The Kremlin says President Putin will hold a ceremony on Friday to add territories of Ukraine into Russia and a fourth leak is detected in the Nord Stream pipelines linking Russia to Europe, as the conflict enters its 218th day.

Regions in eastern and southern Ukrainian territory that Putin is expected to declare Russian-annexed land after what Kiev says were bogus referendums staged at gunpoint.
Regions in eastern and southern Ukrainian territory that Putin is expected to declare Russian-annexed land after what Kiev says were bogus referendums staged at gunpoint. (Reuters Archive)

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Ukraine advance in southeast challenges Putin’s grip on Donbass

Ukrainian troops are moving to capture the Russian-held eastern town of Lyman, threatening a new setback for Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin's campaign in the Donbass as he prepares to declare the region part of Russia.

The capture of the town in the north of Donetsk region could pave the way for Ukraine to make inroads into the adjacent Luhansk province, foiling Putin's goal of seizing all of the industrial Donbass region declared after his forces failed to subdue the entire country in February, military analysts said.

The regions are among four chunks of eastern and southern Ukrainian territory that Putin is expected on Friday to declare Russian-annexed land after what Kiev and Western countries say were bogus referendums staged at gunpoint.

Ukraine forces secure town on frontline river

Ukraine's forces have secured all of Kupiansk, driving Russian troops from their remaining positions on the east bank of the river that divides the northeastern Ukrainian town, AFP reports.

The bulk of Kupiansk, a major railway hub, was recaptured from Russian forces earlier this month in a lightning Ukrainian offensive to liberate Russian-occupied areas of the Kharkiv region.

But Russian troops held out for a while on the east bank of the Oskil river, across a smashed road bridge, and artillery duels continued as civilians fled into Ukrainian territory.

Nord Stream says it seeks permits to start damage assessment of pipeline

Nord Stream AG, the operator of the Russia-led Nord Stream 1 offshore gas pipeline said it intended to start assessing the damage to the pipeline as soon as it receives necessary official permits.

It said access to the area of incidents may be allowed only after the pressure in the gas pipeline has stabilised and the gas leakage has stopped.

The operator added that until the completion of the damage assessment, it is not possible to predict the timeframe for restoration of the gas transmission infrastructure.

Putin: Conflicts in Ukraine, ex-USSR are 'result of Soviet collapse'

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that conflicts in countries of the former USSR, including Ukraine, are the result of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"It is enough to look at what is happening now between Russia and Ukraine, and at what is happening on the borders of some other CIS countries. All this, of course, is the result of the collapse of the Soviet Union," Putin said in a televised meeting with intelligence chiefs of former Soviet countries.

In parallel to the military operation in Ukraine, armed conflicts have returned to various parts of the former Soviet empire. 

Putin says mistakes of military mobilisation should be corrected

President Vladimir Putin, speaking at a meeting of Russia's Security Council, said all mistakes made during a partial military mobilisation to reinforce Russia's military operation in Ukraine should be corrected, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

He also said that those who had military experience and training in required specialities should be called up first.

There have been widespread public expressions of discontent from officials and citizens over the way the mobilisation, announced last week, has been handled, including complaints about enlistment officers sending call-up papers to ineligible men.

Moscow urges UN to pressure Western countries to unblock export of Russian fertilisers

Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson urged the UN to make the Western countries lift restrictions from operations related to the export of Russian fertilisers. 

Speaking at a news conference in Moscow, Maria Zakharova noted the necessity of lifting the ban on entering of Russian ships to foreign ports and foreign ships to Russian ports.

She also said sanctions on the Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank), which handles the lion's share of transactions related to the agricultural sector, hinder the export of fertilisers.

Finland closing border to Russians with EU tourist visas

Finland said it will bar Russians with Schengen tourist visas from entering the country at midnight (2100 GMT) following a surge in arrivals after Moscow's mobilisation order.

"The decision aims to completely prevent the current situation of Russian tourism to Finland and the related transit through Finland," Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told a press conference.

Haavisto cited damage to "Finland's international relations" as a justification for the decision and said Russia's mobilisation had a "significant impact" on the Finnish assessment. 

'Impossible to say if Nord Stream damage can be repaired'

The management company of the Nord Stream gas pipelines said that it is not certain if the damage to the pipelines is repairable, local Swedish media reported. 

"It is today impossible to answer how big is damage and if it can be repaired," said Dimitri Smirnov, the press spokesperson at the construction and operation management company NordStreamAG, according to the broadcaster SVT Nyheter.

NordStreamAG confirmed that the damage to the Nord Stream 1 and 2 will be investigated as soon as the pipes are fully empty on gas, it added. 

Poland imposes sanctions on Russia's Gazprom Export

Poland has imposed sanctions on Gazprom Export, a unit of Russia's gas company that exports natural gas, the interior ministry said. 

In April, Poland imposed sanctions on 50 Russian oligarchs and companies, including Gazprom, in a move to increase pressure on Moscow over its offensive of Ukraine. Simultaneously, Russia halted gas exports to Poland as Warsaw refused to pay in roubles.

Under the latest decision, Gazprom Export's assets will be frozen. Access to financial funds and economic assets of the sanctioned company is banned, the ministry said. 

NATO sees ‘deliberate, reckless’ sabotage in Nord Stream leaks

NATO has said leaks from the Nord Stream gas pipelines appear to be sabotage and vowed a "determined response" to any attacks on their critical infrastructure.

"All currently available information indicates that this is the result of deliberate, reckless and irresponsible acts of sabotage," the Western military alliance said in a statement. 

"These leaks are causing risks to shipping and substantial environmental damage. We support the investigations underway to determine the origin of the damage," it said. 

Sweden's coastguard said a fourth leak had been detected in the pipelines running from Russia to Europe after explosions were reported earlier this week. 

Kremlin suspects foreign ‘state involvement’ in Nord Stream leaks

The Kremlin said that a foreign state was likely responsible for an incident that resulted in the leaks at the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines linking Russia to Europe.

"It's very difficult to imagine that such a terrorist act could happen without the involvement of a state," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in his daily press briefing, renewing calls for an "urgent investigation."

Any deliberate attack against Allies' critical infrastructure would be met with a united and determined response.

NATO

Putin to preside over ceremony adding Ukrainian territories to Russia: Kremlin

President Vladimir Putin will hold a signing ceremony in the Kremlin to add territories of Ukraine into Russia, his spokesperson said.

Russian-backed officials in four regions of Ukraine said referendums showed overwhelming majorities of their populations had voted to join Russia in votes slammed by Ukraine and the West as "shams".

Putin will also give a major speech on Friday following the signing ceremony in the Kremlin and will meet with Moscow-supported administrators of the Ukrainian regions , the Kremlin said.

Putin moves to ban some Western trucks from transiting through Russia

President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree authorising the Russian government to ban some Western trucks from transiting across Russian territory.

The decree allows for a ban on trucks carrying freight that are registered in countries that have applied similar restrictions against Russia.

Russia complained in April that the European Union had closed its borders to some freight vehicles registered in Russia and Belarus due to sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.

The decree said the measures had been introduced in response to "unfriendly" restrictions by foreign states against Russian citizens and entities.

Agreement on EU sanctions against Russia expected before summit

An agreement on the next sanctions package against Russia is expected before next week's EU summit, or at least major parts of the package, an EU official has said.

The official said they expected the summit to focus on the referendums in Ukraine, annexations of areas by Russia, Russia's nuclear threats and the disruption to the Nord Stream pipelines.

EU leaders are also expected to discuss different ideas for energy price caps at the summit, which the EU official expects to be a tense one "as we are in difficult times". 

Ukrainian president thanks Türkiye for prisoner swap deal with Russia

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has thanked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for securing the prisoner swap deal with Russia.

Based on the deal, relatives of Ukrainian troops who are residents of Türkiye will be able to visit Ukraine, Zelenskyy said. 

"We are working on it," he added.

I once again thanked Turkish President Erdogan for helping us to liberate our people from Russian captivity.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President

American beats Russian to lead UN telecoms agency

Doreen Bogdan-Martin has been elected as the first woman to lead the UN's telecoms agency, beating out a Russian contender for the job. 

Bogdan-Martin will become the next secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which sets the global standards underlying mobile phones, television and the internet. She won in a 139-25 victory over Russia's former deputy telecoms minister Rashid Ismailov.

The vote to lead the agency, which behind the scenes coordinates everything from radio frequencies to satellites and 5G, was unrelated to Russia's offensive against of Ukraine. However, few were framing the election outside of that context and the vote was a test of Russia's standing in the United Nations.

Russia poised to annex territories, representing about 15% of Ukraine

Russia is poised to annex a swath of Ukraine within days, releasing what it called vote tallies showing overwhelming support in four provinces to join it, after what Ukraine and the West denounced as illegal sham referendums held at gunpoint.

On Moscow's Red Square, a stage with giant video screens has been set up, with billboards proclaiming "Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson – Russia!"

The head of the upper house of the Russian parliament said it could consider the incorporation of the four regions on October 4, three days before President Vladimir Putin's 70th birthday.

The Russian-backed administrations of the four provinces have formally asked Putin to incorporate them into Russia, which Russian officials have suggested is a formality.

For live updates from Wednesday (September 28), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies