Iran says it is ready for talks with Ukraine to clarify "baseless" claims that Tehran is providing Moscow with weapons and drones to be used in the conflict, now in its 237th day.

Ukrainian firefighters work on a destroyed building after what officials say was a drone attack in Kiev on October 17, 2022.
Ukrainian firefighters work on a destroyed building after what officials say was a drone attack in Kiev on October 17, 2022. (AFP)

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Zelenskyy: Moscow's use of Iran drones shows military 'bankruptcy'

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has said that Moscow's widespread use of Iranian-made drones in recent attacks on his country was a symbol of the Kremlin's "military and political bankruptcy".

"The very fact of Russia's appeal to Iran for such assistance is the Kremlin's recognition of its military and political bankruptcy," Zelensky said in his daily address.

Iran and Russia both deny Western claims of Moscow employing Tehran's drones in Ukraine.  

US, allies to raise alleged Iranian drone transfers to Russia at UN

The United States, Britain and France plan to raise alleged Iranian arms transfers to Russia at a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, diplomats said, after Ukraine claimed Russia's having obtained drones violated a Council resolution.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the diplomats said the three -- which also believe such transfers violate UN Security Council Resolution 2231 -- told their Council counterparts they would ask a UN official to brief members on the issue.

US says it will make it harder for Iran to sell drones to Russia

The United States will continue to take "practical, aggressive" steps to make it harder over what it says could be the sale of Iranian drones and missiles to Russia, State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel, adding that Washington had a number of tools to hold both Moscow and Tehran accountable.

"We will continue to take practical, aggressive steps to make these weapons sales harder, including sanctions, export control actions against any entities involved," Patel said.

Russian forces in Ukraine under pressure as Kherson towns to be evacuated

The new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine has acknowledged that his troops were under broad pressure and faced hard choices, as the Russian-backed governor of occupied Kherson province announced a partial evacuation.

"The situation in the area of the 'Special Military Operation' can be described as tense," Sergei Surovikin, an air force general named this month to command Russia's forces, told the state-owned Rossiya 24 television news channel.

"The enemy continually attempts to attack the positions of Russian troops," he said. "First of all, this concerns the Kupiansk, Lyman and Mykolaiv-Kryvyi Rih sectors." Kupiansk and Lyman are in eastern Ukraine, while the area between Mykolaiv and Kryvyi Rih is essentially the northern part of Kherson province in southern Ukraine.

Ukraine to get anti-drone systems in coming days, NATO's Stoltenberg says

NATO will deliver air defence systems to Ukraine in coming days to help the country defend itself against the drones, including those from Iran, that Russia is using to target critical infrastructure, the alliance's secretary-general said.

Addressing a security conference in Berlin, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said that the answer to the attacks was for the allies to step up their deliveries of air defence systems.

"NATO will in the coming days deliver counter-drone systems to counter the specific threat of drones, including those from Iran," he said.

Ukraine invites UN experts to examine 'Iranian-origin' drones

Ukraine has invited United Nations experts to inspect what it says are Iranian-origin drones used by Russia to attack Ukrainian targets in violation of a Security Council Resolution, according to a letter seen by Reuters news agency.

Russia launched dozens of "kamikaze" drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on Ukraine on Monday, hitting energy infrastructure and killing five people in the capital Kiev.

Ukraine says they are Iranian-made Shahed-136 attack drones - loitering munitions that cruise towards their target before plummeting at velocity and detonating on impact.

Iran reportedly agrees to ship missiles, more drones to Russia

Iran has promised to provide Russia with surface-to-surface missiles, in addition to more drones, two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told Reuters, a move that is likely to infuriate the United States and other Western powers.

A deal was agreed on October 6 when Iran's First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber, two senior officials from Iran's Revolutionary Guard and an official from the Supreme National Security Council visited Moscow for talks with Russia about the delivery of the weapons.

"The Russians had asked for more drones and those Iranian ballistic missiles with improved accuracy, particularly the Fateh and Zolfaghar missiles family," said one of the Iranian diplomats, who was briefed about the trip.

Ukraine's power, water supplies under Russian attack again

Airstrikes cut power and water supplies to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, part of what the country’s president called an expanding Russian campaign to drive the nation into the cold and dark and make peace talks impossible.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said nearly one-third of Ukraine’s power stations have been destroyed in the past week, “causing massive blackouts across the country.”

“No space left for negotiations with Putin’s regime,” he tweeted.

Lavrov suggests Russia could downgrade diplomatic presence in West

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow could reduce its diplomatic presence in Western countries, blaming relations with Europe and the United States and Russia's need to build ties elsewhere.

"Of course we do not see any sense in or have any desire to maintain the same presence in Western countries... and third world countries, both in Asia and Africa, on the contrary, need additional attention," Lavrov said in an address to new foreign ministry recruits.

Nord Stream probe 'tailored' against Russia: Kremlin

The Kremlin has said that the investigation into the explosions that tore through the Nord Stream gas pipelines was being 'tailored' to place the blame on Russia.

"From statements we hear from Germany, France and Denmark, this investigation is being tailored to place blame on Russia. This is absurd," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

"Russia would not blow up its own pipeline," Peskov added.

Turkish official 'hopeful' for extension of Istanbul grain deal

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said he is "hopeful" that the Ankara-brokered Istanbul grain deal will be extended.

"Our President (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) gave the necessary suggestions to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to extend it for three months, six months, or one year. We got a positive vibe. However, the Russians have not yet given a clear answer," Kalin told Turkish news broadcaster A Haber.

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.

Hungary's new container terminal aims to boost Ukrainian grains shipments

Europe's largest land-based container terminal started operating near Hungary's border with Ukraine, aiming to increase shipments of Ukrainian grains via Hungary to Adriatic ports.

It "will have a huge role in shipping Ukrainian grains," Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a news conference in Fenyeslitke.

"The machinery used here is capable of handling 800 tonnes of grain and 450 cubic metres of sunflower oil per hour," Szijjarto said, adding the terminal would make shipping of Ukrainian agricultural goods more efficient.

UN finds Russia responsible for 'vast majority' of potential war crimes

A United Nations commission found Russian forces were responsible for the "vast majority" of human rights violations in the early weeks of the war in Ukraine, including attacks on civilians that were potential war crimes.

In a report on events in four northern provinces, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine found that Russian forces had indiscriminately shelled areas they were trying to capture and "attacked civilians trying to flee".

It also found abuses committed by Ukraine, including two cases of people who were out of action who were shot, wounded or tortured.

Russia carries out new air strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities

Russian forces carried out new air strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities, causing several explosions in an area of northern Kiev where there is a thermal power station.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential office, said there had been three Russian strikes on an unspecified energy facility. City mayor Vitali Klitschko said the attack was on "critical infrastructure" in northern Kiev, where Reuters witnesses saw thick smoke rising into the sky.

Neither official said whether the thermal power station had been hit. They also gave no casualty details. 

Power cuts in Kiev and Ukraine regions after strikes on energy facilities

Several regions of Ukraine, including the capital Kiev, were experiencing power cuts after multiple strikes targeted energy facilities, local officials and agencies said.

Many settlements in Zhytomyr region, west of Kiev, and parts of Dnipro city in central Ukraine were without electricity, while power was restored to the southern city of Mykolaiv after strikes overnight. 

Thirty percent of Ukraine's power stations destroyed in a week - president

Russian air strikes have destroyed 30 percent of Ukraine's power stations since October 10, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

He wrote on Twitter that the attacks had caused massive blackouts across Ukraine and that there was "no space left for negotiations" with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kremlin says it has no information on use of Iranian 'kamikaze' drones

The Kremlin said it had no information about whether or not Iranian "kamikaze" drones were used in large-scale attacks against Ukraine earlier this week.

Leaders in Ukraine have accused Russia of using Iranian Shahed-136 drones in attacks against Kiev.

Asked if Russia did use the Iranian drones in the attack on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin did not have any information about their use. 

Ukraine says Russia 'kidnapped' two nuclear plant workers

Ukraine's state nuclear energy agency accused Russia of detaining two senior employees at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. 

In a statement on social media, Energoatom said Russian forces on Monday "kidnapped" the head of information technology Oleg Kostyukov and the plant's assistant general director Oleg Osheka and "took them to an unknown destination".

Energoatom called on International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi "to make every effort" to secure their release. 

UAE leader says seeking Russia-Ukraine truce

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said his country is seeking a truce between Ukraine and Russia.

This came in a phone call on Monday between the UAE leader and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The two leaders discussed bilateral ties as well as the Ukraine war and the need to reduce tension between Kiev and Moscow via dialogue, the state news agency WAM reported. 

Fifty metres of Nord Stream pipe destroyed: video

At least 50 metres of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline has been destroyed or buried under the seafloor, following an explosion assumed to be from sabotage, underwater images showed.

Danish police meanwhile said their inspections of the pipelines 1 and 2 in the Danish economic zone of the Baltic Sea confirmed the damage was "caused by powerful explosions".

In videos published by Swedish newspaper Expressen, a massive tear and twisted metal can be seen on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline 80 metres down in the Baltic Sea. 

US warns of sanctions over Iran drone ties after Kiev strikes

The United States has warned it would take action against companies and nations working with Iran's drone programme after Russia used the imports for deadly kamikaze strikes in Kiev.

"Anyone doing business with Iran that could have any link to UAVs or ballistic missile developments or the flow of arms from Iran to Russia should be very careful and do their due diligence – the US will not hesitate to use sanctions or take actions against perpetrators," State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

"Russia deepening an alliance with Iran is something the whole world – especially those in the region and across the world, frankly – should be seeing as a profound threat," he said.

Zelenskyy asks for more weapons to defend ‘skies’

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced a wave of Russian drone attacks and strongly urged the country’s allies to provide it with air defence weapons.

“To guarantee the protection of our skies and reduce the possibilities for Russian terrorists to zero, we need much more air defence systems and more missiles for those systems,” he said in a televised address to the nation.

“This is not only in Ukraine’s interests. The fewer opportunities for terror Russia has, the sooner this war ends.”

Zelenskyy urges troops to take more 'Russian prisoners'

Zelenskyy has urged his troops to take more prisoners, saying this would make it easier to secure the release of soldiers being held by Russia.

"I thank everyone involved in this success, and I also thank all those who replenish our exchange fund, who ensure the capture of enemies," he said in an evening address.

"The more Russian prisoners we have, the sooner we will be able to free our heroes. Every Ukrainian soldier, every frontline commander should remember this."

Canada sanctions Russian journalists, TV personalities

Canada has announced new sanctions against 34 Russian journalists, actors and TV presenters, as well as state-owned national TV Zvezda, calling them "propaganda agents" for their government.

The list includes Vladimir Mashkov, best known in the West for his work in the films "Behind Enemy Lines" and "Mission Impossible," Pavel Gusev, editor-in-chief of the Moscow daily Moskovskij Komsomolets, and Kirill Kleimyonov, head of the news division at Russia's state-owned Channel One.

"The Russian regime's war depends on lies and deception," Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said. "It muzzles and imprisons its own citizens who dare speak the truth."

For live updates from Monday (October 17), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies