On visit to Kherson, Zelensky calls liberation ‘the beginning of the end of the war’

Issued on: 14/11/2022 – 07:00

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gives an award to a Ukrainian serviceman during his visit to the newly liberated city of Kherson on November 14, 2022. © Handout Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/AFP

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the Russian withdrawal from Kherson “the beginning of the end of the war” on Monday as he met soldiers in the newly liberated city, days after Russian forces were forced to retreat following months of occupation. Read FRANCE 24’s live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+1). 


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03:46am: European leader calls on world, China to pressure Russia

The European Council president urged global powers Tuesday to intensify pressure on Russia over its war against Ukraine, including Moscow’s biggest supporter, China, saying that this week’s meeting of the world’s largest economies was crucial to stopping Moscow’s push “to use food and energy as weapons.”

Charles Michel, speaking to reporters on the first day of the Group of 20 meeting in Bali, said the nine-month war waged by Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has disrupted lives across the world, as food and energy prices surge and economies stagnate.

“Russia’s war impacts us all, no matter where we live, from Europe to Africa or the Middle East, and the single best way to end the acute crisis in food and energy is for Russia to end this senseless war and to respect the UN charter,” Michel said. “The Kremlin has decided to weaponise food, driving up hunger, poverty and instability.”

9:34pm: Turkey now a ‘go-to place’ for meeting between Americans and Russians

CIA Director William Burns met with his Russian intelligence counterpart in Turkey, where he warned of consequences if Russia were to deploy a nuclear weapon in Ukraine.

Reporting from the Turkish capital, Ankara, FRANCE 24’s Jasper Mortimer says Turkey has played a key role in hosting meetings between Russian and Ukrainian officials since the February 24 invasion. “Now it appears that Turkey has become the go-to place for meetings between the Americans and the Russians,” said Mortimer.

“The meeting here in Ankara served the purpose for CIA Director William Burns to tell the Kremlin that when [US President Joe] Biden says the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine will not be tolerated, Biden is not talking tough to impress American voters. Biden actually means it and if the Russians nuke the Ukrainians, Biden will make them pay for it,” explained Mortimer.

File photo of CIA chief William Burns at a Senate hearing in Washington taken on April 14, 2021. Graeme Jennings/Pool via Reuters/File Photo © Graeme Jennings, Reuters/File photo


8:38pm: UN General Assembly calls for Russian reparations to Ukraine

The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution calling for Russia to be held accountable for violating international law by invading Ukraine including by paying reparations for widespread damage to the country and for Ukrainians killed and injured during the war.

The resolution in the 193-member world body was passed by a 94-14 vote with 73 abstentions. It was close to the lowest level of support of the five Ukraine-related resolutions adopted by the General Assembly since Russia’s February 24 invasion.

The resolution recognises the need to establish “an international mechanism for reparation for damage, loss or injury’” arising from Russia’s “wrongful acts” against Ukraine.

It recommends that the assembly’s member nations, in cooperation with Ukraine, create “an international register” to document claims and information on damage, loss or injury to Ukrainians and the government caused by Russia.

8:05pm: Ukraine says Russia hit Kherson power station before retreat

Ukrainian national energy company Ukrenergo has said Russia destroyed key energy infrastructure before retreating from the western bank of the Dnipro river last week. 

“The energy facility that provided power supply to the entire right bank of the Kherson region and a significant part of the Mykolaiv region, is practically destroyed,” Ukrenergo chief Volodymyr Kudrytskyi said in a post on Facebook, adding these were the “consequences the powerless anger of the occupiers before fleeing”.

7:34pm: Ukrainians controlling access to Kherson due to unexploded ordnance

Reporting from Kherson, FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago says the Ukrainian military is still tightly controlling access to the city due to the massive amounts of unexploded ordnance left in and around Kherson by withdrawing Russian troops. 


6:48pm: Macron to push Xi to ‘pressure’ Russia on Ukraine

President Emmanuel Macron will urge his Chinese counterpart to “pressure” Russia to return to the negotiating table when the French president meets Xi Jinping before the opening of the G20 summit in Indonesia on Tuesday.

Macron will tell Xi “your interest, like mine, is to put pressure on Russia so it returns to the negotiating table and respects international law”, a senior French official told AFP. 

He will also seek to convince Indian President Narendra Modi, who like Xi has stopped short of condemning the invasion, that the conflict “is not a good thing”.

4:25pm: Poland to take over Gazprom’s Polish assets

Poland will take over Gazprom’s Polish assets, said Polish Development Minister Waldemar Buda, adding that the move concerned the Russian company’s 48% stake in Europolgaz, which owns the Polish section of the Yamal gas pipeline.

The compulsory administration will ensure security of the critical infrastructure used for gas transit, said Buda in an emailed statement.

In September, Poland imposed sanctions on Gazprom and said its assets would be frozen after the April sanctioning of 50 Russian oligarchs and companies, including Gazprom.

Russia at the same time halted gas exports to Poland after Warsaw refused to pay in roubles.

While Europolgaz owns the 684-kilometre long Polish section of the Yamal, the pipeline is operated by Polish state-owned gas transmission company Gaz-System.

3:42pm: Biden applauds Kherson recapture as a ‘significant victory’

US President Joe Biden has hailed Ukraine’s recapture of Kherson as a “significant, significant victory”, but said fighting would now slow going into winter and the war’s outcome “remains to be seen”.

“I can do nothing but applaud the courage, determination and capacity of the Ukrainian people,” Biden told a press conference in Indonesia where he is attending the G20 summit. 

“I think you are going to see things slow down a bit because of the winter months,” he said, adding that it was up to Ukraine to determine the outcome of the conflict.    

3:04pm: Zambian student jailed in Russia killed in fighting in Ukraine

Zambia’s foreign minister has said a Zambian student who had been jailed in Russia was killed in fighting in Ukraine, and has demanded an explanation from the Kremlin.

Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda, 23, who had been serving a prison sentence in Moscow, “passed away on 22nd September 2022, in Ukraine”, said Zambian Foreign Minister Stanley Kakubo in a statement, adding he died “at the battlefront”.

The statement said Nyirenda, who had been studying nuclear engineering at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, had been sentenced in April 2020 to nine years in jail.

He was incarcerated at Tyer medium security prison on the outskirts of the city, it said. The statement did not specify the alleged offence.

Ukrainian officials say the Wagner mercenary group has been sending thousands of soldiers recruited in Russian prisons to the front line, with the promise of a salary and an amnesty.

2:54pm: CIA chief arrives in Turkey to meet with Russian counterpart

CIA chief William Burns has arrived in Ankara to speak with his Russian intelligence counterpart, a White House official has told Reuters, confirming reports of a meeting between Burns and Sergey Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence agency.

Burns is to convey a message on consequences of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, said the White House official.

“He is not conducting negotiations of any kind. He is not discussing settlement of the war in Ukraine,” the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, adding that Burns will also raise the cases of detained Americans in Russia.

The meeting comes as world leaders, including US President Joe Biden, are meeting in Bali, Indonesia, for the G20 summit. Russia is being represented at the G20 by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

1:23pm: Coming months ‘will be difficult’ for Ukraine, NATO chief says

Ukraine faces difficult months ahead and Russia’s military capability should not be underestimated, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday.

Stoltenberg praised the “incredible courage” of Ukrainian forces following Russia’s withdrawal from the strategic southern city of Kherson, and urged continued international support for Kyiv.  

“The coming months will be difficult. Putin’s aim is to leave Ukraine cold and dark this winter,” he told a press conference in The Hague after meeting the Dutch foreign and defence ministers.

We should not make the mistake of underestimating Russia,” Stoltenberg said, stressing that Moscow’s forces “retain significant capabilities, as well as a large number of troops”.

1:14pm: Macron to call Putin after G20

French President Emmanuel Macron will call counterpart Vladimir Putin after a Group of 20 summit in Bali where the Russian leader is expected to face strong pressure, an official said Monday.

Macron “will call him after the G20,” the official said, lamenting Putin’s “isolation” over the invasion of Ukraine.

12:35pm: Up to Ukraine what terms for talks with Russia are acceptable, NATO chief says

It is up to Ukraine to decide what terms are acceptable for negotiations to bring an end to the war Russia is waging against the country, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday, adding NATO’s role was to support Kyiv.

“It is for Ukraine to decide what kind of terms are acceptable. It is for us to support them,” he said during a press conference with members of the Dutch government in The Hague.

“We should not make the mistake of underestimating Russia (…) They still control large parts of Ukraine (…) What we should do is strengthen Ukraine’s hand,” Stoltenberg added.

12:07pm: Zelensky calls liberation of Kherson ‘beginning of the end’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the Russian withdrawal from Kherson “the beginning of the end of the war” on Monday as he met with soldiers in the southern city.

The liberation of Kherson after a grinding offensive that forced Russian to pull back its forces from the city was one of Ukraine’s biggest success so far of the nearly nine-month invasion and a stinging blow for the Kremlin.

Zelensky said that the country’s “strong army” was persistently reclaiming the territories taken by Russia since its invasion while also acknowledging the difficulties and the heavy human toll.

The Ukrainian army has now reclaimed three major areas of the country in its counteroffensives – the area north of Kyiv, the northeastern region of Kharkiv and now Kherson and many neighbouring settlements.

11:05am: Kremlin ‘neither confirms nor denies’ talks with US in Turkey

The Kremlin said on Monday that it could neither confirm nor deny a report that Russian and US officials were holding talks in the Turkish capital Ankara.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported that delegations from the two countries were meeting on Monday in the Turkish capital, citing a source.

Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence agency, was reportedly part of the Russian delegation, Kommersant said.

10:24am: Russia’s Lavrov dismisses AP report that he was taken to hospital at G20

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday dismissed an Associated Press report that he had been taken to hospital with a heart condition, scolding Western journalists for what he cast as false reporting.

Associated Press, citing Indonesian officials, said that Lavrov had been taken to hospital after arriving on the island of Bali for a Group of 20 summit. AP said Lavrov, 72, had been treated for a heart condition.

“This, of course, is the height of fakery,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

Zakharova posted a video of Lavrov, President Vladimir Putin’s foreign minister since 2004, sitting outdoors on a patio, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt and reading documents.

Asked about the report, Lavrov said Western journalists had been writing falsely for a decade that Putin, 70, was ill.

10:19am: Zelensky addresses troops in Kherson, thanks allies for support

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Kherson and addressed troops there on Monday, days after Russian forces were forced to retreat from the southern city after months of occupation.

“We are moving forward,” he told troops standing in formation in front of the administration building in the city’s main square. “We are ready for peace, peace for all our country.”

Zelensky thanked NATO and other allies for their support in the war against Russia and said the delivery of high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) from the United States had made a big difference for Kyiv.

8:34am: Decision on negotiations with Russia is up to Ukraine, EU top diplomat says

It is up to Ukraine to decide when to enter negotiations with Russia, the European Union’s top diplomat said on Monday, commenting on speculations the West might push Kyiv to start talks with Moscow.

“Ukraine will decide what to do. Our duty is to support them”, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said as he arrived for a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Brussels.

5:53am: Ukraine war, tensions with China loom over G20

A showdown between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin isn’t happening, but fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and growing tensions between China and the West will be at the fore when leaders of the world’s biggest economies gather in tropical Bali this week.

The Group of 20 members begin talks on the Indonesian resort island Tuesday under the hopeful theme of “recover together, recover stronger”. While Putin is staying away, Biden will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and get to know new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni.

The summit’s official priorities of health, sustainable energy and digital transformation are likely to be overshadowed by fears of a sputtering global economy and geopolitical tensions centered on the war in Ukraine.

The nearly 9-month-old conflict has disrupted trade in oil, natural gas and grain, and shifted much of the summit’s focus to food and energy security.

5:03am: New Zealand to train more Ukrainian troops, extends intelligence support

New Zealand said on Monday it would send a further 66 defence force personnel to the United Kingdom to help train Ukrainian soldiers as the Russian invasion grinds on for a ninth month.

New Zealand currently has a team of 120 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel training Ukrainians in the United Kingdom but this deployment was due to end. The new deployment will run from November 30 through until July 2023, a government statement said.

“I am pleased the NZDF infantry can offer the skills and experience for further training. This deployment also provides an opportunity for NZDF personnel to gain valuable experience,” said defence minister Peeni Henare.

4:17am: Russian atrocities in Kherson region same as other regions, Zelensky says

President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that Ukrainian forces that retook the city of Kherson found evidence of new war crimes by Russian occupiers.

“The Russian army left behind the same atrocities as in other regions of our country,” he said in a nightly address.

“Investigators have already documented more than 400 war crimes,” the Ukrainian leader said, without clearly specifying the area in which they were found.

“The bodies of the killed are being found, both civilians and military,” he said. “We will find and bring to justice every murderer.”

Ukrainians in the liberated city have expressed a deep sense of relief over the end of months of occupation after Russian forces pulled out on Friday.

But, like Zelensky, they said the Russians had left a trail of destruction, laying mines and going on a looting spree – even stealing animals from a zoo – before their withdrawal.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)


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