he noted, and letting the victories speak for themselves when they come.

"This is how we will secure the liberation of Kherson, Kakhovka, Donetsk, and our other cities," he said. "But this will be the result of our efforts, our defense operations. Those that are currently ongoing, those that we are still planning."

— Rocio Fabbro

Zelenskyy signs new decree into law, forms four new military administrations in Kherson

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy makes a statement in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 25, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy established four new military administrations in the Kherson region, following Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's announcement that Russia will transfer troops to the east bank of the Dnipro river, away from Kherson city.

"The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, signed the Decree on the formation of four military administrations in the Kherson region. Dolmativska, Holoprystanska, Kakhovska and Khrestivska," Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, said in a Telegram post.

Military administrations are temporary local governments, which stem from a 2015 law that ensures that the Ukrainian constitution and laws continue to be upheld. The Presidential Decree comes into effect immediately.

Ukraine continues its advance on Kherson as Russia withdraws its troops. Ukrainian officials are skeptical about Russia's announcement. Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Zelenkyy's, stated in a tweet that he sees "no signs that Russia is leaving Kherson without a fight."

— Rocio Fabbro

UN officials to meet Russians Friday on Ukraine grain deal

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, carrying Ukrainian grain, is seen in the Black Sea off Kilyos, near Istanbul, Turkey August 2, 2022.
Yoruk Isik | Reuters

Senior United Nations officials planned to meet members of a high-level Russian delegation in Geneva on Friday to discuss the Ukraine grain deal, a U.N. spokesperson said.

"They will continue ongoing consultations in support of the efforts by the Secretary-General António Guterres on the full implementation of the two agreements signed on 22 July in Istanbul," the spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday.

— Reuters

Ukrainian teacher Olena Kurilo, subject of iconic photo, meets the photographer

Ukrainian teacher Olena Kurilo, who has become the symbol of the Russia-Ukraine war with her iconic photo -- her head wrapped in a bandage, her face caked with blood after the airstrike -- that Anadolu Agency photojournalist Wolfgang Schwan took on Feb. 24, poses with her iconic photo during an exclusive interview for Anadolu Agency in Warsaw, Poland on November 09, 2022. 
Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian teacher Olena Kurilo became a symbol of the Russia-Ukraine war earlier this year after an iconic photo of her head wrapped in a bandage, face caked with blood after an airstrike destroyed her home went viral.

Anadolu Agency photojournalist Wolfgang Schwan took the photo of Kurilo while on Feb. 24, the day Russian invaded Ukraine. He recently met with Kurilo during an exclusive interview for Anadolu Agency in Warsaw, Poland.

"Civilians are often the ones who suffer the most. This is what happens when someone invades another country," Schwan told the Independent in March. "It's terrible to look at but it has to be taken, because otherwise it's just going to be photos of guys with guns."

Schwan, who was raised in Philadelphia, traveled to Ukraine in January, a month prior to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, after following the rising tensions in the region. He had never covered a warzone before.

Ukrainian teacher Olena Kurilo (R), who has become the symbol of the Russia-Ukraine war with her iconic photo -- her head wrapped in a bandage, her face caked with blood after the airstrike -- that Anadolu Agency photojournalist Wolfgang Schwan (L) took on Feb. 24, meets with Wolfgang Schwan during an exclusive interview for Anadolu Agency in Warsaw, Poland on November 09, 2022. I
Omar Marques | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

His image of Kurilo stirred up Russian backlash, as supporters of the Russian invasion claimed that the images were fake and that Kurilo was an actress. Fact-checkers disproved these theories.

"Not only is she the face of the atrocities that happen in war to civilians, but now she has been thrown into the middle of a propaganda wave and is being hated for being a victim," Schwan said of the reactions to his photographs.

Kurilo was blinded by glass shards and other debris scattered by the missile strikes. She underwent an extensive eye surgery in Poland to regain some of her vision.

Ukrainian teacher Olena Kurilo, who has become the symbol of the Russia-Ukraine war with her iconic photo -- her head wrapped in a bandage, her face caked with blood after the airstrike -- that Anadolu Agency photojournalist Wolfgang Schwan took on Feb. 24, gestures during an exclusive interview for Anadolu Agency in Warsaw, Poland on November 09, 2022. I
Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

— Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian statement on peace talks 'another smoke screen,' Ukraine Foreign Ministry says

Ukrainian servicemen attend a rehearsal of an official ceremony to hand over tanks, armoured personnel carriers and military vehicles to the Ukrainian Armed Forces as the country celebrates Army Day in Kyiv, Ukraine December 6, 2021.
Gleb Garanich | Reuters

The spokesperson for Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oleg Nikolenko, delivered a blistering response to Russia's recent announcement that it is ready to engage in negotiations with Ukraine.

"The statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia is another smoke screen," he said in a statement. "Russian officials start to mention the talks every time Russian troops are defeated on the battlefield. Moscow is not interested in restoring peace in Ukraine."

"Simulating a readiness for dialogue, the Russian Federation is trying to buy time to regroup its units, prepare newly mobilized Russians, solve the issue of lack of weapons, eliminate the shortcomings of logistics, and then resort to new waves of aggression with new forces," he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told a news briefing that Russia is ready to negotiate and has never refused to do so, reported Russian state-owned news agency TASS. The announcement followed news that Russia would withdraw troops from the west bank of the Dnipro River.

According to Nikolenko, the feeling is similar to that of 2014 and 2015, following Russia's annexation of Crimea. Despite statements coming from the Russian Federation indicating an openness to peace talks, Nikolenko sees Russia's actions as directly contrary to those ends.  

"Those who are really interested in peace negotiations do not destroy cities and villages, do not kill civilians, do not destroy energy infrastructure, do not abuse the residents of temporarily occupied territories, do not interfere with food supplies," he said.

Ukraine has repeatedly assured allies that it is still open to negotiations, under its own terms.

"Let me remind you that Ukraine has repeatedly offered negotiations," Nikolenko said. "But we always received either a contemptuous reaction and a demand to obey the Kremlin's ultimatums, or another act of genocide against Ukrainians."

— Rocio Fabbro

Griner faces difficult conditions at Russian penal colony, former prisoners and advocates say

US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, waits for the verdict inside a defendants' cage before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022.
Evgenia Novozhenina | AFP | Getty Images

Brittney Griner will enter a system of isolation, grueling labor and psychological torment when she is transferred to a penal colony, the successor to the infamous Russian gulag, to fulfill a nine-year sentence, former prisoners and advocates said. 

Human rights violations are a regular feature of many of the camps, according to the U.S. State Department, human rights groups and others who have maintained regular contact with prisoners in Russia. That the WNBA star is a gay Black woman could add unknown variables to a penal system that is known to be remote and harrowing. 

"Conditions in prisons and detention centers varied but were often harsh and life threatening," according to a 2021 State Department report on Russian human rights abuses. "Overcrowding, abuse by guards and inmates, limited access to health care, food shortages, and inadequate sanitation were common in prisons, penal colonies, and other detention facilities."

The report notes that "physical and sexual abuse by prison guards was systemic," that torture of prisoners was pervasive — at times resulting in death or suicide — and that discriminatory protections against women and people of color were not often enforced. The law also does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Read more on NBC News.

Russian-installed deputy governor of occupied Kherson region dies in a car accident

The Deputy Governor of the Russian-occupied Kherson region, Kirill Stremousov, died in a road accident on Wednesday, according to several officials in the region.

"Kirill Stremousov, deputy governor of the Kherson region, died. The information is accurate, I know it personally. A road accident," Valeria Petrusevich, head of the nonprofit organization Volunteers of Crimea, said in a Telegram post. She added that circumstances of the accident are still to come.

Acting Governor Vladimir Saldo and the regional administration also confirmed Stremousov's death on Telegram.

Stremousov was installed as deputy head in the southeastern region following Russia's annexation of the region, along with Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia, on Sept. 30. Russia's unilateral declaration followed what was largely considered to be a sham referendum in the regions. An overwhelming majority of countries in the United Nations General Assembly voted on Oct. 12 not to recognize Russia's claim on the four territories and called for an immediate reversal of the annexation.

— Rocio Fabbro

Brittney Griner's current location remains unknown, says senior State Department official

U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, looks on inside a defendants' cage before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia August 2, 2022.
Evgenia Novozhenina | Reuters

The U.S. embassy in Moscow submitted a formal request for information on the current location and final destination of wrongfully detained American WNBA player Brittney Griner, but has not heard back as of Wednesday, according to a senior State Department official.

"The exact location of wrongfully detained American WNBA Brittney Griner remains unknown," the official told NBC News, following the announcement by Griner's lawyers that she would be transferred to a Russian penal colony.

According to the official, in line with past practices by Moscow regarding detained Americans, the Biden Administration received no advance warning of Griner's transfer. The move, however, was not a complete surprise to U.S. embassy officials, who discussed the possibility of the transfer with Griner last week, reported NBC News.

The process for American detainees, which often involves passing through a central clearinghouse before being moved to the prison camps, could take up to several weeks.

Griner was sentenced to nine years in Russian prison over charges of illegal possession of cannabis. Last month, a Russian court upheld the sentence following an appeal filed by Griner's legal team.

— Rocio Fabbro

Blinken calls for 'regular access' between U.S. diplomats and WNBA star Griner

US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, stands inside a defendants' cage before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. 
Evgenia Novozhenina | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken slammed Russia's "continued wrongful detention" of WNBA star Brittney Griner.

Earlier in the day, Russian authorities transferred Griner from a prison in Moscow to a remote penal colony.

"As we work to secure Brittney Griner's release, we expect Russian authorities to provide our Embassy officials with regular access to all U.S. citizens detained in Russia, including Brittney, as is their obligation," Blinken wrote.

"Our hearts are with Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, as well as their family, friends, and supporters, who all continue to suffer from Russia's decision to wrongfully detain U.S. citizens," he added. "We will not relent until they are reunited with their loved ones."

Last month a Russian court denied Griner's appeal and upheld its nine-year prison sentence for drug smuggling charges.

— Amanda Macias

Actor Sean Penn loans one of his Oscar statuettes to Zelenskyy

Hollywood actor and film director Sean Penn met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday. Penn handed over one of his own Oscar statuettes to Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

"When you win, bring it back to Malibu," Penn told Zelenskyy in a video posted to Instagram of his most recent recent visit to Ukraine. "Because I'll feel much better knowing there's a piece of me here." 

This was Penn's third visit to Ukraine since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion on Feb. 24.

"This time our meeting was special," Zelenskyy wrote in an Instagram caption. "Sean brought his Oscar statuette as a symbol of faith in the victory of our country. It will be in Ukraine until the end of the war." Penn has engaged in numerous humanitarian efforts around the world, including founding the non-profit organization Community Organized Relief Effort.

Penn won two Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role: for "Mystic River" and "Milk." He is making a documentary about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Hollywood actor and film director Sean Penn meets Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyas he hands over his own Oscar statuette to the Ukrainian president in Kyiv, Ukraine on November 08, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Hollywood actor and film director Sean Penn meets Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyas he hands over his own Oscar statuette to the Ukrainian president in Kyiv, Ukraine on November 08, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Hollywood actor and film director Sean Penn meets Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyas in Kyiv, Ukraine on November 08, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Hollywood actor and film director Sean Penn (not seen) meets Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyas he hands over his own Oscar statuette to the Ukrainian president in Kyiv, Ukraine on November 08, 2022. 
Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

— Getty Images

Russia orders troop withdrawal from Kherson, west bank of Dnipro

Getty Images

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has ordered the withdrawal of troops from the west bank of the Dnipro river, marking the beginning of de-occupation of Ukraine's Kherson region.

Shoigu agreed with the Russian General Sergey Surovikin's proposal to organize defense on the east side of the Dnipro, reported Russian state-owned news agency RIA. Surovikin claimed that Kherson and surrounding areas could not be fully supplied or sustained under current conditions, as Ukraine continues its advances towards the region.

According to Ukrainian officials, the Russian retreat may have already begun. Several settlements in the region have already been vacated by Russian forces, Serhii Khlan, deputy head of the Kherson Regional Council, said in a news conference.

"Occupiers are now undermining absolutely all the bridges on the right bank of the Kherson region. By doing this, the occupiers are preparing a retreat for themselves and trying to slow down the onslaught of the Armed Forces of Ukraine," Khlan said. The most critical task for Russian forces as they withdraw, noted Khlan, is to "strengthen the points they are already making" along the Dnipro, in Kherson and in the direction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam.

"Therefore, we can say that the de-occupation of the Kherson region has already actively begun," he added.

The withdrawal marks yet another major military setback for Russia. Kherson city is a key city in southern Ukraine and the only regional capital captured by Russia since the launch of its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

— Rocio Fabbro

Putin ally meets Iran leader as Moscow deepens Tehran ties

A leading ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin met Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday on a trip to deepen trade and security cooperation, as Moscow looks to shore up its economy and bolster its war effort in Ukraine.

Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev's visit was a sign of Iran's growing importance as a supportive partner and weapons supplier at a time when Moscow is isolated by Western sanctions and faces intense Ukrainian military pressure.

With Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine in its ninth month, Raisi and Patrushev discussed "various issues of Russian-Iranian cooperation in the field of security, as well as a number of international problems," Interfax news agency said.

Russian state media said Patrushev discussed the situation in Ukraine and measures to combat "Western interference" in both countries' internal affairs with his Iranian security counterpart Ali Shamkhani.

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev (L) looks at President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with the BRICS countries' senior officials in charge of security matters at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 26, 2015.
Sergei Karpukhin | AFP | Getty Images

NourNews, affiliated with Iran's top security body, said Shamkhani called for deeper ties across a range of sectors from energy to banking.

"Iran welcomes and supports any initiative that leads to a ceasefire and peace between Russia and Ukraine based on dialogue and is ready to play a role in ending the war," Shamkhani was quoted as saying.

Kyiv and the West say Russia has used Iranian Shahed-136 drones to target Ukrainian energy infrastructure in recent weeks, forcing Ukraine to introduce rolling blackouts in major cities, including the capital, to preserve power.

Iran acknowledged for the first time at the weekend it supplied Moscow with drones, but said it sent only a small number and they were shipped before the war began. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called that a lie.

— Reuters

Russian Foreign Ministry says there are problems with Russian end of grain deal

The Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, carrying Ukrainian grain, is seen in the Black Sea off Kilyos, near Istanbul, Turkey August 3, 2022.
Mehmet Caliskan | Reuters

Russia will take into account continued export roadblocks put in place by the European Union when deciding whether to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative in coming weeks, according to Russian Foreign Minister Maria Zakharova.

"We regret that there is still no progress on the Russian part of the Black Sea deal. The EU continues to put obstacles in the way of our fertilizers and agricultural products on world markets. We will take this into account when it is expedient to extend the grain deal," Zakharova said at a briefing.

UN Secretary General António Guterres, who has been a major proponent of the agreement, had proposed the initiative as a package deal, she said.

The deal has allowed Ukraine to export up to 10 million tons of grain and other food since it was brokered in July. Despite Russia's short suspension of its participation in late October, the deal has been a success for Ukraine, the UN and Turkey, which helped broker and maintain the viability of the initiative for both Russia and Ukraine.

The deal is up for renewal on Nov. 19, with Guterres pushing for both sides to continue participation and extend the terms of the agreement to remove obstacles to Russian grain and fertilizer exports.

— Rocio Fabbro

Five Iranian drones destroyed today, air defense forces say

Ukraine's air defense forces said they had destroyed five Iranian-made drones earlier on Wednesday during an attack on the city of Dnipro.

"On November 9, after midnight, the enemy attacked Ukraine from the temporarily occupied territory of the Zaporizhzhia region with Shahed-136 attack UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]. Five drones were destroyed by the air defenses of the Air Command East," the command of the Ukrainian Air Force said on Telegram.

It added that anti-aircraft units of the Ukrainian Air Force destroyed a Russian Orlan-10 operational and tactical UAV.

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

Drones have become a common weapon in Russia's attacks on Ukraine, and particularly its energy infrastructure, with Iran admitting last weekend that it had sold drones to Russia, although it said it had done so before the war started, a claim disputed by Ukraine.

Problematically for Ukraine, such drones are cheaper for Russia to buy and while they aren't able to perform sophisticated maneuvers and contain smaller quantities of explosives to conventional missiles, they can be sent in "swarms" to loiter above their target and are harder for radar systems to detect.

These factors have made them a cheap yet destructive weapon for Russia to use as it looks to damage Ukraine's energy networks ahead of winter.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russians blowing up bridges and removing flags in Kherson, Ukraine official says

Russian forces have blown up bridges on the right bank of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region and are removing Russian flags from public buildings in Kherson city's center, according to the deputy of the Kherson Regional Council.

"The occupiers blew up not only the Darivka and Tiahynka bridges. They also blew up the bridge at the exit from Snihurivka towards Kherson across the canal, the bridge in Novokairy, and the bridge in Mylove," Serhii Khlan told a press briefing Wednesday in comments translated by Ukrinform media agency.

"That is, the occupiers are blowing up absolutely all the bridges on the right-bank part of the Kherson region," he said.

Khlan said Russian forces were blowing up the bridges as they prepare to retreat from the partially-occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine, and in order to slow down a Ukrainian counter-offensive.

He added that Russian flags had also disappeared from public buildings in the center of Kherson, including the Maritime College, the Maritime Academy and the Trade Unions House. Earlier, in Kherson, the Russian flag was removed from the building of the occupied regional state administration, Ukrinform reported.

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

Khlan also reportedly said that the Russian military had strengthened their grouping in the villages of Kozatske and Vesele, on the approaches to the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant. Both Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of planning an attack on the dam in order to flood settlements in the surrounding area.

CNBC was not able to independently verify the information in the report. Western officials have previously believed that Russian forces could be preparing to withdraw from the right-hand side of the Kherson river and Russian-installed authorities in the region have been evacuating residents to the left-hand side of the Dnipro.

— Holly Ellyatt

U.S. basketball star Griner on way to Russian penal colony, lawyers say

Russian authorities last week transferred U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner from a detention centre outside Moscow and she is now on her way to an undisclosed penal colony, her legal team said on Wednesday.

The two-time Olympic gold medallist was arrested at a Moscow airport on Feb. 17, a week before Russia invaded Ukraine, where she was found to have vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, which is banned in Russia, in her luggage.

US' Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball player Brittney Griner, who was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and later charged with illegal possession of cannabis, waits for the verdict inside a defendants' cage before a court hearing in Khimki outside Moscow, on August 4, 2022. 
Evgenia Novozhenina | AFP | Getty Images

Griner, 32, was sentenced on Aug. 4 to nine years in a penal colony on charges of possessing and smuggling drugs. She had pleaded guilty, but said she had made an "honest mistake" and had not meant to break the law.

She was transferred from a detention centre near the Russian capital on Nov. 4 in order to be taken to a penal colony, but neither her current location nor her final destination are known, her legal team said in a statement.

In line with Russian procedures, they said her attorneys and the U.S. Embassy should be notified upon her arrival, but that it would take up to two weeks for that to happen. Reuters has requested comment from Russia's federal prison service on where Griner is being taken and where she is now.

Reuters

Moscow and Ukraine watch as midterm results roll in

While the U.S. midterm election results roll in, the vote is being closely watched in Ukraine and Russia with both gauging how the election could impact the war and global geopolitics.

Moscow is seen to favor a win for the Republicans in the midterms in the hope that a big power shift could bring about a change in U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine — and could deepen rumblings of discontent among Republicans over the massive financial support the U.S. is giving Kyiv to fight Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via a video link in Sochi, Russia November 2, 2022. 
Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | Reuters

There are some signs that bipartisan support for such immense and ongoing aid could be waning with prominent Republicans starting to question how long the U.S. largesse can continue, particularly against a backdrop of inflation, potential recession and rising living costs.

Russia could well hope that a shift in power after the midterm elections could herald a cooler attitude toward Ukraine, but analysts say Moscow could be disappointed unless former leader Donald Trump is able to return to power. Trump signaled he could announce next week a plan to run for the presidency again in 2024.

Read more here: Russia's hopes for a Republican landslide to hurt Ukraine are vanishing fast

— Holly Ellyatt

Units of attack drone operators being formed in Belarus, Ukraine's forces say

Ukraine's armed forces said they believe that units of attack drone operators are being formed in Belarus as part of a wider border troop force.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said in its operational update on Wednesday that units of drone operators were being formed within Belarus' border guards.

"The Republic of Belarus continues to support the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, providing it with infrastructure, territory and airspace," the update noted, adding that the formation of Russian-Belarusian troops in Belarus continues.

CNBC was unable to verify the information in the report.

— Holly Ellyatt

U.S. midterms won't change bad Moscow-Washington relations, Kremlin says

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that U.S. midterm elections would not improve the "bad" relations between Moscow and Washington, as it dismissed allegations Russia was meddling in the U.S. vote, Russian state media reported.

"These elections are important, but it's not necessary to exaggerate their importance in the short and medium-term for our relations," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as telling reporters.

"These elections cannot change anything essential. Relations still are, and will remain, bad," he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov seen during the press conference at the Rus Sanatorium , October,31,2022, in Sochi, Russia. Leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan gathered at Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi for a tripartite meeting.
Contributor | Getty Images

Peskov said Moscow was so used to hearing people say that Russia interferes in U.S. elections it was not paying any attention to new rounds of allegations.

The Kremlin spokesman also told reporters it was too early to talk about a dialogue with the United States on extending the New START nuclear arms treaty.

— Reuters

Situation is 'difficult' along the entire front, Zelenskyy says

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that news updates on Ukraine's progress at the front line of fighting with Russia might have decreased of late, but fighting remains intense.

"In the information space, there is still a certain decrease in the number of news coming from the frontlines. There are fewer reports than for example at the beginning of the fall. But this does not mean that the intensity of the fighting has decreased," Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Tuesday.

In the last few months, Ukraine launched successful counteroffensives in both the east of the country, around Kharkiv and southward toward Donetsk, as well as in the southern Kherson region, and made sizeable gains in the east in particular.

Ukrainian soldiers of an artillery unit fire toward Russian positions outside Bakhmut on Nov. 8, 2022.
Bulent Kilic | AFP | Getty Images

In recent weeks, however, the fighting appears to have entered a period of stalemate with neither side making any dramatic advances. Nonetheless, fighting remains intense around the Bakhmut and Avdiivka areas of Donetsk, a factor touched upon by Zelenskyy last night.

"The situation is difficult on the entire front. Fierce positional battles continue in some areas, as before. And it is especially difficult in Donetsk region, as before. The occupiers are suffering extremely large-scale losses, but their order to move to the administrative border of Donetsk region has not changed. We are not surrendering a single centimeter of our land there," he said.

In the partially occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine, Zelenskyy said "we strengthen our positions, break Russian logistics, and consistently destroy the enemy's potential to keep the south of our country under occupation" while in the east of the country "step by step we are moving towards the return of the Ukrainian flag to all our cities and communities. We are also actively strengthening the border."

— Holly Ellyatt

Damaged Crimean bridge unlikely to be fully operational until Sept. 2023, UK says

Russian efforts to repair the Crimean Bridge — which links mainland Russia to the Ukrainian peninsula Moscow illegally annexed in 2014 — continues, "but it is unlikely to be fully operational until at least September 2023," according to Britain's Ministry of Defense.

The bridge, a source of pride for Moscow, was partially damaged in early October following an explosion that Russia blamed on Ukraine, although Kyiv did not claim responsibility for the attack. Two road spans of the bridge were severely damaged, partially collapsing into the Kerch Strait below. The railway span was damaged by fire.

Black smoke billows from a fire on the Kerch bridge that links Crimea to Russia, after a truck exploded, near Kerch, on Oct. 8, 2022.
- | Afp | Getty Images

The U.K. defense ministry noted that, on Nov.8, the road bridge was due to be closed to allow the movement and installation of a replacement 64-meter span, and that three more spans will be required to replace the damaged road sections of the bridge. Repairs are likely to take longer than expected, however.

"Although Crimean officials have claimed these additional spans will be in place by 20 December, a briefing provided to President Putin added that works to the other carriageway would cause disruption to road traffic until March 2023," the ministry said on Twitter.

"Replacement of the damaged rail bridge has been contracted for completion by September 2023, although Russia's Deputy Prime Minister stated the repair timeline would be expedited," it noted. With only track open, rail transport remains restricted and repair activity will be heavily dependent on weather conditions during the winter.

This picture taken on October 13, 2022 shows workers restoring damaged parts of the Kerch Bridge that links Crimea to Russia, which was hit by a blast on October 8, 2022.
Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

"The Crimean bridge attack has disrupted Russian logistics supplies for Crimea and southern Ukraine, reducing Russia's ability to move military equipment and troops into the area by rail or road," the ministry noted.

The damage to the bridge, coupled with the recent attack on the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol and the probable withdrawal from Kherson in southern Ukraine, "all complicate the Russian government's ability to paint a picture of military success," the ministry said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Backlog of 80 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 October 14, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

The organization overseeing the export of Ukrainian agriculture products said there is a backlog of 80 vessels waiting to be loaded with cargo.

The U.N.-led Joint Coordination Center also said that about 13 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 430 ships carrying a total of 10.1 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

NATO chief calls on Russia to respect and renew Black Sea Grain deal

Stoltenberg has said NATO's updated Strategic Concept will likely refer to Russia as the "most significant and direct threat" to security.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to "respect the grain agreement and to continue it."

"Russia's weaponization of food and energy as part of its illegal war in Ukraine underlines the need to increase resilience, diversify energy supplies and sources and accelerate the transition to cleaner, greener economies," Stoltenberg said in remarks at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP27.

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, 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.

Read more about the Black Sea Grain Initiative here.

— Amanda Macias

Ukraine imposes emergency power shutdowns as it struggles to cope with demand

Ukraine's national energy company has imposed further restrictions on power use in the country as the country's damaged power networks struggle to meet demand as the cold sets in.

National Energy Company Ukrenergo said on Telegram Tuesday that "emergency shutdowns" have been applied in the city of Kyiv, as well as in the surrounding region, and the Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Kharkiv and Poltava regions.

"Additional restrictions on consumption are necessary because, due to falling temperatures, consumption of electricity increases, which leads to an increase in the load on equipment and a shortage of electricity in the power system," it said.

A worker examines damage as he repairs power line equipment destroyed after a missile strike on a power plant, in an undisclosed location of Ukraine, on Oct. 27, 2022.
Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine's energy network is under immense pressure following daily Russian assaults on the country's energy infrastructure, particularly with the use of drones to attack facilities like substations. That has meant that energy company repair teams have been working round the clock to restore power to a number of regions.

Ukrenergo's CEO Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said yesterday that the regions of Kyiv and Kharkiv were experiencing the most difficulties with emergency shutdowns being imposed as well as scheduled shutdowns

"The key task of Ukrenergo today is to repair the trunk networks in the central and northern regions so that the necessary amounts of power from power plants from other regions can be transferred there," he said yesterday.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukrainian prime minister says Ukraine has saved enough energy resources to prepare for upcoming winter season

A woman rides a bicycle past a damaged building in the town of Kupiansk on Nov. 3, 2022, Kharkiv region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Dimitar Dilkoff | Afp | Getty Images

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Ukraine has enough accumulated energy resources to get through the colder season.

"A relatively mild fall and the saving of energy resources allow for more gas to be pumped in than is withdrawn from gas storages," he said, according to an NBC News translation.

He added that Ukraine has approximately 14.6 billion cubic meters of gas in its reserves.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian official calls for more weapons amid counteroffensives against Russians

The secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council called for more "modern air defense, aircraft, tanks and long-range missiles."

"Russian missiles must be destroyed before launch in the air, on land and at sea," Oleksiy Danilov wrote on Twitter.

— Amanda Macias

Evacuate or freeze? Kyiv braces for worst case of a winter without power

A local resident Olena Kushnir stands in front of ammunition boxes near her destroyed house, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the village of Nova Husarivka, recently liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine September 15, 2022.
Gleb Garanich | Reuters

Millions are already without power in Ukraine's capital, and with further Russian attacks on energy infrastructure feared, Kyiv is bracing for the prospect of a winter without electricity, gas and water.

That has left officials and residents to confront a scenario in which civilians may be forced to consider leaving their homes to flee the freezing cold. 

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko appealed to the city's 3 million residents to be prepared for a worst-case scenario, including making arrangements that would allow them to relocate and stay with friends or relatives elsewhere if it comes to it.

"We are doing everything to avoid this. But let's be frank, our enemies are doing everything for the city to be without heat, without electricity, without water supply, in general, so we all die," he told state media during a telethon.

"The future of the country and the future of each of us depends on how prepared we are for different situations," he added.

During winter, Kyiv sees temperatures plunge below the freezing point, making the potential for power outages in the coming months particularly alarming.

Read more on NBC News.

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