Russia-Ukraine WarG7 and Allies Fail to Agree on Price Cap for Russian Oil

Ukraine’s allies want to curb the flow of oil revenue helping finance Russia’s invasion.

Credit...Anatoly Maltsev/EPA, via Shutterstock

Diplomats from the European Union were expected to try again on Thursday to agree on final details of a policy to help limit Russia’s revenue from oil, after a setback the day before to efforts led by the United States and Ukraine’s allies to curb the flow of cash financing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Officials from all 27 member nations met late into the evening without settling on a top price that traders, shippers and other companies in the supply chain could pay for Russian oil sold outside the bloc. The policy must be in place before an E.U. embargo on Russian oil imports kicks in on Dec. 5.

The embargo applies only in the 27-nation bloc. So to further limit Russia’s financial gains, the group wants to cap how much buyers outside the region pay for Russian oil. That crude could only be sold outside Europe and would have to be below the agreed-upon price. Russia has repeatedly said it will ignore the policy and analysts have said it would be difficult to enforce.

The United States and Europe have imposed sanctions on Russia since the start of the war, cutting the country off from financial markets, and making oil, its biggest export, essential to financing the war in Ukraine. At stake is a complex and fraught effort among Ukraine’s allies to limit the Kremlin’s revenues from oil exports while averting a shortage of the fuel, which would force prices up and compound a cost-of-living crisis around world.

The E.U. ambassadors have been asked to set a price from $65 to $70 per barrel, and to be flexible about enforcing the limit.

The benchmark for the price of Russian oil, known as the Urals blend, has traded from $60 to $100 per barrel in the past three years. In the past three months, the price is trading from $65 to $75 per barrel.

Despite the delays in determining a price, countries from the Group of 7 have been trying to prepare participants in the energy markets for how the price cap will work. It will place the burden of carrying out and policing the policy on the businesses that help sell the oil. Those global shipping and insurance companies are mostly based in Europe. Most tankers transporting Russian oil are Greek-owned, according to maritime data. And London is home to the world’s biggest maritime insurance companies.

Some E.U. diplomats, especially those from Poland and other staunch Ukraine allies, said that the price range proposed by the G7 was too high and that the cap should be set much lower in order to hurt Russian revenues, according to several E.U. diplomats directly involved in or briefed on the talks. They asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Greece, Cyprus and Malta, which have serious stakes in the policy because of their large maritime industries, asked for an even higher cap. That would have put the price above current trading levels, easing the pressure on businesses based there. Some even sought compensation for possible loss of income for their maritime businesses.

France, Germany and Italy, the three E.U. nations that are members of the Group of 7 industrialized countries driving the Russian oil price cap, argued in favor of the price range presented and the softer enforcement mechanisms, advocating the U.S. position that those were necessary to avert a supply crunch.

The European Union embargo on Russian oil that kicks in on Dec. 5 also includes a ban on European services to ship, finance or insure Russian oil shipments to destinations outside the bloc, a measure that would disable the infrastructure that moves Russia’s oil to buyers around the world.

The price cap, though, would allow these European shipping providers to ignore the embargo as long as they ship the Russian crude outside the bloc at a price below the cap. Enforcing this would be left to the companies. Otherwise, they would be held legally liable for violating sanctions.

Russia unleashes a missile barrage, and killing at least 10.

Credit...Andrew Kravchenko/Associated Press

KYIV, Ukraine — A barrage of Russian missiles hit Ukraine on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and leaving Kyiv and other cities without power, in what appeared to be one of the most damaging attacks in weeks.

The strikes sent plumes of smoke into the skies in Kyiv as Ukrainian air defense systems worked to shoot down incoming missiles.

Power was cut off in several cities and in the neighboring country of Moldova, whose power system remains entwined with Ukraine’s. Three nuclear power plants in Ukraine were forced to shut down, and about half the country’s train service was suffering delays, the authorities said.

“We have confirmation of hits on critical infrastructure facilities in several regions,” the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said in a statement.

Mr. Tymoshenko said later in an post on Facebook that at least 10 people had been killed in the missile strikes and other bombardments across the country, including a 2-day-old baby who died when a maternity hospital in Zaporizhzhia was hit.

The Ukrainian Air Force said that Russia launched about 70 cruise missiles from warplanes and from two boats in the Black Sea, and that Ukrainian air defenses shot down 51. Five unmanned attack drones were also shot down in southern Ukraine, the air force said.

From Lviv in the west to Kharkiv in the northeast, officials reported interruptions to electricity, water and other key services. Moldova was also experiencing “massive power outages across the country,” its infrastructure minister, Andrei Spinu, wrote on Facebook. Moldova’s Soviet-era electricity systems remain interconnected with those in Ukraine, its western neighbor.

Russia escalated its aerial attacks on Ukraine’s energy system in October after a series of battlefield losses, trying to plunge the country into darkness and cold just as winter approaches.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy said that, as a result of Wednesday’s attacks, “the vast majority of electricity consumers across the country were cut off.”

Some districts in the capital were without power, and “water supply has been suspended throughout Kyiv,” the mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said on Telegram. He said that three people had been killed, including a 17-year-old girl, and advised people to stay in shelters.

Ukrainian authorities disconnected three nuclear power plants from the country’s grid because of disruptions in the power supply, the state nuclear energy company, Energoatom, said on Telegram on Wednesday. The company said that radiation levels at the plants — in Rivne, Khmelnytsk and southern Ukraine — remained normal, and that the plants were able to use internal energy supplies.

For many Ukrainians, the latest wave of attacks disrupted daily life, which had already taken on a new rhythm since Russia’s full-scale invasion began.

In the city of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, subway service was halted and people were being evacuated from underground trains after power went out, said the mayor, Ihor Terekhov.

Credit...Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

In the central city of Dnipro, traffic lights went dark and buses stopped after explosions were heard near the city at around 2:30 p.m. local time. An hour before that, at least one cruise missile was seen flying north of the city.

The barrage sent crowds into a neighborhood supermarket, whose generator made it a rare point of light in a city plunged into darkness.

But the crowds of people in the store, many buying water and bread, seemed to suggest that some citizens of Dnipro were preparing for a long stint without electricity.

“Usually power outages last two or three hours here,” one man, a construction worker who gave only his first name Oleg, said. “I think the power will be restored by morning, people need to cook.”

Natalia Yermak contributed reporting.

Pope Francis compares Russia’s war against Ukraine to a devastating Stalin-era famine.

Credit...Yara Nardi/Reuters

Pope Francis on Wednesday compared the war in Ukraine to the “terrible Holodomor genocide” of the 1930s, when the policies of the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, caused a devastating famine in Ukraine.

The pontiff’s comparison of Moscow’s attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine to Stalin’s decision to let millions in Ukraine starve represents one of his strongest condemnations yet of the Russian invasion.

“Let us pray for peace in the world, and for an end to all conflicts, with a special thought for the terrible suffering of the dear and martyred people of Ukraine,” Pope Francis said during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. “And let us think of war-torn Ukraine.”

The pontiff then asked that people join Ukraine this Saturday in commemorating “the terrible Holodomor genocide, the extermination by hunger of 1932-33 artificially caused by Stalin.”

“Let us pray for the victims of this genocide and let us pray for all Ukrainians, the children, the women and the elderly, the babies who are today suffering the martyrdom of aggression,” he said.

Ukrainian historians argue that Stalin, as head of the Soviet Union, used a famine brought on by the Soviets’ forced collectivization of farms to crush Ukrainian aspirations for independence. The famine began in Kazakhstan and southern Russia but was most devastating in Ukraine, where entire villages were left to starve.

The pope, in previous comments, has called Ukrainian victims of the war martyrs, but the comparison with the Holodomor appeared to be his strongest yet.

In the early months of the conflict, Francis upheld the Vatican’s longstanding policy of not taking sides, even as he deplored the violence, with the goal of facilitating a peace agreement.

Yet he has recently stepped up and sharpened his rhetoric. He has urged the faithful to pray for “martyred” Ukraine, and has begged President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to stop the “spiral of violence and death.”

The pope has also often warned against the reckless risk of using nuclear weapons and uncontrollable global consequences that would cause, a clear reference to Mr. Putin’s statements suggesting the use of nuclear weapons was a possibility.

For months after the Feb. 24 invasion, the pope appeared to walk a fine line. He studiously avoided naming Mr. Putin, or even Russia itself, as the aggressor, even as he called for the violence to stop and raised his voice against “unacceptable armed aggression” and the “barbarism of killing children.”

His neutrality, however, drew criticism from Ukraine, especially when he said that Daria Dugina, a 29-year-old Russian ultranationalist close to Mr. Putin who had supported the invasion, was assassinated in August. Francis called her an “innocent” victim.

“The madness of war,” Francis said at the time. “The innocent pay for war — the innocent! Let us think about this reality and say to each other, ‘War is madness.’”

Ukraine’s foreign minister summoned the Vatican’s ambassador to Ukraine to express “profound disappointment.”

After that, Francis changed tack. On Aug. 30, the Vatican for the first time said that Russia was the aggressor in war, condemning Moscow’s invasion in strong terms.

“As for the large-scale war in Ukraine, initiated by the Russian Federation, the interventions of the Holy Father Pope Francis are clear and unequivocal in condemning it as morally unjust, unacceptable, barbaric, senseless, repugnant and sacrilegious,” the Vatican said in the statement.

During the early month of the conflict, the pope had also avoided criticism of the war’s chief religious backer and apologist, Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church. His position changed in May, when he warned Kirill not to “transform himself into Putin’s altar boy,” and urged him to instead work for peace.

Zelensky takes his case to the U.N., as the U.S. accuses Russia of trying to freeze Ukraine ‘into submission.’

Credit...Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Addressing an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine called Russia’s war strategy a “formula of terror,” while the American ambassador accused the Kremlin of a “cowardly and inhumane” plan to freeze Ukrainians this winter.

Mr. Zelensky had called for the meeting after an unusually heavy barrage of Russian missiles on Wednesday killed at least 10 people and cut Ukrainian civilians off from power, heat and water in the capital and other cities.

Speaking by video link, the Ukrainian president detailed the attacks, including the death of a 2-day-old baby in a missile strike on the maternity wing of a hospital.

“Today is just one day but we have received 70 missiles. This is the Russian formula of terror,” he said, adding, “This is an obvious crime against humanity.”

The U.S. ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, took aim at President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

“It seems that Putin is determined to reduce Ukraine’s energy facilities to rubble,” she said. “Putin’s motive could not be more clear and more coldblooded. He is clearly, clearly weaponizing winter to inflict immense suffering on the Ukrainian people. He has decided if he can’t seize Ukraine by force, he will freeze the country into submission.”

“Having struggled on the battlefield, Moscow is now adopting a cowardly and inhumane strategy that punishes Ukrainian men, women and children,” she added.

As he has at previous Security Council meetings, the Russian ambassador, Vasily A. Nebenzya, gave a distorted account of the war of aggression that Mr. Putin started, once again casting it as a battle between Russia and Western powers like the United States. He blamed Ukraine and the NATO countries arming it for the damage to Ukrainian cities.

Ukraine’s backers “are conducting a proxy war with Russia,” he said. He added, “Western countries are trying to consolidate their geopolitical hegemony using the bodies of Ukrainians.”

Mr. Nebenzya also protested Mr. Zelensky’s video address, insisting that he should be allowed to speak at the meeting only in person.

Mr. Zelensky argued, as he has in the past, that the structure of the Security Council must change for it to have any power to affect the outcome of the conflict. That is because Russia, as one of five permanent member nations, wields veto power, making it impossible to reach the required unanimous vote to take action against the Kremlin.

“In your midst you have representatives of a state that does not offer anything but terror, instability and disinformation,” Mr. Zelensky told the council. “This is a dead end, when the instigator of this war, when the party responsible for this terror, is blocking any attempt on behalf of the Security Council to exercise its mandate.”

Illustrating Russia’s isolation, none of the nations that addressed the Security Council spoke in Moscow’s defense, while a dozen condemned it in vehement terms.

There was even implied criticism from the ambassadors of China and India — major players seen as being at least somewhat aligned with Russia — who spoke against strikes on civilian infrastructure, though they refrained from specifying who did the striking and who was struck.

In a Kyiv suburb, antiaircraft guns fire into the sky, then a Russian missile slams into a residential building.

Credit...Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times
Credit...Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times
Credit...Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

VYSHHOROD, Ukraine — Volodymyr Sveytny, 19, was studying when he heard air defense systems start to fire into the sky. He went to his window, opened the blue blinds and watched as the winged Russian cruise missile sailed into his neighborhood, over apartment buildings and past a school before it smashed into a residential complex.

One of his windows was blown out, sending shards of glass across his apartment.

“I could see the rocket and I could see the explosion,” he said, showing a brief video he took with his phone. “I was lucky. I was standing near the window that doesn’t open.”

For blocks around the site of the blast, windows were cracked, shattered or simply gone. Navigating sidewalks that were a slippery mix of ice, snow and glass, people from the neighborhood in this city just north of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, converged on a cultural center near the explosion site looking for information.

Natalia Koval, 26, said she teaches at a language school nearby and knows people who live in the area of the strike. “I am frightened for them, for all the people who may have been hurt or killed,” she said. “I am trying to find out what happened but there is no internet, no cell service.”

Around her, people tried to make calls and send messages, mostly failing. Like everyone in the city, she has been enduring rolling blackouts for weeks, in cycles of four hours with power and four hours without.

“We are used to it,” she said. The Russians might want to break the spirit of her country, but she said they would fail.

Mr. Sveytny said that when he first saw the explosion, he thought the school had been hit as flames leaped from some of the windows. But he soon realized it was the residential building just beyond.

The head of Ukraine’s national police, Ihor Klymenko, said that a building in Vyshhorod was hit. Three people were killed and 20 were injured, he said.

People in Vyshhorod have become grimly familiar with rocket attacks in recent weeks as it is near several key pieces of infrastructure, including a major hydroelectric dam. A nearby electrical station has been hit in the past, he said, but it was unclear what beyond the residential apartment complex was hit on Wednesday.

After the missile struck, the first thing he did was patch up his broken windows. “When the power goes out, heat goes out too,” he said. He has been taking his courses online and is supposed to have an exam on Thursday. “But I don’t think that will happen,” he said.

As night fell, firefighters were still working to put out fires at what appeared to be a five-story building. It was not clear how many people had been injured or killed.

In the darkness, people started to make their way home, walking gingerly so as not to slip and fall. The only flickers of light came from flashlights beaming out of broken windows.

Ukraine girds for prolonged blackouts with thousands of ‘Points of Invincibility.’

Credit...Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

KYIV, Ukraine — With Ukraine’s energy grid suffering “colossal” damage after waves of Russian missile attacks, President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced a national drive to prepare thousands of makeshift centers to provide basic services in the event of prolonged blackouts.

“If massive Russian strikes take place again and if there is an understanding that the electricity supply cannot be restored within hours, the work of ‘Points of Invincibility’ will be activated,” he told the nation in his nightly address on Tuesday.

“All basic services will be there,” he said, including electricity, mobile communications, internet access, heat, water, and first-aid supplies.

Almost no thermal and hydroelectric power plants remain undamaged after waves of Russian strikes aimed at energy infrastructure in recent months, according to the head of Ukraine’s national electricity grid. The latest strikes on Wednesday afternoon caused massive power outages in Kyiv and other cities, as well as in neighboring Moldova.

“The scale of the destruction is colossal,” Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the head of Ukrenergo, told a news conference on Tuesday.

Oleksii Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s national security and defense council, said a barrage of attacks on Nov. 15, including from more than 100 missiles and drones, was the broadest assault on the country’s energy infrastructure of the war so far.

While Moscow is running low on precision cruise missiles, according to Ukraine and its allies, Ukrainian intelligence reports suggest the Kremlin still has enough in its arsenal to carry out attacks of a similar scale “three or four more times.”

Andriy Yermak, an adviser to Mr. Zelensky, said that the aerial attacks on energy infrastructure are a part of a “malign strategy” by Russia, which has been pushed back into defensive positions in the south and northeast after Ukrainian forces reclaimed around 55 percent of the territory occupied by Moscow during the early months of the war. Russia remains on the attack toward one eastern city, Bakhmut.

“Their goal is obvious: to cause a large-scale humanitarian catastrophe, to provoke another refugee crisis in Europe,” Mr. Yermak said in a statement. “It’s either force Ukraine to make peace or force the West to force Ukraine to make peace.”

Mr. Zelensky said it was clear that Russia was aiming “to turn the cold of winter into a weapon of mass destruction.”

Moscow’s effort to plunge the nation into darkness and freezing conditions has already forced the national utility to implement controlled but extensive rolling blackouts, leaving nearly everyone in the country without power for between 4 to 12 hours a day.

Mr. Zelensky on Tuesday encouraged people in towns and cities across the country to go to a government website,, to find one of the 4,000 planned centers for basic services nearest their home.

People working at the centers, he said, would be able to direct residents to the nearest gas station, bank, pharmacy and grocery store in the event of a blackout.

“All of us must be prepared for any scenario,” he said. “I am sure: by helping each other, we will all be able to get through this winter together.”

In addition to the “Points of Invincibility” — its name meant to promote Ukrainian solidarity and courage — municipal workers in Kyiv are setting up 1,000 heating shelters that can double as bunkers for hundreds of people, stocked with essential supplies to last more than a week. Similar efforts are underway in towns and cities around the nation.

In parts of the country recently reclaimed from retreating Russian forces, including the southern city of Kherson, the damage to infrastructure is so severe that Ukraine’s government is helping residents evacuate to other parts of the country. But Ukrainian officials have emphasized that there is no need for a broader evacuation.

“I believe that the call for a mass departure of Ukrainians abroad is currently inappropriate,” Mr. Kudrytskyi said.

A Russian missile strikes a maternity ward, killing a newborn, Ukraine says.

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Video from the scene shows the aftermath of a Russian missile hitting a hospital’s maternity ward in Vilniansk, in the Zaporizhzhia region, the Ukrainian authorities said.CreditCredit...Reuters

A Russian missile hit a hospital’s maternity ward in southern Ukraine overnight, killing a newborn boy and injuring his mother, the Ukrainian authorities said on Wednesday, describing an episode that has further fueled national outrage at Russian attacks on civilians during the nine-month war.

Emergency workers pulled the boy’s mother and a doctor from the wreckage of a two-story building in the town of Vilniansk, in the Zaporizhzhia region, according to Ukraine’s state emergency service, which released video footage of the recovery efforts.

“Grief fills our hearts,” Oleksandr Starukh, the head of the regional administration, said on the Telegram messaging app.

Photographs posted by Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, showed rescue workers approaching a two-story building at night. Its windows had been blown out and bits of masonry and planks protruded from the holes.

A video posted on Twitter by Ukraine’s army high command showed rescue workers digging with their hands to retrieve a man buried from the waist down in rubble. A rescue worker was giving the man, who appeared to be wearing green scrubs, water. The New York Times has confirmed the authenticity of the photographs and the video.

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine responded to the attack, writing on Telegram that: “The enemy has once again decided to try to achieve with terror and murder what he wasn’t able to achieve for nine months and won’t be able to achieve. Instead, he will only be held to account for all the evil he brought to our country.”

The Ukrainian authorities said that an S-300 missile had struck the building. Moscow has escalated its attacks on civilian targets and energy infrastructure across the country in recent weeks as it has sustained a series of battlefield losses. But Zaporizhzhia has been battered for months. It was not immediately clear if there was Ukrainian military nearby or if the hospital had been specifically targeted.

Attacks on maternity wards and hospitals have crystallized revulsion in Ukraine about Russia’s invasion. In March, at least 17 people were injured when Russian forces struck a hospital and maternity ward near the start of a siege that devastated the southern city of Mariupol. In all, more than 600 health care facilities across Ukraine have been affected by attacks, according to data from the World Health Organization.

At least 437 children are among more than 8,300 civilians who have been killed in Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in February, the country’s prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin, said on Saturday. He said that more than 11,000 civilians had been injured.

In a report published on Nov. 14, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said that 408 children were among 6,557 people killed since the invasion began. Both the Ukrainian authorities and the United Nations say the true figures were “certainly higher.” Data from the United Nations showed that March had been the conflict’s deadliest month.

At least seven civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Tuesday and 23 others have been wounded, according to Mr. Tymoshenko. Among the dead were two people in Kherson region in the south of the country and two others in Kharkiv in the northeast, he said.

“A 13-year-old boy died when he was driving with his father from the church, where they were hiding from shelling,” Yaroslav Yanushevych, the head of Kherson’s regional military administration, said on Ukrainian television. “The child was wounded by a cluster projectile and died at night in the hospital.”

He said that another boy in the region had lost an arm when he was hit by shrapnel, while another was wounded in the stomach. He gave no further information about the attacks.

The U.S. bolsters Ukrainian air defenses and long-range artillery.

Credit...Hannibal Hanschke/EPA, via Shutterstock

WASHINGTON — The latest tranche of military equipment the United States is sending to Ukraine includes ammunition for air defenses and long-range artillery, underscoring Kyiv’s battlefield needs as it tries to push Russian forces back and stop aerial attacks from destroying its energy grid as winter arrives.

The Biden administration announced $400 million in additional military aid for Ukraine on Wednesday.

Among the arms being shipped are 150 heavy machine guns with special thermal-imagery sights to help shoot down self-destructing drones as well as ammunition for an air defense system known as the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, or NASAMS, Pentagon officials said.

Ukraine has increased its pleas for more Western air defenses as Moscow has aimed missile and drone strikes at Ukraine’s power plants, substations and waterworks, degrading the quality of life for millions of civilians in an effort to demoralize them.

“The United States continues to support Ukraine with additional military assistance to help defend itself, including from the Kremlin’s relentless attacks on Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a statement.

The NASAMS, which are jointly produced by the United States and Norway, can shoot down drones, helicopters, jets and cruise missiles. Two of the systems, along with Norwegian-trained Ukrainian crews, were deployed in combat earlier this month.

The Russian missile and drone attacks have been a huge drain on Ukraine’s limited, patchwork air defense system. Ukraine shoots, on average, two missiles at each Russian rocket in hopes of increasing its chance of success, and now it needs more ammunition and air defense systems to keep up, Ukrainian officials say.

The Pentagon’s latest package, which brings the total value of arms and equipment sent to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February to more than $19 billion, also includes ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, which have proved effective in pushing back the Russians.

The HIMARS is an advanced rocket launcher that Ukrainian troops have used to devastating effect, hitting targets far behind the lines, like ammunition depots, command posts and bridges. Ukraine’s recent success in driving Russia out of the southern city of Kherson has put more Russian supply lines within range of Ukrainian guns and rockets, including the HIMARS.

In addition, the American arms package includes 200 precision-guided 155-millimeter artillery rounds, more than 200 generators, more than 250 vehicles, 10,000 120-millimeter mortar rounds and 20 million rounds of small-arms ammunition, the Pentagon said.

The package also includes HARM anti-radiation missiles. Over the summer, American and Ukrainian specialists figured out how to mount the missiles on Ukraine’s Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighter jets — something that no air force had ever done.

The American HARM missile, designed to seek and destroy Russian air defense radar, is not usually compatible with the MiG-29 or the other fighter jets in Ukraine’s arsenal. Officials say the missiles can strike Russian air defense systems from up to 93 miles away.

Russian citizens were found in raids on Orthodox churches, Ukraine’s security service says.

Credit...Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times
Credit...Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times
Credit...Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

KYIV, Ukraine — Raids on a 1,000-year-old monastery in the heart of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and other churches uncovered “dubious” citizens of the Russian Federation, the Ukrainian security services said on Wednesday, as well as pro-Russian literature and tens of thousands of dollars of cash in various currencies.

The search for Russian spies on Tuesday at the sprawling Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, or the Monastery of the Caves, was a demonstration of the depth of mistrust in Ukraine toward a branch of the Eastern Orthodox Church that until this year followed leaders in Moscow. Many Ukrainians suspect the branch may be a Kremlin-aligned fifth column. Millions of Ukrainians belong to another branch of the church that is independent of Moscow.

The Security Service of Ukraine, known as the S.B.U., said that the raids were part of its inquiry into accusations that church property was being used “to hide sabotage and intelligence groups, foreign citizens, storing weapons.” The agency did not announce any arrests on Wednesday, but it said a number of people were under investigation.

Ukrainian counterintelligence agents, working with the National Police and National Guard, inspected 350 buildings belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and checked the identities of 850 people affiliated with the churches, the agency said.

“More than 50 people underwent in-depth counterintelligence interviews, including with the use of a polygraph,” the agency said in a statement. “Among them were not only citizens of Ukraine, but also foreigners, in particular citizens of the Russian Federation, who were on the territory of the facilities.”

Some people had no documents or had passports of Ukrainian citizens with signs of forgery or damage, the agency said. “An in-depth check is currently being carried out on them,” the agency said.

The Kremlin condemned the raids, saying it was evidence that Kyiv was “at war with the Russian Orthodox Church.”

Ukrainian officials said last month that they had already arrested more than 30 priests for assisting Russia since it invaded in February, most of them charged with gathering intelligence and feeding it to Moscow’s forces.

Squatters can stay at a Russian tech entrepreneur’s Amsterdam property, a Dutch court rules.

Credit...Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

A group of protesters squatting in an Amsterdam property owned by a prominent Russian tech entrepreneur who is under E.U. sanctions can stay, an Amsterdam court has ruled, finding that there was no legitimate reason for it to lie vacant.

The owner is Arkady Volozh, the founder of Yandex, a tech colossus that dominated search and ride-hailing across Russia. Mr. Volozh served as the company’s chief executive, but he and his top deputy stepped aside after the European Union imposed sanctions on both of them, accusing them of abetting Kremlin disinformation.

Mr. Volozh holds an E.U. passport from Malta, but he is not allowed into the bloc under the sanctions, nor is he allowed to sell or rent out the property or make a profit on it, the court ruling last week noted.

The protesters moved in late last month. The property is on an expensive street in the southern part of the Dutch capital overlooking the city’s largest green space, the Vondelpark. The average asking price for a house on the street is about $1.6 million, according to a Dutch real estate website that tracks the value of homes.

One of the reasons that Mr. Volozh had wanted the squatters ousted was that he and his family would occasionally stay there, the ruling noted. Renovations, which started in 2019, were also in their final stages, it said.

But, given the E.U. sanctions, and that he was no longer the chief executive of Yandex, which has an office in Amsterdam, the court ruled he did not have any reason to visit the city.

While home invasion and squatting are punishable offenses under Dutch law, “this isn’t an ‘ordinary’ vacancy,” the court ruling said.

Mr. Volozh plans to to appeal the decision, his lawyer said in a statement to The Guardian.

The squatters are protesting the war in Ukraine and the lack of housing in the Netherlands. Seven are living there, said Heleen over de Linden, a lawyer who represented two of them, and they plan to continue doing so.

Banners hung from the building read, in English, “Against War and Capitalism.”

The European Parliament backs designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Credit...Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

The European Parliament voted on Wednesday in favor of a resolution to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, a largely symbolic move that was nonetheless welcomed by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.

The European Union imposed severe sanctions on Russia after Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February. The E.U. cannot currently designate states as sponsors of terrorism, but the European Parliament, the bloc’s only directly elected institution, said in a statement that it was calling for Brussels and the 27 member states to consider putting in place the “proper legal framework” to do so, and to add Russia to such a list.

“Following the atrocities carried out by Vladimir Putin’s regime against Ukrainian civilians,” members of the European Parliament have “recognized Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism,” the statement reads. The resolution was adopted with 494 votes in favor, 58 against and 44 abstentions, it added.

“Parliament calls on the European Union to further isolate Russia internationally,” including from the U.N. Security Council and other international bodies, the statement said. It also called for the E.U. to impose a ninth package of sanctions against Moscow, and for further work to prevent the circumvention of current sanctions.

Mr. Zelensky said in a post on the Telegram social messaging app that “Russia must be isolated at all levels and held accountable in order to end its longstanding policy of terrorism in Ukraine and across the globe.”

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, noted the resolution on Telegram and said that she proposed that the Parliament be recognized as a “sponsor of idiocy.”

President Biden said in September he would not designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism because it could set back humanitarian efforts and potential peace negotiations. Ukrainian authorities say that more than more than 8,300 civilians have been killed in the war so far.

The BBC should have spoken out more about Russia during the 2018 World Cup, its soccer commentator says.

Credit...May James/Reuters

The BBC should have spoken out more about Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its human rights record when the country hosted the World Cup in 2018, said Gary Lineker, the broadcaster’s prominent soccer commentator.

“I do look back four years ago and feel slightly uncomfortable,” Mr. Lineker, a former star soccer player for England, said in a BBC interview that aired on Wednesday. Mr. Lineker, who is the face of the BBC’s coverage of this year’s World Cup in Qatar, said the 2018 programming, of which he was a key member, had been an example of “sportwashing,” because the presenters had not properly reported on Russia’s record outside soccer.

The top scorer at the 1986 World Cup, Mr. Lineker declined to host this year’s World Cup draw, a high-profile event that in essence kick-starts the tournament. It was a turnaround from his position ahead of the last World Cup, where he presided over the event in Moscow.

His decision this year prompted criticism from some sections of the British news media. Mr. Lineker decided not to headline the 2022 event, saying it would be hypocritical for him to do so given his misgivings over holding the event in Qatar.

“We’ve seen what Putin’s done subsequently — but he’d done it before,” Mr. Lineker said in the interview, referring to the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, and the country’s annexation of Crimea, which was condemned globally and prompted the imposing of international sanctions against Moscow. The annexation led to calls for officials from FIFA, world soccer’s global governing body, to reconsider hosting the tournament in Russia, but the body stood by its decision.

British ministers and members of the royal family boycotted the 2018 event after a former Russian spy was poisoned on British soil.

The question of whether politics can be removed from global sporting events like the World Cup has been the subject of heated debate. After Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, FIFA suspended Russia and its teams from all competitions, ejecting the country from qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

The BBC’s commentators discussed human rights issues in Qatar in coverage ahead of the tournament’s opening game on Sunday. The decision not to do so with Russia in 2018 was a “mistake,” Mr. Lineker said.

“Looking back now in hindsight, I think we should probably have spoken out more,” Mr. Lineker said of Russia’s record beyond sport. It was something, he said, that the BBC and its sports presenters had learned from.

The BBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

American investigators and FIFA itself have said multiple FIFA board members accepted bribes to award Qatar with hosting rights for the World Cup. Russia has also been suspected of buying votes during its bid for the tournament.

Thousands of migrant workers have died in the process of building Qatar’s new stadiums and other World Cup infrastructure projects, according to human rights groups. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, prompting L.G.B.T.Q. fans from other countries to stay home. For fans who have traveled to Qatar, laws in the strict, conservative nation mean that displays of public affection or gestures that are considered rude could land offenders in jail.

On Monday, the captains of seven national soccer teams were forced to drop plans to wear “One Love” armbands, which promote diversity and inclusion, after FIFA said they would be penalized.

After retaking Kherson City, Ukraine’s forces battle Russia’s on a strategic peninsula.

Credit...Getty Images

After forcing Russian troops to retreat from the city of Kherson two weeks ago, Ukrainian special forces are now battling the Russians on the islands and in marshes to the southwest, trying to push them out of a strategically vital peninsula at the mouth of the Dnipro River where it meets the Black Sea.

The fighting is focused on the Kinburn Spit, on the east bank of the Dnipro River, the Ukrainian authorities said on Tuesday. For tourists who have visited the sliver of land, the spit is a place of rare natural beauty, but it could also prove pivotal to the next phase of the country’s war against Moscow.













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Black Sea

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By The New York Times

Russia took control of the peninsula in June in one of its last notable advances in the south before it was forced onto the defensive by a sustained Ukrainian counteroffensive. Two weeks ago, the Kremlin ordered a retreat from the city of Kherson, on the west bank of the Dnipro, but military experts said it would fight tenaciously to keep control of Kinburn.

Control of the peninsula allows Russia to project force deeper into the Black Sea, guard routes to the ports in Mykolaiv and Kherson and protect its forces in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014. If Ukraine were to take Kinburn, it would put key Russian supply lines running north out of Crimea in easy range of Ukrainian weapon systems.

In addition, Russian forces on the spit can launch missiles at the port city of Odesa, around 40 miles to the west, as well as the city of Mykolaiv, a similar distance to the northeast, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a military research group. By the same token, military experts say that if Ukraine can seize the spit, it could outflank Russian forces still establishing defensive positions east of the Dnipro.

“This specific bit of sandy territory becomes hugely significant because it’s a door to the Southern Bug and the Dnipro and it’s a gate out into the Black Sea,” said Rory Finnin, an associate professor of Ukrainian studies at the University of Cambridge and the author of a book about Crimea’s history.

Vitaliy Kim, the head of the military administration in the Mykolaiv region, said on the Telegram messaging app on Tuesday that Ukrainian forces were making progress on the Kinburn Spit. Ukrainian forces control the town of Ochakiv, less than three miles to the north across the water and well within artillery range.

Russian military bloggers have claimed in recent days that Russian forces have repelled attacks on the cape, while the spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern military command, Nataliya Gumenyuk, told journalists, after the fall of Kherson, that the spit was the next objective.

At its tip, the Kinburn Spit is a strip of sand a few feet across, lapped by waves. Tourist guides speak of its sunsets and the area is known for its bird life — flamingos are sometimes sighted — and for its marshy woods. One is named after the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who wrote about the area.

During the Crimean War, in 1855, the navies of Britain and France destroyed a Russian fortress on the peninsula, while a fierce battle took place there in 1787, as the Ottoman Empire tried to regain land lost to the Russian Empire.

Mr. Finnin argued that the current fighting over Kinburn was a sign that Russia’s retreat in the Kherson region made Moscow’s control of Crimea “hugely insecure.” Historically, the arid Crimean Peninsula and the more fertile land to the north have never been divided between competing powers for long.

“If they are able to claim the spit, it will have a lot of consequences for them in defeating Russia,” Mr. Finnin said of Ukrainian forces.

In late October, Russian news media showed images of concrete blocks that it said were being trucked to Kinburn for defensive fortifications. A few days later, a video circulated online that appeared to show the only Ukrainian amphibious assault ship reported to have survived the Russian invasion, the Yuri Olefirenko, launching rockets at Russian positions there. It was not possible to confirm the authenticity of the videos.

A correction was made on 
Nov. 23, 2022

An earlier version of this article misstated the name of a Ukrainian amphibious assault ship. It is Yuri Olefirenko, not Yuri Olefirenks.

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