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Live blog: Zelenskyy says 'dozens' of villages retaken from Russian forces

  • 4 Oct 2022

Upper house of Russia's parliament approves the annexation of four Ukrainian regions while Kiev's forces continue with their counter-offensive on day 223 of fighting.

Russian maps appear to show rapid withdrawals of Russian forces from areas in eastern and southern Ukraine. ( AFP )

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Ukraine claims 'rapid' gains as Russia withdraws

President Zelenskyy has said Ukrainian forces were making "rapid and powerful" gains in southern Ukraine and that they had retaken "dozens" of villages from Russia this week.

"The Ukrainian army is quite rapidly and powerfully advancing in the south," Zelenskyy said in his daily address on social media, adding that "dozens of settlements" had been recaptured in the south and east.

Zelenskyy cited eight settlements in the southern Kherson region, where Moscow's forces have retreated in the face of a sweeping Ukrainian counter-offensive, according to maps presented by the Russian Defence Ministry.

Biden informs Zelenskyy about new batch of weapons systems

US President Joe Biden has told his Ukrainian counterpart Zelenskyy that another $625 million in military assistance, including HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, is on the way, the White House said.

Biden pledged "a new $625 million security assistance package that includes additional weapons and equipment, including HIMARS, artillery systems and ammunition, and armored vehicles," the statement said, without specifying how many of the powerful, highly accurate rocket launchers were being sent.

Atomic agency chief will travel to Kiev, Moscow

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi will be travelling to Kiev and Moscow later this week, the UN nuclear watchdog said.

Grossi will "continue his consultations" on setting up a nuclear safety and protection zone around Ukraine's Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the IAEA said in a statement.

Ihor Murashov, the chief of the Zaporizhzhia plant who was detained by a Russian patrol for two days before being released Monday, will also "not be continuing his duties at the ZNPP", the IAEA said. "It is not yet clear who will replace him in this role", it added.

UN to convene on Russia's annexation of Ukraine's territories 

The United Nations General Assembly has called an urgent meeting next Monday to discuss Russia's declared annexation of four partly-occupied regions of Ukraine, a UN spokesperson said.

At the meeting the 193 UN member states will weigh a resolution now under preparation on the annexation after Russia vetoed a condemnation in the Security Council last week, diplomatic sources said.

General Assembly spokesperson Paulina Kubiak said the body will meet at the request of Ukraine and Albania.

Russian army maps show rapid pullbacks in Ukraine

Russian defence ministry maps presented appeared to show rapid withdrawals of Russian forces from areas in eastern and southern Ukraine where they have been under severe pressure from a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

The ministry's daily video briefing made no mention of any pullbacks, but on maps used to show the location of purported Russian strikes, the shaded area designating Russian military control was much smaller than the day before.

In northeast Ukraine, where Russia suffered a rout last month, its forces along a frontline running some 70 km southward from Kupiansk along the River Oskil appeared to have retreated some 20 km to the east, as far as the border of Luhansk province. 

Over 200,000 drafted into Russian army after Putin's decree

Over 200,000 people have already been drafted into Russia's armed forces since President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilisation two weeks ago, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

Shoigu had announced that he planned to enlist 300,000 men with previous military experience to bolster Russia's offensive on Ukraine, where it has suffered a series of defeats in recent weeks.

However, the official decree did not include a figure, and officials are keen to allay public fears that the actual number could be higher, as even pro-Kremlin figures voice concern that people are being recruited indiscriminately. 

Over 6M tons of grain shipped from Ukraine since August

Over 6 million tons of grains have been exported from Ukraine since August under the Ankara-brokered Istanbul deal, Türkiye's National Defence Ministry said.

Türkiye, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine signed an agreement in Istanbul on July 22 to resume grain exports from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, which paused after the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in February.

A Joint Coordination Centre with officials from the three countries and the UN was set up in Istanbul to oversee the shipments.

Kremlin: Putin ‘likely’ to sign laws to annex Ukraine territories today

President Vladimir Putin is "likely" to sign laws to incorporate four Ukrainian territories into Russia during the course of the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Earlier, the upper house of the Russian parliament unanimously ratified legislation to annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, representing around 18 percent of Ukraine's internationally-recognised territory, following a similar vote in the lower house on Monday.

Russia will not take part in West’s nuclear rhetoric - Kremlin

The Kremlin said that it did not want to take part in the nuclear rhetoric spread by Western powers and media organisations, when asked about media reports that Russia was preparing to demonstrate its willingness to use nuclear weapons in its conflict with Ukraine.

The Times newspaper reported on Monday that the NATO military alliance had warned members that President Vladimir Putin was set to hold a nuclear test on Ukraine's borders.

Asked about the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia did not want to take part in what he cast as Western exercises in "nuclear rhetoric". 

Kremlin: Conflict in Ukraine won’t end if Kiev rules out talks 

The Kremlin said that its "special military operation" in Ukraine will not end if Kiev rules out talks, adding that it "takes two sides to negotiate".

"We will either wait for the current president to change his position or wait for the next president to change his position in the interests of the Ukrainian people," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

UKrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a decree formally declaring any talks between Kiev and President Vladimir Putin "impossible", but left the door open to talks with Russia.

Belarus's Lukashenko accuses Ukraine of border provocations

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko accused neighbouring Ukraine of sending 15,000 troops to the border area to build defences and conduct reconnaissance, actions that he called "provocations".

Lukashenko allowed his close ally Russia in February to use Belarus as a staging post for its offensive on Ukraine. However, he has said Belarus is not a party to the conflict and that its own forces are not involved.

In comments carried by the state news agency BelTA, Lukashenko said the Ukrainian unit brought up to the border had blocked roads and was setting up checkpoints and firing positions. 

Zelenskyy decree rules out Ukraine talks with Putin as 'impossible'

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a decree formally declaring the prospect of any Ukrainian talks with Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin "impossible", but leaving the door open to talks with Russia.

The decree formalised comments made by Zelenskyy on Friday after the Russian president proclaimed four occupied regions of Ukraine to be a part of Russia, in what Kiev and the West said was an illegitimate farce.

"He (Putin) does not know what dignity and honesty are. Therefore, we are ready for a dialogue with Russia, but with another president of Russia," Zelenskyy said on Friday.

Putin, who turns 70 this week, has dominated Russia's political landscape for more than two decades and could run for office two more times under constitutional reforms he presided over, potentially remaining in power until 2036.

US Treasury seeks three-phased Russian fuel price cap

New sanctions by G7 countries on Russia will target its oil and products in three phases, senior US treasury official Ben Harris has told the Argus European Crude Conference in Geneva. The Group of Seven is trying to find ways to limit Russian profits from exporting oil following its offensive against Ukraine.

Harris, the Treasury's assistant secretary for economic policy, said G7 sanctions will target Russian crude oil, while later ones will focus on diesel and finally on lower value products such as naphtha.

The price at which Russian oil sales will be capped has not been decided, Harris said, adding it will be high enough to provide an incentive to maintain output and above the marginal production cost for Russia's most expensive oil well.

Russian court fines Amazon's Twitch $68,000 over refusal to delete content

A Russian court has fined streaming service Twitch 4 million roubles ($68,000) for failing to remove an interview with a Ukrainian political figure, the Interfax news agency reported.

Russian authorities said the interview violated Russian laws on the spreading of fake information. Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russia's Federation Council ratifies annexation of four Ukrainian regions

The upper house of Russia's parliament has voted to approve the incorporation of four Ukrainian regions into Russia, as Moscow sets about formally annexing territory it sized from Kiev during its seven-month conflict.

In a session on Tuesday, the Federation Council unanimously ratified legislation to annex the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine, following a similar vote in the State Duma, Russia's lower house, a day ago.

IMF mulls $1.3B in emergency funding for Ukraine

The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) executive board will consider Ukraine's request for $1.3 billion in emergency funding on Thursday as Russia's aggression against the country continues, two sources familiar with the matter said.

IMF staff have prepared the necessary documents and believe Ukraine has received sufficient financial assurances from its global partners to meet the IMF's debt sustainability requirements and qualify for emergency funds, the sources told Reuters news agency.

IMF staff are slated to meet with Ukrainian authorities in Vienna the week of October 17 for technical discussions about Ukraine's economic plans, one of the sources added.

UK to support Ukraine 'through to victory': Top diplomat

British Foreign Minister James Cleverly will declare that Britain has the "strategic endurance" to see Ukraine "through to victory" over Russia.

In a speech to his Conservative Party's annual conference, Cleverly will say Ukraine has Britain's unwavering support in its efforts to push back Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces.

"This is why we stand shoulder to shoulder with those brave Ukrainians defending their homeland. And Britain has the strategic endurance to see them through to victory," Cleverly is planned to say.

North Korea backs Russian annexation of Ukraine's land

North Korea has voiced support for Russia's annexation of areas of Ukraine that its troops occupy, and accused the US and its allies of acting like a gangster by leading a drive at the UN against Moscow's behavior.

North Korean Foreign Minister Jo Chol-su said referendums of four regions on joining Russia are perfectly legitimate and "held in keeping with the UN Charter laying down the principles of the equality of peoples," the state-run KCNA news agency said.

Jo said the United States was interfering in the internal affairs of independent countries and "abusing" the UN Security Council.

"If the UNSC is going to violate the independent rights and fundamental interests of a sovereign state with the illogical and gangster-like double standards running counter to the aim and principle of the UN Charter, it will be held totally responsible for the consequences to be entailed by it," Jo said.

Russia's aggression cost Ukraine's environment estimated $35B: Kiev

Environmental damage in Ukraine caused by Russia's incursion was estimated at around 36 billion euros ($35.3 billion), with millions of hectares of natural reserves under threat, Ukraine's environment minister said. 

One fifth of protected areas in Ukraine is at risk of destruction and about 2,000 cases of environmental damages have already been recorded, the environment minister, Ruslan Strilets, said, showing slides to European Union lawmakers at a hearing in the EU Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

According to estimates from the Ukrainian government, the bill for air pollution caused by the conflict in Ukraine is so far about 25 billion euros and another 11.4 billion euros are needed to address damage to the soil.

Citing a new methodology developed by the Ukrainian government to calculate the damages, Strilets said the seven-month-old fighting alone had caused 31 million tons of CO2 emissions, roughly the amount produced by New Zealand annually.

For live updates from Monday (October 3), click here

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