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Russia-Ukraine war: Putin changes mobilisation rules as Kremlin defends retreat from occupied regions – as it happened

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2022-10-05

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6.06pm BST

Summary of the day so far …

  • The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has signed the four laws ratifying the Russian Federation’s claimed annexation of the occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Russian forces do not fully control any of the four areas , and it remains unclear where Russia is attempting to set its new external border.

  • Ukraine has made major and rapid advances this week, with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy saying in an address on Tuesday night that “dozens” of towns ha d been recaptured. Ukrainian forces captured the town of Dudchany on the west bank of the Dnipro River in their major advance in Kherson region, and in the east, Ukrainian forces were advancing after capturing Lyman , the main Russian bastion in the north of Donetsk province.

  • Pro-Russian leaders in the occupied regions have claimed that the situation is stabilising this morning. Denis Pushilin , installed as governor in Donetsk by Russia, has said “the situation on the front line in the Lyman direction is stabilising, the defence line is being strengthened”, while Kirill Stremousov , part of the occupation administration imposed on Kherson , has been quoted saying that Russian forces were “conducting a regrouping in order to gather their strength and deliver a retaliatory blow” in the region, and that “the advance of the armed forces of Ukraine in the Kherson direction has stopped”. None of the claims could be independently verified.

  • Asked about the proposed borders, the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov , said: “In general, of course, there we are talking about the territory in which the military-civilian administration operated at the time of admission [to Russia]. But I repeat once again: certain territories there will be returned, and we will continue to consult with the population that expresses a desire to live with Russia.”

  • The UK ministry of defence has said in its daily operational briefing that “Ukraine continues to make progress in offensive operations along both the north-eastern and southern fronts. In the north-east, in Kharkiv oblast, Ukraine has now consolidated a substantial area of territory east of the Oskil River.”

  • Putin said in televised comments that he had signed a decree making “corrections” to the partial mobilisation drive he announced 21 September. The Russian president said the decree would defer conscription for additional categories of students, including those enrolled at accredited private universities and certain postgraduate students.

  • The EU has agreed to set a price cap on Russian oil and ban trade in numerous technical and consumer goods, as part of further sanctions designed to counter Putin’s ability to wage war on Ukraine . The latest round of sanctions, the eighth since February, were signed off by EU ambassadors on Wednesday, a week after the measures were proposed , a timescale regarded as lightning speed in Brussels.

  • Russia’s foreign ministry has said the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) would operate under the supervision of Russian agencies after the annexation declaration. Rafael Grossi , head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is expected to visit Moscow in the coming days to discuss the situation at the plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since the earliest days of the war. Energoatom , the Ukrainian state-enterprise that owns the plant, has said it may restart it to ensure safety.

  • Oleksandr Starukh , Ukraine’s governor of Zaporizhzhia , said that overnight “the enemy fired rockets at the regional centre and the outskirts of the city. Infrastructure facilities were destroyed.”

  • Zelenskiy has posted a series of images of damaged buildings across social media from recently liberated Lyman, with the message “Our Lyman after the occupier. All basics of life have been destroyed here. They are doing so everywhere in the territories they seize. This can be stopped in one way only: liberate Ukraine, life, humanity, law and truth as soon as possible.”

  • The Russian TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova , famous for staging an on-air protest against Russia’s war in Ukraine, confirmed she had escaped house arrest over further charges of spreading fake news, saying she had no case to answer.

  • Anatoly Antonov , Russia’s ambassador to the United States, says Washington’s decision to send more military aid to Ukraine poses a threat to Moscow’s interests and increases the risk of a military clash between Russia and the west.

  • Russia ’s foreign ministry said that it had expelled a Lithuanian diplomat.

  • The British prime minister, Liz Truss, has said that Ukraine “will win” and that no peace deal should give away Ukrainian territory. She said: “The Ukrainian people aren’t just fighting for their security but for all of our security. This is a fight for freedom and democracy around the world. We should not give in to those who want a deal which trades away Ukrainian land. They are proposing to pay in Ukrainian lives for the illusion of peace. We will stand with our Ukrainian friends, however long it takes. Ukraine can win. Ukraine must win. And Ukraine will win.”

Updated at 6.18pm BST

5.31pm BST

The latest report from Guardian correspondents in Kyiv and Kryvyi Rih.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin , has appeared to concede the severity of the Kremlin’s recent military reversals in Ukraine, insisting Russia would “stabilise” the situation in four Ukrainian regions it illegally claimed as its own territory last week.

Russia has suffered significant losses in two of the four regions since Friday, when Putin signed treaties to incorporate them into Russia by force, with Russian officials saying their forces were “regrouping”.

With Ukraine pushing its advance in the east and south , Russian troops have been retreating under pressure on both fronts, confronted by fast moving and agile Ukrainian forces supplied with advanced western-supplied artillery systems.

Read in full here:

Related: Putin appears to admit severe Russian losses in Ukraine

5.17pm BST

Ukrainian staff running the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) are preparing to restart one of the plant’s six reactors, all of which are currently shut down, the UN nuclear watchdog has said.

“Senior Ukrainian operating staff informed IAEA experts present at the ZNPP that preparations are under way to start unit 5 at reduced power to produce steam and heat for the needs of the plant,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement, adding that preparations would take “some time”.

3.50pm BST

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday ordering the Russian government to take control of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and make it “federal property”, Reuters reported.

The plant, the biggest in Europe, is controlled by Russian troops but has been operated until now by Ukrainian staff. Its proximity to the frontline of fighting has raised international fears of a nuclear disaster.

Updated at 4.02pm BST

3.23pm BST

The electricity supply to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine is fragile, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog has said.

“The situation with regards to external power continues to be extremely precarious. We do have at the moment external power, but it is, I would say, fragile. There is one line feeding the plant,” said Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, via telephone link from Ukraine.

Addressing the Energy Intelligence Forum in London on Wednesday, he added that his itinerary would also take him to Russia for talks.

Updated at 4.25pm BST

2.45pm BST

Russia’s foreign ministry said today that it had expelled a Lithuanian diplomat in a retaliatory move. Reuters reports that in a statement posted on its website, the ministry said that it “reserves the right to take additional measures” in response to what it called Lithuania’s “unfriendly steps”.

2.11pm BST

Putin changes who is affected by partial mobilisation drive

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has said in televised comments that he signed a decree making “corrections” to the partial mobilisation drive he announced 21 September.

Reuters reports that speaking at a meeting with teachers, which was broadcast on state television to mark World Teachers’ Day, Putin said the decree would defer conscription for additional categories of students, including those enrolled at accredited private universities and certain postgraduate students.

Updated at 2.33pm BST

1.55pm BST

Reuters has a quick snap that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said at a televised meeting with teachers today that Russia had “great respect” for the Ukrainian people, despite what he called “the current situation”.

Referring to the four partly Russian-controlled Ukrainian regions that he declared Russian territory on Friday, Putin said he expected the situation there to “stabilise”.

Updated at 2.02pm BST

1.48pm BST

The former spokesperson to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and one of his erstwhile closest confidantes who was present during his only encounter with Vladimir Putin in 2019, has published a book in which she recalls her time working at Zelenskiy’s side, and does not shy away from criticising him.

In The Fight of Our Lives: My Time With Zelenskiy, Ukraine’s Battle for Democracy and What It Means for the World , due for print publication in the UK on 27 October, Iul iia Mendel details her former boss’s improbable rise from comedian to president, focusing on the two years she worked with him until the summer 2021.

In an interview with the newspaper Bild , to coincide with the German publication of her book, Mendel said that no one in Ukraine had been prepared for war, not even Zelenskiy.

But she says she believes Zelenskiy should have acted sooner on intelligence information that an invasion of Ukraine was imminent.

“There is of course criticism in Ukraine. People say: ‘If he knew, he should have told people so that they could have been brought to safety.’ I would say it was very unfair not to tell people anything. There is a lot of injustice contained in this behaviour. But if you ask me what I would have done as a leader, then I really don’t know.”

Mendel said that much of what Zelenskiy has done since the invasion has been “very natural and intuitive. Very logical and correct.”

“I have often been asked about the transition of his image, from the suit to the T-shirt, and whether there were stylists behind the scenes,” she said. But Zelenskiy she insists “made all the decisions himself” and there was “no place for stylists” in the air-raid bunker in which he lived with his core team for weeks on end.

Updated at 4.38pm BST

1.39pm BST

Kirill Stremousov , who is one of the leaders in the Russian-imposed authorities in occupied Kherson, has suggested on Telegram that Ukrainian forces have been suffering casualties during their attempt to push down into Kherson. He posted:

The big game in the Kherson region continues. For many Ukronazis, this game has already ended on the outskirts. All who come with weapons to the territory of the Kherson region of the Russian Federation will be destroyed.

1.28pm BST

The EU has agreed to set a price cap on Russian oil and ban trade in numerous technical and consumer goods, as part of further sanctions designed to counter Vladimir Putin’s ability to wage war on Ukraine.

The latest round of sanctions, the eighth since February, were signed off by EU ambassadors on Wednesday, a week since the measures were proposed , a time scale regarded as lightning speed in Brussels.

EU diplomats confirmed that the bloc had agreed to cap the price of Russian oil, after providing “assurances” to Greece, Cyprus and Malta, countries with large shipping industries. Prior to the agreement, these countries argued the oil price cap should not be imposed by the EU without guarantees that other non-EU countries, such as India, would also sign up to a price cap.

The EU oil price cap follows a pledge by the G7 earlier this month . Under plans agreed by the US, Canada, Japan, the UK, France, Germany and Italy, firms shipping and insuring Russian oil will only be able to operate if they adhere to a price below a yet-to-be-determined level.

The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, welcomed the agreement, saying the EU had moved quickly and decisively.

EU officials will be relieved to have secured agreement before two days of summitry in Prague, partly intended as a show of solidarity with Ukraine. Leaders from 44 countries across Europe will meet on Thursday in the Czech capital to discuss security on the continent, followed by an EU summit on Friday where the bloc’s leaders will meet the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Updated at 2.05pm BST

1.05pm BST

Here are some of the latest images to be sent to us from Ukraine over the news wires.

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People receive humanitarian aid from a self-organised volunteer group, in the recently recaptured city of Lyman. Photograph: George Ivanchenko/EPA
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A destroyed bridge near the recently recaptured city of Lyman. Photograph: George Ivanchenko/EPA
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Armoured personnel carriers head to the front lines outside of Kramatorsk. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
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Leda Buzinna, 56 years-old, sits inside her home that was seriously damaged by shelling overnight on 4 October outside of Kramatorsk district. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

12.49pm BST

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Garry Kasparov. Photograph: Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images

Garry Kasparov, the former chess world champion and anti-Putin regime campaigner, has given an interview to the German news magazine Spiegel in which he says that “every Russian who is living in Russia now is part of the war machine” and demands that those who want to stand on the right side of history should leave.

Kasparov tells the magazine that he has spent 20 years fighting against Vladimir Putin. “I always said that his regime would unavoidably become a fascist threat – not only for Russia, not only for its neighbours, but for the entire world. It would have been nice if a few more people would have taken this warning to heart.”

Asked by Spiegel if being abroad – he has lived in political exile since 2013 – he wasn’t in too comfortable a position to be making such demands of those who have yet to leave Russia, he said: “This is war. Either you’re on one side of the front or the other. Every Russian citizen, including me, carries collective responsibility for this war, even if not a personal responsibility. Today Russia is a fascistic dictatorship, which, while we’re speaking here, is carrying out crimes against humanity. And everyone who is still living in Russia now, is a part of this war machinery, whether he wants to be or not.”

Kasparov said Russians who want to be given asylum elsewhere should first have to sign a three-point declaration in which they would “declare the war to be criminal, the Putin regime illegitimate and Ukraine indivisible”, Kasparov said. By signing it, the individual would be liable for prosecution in Russia on three counts according to laws Putin has put in place, he added.

The 59-year old chess grandmaster makes the interesting claim that Putin “never played chess, but poker, and he was good at geopolitical poker. He often played with bad cards and won, because his opponents fell for his bluff.”

Updated at 1.52pm BST

12.44pm BST

The Financial Times is quoting Ihor Romanenko , a former deputy head of Ukraine’s general staff, on how vital it is that Ukrainian forces are able to make swift progress during this phase of their counter-offensive. The newspaper reports he said:

Certainly it is crucial to advance swiftly in liberating occupied territory because there is a sense that changes in the weather will limit further active military actions in this region. If our allies were to help us by providing more of the modern weaponry we are asking for, then the situation would be much swifter and we would not be talking about the factor of weather.

12.29pm BST

Russian news agency RIA is carrying quotes from the deputy foreign minister of Russia Sergei Vershinin confirming that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Rafael Grossi will be visiting Moscow. It quotes Vershinin saying:

I confirm reports that Grossi is going to come to Kyiv, and then to Moscow. In terms of time, these will be the next few days.

Vershinin went on to say:

Grossi put forward a number of ideas that are now being discussed with experts. The task is nuclear safety and the exclusion of shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is carried out by the Ukrainian side, and the normal functioning of the nuclear power plant.

The IAEA has previously called for a nuclear safety exclusion zone around the plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since March. Until now it has continued to be operated by staff employed by Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-enterprise which manages the plant.

However, the plant sits on land that has now been claimed to be annexed by Russia, and Vershinin said: “The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is now on the territory of the Russian Federation and, accordingly, should be operated under the supervision of our relevant agencies.”

Both Russian and Ukraine have accused the other side of shelling the plant and risking a nuclear accident.

Updated at 12.33pm BST

12.12pm BST

Reuters is reporting some diplomatic tension between Russia and Kazakhstan over the Ukraine war with Kazakh authorities rejecting a demand from Russia that they expel Ukraine’s ambassador over comments about killing Russians, chiding Moscow for what they called an inappropriate tone between “equal strategic partners”.

Ukraine’s ambassador in Astana, Petro Vrublevskiy , said in August in an interview with a local blogger that “the more Russians we kill now, the fewer of them our children will have to kill”.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Tuesday said Moscow was “outraged” by the fact that Vrublevskiy was still in Astana and had summoned the Kazakh ambassador.

Kazakh foreign ministry spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov on Wednesday called Zakharova’s tone “discordant with the nature of the allied relations between Kazakhstan and Russia as equal strategic partners”, adding that the Russian ambassador would in turn be summoned to the Kazakh ministry.

Updated at 12.31pm BST

11.46am BST

British PM Truss: there should be no peace deal which 'trades away Ukrainian land'

The British Prime Minister Liz Truss has said that Ukraine “will win” and that no peace deal should give away Ukrainian territory while addressing the annual conference of the UK’s ruling Conservative party in Birmingham. She said:

The Ukrainian people aren’t just fighting for their security but for all of our security. This is a fight for freedom and democracy around the world.

Putin’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory is just the latest act in his campaign to subvert democracy and violate international law.

We should not give in to those who want a deal which trades away Ukrainian land. They are proposing to pay in Ukrainian lives for the illusion of peace.

We will stand with our Ukrainian friends, however long it takes. Ukraine can win. Ukraine must win. And Ukraine will win.

She received one of the warmest rounds of applause of her speech for the section on Ukraine and went on to say that she was sure that Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian people would appreciate “our solidarity with them at this very difficult time”.

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Prime minister Liz Truss speaks during the final day of the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Updated at 12.29pm BST

11.32am BST

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was asked in his regular briefing about the borders of Russia’s claimed annexation. He said:

Read the order. There is a legal wording there. In general, of course, there we are talking about the territory in which the military-civilian administration operated at the time of admission [to Russia]. But I repeat once again: certain territories there will be returned, and we will continue to consult with the population that expresses a desire to live with Russia.

The state-owned Tass news agency reported earlier:

New regions within Russia will retain the status of republics and regions and their former names. According to the documents, the boundaries of the regions will be determined by their borders, which “existed on the day of their formation and acceptance into the Russian Federation”. The territory of the DPR and LPR is defined by the 2014 borders established in their constitutions. Zaporizhzhia is part of the Russian Federation within its administrative boundaries, and Kherson region - with two districts of the Mykolaiv region, explained the head of the State Duma Committee on State Building and Legislation Pavel Krasheninnikov.

Updated at 12.14pm BST

11.13am BST

Kremlin: occupied Ukrainian regions 'will be with Russia forever' despite retreats

The Kremlin said this morning that there was no contradiction between incorporating Ukrainian territories into the Russian Federation and military retreats, saying that Moscow would press ahead with its plans to annex four Ukrainian regions.

“They will be with Russia forever and they will be returned,” Reuters reports Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told the media.

President Vladimir Putin formalised the annexation of the four Ukrainian regions – around 18% of Ukraine’s territory – this morning despite a series of major battlefield reversals in recent days shrinking the amount of seized territory Moscow can say it actually controls.

Updated at 11.29am BST

11.07am BST

Russian forces lost a vast numbers of tanks during the first few months of the war, prompting questions over whether they were becoming obsolete. But the tank has previously appeared to have been consigned to the ash heap of history only to rise again to reaffirm its relevance. Josh Toussaint-Strauss examines for the Guardian Russia’s early deployment during the invasion and asks: if tanks aren’t the problem, why did they fail in Ukraine?

11.01am BST

Summary of the day so far …

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed the four laws ratifying the Russian Federation’s claimed annexation of the occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Russian forces do not fully control any of the four areas , and it remains unclear where Russia is attempting to set its new external border.

  • Ukraine has made major and rapid advances this week, with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy saying in an address on Tuesday night that “dozens” of towns have been recaptured. Ukrainian forces captured the town of Dudchany on the west bank of the Dnipro River in their major advance in Kherson region, and in the east, Ukrainian forces were advancing after capturing Lyman , the main Russian bastion in the north of Donetsk province.

  • Pro-Russian leaders in the occupied regions have claimed that the situation is stabilising this morning. Denis Pushilin , installed as governor in Donetsk by Russia has said “the situation on the front line in the Lyman direction is stabilising, the defence line is being strengthened”, while Kirill Stremousov , part of the occupation administration imposed on Kherson , has been quoted saying that Russian forces were “conducting a regrouping in order to gather their strength and deliver a retaliatory blow” in the region, and “the advance of the armed forces of Ukraine in the Kherson direction has stopped”.

  • The UK ministry of defence has said in its daily operational briefing that “Ukraine continues to make progress in offensive operations along both the north-eastern and southern fronts. In the north-east, in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine has now consolidated a substantial area of territory east of the Oskil River.”

  • Russia’s foreign ministry has said the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) will operate under the supervision of Russian agencies after the annexation declaration. Rafael Grossi , head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is expected to visit Moscow in the coming days to discuss the situation at the plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since the earliest days of the war. Energoatom , the Ukrainian state-enterprise that owns the plant, has said it may restart it to ensure safety.

  • Oleksandr Starukh , Ukraine’s governor of Zaporizhzhia , said that overnight “the enemy fired rockets at the regional centre and the outskirts of the city. Infrastructure facilities were destroyed.”

  • Zelenskiy has posted a series of images of damaged buildings across social media from recently liberated Lyman, with the message: “Our Lyman after the occupier. All basics of life have been destroyed here. They are doing so everywhere in the territories they seize. This can be stopped in one way only: liberate Ukraine, life, humanity, law and truth as soon as possible.”

  • Russian TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova , famous for staging an on-air protest against Russia’s war in Ukraine, confirmed she had escaped house arrest over further charges of spreading fake news, saying she had no case to answer.

  • Anatoly Antonov , Russia’s ambassador to the United States, says Washington’s decision to send more military aid to Ukraine poses a threat to Moscow’s interests and increases the risk of a military clash between Russia and the west.

This is Martin Belam in London, and I will be with you for the next few hours. You can contact me at martin.belam@theguardian.com

Updated at 11.22am BST

10.56am BST

The BBC’s Orla Guerin earlier published some pictures from her recent visit to areas that have been liberated from Russian occupation, saying: “The Russians are gone but there is damage that can never be undone, and the dead cannot be restored to life.”

Updated at 11.11am BST

10.23am BST

There are another couple of quotes on Telegram from sources within the Russian-occupied Donetsk region from Denis Pushilin , who is Russia’s acting governor in the territory it has claimed to annex there.

He has said that “the situation on the frontline in the Lyman direction is stabilising, the defence line is being strengthened”, and that “we see that Ukrainian armed forces are now seriously supplemented by brigades that were trained in Nato countries, this must be taken into account”.

Updated at 10.33am BST

10.15am BST

Russia’s foreign ministry has said the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant will operate under the supervision of Russian agencies after Russia claimed to have formally annexed the wider Zaporizhzhia region, the RIA state-owned news agency reported.

Reuters reports that another state-owned news agency, Tass, carried news that Rafael Grossi , head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, will visit Moscow in the coming days to discuss the situation at the plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since the earliest days of the war.

Tass is also reporting that Yevgeny Balitsky , the Russian-imposed acting “governor” of Zaporizhzhia said that yesterday “there were about 40 strikes on the outskirts and the city of Enerhodar”, which houses the nuclear power plant. “Yesterday was pretty hot for us,” he added.

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A security person standing in front of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar earlier this year. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 10.19am BST

9.45am BST

Sir Andrew Wood , former British ambassador to Yugoslavia and Russia, and an associate fellow of the Russia and Eurasia programme at Chatham House, was interviewed in the UK on Sky News earlier about the situation in Ukraine.

He said he believed Vladimir Putin had made a “fatal error” with the partial mobilisation, which had bought the war closer to home, and was “chaotically ill-done”.

He said he expected fighting to continue well into next year but raised doubts about whether Russia would escalate the conflict to a nuclear level. He said:

Nobody in the west wants to get involved in a nuclear exchange. I don’t think anybody in the Russian Federation would want to be involved in a nuclear exchange, except possibly President Putin.

The whole trouble with Russia is everything is being decided by one man who hides from discussion, who hides from other possible views, that interferes in military undertakings by issuing direct orders to the commanders on the field and has thoroughly muddled up the whole situation.

Updated at 10.04am BST

9.28am BST

Russian TV journalist who staged on-air war protest confirms she has escaped house arrest

Russian TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova , famous for staging an on-air protest against Russia’s war in Ukraine, confirmed she had escaped house arrest over charges of spreading fake news again, saying she had no case to answer.

“I consider myself completely innocent, and since our state refuses to comply with its own laws, I refuse to comply with the measure of restraint imposed on me as of 30 September 2022 and release myself from it,” Reuters reports she said on Telegram.

Ovsyannikova, 44, was given two months’ house arrest in August over a protest in July when she stood on a river embankment opposite the Kremlin and held up a poster calling President Vladimir Putin a murderer and his soldiers fascists.

She faced a sentence of up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of the charge of spreading fake news about Russia’s armed forces.

Updated at 9.32am BST

9.16am BST

If you missed it overnight, my colleague Peter Beaumont has been in the recently liberated city of Lyman, and sent this d ispatch :

Occupied until last week by soldiers of the Russian 20th Combined Arms army and Bars-13 troops from the Russian Guard – some of whom had earlier retreated from Kharkiv province – when the attack came they were quickly trapped in a rapidly closing encirclement as the villages outside the city, set among rolling hills, were rapidly rolled up.

What is clear is that Ukraine’s military has found a way of fighting that is far more deft and flexible than the Russians – who are heavily reliant on their creaking supply lines – deploying quickly to cut off, encircle and destroy units piece by piece.

And those Russians who stayed to fight were obliterated by shells and missile fire. Or shot in the forests.

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Ukrainian soldiers adjust a national flag atop a personnel armoured carrier on a road near Lyman. Photograph: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images

At a junction of a level crossing and a road, the trees around a Russian trench have been swept down as if by a giant hand, the road littered with artillery casings, bits of uniform and human remains.

Surveying the scene, “Flagman”, a Ukrainian officer who has fought in this sector since Russia launched its invasion in February, said that while the Russians relied on the roads, the Ukrainians ambushed them from these woods.

Read more of Peter Beaumont’s report from Lyman: ‘What was it all for?’: recaptured Lyman left shattered by Russian occupation

Related: ‘What was it all for?’: recaptured Lyman left shattered by Russian occupation

Updated at 9.18am BST

9.12am BST

Russia’s RIA Novosti has some further quotes from Vladimir Rogov , one of the Russian-imposed leaders in occupied Zaporizhzhia. It quotes him saying: “The situation on the line of contact remains stably tense. The counter-battery fight continues.”

Another of the Russian-imposed leaders in the regions the Russian Federation is claiming to annex in occupied Ukraine, Kirill Stremousov of Kherson, has been quoted saying that Russian forces were “conducting a regrouping in order to gather their strength and deliver a retaliatory blow” in the region.

Denis Pushilin , another Russian-imposed leader, has also been reported by RIA as saying that Ukrainian forces are in the retreat in Bakhmut, “without the ability to hold its previously occupied positions”.

None of the claims have been independently verified.

Updated at 9.18am BST

8.47am BST

Roland Oliphant , who is a senior foreign correspondent at the Telegraph , has suggested that much of what happens next in the war depends on whether the current Russian retreat is being carried out in good order back to sound defensive lines, which he says is how it is being described by some Russian sources, or whether it is a rout, as described by some Ukrainian voices. He suggests:

It seems to me an awful lot depends on this, because the former may mean a winter stalemate and Russia staying in the war for the time being. The latter – a third disaster in a month and a snowball to general defeat that may be impossible to stop.

However, he also cautions that “you may as well read a horoscope” as try to predict the outcome, saying: “I would advise you not to trust anyone who claims to know either way this morning. Everyone, with the exception of Ukrainian and Russian commands, is reading tea-leaves through the news blackout and Telegram.”

Updated at 8.52am BST

8.21am BST

Oleksandr Starukh , Ukraine’s governor of Zaporizhzhia , a region which today Russia has claimed to annex under Russian law, has issued a status update on Telegram. He says:

The enemy fired rockets at the regional centre and the outskirts of the city. Infrastructure facilities were destroyed. Information about victims is being clarified. The anti-aircraft defence forces have worked. If you see unexploded munitions, don’t disturb it, do not come close, do not take pictures. Report the find to the rescuers.

8.07am BST

French junior minister for European affairs Laurence Boone has clarified the situation in which Russians fleeing the partial mobilisation for the war in Ukraine can obtain visas to stay in France.

Reuters quotes her telling Franceinfo radio: “We have limited conditions under which visas can be given. We will make sure dissident journalists, people who fight the regime, artists and students can still come here, and we will issue visas on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the security risks.”

Updated at 8.17am BST

8.04am BST

Kirill Stremousov , one of the Russian-imposed leaders in Ukraine’s Kherson region, has told the Russian Tass news agency that “the advance of the armed forces of Ukraine in the Kherson direction has stopped”.

The claim has not been independently verified, and the news agency has provided no further details.

7.57am BST

It won’t come as a huge surprise to learn that Denis Pushilin , who had been acting as the self-declared leader of the chiefly unrecognised Donetsk People’s Republic , and who was in Moscow for Vladimir Putin’s annexation ceremony last week, has been immediately named as the Russian president’s choice to lead the Donetsk region as it is absorbed into the Russian Federation by Russian law.

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The Russian-imposed leaders of the four occupied regions on Ukraine: Vladimir Saldo, Yevgeniy Balitsky, Leonid Pasechnik and Denis Pushilin – in Moscow last week. Photograph: Contributor/8523328/Getty Images

The Telegram channel of the Donetsk People’s Republic has published an image of the law.

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Image of Russian law claiming to annex occupied Donetsk into the Russian Federation Photograph: Telegram

Updated at 8.18am BST

7.46am BST

Putin signs laws formally annexing four regions of occupied Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed the four laws ratifying the Russian Federation’s claimed annexation of the occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Russian forces do not fully control any of the four areas.

Russian state media Tass is reporting that the documents have been published now that Putin has signed them. It says:

The boundaries of the new subjects of the Federation, as follows from the treaties, will be determined by the boundaries that “existed on the day of their formation and acceptance into the Russian Federation”. Until the election of the heads of the new regions, in accordance with Russian law, they will be led by temporary acting officials appointed by Putin.

Updated at 7.51am BST

7.30am BST

Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency is reporting the words of Vladimir Rogov , an official in the Russian-imposed administration in occupied Zaporizhzhia. He is claiming that Ukraine will stage a “provocation” at the Dnipro hydroelectric power station (DHP). It quotes him:

Extremely unhealthy activity has been observed in relation to the DHP in the city of Zaporizhzhia, temporarily under the control of the Zelenskiy regime. The information we receive cannot but cause concern for the fate of our native land. The Kyiv authorities understand that Zaporizhzhia is both de facto and de jure already Russia, and the liberation of the rest of the Zaporizhzhia region is only a matter of time. So, while waiting for our offensive, according to their plan, the DHP can become the object of a provocation in order to blame Russia for everything.

Rogov produced no evidence to back up his claims, but cited an exercise carried out in 2018 which simulated what would happen if the dam was breached, claiming that it would unleash “a 20-metre wave covering the coastal part of the city at a speed of over 60km per hour”.

Updated at 7.57am BST

7.15am BST

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has posted a series of images across social media from recently liberated Lyman, with the message:

Our Lyman after the occupier. All basics of life have been destroyed here. They are doing so everywhere in the territories they seize. This can be stopped in one way only: liberate Ukraine, life, humanity, law and truth as soon as possible.

Updated at 7.27am BST

7.11am BST

Vitaliy Kim , Ukraine’s governor of Mykolaiv , has posted his daily status update on Telegram, which lists Russian shelling across a number of settlements within his region. He says that nobody was injured overnight, but there was damage yesterday to infrastructure facilities in Voznesensk. The claims have not been independently verified.

6.59am BST

That’s it from me, Helen Sullivan, for today – handing over to my colleague Martin Belam in London who will take you through the latest for the next while.

6.42am BST

Ukraine progress continues in east and south – UK ministry of defence

The UK ministry of defence has published its daily intelligence update on the war, reporting that “Ukraine continues to make progress in offensive operations along both the north-eastern and southern fronts. In the north-east, in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine has now consolidated a substantial area of territory east of the Oskil River.”

The other developments included in the report were:

  • Ukrainian formations have advanced up to 20km beyond the river into Russia’s defensive zone towards the supply node of the town of Svatove.

  • It is highly likely that Ukraine can now strike the key Svatove-Kremina road with most of its artillery systems, further straining Russia’s ability to resupply its units in the east.

  • Politically, Russian leaders will highly likely be concerned that leading Ukrainian units are now approaching the borders of Luhansk Oblast, which Russia claimed to have formally annexed last Friday.

Updated at 7.09am BST

6.37am BST

There are major questions over the prospects of the “European Political Community” summit being launched in Prague on Thursday, AFP reports.

The one-day gathering , the brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron, will bring together the 27 European Union leaders with those from the broader neighbourhood, including Britain, Turkey and Ukraine.

Brussels has billed the initiative as an invaluable “platform for political coordination” among the disparate grouping of 44 nations invited.

But there are deep disagreements, among some of those attending and scepticism that the one-day event will turn out to be much more than a glorified photo opportunity.

Russia was not invited and Zelenskiy will connect via video link from Kyiv. His prime minister will stand in for him at the talks.

“The ambition is to bring leaders together on an equal footing and to foster political dialogue and cooperation on issues of common interest so that, together, we work on strengthening the security, stability and prosperity of Europe as a whole,” EU chief Charles Michel said in his invitation letter.

6.29am BST

As speculation mounts ahead of Friday’s Nobel peace prize announcement, observers suggest the committee may sound the alarm over the war in Ukraine, AFP reports.

Henrik Urdal, director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), suggested the Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, saying they deserved to win the prestigious honour together.

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Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny in Moscow, Russia, in February 2020. Photograph: Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters

“These are both champions of non-violent pro-democracy activities within their own countries,” he said.

“And both Navalny and Tikhanovskaya have also been very strong opponents of the war in Ukraine”.

Updated at 6.58am BST

6.19am BST

Meanwhile, a price cap for Russian oil proposed as part of the European Union’s eighth round of sanctions against Russia will not apply to pipeline shipments, Hungary‘s foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, said in a statement late on Tuesday.

Hungary, which has been the most vocal critic of sanctions against Russia in the EU, largely relies on Russian crude shipments and Russian gas, both imported via pipelines.

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Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Updated at 6.59am BST

6.06am BST

OPEC expected to slash output

Major oil producers led by Saudi Arabia and Russia are set to meet today, as reports say they are mulling an output cut of up to 2m barrels per day in a bid to prop up slumping prices.

If implemented, it will be the first such major cut since a landmark curb on production at the start of the Covid pandemic.

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OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Photograph: Lisa Leutner/AP

Energy prices soared after Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, pushing inflation to decades-high levels that have put pressure on economies across the world. But they have fallen in recent months on concerns over dwindling demand and a slowdown in the global economy.

The 13 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), led by Saudi Arabia, and their 10 allies headed by Russia will hold their first in-person meeting since March 2020 at the group’s headquarters in Vienna.

Updated at 7.03am BST

5.59am BST

Here is the latest on nuclear concerns in the conflict:

The United States has no indication that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict, despite “nuclear sabre-rattling” by Putin, according to the White House press secretary.

An unnamed Western diplomat told Reuters that NATO has not warned alliance members of any Russian nuclear threat.

And the Kremlin said it did not want to take part in “nuclear rhetoric” spread by the West after a British media report that Russia was preparing to demonstrate its willingness to use nuclear weapons in its conflict with Ukraine.

5.36am BST

US military aid to Ukraine boosts risk of clash – Russian envoy

Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, says Washington’s decision to send more military aid to Ukraine poses a threat to Moscow’s interests and increases the risk of a military clash between Russia and the West.

“We perceive this as an immediate threat to the strategic interests of our country,” Antonov said on the Telegram messaging app on Wednesday.

“The supply of military products by the US and its allies not only entails protracted bloodshed and new casualties, but also increases the danger of a direct military clash between Russia and Western countries.”

Updated at 5.37am BST

5.26am BST

Energoatom may restart Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

In case you missed this earlier, Ukraine may restart the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest nuclear plant, to ensure its safety, the president of the company that operates the plant told the Associated Press on Tuesday. The potential restart comes weeks after there were escalating fears of a radiation disaster at the Russian-occupied facility.

Energoatom, the Ukranian state nuclear company, shut down the plant’s six remaining reactors on 11 September amid fighting in the area. Russian military activity had cut off power supplies for safety systems, raising fears of a meltdown, the AP noted.

But Energoatom president Petro Kotin told the AP today that the company may restart two of the reactors in the coming days to “protect safety installations as winter approaches and temperatures drop”. Kotin said:

If you have low temperature, you will just freeze everything inside. The safety equipment will be damaged. So you need heating and the only heating is going to come from the working reactor.”

Even with the reactors shut down, damage to the systems or failures due to cold weather could still lead to catastrophe, the company’s president said, adding, “You have residual heat and you should constantly provide the coolant for these fuel assemblies. If you stop cooling, then you will have meltdown. And that is how it works … We, at the moment, are evaluating all the risks. And this depends on the weather. And actually, we don’t have much time to do that.”

5.15am BST

Ukrainian advances this week

Ukraine has made major and rapid advances this week, with Zelensky saying in an address on Tuesday that “dozens” of towns have been recaptured. Here is a roundup of what has happened on the battlefield, via Reuters:

  • Ukrainian forces captured the town of Dudchany on the west bank of the Dnipro River in their major advance in Kherson region, according to the Russian-installed head of the administration of occupied areas in the province.

  • Russian military bloggers described a Ukrainian tank advance through dozens of kilometres of territory along the west bank of the Dnipro. Kyiv has maintained almost complete silence about the situation in Kherson.

  • In the east, Ukrainian forces were advancing after capturing Lyman, the main Russian bastion in the north of Donetsk province. The pro-Russian leader in Donetsk said forces were forming a new defensive line around the town of Kreminna.

  • Russia has meanwhile sacked the commander of its Western military district, news outlet RBC reported.

5.10am BST

Summary and welcome

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine. My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be taking you through the latest for the next few hours.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, announced on Tuesday that dozens of regions in Ukraine have been liberated from Russian occupation . Ukrainian forces captured the town of Dudchany on the west bank of the Dnipro River in their major advance in Kherson region, according to the Russian-installed head of the administration of occupied areas in the province. In the east, Ukrainian forces were advancing after capturing Lyman, the main Russian bastion in the north of Donetsk province. The pro-Russian leader in Donetsk said forces were forming a new defensive line around the town of Kreminna.

In the meantime, here are the key recent developments.

  • Ukraine may restart the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest nuclear plant, to ensure its safety, the president of the company that operates the plant told the Associated Press today. The potential restart comes weeks after there were escalating fears of a radiation disaster at the Russian-occupied facility.

  • Ukraine’s economy will shrink at a rate eight times that of Russia’s this year as a result of the war triggered by Moscow’s invasion in February, the World Bank has estimated .

  • Russia is at risk of losing control of the strategic towns critical to retaining the city of Kherson and eventually Crimea, western officials said, but they warned the fighting along the Dnieper river “will not be an easy rush into constrained territory”.

  • The upper house of Russia’s parliament voted on Tuesday to approve the incorporation of four occupied Ukrainian regions into Russia, as Moscow sets about formally annexing territory it seized from Kyiv since staging its latest invasion of Ukraine in February. In a session on Tuesday, the Federation Council unanimously ratified legislation to annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, after a similar vote in the state Duma, Russia’s lower house. No lawmakers in the lower house voted against the bill either.

  • Russia, however, no longer has full control of any of the four provinces it claims to have annexed , after Ukrainian troops reportedly advanced dozens of kilometres in Kherson province. The Russian military has acknowledged that Kyiv’s forces had broken through in the Kherson region. It said the Ukrainian army and its “superior tank units” had managed to “penetrate the depths of our defence” around the villages of Zoltaya Balka and Alexsandrovka.

  • Zelenskiy has signed a decree declaring the prospect of any Ukrainian talks with Vladimir Putin “impossible”. The decree formalised comments made by Zelenskiy on Friday after the Russian president proclaimed the four occupied regions of Ukraine were to become part of Russia.

  • Russia’s retreat from Lyman has sparked vociferous criticism of the handling of the war on Russian state television. Vladimir Solovyov, host of a primetime talkshow on state TV channel Russia 1 and one of the Kremlin’s biggest cheerleaders, said on air on Sunday: “We need to pull it together, make unpopular, but necessary decisions and act.”

  • The Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) will restore its network to oppose the partial mobilisation aimed at bolstering Russia’s forces in Ukraine, close Navalny ally Ivan Zhdanov said in a video published on social media. Russian authorities have designated Alexei Navalny’s organisations “extremist” after months of increasing repression against his supporters, putting FBK employees, volunteers and sympathisers at risk of prosecution and imprisonment.

Comments / 34

Jamie Kelly
10-05

There’s no defense for what you’re doing in Ukraine. None, nada ZIP. You illegally invaded another country to take their land by force and that’s why you’re losing. KARMA

Reply(2)
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Robert Cutburth
10-05

Russia won't have any of Ukraines territory, They think they'll be able to take a little bit at a time, all Russia is going to end up with is more body bags, Ukraine will never surrender, Long Live Ukraine.

Reply(3)
19
Born2BFree
10-05

The Russian people need to get rid of Putin and just be satisfied to improve themselves without a power hungry leader.

Reply
33

Comments / 0