Russia-Ukraine war – live: ‘Putin is not joking’ about nuclear weapons, Biden warns

US president Joe Biden has warned that the risk of nuclear “armageddon” is at its highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, as Russian officials speak of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering massive setbacks in the eight-month invasion of Ukraine.

“We have not faced the prospect of armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis,” Mr Biden said.

The US president said he knew his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin very well.

“He’s not joking when he talks about potential use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons because his military is, you might say, significantly underperforming.”

This came after Mr Putin said that he would use “all the means at our disposal” to defend Russia during its invasion of Ukraine.

However, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow has not changed its position that a nuclear war must never be fought.

Meanwhile, Russia has demanded that a United Nations vote on a resolution calling on Mr Putin to reverse his recent annexation of four more regions of Ukraine should be held in secret, in the apparent hope that more nations will vote in Moscow’s favour.

Key Points

  • Nord Stream: Sweden investigation points to ‘gross sabotage’ of pipelines

  • Moscow ‘fully committed’ to avoiding nuclear war, Russian foreign ministry says

  • Residents trapped under rubble of their home as Russian missiles blast Zaporizhzhia

  • Bloated bodies of Russian soldiers found in trees in Lyman

  • Kremlin says Russia will not be invited to Nord Stream investigation

  • Russian missile strike kills 3 people in Zaporizhzhia

Sunday 9 October 2022 22:12 , Katy Clifton

We are pausing our live updates for the evening. Come back tomorrow for more Ukraine coverage.

Russian divers examine aftermath of bridge blast as Zelensky jokes it is ‘cloudy' in Crimea

Sunday 9 October 2022 22:06 , Andy Gregory

Russian divers were set on Sunday to examine the damage from the huge explosion on the Kerch bridge linking Crimea to Russia – widely viewed as a symbol of Moscow’s annexation of the peninsual, the construction of which was decreed by Vladimir Putin.

The Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee said a freight truck had blown up on the bridge’s roadway.

Two spans of road bridge had partially collapsed, but the arch spanning the channel through which ships travel between the Black Sea and Azov Sea was not damaged, the committee said.

While Ukraine has not taken responsibility, president Volodymyr Zelensky appeared to indirectly reference the blast in his nightly video address, saying merely that the weather in Crimea was cloudy.

“But however cloudy it is, Ukrainians know ... our future is sunny,” he added. “This is a future without occupiers, across our territory, particularly in Crimea.”

Russian pillaging of Ukrainian historical sites ‘a war crime’, says culture minister

Sunday 9 October 2022 21:27 , Andy Gregory

Russia’s destruction and pillaging of Ukrainian historical sites and treasures on an industrial scale is a “war crime”, Kyiv’s culture minister has alleged.

Oleksandr Tkachenko told the Associated Press that Russian soldiers had helped themselves to artefacts in almost 40 Ukrainian museums, with the looting and destruction of cultural sites causing losses estimated to cost hundreds of millions of euros.

“The attitude of Russians toward Ukrainian culture heritage is a war crime,” he said.

Kremlin praises OPEC oil group for ‘balancing US-sown mayhem’ in energy markets

Sunday 9 October 2022 20:42 , Andy Gregory

The Kremlin has praised the oil producers group OPEC+ for helping to counter what it claimed was mayhem sown by the United States in global energy markets.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it is very good that such “balanced, thoughtful and planned work of the countries, which take a responsible position within OPEC, is opposed to the actions of the US”.

“This at least balances the mayhem that the Americans are causing,” Mr Peskov said, according to Russian news agencies.

Members of the group include Iran, Libya, Nigeria, the Republic of the Congo, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Crimea bridge explosion ‘likely to increase friction in Russian logistics for some time’

Sunday 9 October 2022 19:59 , Andy Gregory

Footage of the Kerch bridge explosion indicates the damage “is likely to increase friction in Russian logistics for some time” – but not cripple Moscow’s ability to equip its troops in Ukraine, analysts have suggested.

"The collapsed lane of the road bridge will restrict Russian military movements until it is repaired, forcing some Russian forces to rely on the ferry connection for some time," said the Institute for the Study of War, a think-tank based in Washington.

“Russian forces will likely still be able to transport heavy military equipment via the railroad.”

No sign that foreign state was behind German rail sabotage, police say

Sunday 9 October 2022 19:14 , Andy Gregory

German police said it had not excluded political motives in the suspected sabotage of communication cables on Germany’s rail network – but that there was no sign of any involvement by a foreign state or terrorism.

A spokesperson for the Berlin criminal police bureau said on Sunday that it was still investigating the sabotage of radio communication cables in Berlin and Herne in North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW), which halted all rail traffic in northern Germany for around three hours on Saturday.

Germany’s federal police has handed the case over to Berlin and NRW criminal police bureaus.

Fears have grown since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines of targeted assaults on Germany’s critical infrastructure.

Travellers stand in long lines in Hamburg Central Station after long-distance services in northern Germany came to a standstill (Bodo Marks/dpa via AP)
Travellers stand in long lines in Hamburg Central Station after long-distance services in northern Germany came to a standstill (Bodo Marks/dpa via AP)

No indication Putin has decided to use nuclear weapons, White House says

Sunday 9 October 2022 18:36 , Andy Gregory

The US has no indication that Vladimir Putin has decided to use nuclear weapons and there is no reason to change Washington’s strategic posture, the White House has said.

Addressing Joe Biden’s reference to the possibility of nuclear “armageddon”, national security spokesperson John Kirby told ABC’s This Week that the US president “was reflecting the very high stakes that are in play right now ... when you have a modern nuclear power, and the leader of that modern nuclear power, willing to use irresponsible rhetoric the way Mr Putin has”.

US vows to continue assisting Ukraine as Putin ‘doubles down'

Sunday 9 October 2022 17:50 , Andy Gregory

The White House has said it will continue to arm Ukraine in the face of Vladimir Putin’s “doubling down” on his war, but declined direct comment on the explosion which damaged the Kerch bridge linking Crimea to Russia.

“We don’t really have anything more to add to the reports about the explosion on the bridge,” national security spokesman John Kirby told ABC’s This Week. “What I can tell you is that Mr Putin started this war, and Mr Putin could end it today, simply by moving his troops out of the country.”

Both sides needed to find a way to negotiate an end to the war but Mr Putin has shown no interest in doing so, Mr Kirby said.

“Quite the contrary,” he added. “By calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists, by politically annexing, or at least trying to annex four areas of Ukraine, he has shown every indication that he is doubling down.”

This, said Mr Kirby, “is why, quite frankly, we are in touch almost daily with the Ukrainians and we are going to continue to provide them security assistance.”

Ukraine has retaken 450 square miles in Kherson, military claims

Sunday 9 October 2022 17:12 , Andy Gregory

Ukraine has retaken more than 450 square miles of land in its southern Kherson region since launching its counter-attack in late August, a military spokesperson has claimed.

Ukraine won rapid and vast gains with its offensive in the Kharkiv region, but its push in the south to wipe out a Russian foothold on the west bank of the vast Dnipro river has been more drawn out.

“Work is continuing on consolidation of territory, clearing it and conducting stabilising operations, as the settlements we enter contain many surprises left by the occupiers,” Ukraine’s southern military command spokesperson Natalia Humeniuk told broadcasters.

“As of today, from the beginning of the counter-offensive, over 1,170 square kilometres have been liberated in the Kherson direction,” Ms Humeniuk said.

Any major territorial losses in Kherson would threaten Russia’s supply lines to the Crimean peninsula, the return of which Kyiv has coveted since its occupation by Russia in 2014.

This map shows the state of affairs in the Russian invasion of Ukraine as of 2 October (Press Association Images)
This map shows the state of affairs in the Russian invasion of Ukraine as of 2 October (Press Association Images)

Russia has wreaked havoc with kamikaze drones. Now Ukraine is fighting back

Sunday 9 October 2022 16:40 , Sam Rkaina

In an artillery war of attrition, drones have taken centre stage in the battle for Ukraine, reports Bel Trew from Pokrovsk, Kharkiv and Kyiv:

To his Ukrainian artillery unit, Igor is their lucky charm. Without him, they likely wouldn’t be sitting in a town in war-ravaged Donbas somewhat incongruously eating pizza during a breather from the front line.

The 25-year-old drone commander is their eyes and ears in what has morphed into a bloody artillery war of attrition.

Click here for the full story.

Atlas drones are designed to work even under Russian jammers (Bel Trew)
Atlas drones are designed to work even under Russian jammers (Bel Trew)

62,500 Russian soldiers killed so far, Ukraine claims

Sunday 9 October 2022 16:10 , Sam Rkaina

More than 62,000 Russian soldiers have been killed during the invasion of Ukraine, Zelensky’s government claims.

On the 228th day of the conflict, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued new figures claiming to show Putin’s losses thus far.

As well as tens of thousands of dead troops, Ukraine says that have now destroyed more than 260 aircraft and more than 240 cruise missiles.

Clashes in eastern Donetsk region continue

Sunday 9 October 2022 15:37 , Sam Rkaina

Fierce clashes have been ongoing around the cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka in the eastern Donetsk region on Sunday, where Russian forces have claimed some recent territorial gains.

In its regular social media update, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not acknowledge any loss of territory but said that “the most tense situation” on the entire territory of Ukraine had been observed around the two cities.

The regional governor of Zaporizhzhia reported that the death toll had risen to 32 after Russia’s missile strike on a civilian convoy making its way out of the city on September 30. In a Telegram post, Oleksandr Starukh that one more person died in the hospital on Friday.

A part of the Zaporizhzhia region currently under Russian control is home to Europe’s largest nuclear power station.

Fighting has repeatedly imperiled the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and Ukrainian authorities shut down its last operating reactor last month to prevent a radiation disaster.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, said Saturday that the Zaporizhzhia plant has since lost its last remaining external power source as a result of renewed shelling and is now relying on emergency diesel generators.

Civilians in blocks hit by air strikes ask: “why?"

Sunday 9 October 2022 14:56 , Sam Rkaina

More images have emerged of the damage caused in Zaporizhzhia as residents count the cost.

Tetyana Lazunko, 73, and her husband, Oleksii, took shelter in the hallway of their top floor apartment after first hearing air raid sirens and then an explosion that shook the building and sent their possessions flying.

Lazunko wept inconsolably as the couple surveyed the damage to their home since 1974, wondering why an area with no military infrastructure in sight was targeted.

“Why are they bombing us. Why?” she said.

 (AP)
(AP)
 (AP)
(AP)

Zelensky brands Zaporizhzhia strike as ‘absolute evil’

Sunday 9 October 2022 14:17 , Sam Rkaina

President Zelesnky has condemned the attacks on Zaporizhzhia as ‘absolute evil’.

Writing on Telegram, he said: “Again, Zaporizhzhia. Again, merciless attacks on civilians, targeting residential buildings, in the middle of the night.

“Absolute meanness. Absolute evil. From the one who gave this order, to everyone who carried out this order: they will answer. They must. Before the law and the people.”

 (Ukrainian State Emergency Servic)
(Ukrainian State Emergency Servic)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Residents left homeless by Zaporizhzhia strikes

Sunday 9 October 2022 13:21 , Sam Rkaina

Stunned Zaporizhzhia residents watched from behind police tape as emergency crews tried to reach the upper floors of a building that took a direct hit.

The attack collapsed several floors, leaving a smoldering chasm at least 40-feet wide where apartments had stood. Several hours later, the top floors caved in as well.

In an adjacent apartment building, the barrage blew windows and doors out of their frames in a radius of hundreds of feet. At least 20 private homes and 50 apartment buildings in all were damaged, and at least 40 people were hospitalized, city council Secretary Anatoliy Kurtev said.

Zaporizhzhia resident Mucola Markovich, 76, said he and his wife hid under a blanket when they heard incoming rockets and booms from blasts. “There was one explosion, then another one,” he said. Then, in a flash, their fourth-floor apartment was gone, Markovich said, holding back tears.

“When it will be rebuilt, I don’t know,” he said. “I am left without an apartment at the end of my life.”

 (AP)
(AP)
 (EPA)
(EPA)

Slovakia sends more tanks to Ukraine ‘as present for Putin’

Sunday 9 October 2022 11:41 , Sam Rkaina

Slovakia has sent new tanks to Ukraine to help in the war effort, as a ‘birthday present’ for Vladimir Putin.

Minister of Defence for the Slovak Republic Jaro Nad posted pictures of the weapons on Twitter, adding that there would be more to come.

Sunday 9 October 2022 10:50 , Sam Rkaina

Ukraine has posted new pictures of the devastation caused by an attack on Zaporizhzhia.

At least 17 people were killed in the assault.

A government spokesman said that if Ukraine had modern Western anti-missile systems, deaths could have been avoided.

Russia has ‘healthy desire for revenge’ after Crimea bridge

Sunday 9 October 2022 10:30 , Sam Rkaina

Russian divers are to examine the damage from the Crimea bridge blast today.

Saturday’s explosion on the bridge over the Kerch Strait prompted gleeful messages from Ukrainian officials but no claim of responsibility.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said the divers would start work in the morning, with a more detailed survey above the waterline expected to be complete by day’s end, domestic news agencies reported.

“The situation is manageable - it’s unpleasant, but not fatal,” Crimea’s Russian governor, Sergei Aksyonov, told reporters. “Of course, emotions have been triggered and there is a healthy desire to seek revenge.”

The peninsula had a month’s worth of fuel and more than two months’ worth of food, he said. Russia’s defence ministry said its forces in southern Ukraine could be “fully supplied” through existing land and sea routes.

Crimea blast ‘will touch Putin personally'

Sunday 9 October 2022 10:10 , Sam Rkaina

The explosion on the Crimea Bridge will likely touch Vladimir Putin ‘personally’ the UK has claimed.

In its morning update on the Ukraine war, the Ministry of Justice said the blast could have a significant impact on its forces in southern Ukraine.

The statement on Twitter said: “Two of the four carriageways if the roadway have collapsed in several places over a length of approximately 250m.

“The extent of the damage to the rail crossing is uncertain, but any serious disruption to its capacity will highly likely have a significant impact on Russia’s already strained ability to sustain its forces southern Ukraine.

“The rail crossing was only opened to freight in June 202, but the line has played a key role in ,movi ng heavy military vehicles to the southern front during the invasion.

“This incident will likely touch President Putin closely; it came hours after his 70th birthday, he personally sponsored and opened the bridge, and its construction contractor was his childhood friend Arkady Rotenberg.

“In recent months, Putin’s former bodyguard, now commander of the Russian National Guard, Viktor Zolatov, had provided public assurances about the security of the bridge.”

 (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Vladimir Putin tightens infrastructure security after blast on Russia-Crimea bridge

Sunday 9 October 2022 09:50 , Sam Rkaina

Transport services on Crimea bridge are resuming after blast

Sunday 9 October 2022 09:30 , Sam Rkaina

Train and automobile traffic over the bridge was temporarily suspended. Automobile traffic resumed Saturday afternoon on one of the two links that remained intact, with the flow alternating in each direction, said Crimea’s Russia-backed leader, Sergey Aksyonov.

Rail traffic was resuming slowly. Two passenger trains left the Crimean cities of Sevastopol and Simferopol and headed toward the bridge Saturday evening.

Passenger ferry links between Crimea and the Russian mainland are being relaunched Sunday.

While Russia seized areas north of Crimea early in its invasion of Ukraine and built a land corridor to it along the Sea of Azov, Ukraine is pressing a counteroffensive to reclaim that territory.

That Russian-held territory along the sea includes the Zaporizhzhia region.

The Crimean Peninsula is a popular destination for Russian tourists and home to a Russian naval base. A Russian tourist association estimated that 50,000 tourists were in Crimea on Saturday.

Zelensky alludes to explosion in nightly address

Sunday 9 October 2022 09:10 , Sam Rkaina

Volodymyr Zelensky indirectly acknowledged the bridge attack in his video address on Saturday evening but did not address its cause.

“Today was not a bad day and mostly sunny on our state’s territory,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it was cloudy in Crimea. Although it was also warm.”

The president said Ukraine wants a future “without occupiers. Throughout our territory, in particular in Crimea.”

Mr Zelensky also said Ukrainian forces advanced or held the line in the east and south, but acknowledged “very, very difficult, very tough fighting” around the city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region, where Russian forces have claimed recent gains.

 (Office of the President of Ukraine)
(Office of the President of Ukraine)

No one has claimed credit for bridge blast

Sunday 9 October 2022 08:50 , Sam Rkaina

No one has claimed responsibility for the Crimea bridge attack, but it was a significant blow to Russia and could lead to an escalation of the conflict.

Some Russian lawmakers called for Putin to declare a “counterterrorism operation,” rather than the term “special military operation” that has downplayed the scope of fighting to ordinary Russians.Putin signed a decree late Saturday tightening security for the bridge and for energy infrastructure between Crimea and Russia, and put Russia’s federal security service, the FSB, in charge of the effort.Hours after the explosion, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that the air force chief, Gen. Sergei Surovikin, would now command all Russian troops in Ukraine.

Surovikin, who this summer was placed in charge of troops in southern Ukraine, had led Russian forces in Syria and was accused of overseeing a bombardment that destroyed much of Aleppo.The 12-mile Kerch Bridge, on a strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, is a symbol of Moscow’s claims on Crimea and an essential link to the peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

The $3.6 billion bridge, the longest in Europe, is vital to sustaining Russia’s military operations in southern Ukraine. Putin himself presided over the bridge’s opening in 2018.

This satellite image shows damage to the Kerch Bridge (© Maxar Technologies)
This satellite image shows damage to the Kerch Bridge (© Maxar Technologies)

At least 17 killed in attack on Zaporizhzhia

Sunday 9 October 2022 08:25 , Sam Rkaina

A Russian barrage pounded apartment buildings and other targets in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, killing at least 17 people and wounding dozens, officials said Sunday.

The blasts in the city, which sits in a region Moscow has claimed as its own, blew out windows in adjacent buildings and left at least one high-rise apartment building partially collapsed.

The strike came after an explosion Saturday caused the partial collapse of a bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula with Russia, damaging an important supply artery for the Kremlin’s faltering war effort in southern Ukraine and hitting a towering symbol of Russian power in the region.

City council Secretary Anatoliy Kurtev said rockets struck Zaporizhzhia overnight, and that at least five private houses were destroyed and around 40 were damaged.

The Ukrainian military also confirmed the attack, saying there were dozens of casualties.

In recent weeks, Russia has repeatedly struck the southern city, which is in the Ukrainian controlled-part of a region that Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed in violation of international law last week.

At least 14 people died in Russian missile strikes on apartment buildings in Zaporizhzhia on Thursday.A part of the region currently in Russian control is home to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Fighting has repeatedly imperiled the plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power station, and Ukrainian authorities shut down its last operating reactor last month to prevent a radiation disaster.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, said Saturday that the Zaporizhzhia plant has since lost its last remaining external power source as a result of renewed shelling and is now relying on emergency diesel generators.

Nato must do more in face of Putin’s ‘delusions of grandeur’, says German defence minister

Saturday 8 October 2022 23:33 , Andy Gregory

Nato must do more to protect itself against Russia because we “cannot know how far Putin’s delusions of grandeur can go”, Germany’s defence minister Christine Lambrecht has claimed

“The brutal Russian war of aggression in Ukraine is getting more and more brutal and unscrupulous ... Russia’s threat of nuclear weapons shows that Russian authorities have no scruples,” Ms Lambrecht said while visiting German troops deployed in Lithuania.

“We stand by our allies”, Ms Lambrecht added. “We’ve heard Russia’s threats to Lithuania which was implementing European sanctions on the border with Kaliningrad. This is not nearly the first threats and we must take them seriously and be prepared.”

Calls for escalation of war in Russia after bridge attack

Saturday 8 October 2022 22:50 , Andy Gregory

Some Russian politicians are calling for Vladimir Putin to declare a “counterterrorism operation” in response to the Kerch bridge explosion, shedding the president’s term “special military operation” used to downplay the scope of his war in Ukraine to the Russian people.

The Kremlin could use such a move to broaden the power of security agencies, ban rallies, tighten censorship, introduce restrictions on travel, and expand a partial military mobilisation that Mr Putin ordered last month.

Moscow has not named Ukraine as responsible for the attack and has set up a committee to investigate. Leonid Slutsky, head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of Russian parliament, said “consequences will be imminent” if Ukraine is responsible.

Gennady Zyuganov, head of the Russian Communist Party, which is nominally in the opposition but votes in line with Kremlin wishes in parliament, said the “terror attack” should serve as a wake-up call, adding: “The long-overdue measures haven’t been taken yet, the special operation must be turned into a counterterrorist operation.”

Russia ‘can’t defend Crimea bridge while losing a war’, UK expert suggests

Saturday 8 October 2022 22:13 , Andy Gregory

Russia will be unable to defend the Kerch bridge “while losing a war”, a Western analyst has suggested.

James Nixey, a Russia expert at the UK’s Chatham House think-tank, said: “Conceivably the Russians can rebuild it, but they can’t defend it while losing a war.”

Putin appoints ‘brutal’ new senior commander for Ukraine

Saturday 8 October 2022 21:38 , Andy Gregory

Vladimir Putin has appointed a new commander to lead Russia’s ailing war in Ukraine, claimed to have a reputation for “brutality” and “total ruthlessness”.

Russia’s foreign ministry quietly announced on Saturday that General Sergei Surovikin had been appointed to lead the war effort, but did not say who – if anyone – he was replacing.

The 55-year-old had previously been commanding troops in Ukraine’s south, where president Volodymyr Zelensky claims to have recaptured more than 200 square miles in a week.

Ukraine’s intelligence chief has blamed Mr Surovikin for attacks on civilians in Ukraine, and – as leader of Russia’s forces in Syria from March 2017 – he was named by Human Rights Watch as among those who may bear responsibility for potential war crimes in Idlib.

He is also known for his participation in the failed coup attempt by Soviet hardliners in 1991 against reformist Mikhail Gorbachev.

Russian political scientist Greg Yudin said: “It is highly symbolic that Sergei Surovikin, the only officer who ordered to shoot on revolutionaries in August 1991 and actually killed three people, is now in charge of this last-ditch effort to restore Soviet Union. These people knew what they were doing, and they know now.”

Putin appoints ‘brutal’ new senior commander for Ukraine war

Ukrainian official posts Marilyn Monroe clip in birthday jibe to Putin

Saturday 8 October 2022 20:59 , Andy Gregory

The head of Ukraine's national security and defence council has posted a video of the bridge explosion on social media alongside a video of Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy birthday, Mr President”.

The blast comes a day after Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday.

Zelensky aide blames bridge explosion on discontent within Russia

Saturday 8 October 2022 20:20 , Andy Gregory

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior aide to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has claimed that the fact the truck was travelling from Russia showed the blast had been arranged by Russian operators.

“Undoubtedly, we are witnessing the beginning of large-scale negative processes in Russia,” he said, blaming infighting among Putin’s inner circle.

Earlier, Mr Podolyak had shared an image of the explosion, saying: “Crimea, the bridge, the beginning. Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled.”

Railway workers ‘prevented blaze on bridge from spreading’, Russian minister says

Saturday 8 October 2022 19:49 , Andy Gregory

Seven fuel tanker wagons on a train heading for Crimea on the Kerch bridge’s upper level caught fire during the blast which destroyed part of the road.

Russian emergencies minister Alexander Kurenkov told the state-owned Tass news agency that quick-thinking railway workers had uncoupled the seven fuel wagons after they caught fire, preventing the blaze from spreading to the remaining 52 wagons.

Russia brands anti-war rapper Oxxxymiron a ‘foreign agent’

Saturday 8 October 2022 19:14 , AP

The Russian government on Friday designated a chart-topping rapper as a “foreign agent”, a label that has been widely seen as part of authorities’ efforts to muzzle critical voices.

Oxxxymiron, a dual Russian-British national whose real name is Miron Fyodorov, was added to the justice ministry’s “foreign agent” list alongside Dmitry Glukhovsky, a veteran science-fiction writer, and Alyona Popova, a prominent feminist and one-time face of Russia’s campaign for a domestic violence law.

Oxxxymiron has called the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine “a catastrophe” and publicly called for the creation of an anti-war movement.

He cancelled a sold-out Russian tour shortly after Moscow’s troops rolled into Ukraine on 24 February, and organised benefit concerts in Western Europe and Turkey, with proceeds going to Ukrainian refugees.

Putin ramps up protection for Kerch bridge and Crimea energy supply routes

Saturday 8 October 2022 18:47 , Andy Gregory

Vladimir Putin has ordered tighter security for the Kerch bridge, as well as the infrastructure supplying electricity and natural gas to Crimea, Interfax has reported.

In a decree issued hours after the bridge was damaged by a blast, Mr Putin said the FSB security service would be responsible for strengthening protection measures.

Ukraine police say bodies of more than 500 civilians found in Kharkiv including children

Saturday 8 October 2022 18:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The bodies of more than 500 civilians have been found in Russian-occupied Kharviv, a region recently retaken by Ukraine’s forces.

Out of 534 bodies, 226 were women and 19 were children, the head of Kharviv’s police said.

At least 447 victims were found at a mass burial site uncovered in Izium, a town liberated by Ukraine’s army in early September.

Ukraine police say bodies of 500 civilians found in Kharkiv including children

Russia’s response to the Crimea bridge explosion

Saturday 8 October 2022 17:40 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The speaker of Crimea’s Kremlin-backed regional parliament blamed Ukraine for the explosion, but downplayed the severity of the damage and said the bridge would be promptly repaired.Leonid Slutsky, head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of Russian parliament, said “consequences will be imminent” if Ukraine is responsible.Gennady Zyuganov, the head of the Russian Communist Party, said the “terror attack” should serve as a wake-up call.“The long-overdue measures haven’t been taken yet, the special operation must be turned into a counterterrorist operation,” he said.Sergei Mironov, the head of the Just Russia faction in parliament, said that Russia should respond to the explosion on the bridge by attacking key Ukrainian infrastructure including power plants, bridges and railways.The statements, especially from Zyuganov and Slutsky, may herald a decision by Putin to declare a counterterrorism operation.

Watch: What we know so far about the Crimea bridge explosion

Saturday 8 October 2022 17:05 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Three people were killed in a devastating explosion on a crucial bridge linking Russia and Crimea, Russia says.

The blast occurred when a truck blew up on the bridge’s roadway at 6.07am on Saturday, according to Moscow’s investigative committee, and caused seven fuel tanker wagons to catch fire on a train passing on the upper level.

Here’s what we know so far:

Germany urges NATO to do more to defend against Putin's 'delusions of grandeur'

Saturday 8 October 2022 16:35 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Nato must do more to protect itself against Russia and president Vladimir Putin, German defence minister Christine Lambrecht said on Saturday, because we “cannot know how far Putin’s delusions of grandeur can go”.

“One thing is certain: the current situation means we need to do more together,” Lambrecht said while visiting German troops deployed in Lithuania.

“The brutal Russian war of aggression in Ukraine is getting more and more brutal and unscrupulous... Russia‘s threat of nuclear weapons shows that Russian authorities have no scruples.”

The United States has said repeatedly that it has seen no indication that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons in despite what it calls Putin’s “nuclear saber-rattling.”

Germany deployed its first troops to Nato member Lithuania, on the border of Russia, in 2017 after Russia annexed Ukraine‘s Crimea peninsula. It agreed to ramp up the mission significantly in June in response to Russia‘s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Lambrecht inaugurated a permanent German command centre in Lithuania of Friday, which she said would help move a brigade of troops from Germany to Lithuania in 10 days if needed.

A NATO brigade is 3,000-5,000 troops, and Lambrecht said frequent exercises in Lithuania would help moving the troops quickly if needed to join the 1,000 troops kept permanently in Lithuania.

“We stand by our allies”, Lambrecht said.

“We’ve heard Russia‘s threats to Lithuania which was implementing European sanctions on the border with Kaliningrad. This is not nearly the first threats and we must take them seriously and be prepared,” she added.

Russia names air force general to lead its forces in Ukraine

Saturday 8 October 2022 16:04 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s defence ministry on Saturday named Air Force General Sergei Surovikin as the overall commander of Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, Moscow’s third senior military appointment in the space of a week.

The change follows the reported sacking earlier this week of the commanders of two of Russia‘s five military regions, as its forces have suffered a series of dramatic reverses in northeastern and southern Ukraine in recent weeks.

The ministry did not say who, if anyone, Surovikin was replacing.

British military intelligence said in April that General Alexander Dvornikov had been appointed to take charge of Russian forces in Ukraine, almost two months after Moscow began what it calls its “special military operation”, in an attempt to “centralise command and control”.

However, Moscow itself has not specified that anyone is in overall military command of the operation.

Surovikin, 55, has led Russia‘s Air and Space Forces since 2017. According to the ministry’s website, he commanded a guards division stationed in Chechnya in 2004, during Moscow’s war against Islamist rebels, and was awarded a medal for his service in Syria in 2017.

Crimea bridge explosion kills three as Zelensky aide warns blast ‘is the beginning’

Saturday 8 October 2022 15:36 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Three people were killed in a devastating explosion on a crucial bridge linking Russia and Crimea, Russia says.

The blast occurred when a truck blew up on the bridge’s roadway at 6.07am on Saturday, according to Moscow’s investigative committee, and caused seven fuel tanker wagons to catch fire on a train passing on the upper level.

At least three sections of the road collapsed into the water below following the explosion, a route through which ships travel between the Black and Azov seas.

Read more here:

Crimea bridge explosion kills three as Zelensky aide warns blast ‘is the beginning’

Limited road traffic resumes on intact lanes of Crimea bridge

Saturday 8 October 2022 14:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s transport ministry said on Saturday that limited road traffic for cars and buses had resumed on intact lanes of the Crimean Bridge, which was hit by an explosion early in the morning.

It said traffic would for now be restricted to crossing between Crimea and the Russian Taman peninsula in alternating directions.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-appointed governor of the Crimean peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014, said on social media that heavy goods vehicles would have to wait to cross by ferry.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Russian troops in Ukraine can get all necessary supplies via land and sea - ministry

Saturday 8 October 2022 14:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russia‘s defence ministry said on Saturday that Russian troops fighting in the Mykolaiv, Kryvyi Rih and Zaporizhzhia regions of southern Ukraine could receive all the supplies they needed via existing land and sea corridors, after a bridge linking Russia to Crimea was badly damaged by a blast.

Saturday’s explosion on the road-and-rail bridge, which has been used to take Russian men and military supplies through the peninsula into other parts of southern Ukraine, brought down sections of road taking traffic in one direction and also damaged railway tracks.

 (SECURITY SERVICE OF UKRAINE/AFP)
(SECURITY SERVICE OF UKRAINE/AFP)

Three people killed in bridge explosion, Russia says

Saturday 8 October 2022 13:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Three people have been killed in the Crimea bridge blast, Russia’s investigative committee has reported.

The committee also identified the driver of the exploded truck as a resident of the southern Russian Kuban region.

Ukraine’s Zaporizhzia’s nuclear plant ‘needs urgent protection’ as last power supply cut

Saturday 8 October 2022 13:14 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is in need of “urgent protection” after fresh rounds of Russian shelling destroyed its last external power source, the UN’s nuclear watchdog has warned.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that the plant’s link to a 750-kilovolt line was cut at around 1 am Saturday. It cited official information from Ukraine as well as reports from IAEA experts at the site, which is held by Russian forces.

“The resumption of shelling, hitting the plant’s sole source of external power, is tremendously irresponsible. The Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant must be protected,” Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said today.

Read more:

Ukraine nuclear plant ‘needs urgent protection’ as last power supply cut by shelling

Ukraine police say bodies of more than 500 civilians found in Kharkiv including children

Saturday 8 October 2022 12:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The bodies of more than 500 civilians have been found in Russian-occupied Kharviv, a region recently retaken by Ukraine’s forces.

Out of 534 bodies, 226 were women and 19 were children, the head of Kharviv’s police said.

At least 447 victims were found at a mass burial site uncovered in Izium, a town liberated by Ukraine’s army in early September.

Ukraine police say bodies of 500 civilians found in Kharkiv including children

Putin’s 70th birthday surprise as Lukashenko buys him a tractor

Saturday 8 October 2022 12:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

What birthday present do you give the man who gave himself chunks of Ukraine last week?

The answer is a tractor.

On the day Vladimir Putin celebrated his 70th birthday – and the US president warned that the Russian president could drive the world towards “armageddon”, while the Nobel Peace Prize committee made little attempt to disguise its contempt for his woeful human rights record – at least he could rely on his old friend and fellow tyrant Alexander Lukashenko.

The president of Belarus decided to give Putin a piece of agricultural machinery, or at least a gift certificate he can exchange for a tractor, on Friday to celebrate the big day, our international editor David Harding writes.

The leaders were meeting at the Tsarist-era Konstantin Palace in St Petersburg, Putin’s home city.

Putin’s 70th birthday surprise as Lukashenko buys him a tractor

Putin ‘directly criticised’ by member of inner circle over Ukraine war

Saturday 8 October 2022 11:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been directly criticised by a member of his inner circle over his botched war in Ukraine, according to US intelligence reportedly included in Joe Biden’s daily briefing.

In what could mark the first time one of the president’s closest aides and advisers have dared to challenge him directly over the invasion, the individual is claimed to have expressed discontent over the mismanagement and mistakes by those in charge of Russia’s war effort.

The individual’s name is believed to been included in the intelligence report handed to Mr Biden and other US officials, but their identity was not disclosed to the Washington Post, which was told of the development by multiple people familiar with the matter.

My colleague Andy Gregory has more:

Putin ‘directly criticised’ by member of inner circle over Ukraine war

Leader of Zelenksy’s party says bridge explosion is ‘just the beginning'

Saturday 8 October 2022 11:24 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The parliamentary leader of president Volodymyr Zelensky’s party said the bridge explosion “is just the beginning” but did not say Kyiv was responsible for the truck bomb.

Instead, the explosion was said to be a consequence of Moscow’s takeover of Crimea and Russia’s “illegal” empire. “Russian illegal construction is starting to fall apart and catch fire. The reason is simple: if you build something explosive, then sooner or later it will explode,” David Arakhamia, the leader of the Servant of the People party, wrote on Telegram.

“And this is just the beginning. Of all things, reliable construction is not something Russia is particularly famous for,” he said.

Other Ukrainian officials were more celebratory while still stopping short of claiming responsibility.

The secretary of Ukraine‘s National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, posted a video onTwitter with the Kerch Bridge on fire on the left side and video with Marilyn Monroe singing her famous “Happy Birthday Mr. President” on the right.

An advisor to Zelenskyy, Mykhailo Podolyak, tweeted: “Crimea, the bridge, the beginning. Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled:”

Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant disconnected from power supply by shelling -Energoatom

Saturday 8 October 2022 11:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Ukraine‘s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant lost its connection to external power supply early on Saturday as a result of shelling, Ukraine‘s state nuclear company Energoatom said, blaming Russia.

Energoatom said the plant was now getting power to cover its own needs from its backup diesel generators.

“The diesel generators started automatically. The available supplies of diesel fuel for their operation in this mode will be enough for 10 days,” the company wrote on Telegram.

Footage of the moment the explosion happens on bridge from Russia to Crimea

Saturday 8 October 2022 10:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

More footage of the moment a truck bomb exploded on a crucialn bridge linking Russia to Crimea.

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said that the truck bomb caused seven railway cars carrying fuel to catch fire, resulting in a “partial collapse of two sections of the bridge.”

Internal criticism of Russia’s military leadership grows for Moscow - British MoD

Saturday 8 October 2022 10:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

In Saturday’s intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defence, it said that “increasingly diverse actors within the Russian system have joined voices in criticism” of Russia’s military leadership.

“Critics have included Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, Wagner Group private military company owner Yevgeny Prigozhin, state-approved TV presenters, pop stars, and an increasingly vocal community of ultra-nationalistic military bloggers,” the MoD added.

Rebuke to Putin as Eastern European rights campaigners win Nobel Peace Prize

Saturday 8 October 2022 09:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A trio of Eastern European human rights campaigners from three neighbouring countries have been awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Ales Bialyatski – a human rights advocate from Belarus – took the award along with Russian human rights organisation Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organisation the Centre for Civil Liberties.

The award can be seen as a rebuke to the rulers of Russia and Belarus as the three are linked to fighting political repression in their own countries, as well as the war in Ukraine.

Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, praised all the winners for the importance of the “right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens”.

Our international editor David Harding reports:

Rebuke to Putin as Eastern European rights campaigners win Nobel Peace Prize

Moment fire engulfs key bridge connecting Crimea and Russia

Saturday 8 October 2022 09:26 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Footage appears to capture the moment fire engulfs the Kerch bridge, a key crossing between the occupied Crimean peninsula and Russia.

Video shows the exact moment an explosion occurred, as a number of vehicles were driving on the road.

Ukraine has not directly claimed responsibility for the attack, but an advisor to Volodymyr Zelensky called the incident “the beginning”.

Crimea, the bridge, the beginning. Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled,” Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

Watch here:

Moment fire engulfs key bridge connecting Crimea and Russia

Russia says truck bomb damages bridge to Crimea

Saturday 8 October 2022 09:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian authorities have said that a truck bomb has caused a fire and the collapse of a section of a bridge linking Russia-annexed Crimea with Russia.

Russia‘s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said that the truck bomb triggered seven railway cars carrying fuel to catch fire, resulting in a “partial collapse of two sections of the bridge.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

The committee didn’t immediately apportion blame.The 19-kilometer (12-mile) bridge across the Kerch Strait linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov is the longest in Europe.

It has cost billions of dollars to build and it has provided the essential link to the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Ukrainian officials have repeatedly threatened to strike the bridge.

Video shows exact moment of Crimea bridge explosion

Saturday 8 October 2022 08:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Video footage captures the exact moment an explosion occured on a key bridge linking Russia to Crimea.

Fire engulfed the entirety of the crossing made up of two roads and rail bridges.

Recordings of the damage post-explosion shows large chunks of the collapsed road fallen to the water below the bridge.

Ukraine presidential advisor says Crimea bridge ‘must be destroyed’ following fire

Saturday 8 October 2022 08:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A Ukrainian presidential advisor posted a message on Twitter after conflicting reports of an explosion or fire on Saturday that damaged the bridge connecting the Russian mainland to the occupied Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, calling it “the beginning” but not directly claiming Ukrainian responsibility.

“Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled,” Mykhailo Podolyak wrote.

Large fire reported on key bridge linking Russia to Crimea

Saturday 8 October 2022 08:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A fire has occurred on a bridge linking mainland Russia with the Crimean peninsula, according to Russian state-backed media.

RIA-Novosti and the Tass news agency quoted local Russian official Oleg Kryuchkov as saying an object thought to be a fuel storage tank caught fire and that traffic has been stopped on the bridge.

Images shared on social media purported to show fire and damage to the span.

The authenticity of the reports and images could not be immediately verified.

The crossing is a pair of road and rail bridges that Russia built after it seized and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in violation of international law in 2014.

The fire occurred hours after explosions rocked the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv early on Saturday, sending plumes of smoke into the sky and triggering a series of secondary explosions.

Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov said the early-morning explosions were the result of missile strikes in the centre of the city.

He added that the blasts sparked fires at one of the city’s medical institutions and a non-residential building. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Putin marks birthday with muted fanfare

Saturday 8 October 2022 07:45 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Russian president Vladimir Putin marked his 70th birthday with little fanfare and a decree targeting a key Western energy investment, but signs gew that key parts of his Ukraine invasion were unravelling to trigger unprecedented criticism at home.

News programmes made only glancing references to Friday’s event and celebrations were low-key - in contrast to just a week ago, when Putin held a huge concert on Red Square to proclaim the annexation of nearly a fifth of Ukrainian land.

On the world stage, in a clear repudiation of Putin’s record, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Russia‘s most prominent human rights group, Memorial, which Moscow shut down at the end of 2021.

A Ukrainian human rights group and a jailed campaigner against abuses by the pro-Russian government in Belarus also shared the award.

Kremlin lets state media report some Russian losses in Ukraine

Saturday 8 October 2022 07:14 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The Kremlin has reportedly directed state media to start admitting to at least some battlefield failures.

The shift in policy has unleashed a wave of public backlash involving top state TV anchors and online commentators – but criticism remains limited to Vladimir Putin’s defence minister and top generals, rather than directed at the president himself.

State TV reports have included details of Russian defeats on the ground without giving them a positive, government-approved spin.

Namita Singh has more.

State media report Russian losses in Ukraine amid ‘hunt for those responsible’

Crucial bridge connecting Russia to Crimea hit by explosion

Saturday 8 October 2022 06:39 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The Kerch bridge, which connects Russia to Crimea, was hit by explosions on Saturday morning, according to local reports.

Videos on social media showed at least two train carriages fiercely burning on the railway track as plumes of smoke rose to the sky.

The explosion reportedly took place around 6 am when a train was crossing the bridge, which led to the immediate suspension of traffic.

A portion of the road bridge that runs parallel to the train tracks collapsed following the blast.

A fuel tanker was involved in the incident, according to Russian news agency Tass.

Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to the Russian government in Crimea, said: “According to preliminary data, a fuel tank car has been on fire at one of the sections of the Crimean bridge, shipping arches aren’t damaged.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin unveiled the bridge in 2018 after annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

UN rights body agrees to appoint expert to scrutinise Russia

Saturday 8 October 2022 06:11 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The UN’s top human rights body voted on Friday to appoint an independent expert to step up scrutiny of Russia’s rights record at home amid a crackdown on dissenting voices and arbitrary arrests during the war in Ukraine.

The 47-member Human Rights Council (HRC) passed the proposal, presented last week by all EU member countries except Hungary, on a 17-6 vote, with 24 abstentions.

The original proposal expressed concerns about “mass forced shutdowns” of independent media, non-governmental organisations and opposition groups in Russia.

The HRC majority agreed to name a “special rapporteur” to keep tabs on rights violations in Russia, in part by relying on help from Russian groups and activists who are both still in the country and abroad.

Jamey Keaten reports.

UN rights body agrees to appoint expert to scrutinize Russia

Fire on bridge connecting Russia with Crimea

Saturday 8 October 2022 05:51 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

A massive fire broke out on the Kerch bridge that connects Russia with Crimea.

Putin was ‘directly’ confronted by angry Kremlin insider, Biden told

Saturday 8 October 2022 05:34 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Vladimir Putin was confronted by a Kremlin insider angry over the conduct in the Ukraine war, Joe Biden has reportedly been told.

A report said the alleged rare intervention from someone considered a member of the Russian leader’s inner circle, was treated with enough credibility that it made its way into Mr Biden’s daily intelligence briefing.

The report in the Washington Post said the insider’s identity could not be confirmed, although the name had been included in US intelligence reporting.

“The new intelligence, coupled with comments from Russian officials, underscores divisions within Putin’s upper echelon, where officials have long been loath to bring bad news to an autocratic Russian leader who is seen as more isolated that at any time in his 22-year rule,” the Post said.

Andrew Buncombe has more.

US intelligence tells Biden Putin was ‘directly’ confronted by angry Kremlin insider

Ukraine has liberated 2,434 sq km of land, says Zelensky

Saturday 8 October 2022 05:15 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in his video address on Friday said his forces have liberated a total of 2,434 square km and 96 settlements in the east of the country in their latest offensive.

He added that in the last week alone, the Ukrainian forces had reclaimed 776 sq km and 29 settlements in the east of the country.

Earlier on Thursday, he said over 500 sq km had been recaptured in the south.

Putin marks 70th birthday with muted fanfare

Saturday 8 October 2022 05:05 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Vladimir Putin marked his 70th birthday with low-key celebrations on Friday amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

News programmes made only glancing references to the event and celebrations were low-key - in contrast to just a week ago, when the Russian president held a huge concert on Red Square to proclaim the annexation of nearly a fifth of Ukrainian land.

Mr Putin received wishes and gifts from his allies, which included a tractor from the Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.

Hospital on fire following explosion in Kharkiv

Saturday 8 October 2022 04:41 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov said that the explosions, which were a result of Russian missile strikes, set a medical institution and a non-residential building on fire.

Multiple explosions were reported from downtown Kharkiv during the early hours of Saturday.

Editorial | Alfred Nobel’s vision of peace is one that is desperately needed today

Saturday 8 October 2022 03:59 , Thomas Kingsley

It was not the 70th birthday present Vladimir Putin wanted, and it will be widely welcomed throughout the democratic world. The Nobel Peace Prize committee has awarded the coveted prize to Ales Bialiatski, the veteran civil rights activist, who is currently being held in prison without trial in his native Belarus. Sharing the prize with him are Memorial, Russia’s oldest rights organisation, and the Centre for Civil Liberties, the Ukrainian rights group.

The committee said the laureates “have for many years promoted the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens. They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human rights abuses and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy”.

Read the full story below:

Editorial: Alfred Nobel’s vision of peace is one that is desperately needed today

Ukraine police say bodies of more than 500 civilians found in Kharkiv

Saturday 8 October 2022 02:59 , Thomas Kingsley

The bodies of more than 500 civilians have been discovered in territory in northeast Ukraine recently retaken from Russian forces, Ukrainian police say.

And as Ukrainian forces liberate more land in the northeast, new burial sites are being discovered in Donetsk. Many appear to contain the remains of civilians who lost their lives during several months of shelling and rocket fire.

“We found the bodies of 534 civilians from the de-occupied territories” in Kharkiv region alone, said Serhii Bolnivov, head of the investigative department of the regional police.

The bodies included 226 women and 19 children, Mr Bolvinov added.

ICYMI: Russians being prepared for nuclear war, Zelensky warns

Saturday 8 October 2022 01:59 , Thomas Kingsley

Officials in Moscow have started to prepare citizens for the possible use of nuclear weapons in seized areas of Ukraine, according to president Volodymyr Zelensky.

“They begin to prepare their society. That’s very dangerous,” he said.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has threatened to use “all the means at our disposal” to defend what he sees as his country’s territory, including the four areas of Ukraine annexed last week.

The Ukrainian leader said: “They are not ready to do it, to use it. But they begin to communicate. They don’t know whether they’ll use or not use it. I think it’s dangerous to even speak about it.”

In an interview with the BBC, president Zelensky denied having urged strikes on Russia, claiming that an earlier remark of his had been mistranslated.

Read the full story below:

Russians being prepared for nuclear war, Zelensky warns

IMF board approves $1.3 bln in emergency funding for Ukraine

Saturday 8 October 2022 00:59 , Thomas Kingsley

The International Monetary Fund said on Friday its executive board approved Ukraine's request for $1.3 billion in additional emergency funding to help sustain its economy as it battles Russia's invasion.

The funds will come from a new emergency lending program to address food shortages approved by the IMF board last month. Ukraine also requested program monitoring with board involvement to strengthen the policy commitment and further catalyze donor support, the IMF said.

IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva welcomed the decision on Twitter. “This is vital to help catalyze urgently needed donor support and help pave the way for a full-fledged fund program,” she said.

Speak with prudence on nuclear threat, warns Macron

Friday 7 October 2022 23:59 , Jane Dalton

French President Emmanuel Macron said “we must speak with prudence”, as he responded to comments by Joe Biden in which the US president said there was a risk of nuclear “Armageddon”.

“We must speak with prudence when commenting on such matters,” Macron said at the end of a European Union summit in Prague.

Biden had said earlier that Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine had brought the world closer to “Armageddon” than at any time since the Cold-War Cuban Missile Crisis.

Mr Macron also announced a 100m-euro fund for Ukraine to buy weapons.

Kremlin lets state media report some Russian losses in Ukraine

Friday 7 October 2022 22:59 , Jane Dalton

The Kremlin has reportedly ordered Russian state media to start admitting to at least some of the country’s battlefield failures.

The shift in policy has unleashed a wave of public backlash involving top state television hosts and online commentators – but criticism remains limited, writes Namita Singh:

State media report Russian losses in Ukraine amid ‘hunt for those responsible’

UK rejects Russian bid for secret UN ballot

Friday 7 October 2022 21:59 , Jane Dalton

Britain has rejected Russia’s call for a secret ballot in the UN General Assembly next week on whether to condemn Moscow’s annexation of four partially occupied regions and requested that the 193-member body vote publicly.

The General Assembly is set to vote on a draft resolution that would condemn Russia’s “illegal so-called referenda” and the “attempted illegal annexation”. It also reaffirms the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine and calls on states not to recognise Russia’s move.

In a letter to UN states earlier this week, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia called for a secret ballot, arguing that Western lobbying meant that “it may be very difficult if positions are expressed publicly”.

But Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward said the rules of the General Assembly were clear that any representative may request a recorded vote.

Zaporizhia death toll rises to 12

Friday 7 October 2022 21:00 , Jane Dalton

The death toll from Russian strikes on apartment buildings in Zaporizhia has risen to 12, while another 12 people wounded in the bombardment remained in hospital.

Russia used Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones there for the first time and damaged two infrastructure facilities, authorities said.

With its army losing ground to a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south and east, Russia has deployed unmanned, disposable Iranian-made drones that are cheaper and less sophisticated than missiles but still can damage targets on the ground.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said Russia’s use of the explosives-packed drones was unlikely to affect the course of the war.

Russia concentrated attacks on Friday on the four areas it illegally annexed last week.

Musk says reports his devices are not working in Ukraine are ‘bad reporting’

Friday 7 October 2022 20:30 , Thomas Kingsley

Elon Musk has criticised a FT report about Ukrainian troops having problems with communication devices powered by his Starlink satellite broadband service.

Sharing a link to his piece on Twitter, reporter Christopher Miller wrote: “NEW: Ukraine troops reported outages of Starlink devices on frontline, hindering efforts to liberate territory from Russian forces, Ukrainian officials & soldiers told us.”

Elon Musk responded to the post writing: “Bad reporting by FT. This article falsely claims that Starlink terminals and service were paid for, when only a small percentage have been. This operation has cost SpaceX $80M & will exceed $100M by end of year. As for what’s happening on the battlefield, that’s classified.”

UN body votes to establish Russia human rights investigator despite Moscow protests

Friday 7 October 2022 20:15 , Jane Dalton

A UN human-rights body has comfortably passed a motion to appoint a new independent expert on alleged human rights abuses in Russia, accusing Moscow of creating a "climate of fear" through repression and violence.

The Russian government quickly made clear it would not cooperate with the expert.

Members voted 17 in favour and six against, with 24 abstaining. The move is the first time that the 16-year-old Human Rights Council has appointed a special rapporteur to examine the rights record of one of its so-called P5 members, which hold permanent seats on the Security Council.

"We want it to be clear today that we didn't forget those who struggle for freedom at home while (Russian President Vladimir) Putin represses the Russian people and carries out aggression overseas," Britain's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Simon Manley, told Reuters.

Nuclear watchdog chief set to plan power plant protection zone

Friday 7 October 2022 19:25 , Jane Dalton

The UN nuclear watchdog’s chief Rafael Grossi will travel to Russia early next week for talks on setting up a protection zone around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the agency said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency had previously said Mr Grossi would travel to Kyiv and Moscow this week. He was in Kyiv on Thursday.

Separately, four agency staff relieved the two who had been at the plant since 1 September. The four will “provide support” to the protection zone once it is agreed, the agency said.

Moscow ‘preparing society for nuclear weapons'

Friday 7 October 2022 19:09 , Jane Dalton

The Ukrainian president has warned that Moscow officials have begun to “prepare their society” for the possible use of nuclear weapons.

“They begin to prepare their society. That’s very dangerous,” President Zelensky told the BBC.

“They are not ready to do it, to use it. But they begin to communicate. They don’t know whether they’ll use or not use it. I think it’s dangerous to even speak about it.”

In a BBC interview, he denied having urged strikes on Russia, claiming that an earlier remark had been mistranslated.

“You must use preventive kicks,” he said, referring to sanctions, “not attacks”.

Vladimir Putin and senior Russian officials have suggested that smaller, tactical nuclear weapons could be used to defend the areas Russia has annexed, although Western officials say there has been no evidence Moscow is prepared to do so.

No indication Russia preparing to use nuclear weapons imminently, White House says

Friday 7 October 2022 18:21 , Thomas Kingsley

The United States sees no reason to change its nuclear posture and does not have indications that Russia is preparing to imminently use nuclear weapons, the White House said on Friday after President Joe Biden on Thursday referenced nuclear Armageddon.

“He was reinforcing what we have been saying, which is how seriously we take these threats about nuclear weapons,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One when asked about Biden's comments.

“We have not seen any reason to adjust our own strategic nuclear posture, nor do we have indications that Russia is preparing to imminently use nuclear weapons,” she said.

 (AP)
(AP)

UN working to expand, extend Ukraine Black Sea grain export deal

Friday 7 October 2022 18:10 , Thomas Kingsley

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres and his team are working to expand and extend a deal allowing Ukrainian Black Sea grain exports, which could expire in late November, a UN spokesman said on Friday.

“They're working actively to remove also the last obstacles to facilitate the export of Russian grain and fertilizer,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, adding that UN aid chief Martin Griffiths and senior UN trade official Rebeca Grynspan would travel to Moscow in about a week to discuss the issue.

ICYMI: Putin’s defence minister ‘should have shot himself’, says Russian-installed official in rare public backlash

Friday 7 October 2022 17:55 , Thomas Kingsley

A Russian-installed official in occupied Ukraine slammed Vladimir Putin’s defence minister saying he should consider killing himself due to the shame of defeats at the hand of Kyiv’s forces.

In an astonishing public insult to Russia’s top brass, Kirill Stremousov lambasted the “generals and ministers” in Moscow for their failure to understand the problems on the ground.

"Indeed, many say: if they were a defence minister who had allowed such a state of affairs, they could, as officers, have shot themselves," he said in the four-minute video message. "But you know the word ‘officer’ is an incomprehensible word for many."

Read the full story here

'It is incredible': the moment Ukraine rights group heard of Nobel win

Friday 7 October 2022 17:17 , Thomas Kingsley

Norwegian television showed the emotional moment when the executive director of Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties heard her group was among the recipients of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.

Nobel Committee member Olav Njoelstad is shown on the phone informing Oleksandra Romantsova that the group had won the prize.

"It is great, thank you," an almost speechless and clearly delighted Romantsova says to the secretary of the award committee during a phone call that was filmed and broadcast on Norwegian television.

"For us it is really important, like part of Ukrainian society and culture to understand what it means, so thank you," she said, her voice breaking up with emotion.

"It is incredible."

Putin ‘directly criticised’ by member of inner circle over Ukraine war

Friday 7 October 2022 16:45 , Andy Gregory

Vladimir Putin has been directly criticised by a member of his inner circle over his botched war in Ukraine, according to US intelligence reportedly included in Joe Biden’s daily briefing.

In what could mark the first time one of the president’s closest aides and advisers have dared to challenge him directly over the invasion, the individual is claimed to have expressed discontent over the mismanagement and mistakes by those in charge of Russia’s war effort.

The alleged critic’s name is believed to been included in the intelligence report handed to Mr Biden and other US officials, but their identity was not disclosed to the Washington Post, which was told of the development by multiple people familiar with the matter.

Putin ‘directly criticised’ by member of inner circle over Ukraine war

Putin’s 70th birthday surprise as Lukashenko buys him a tractor

Friday 7 October 2022 16:43 , Thomas Kingsley

What birthday present do you give the man who gave himself chunks of Ukraine last week?

The answer is a tractor, our foreign editor David Harding writes.

On the day Vladimir Putin celebrated his 70th birthday - and the US president warned alarmingly that the Russian president could drive the world towards “armageddon”, while the Nobel Peace Prize committee made little attempt to disguise its contempt for the his woeful human rights record - at least he could rely on his old friend and fellow tyrant Alexander Lukashenko.

The president of Belarus decided to give Putin a piece of agricultural machinery, or at least a gift certificate he can exchange for a tractor, on Friday to celebrate the big day.

Read the full story below:

Putin’s 70th birthday surprise as Lukashenko buys him a tractor

How ‘street justice’ and retribution complicate the war in Ukraine

Friday 7 October 2022 16:07 , Andy Gregory

Our world affairs editor Kim Sengupta reports from Kramatorsk:

As Ukrainian forces continue their swift and successful offensive though the northeast and south of the country, some of those who had sided with the invading Russians have been left stranded and are now deeply worried about retribution.

Some have disappeared, such as Kupyansk’s mayor Hennaidy Matsegore who handed over the key to the city to Moscow’s forces and urged citizens not to resist. He was charged with treason by Ukraine but is now likely to be across the border.

However, being inside Russia does not guarantee safety.

Read the full report here:

How ‘street justice’ and retribution complicate the war in Ukraine

EU leaders ‘reaching consensus’ on new gas pricing system

Friday 7 October 2022 15:40 , Andy Gregory

Spain’s energy minister Teresa Ribera has said that European leaders meeting in Prague were making progress on setting a new EU gas pricing system, with Germany and the Netherlands amenable to an option that would create an alternative to the current benchmark.

While countries including Germany and the Netherlands were opposed to a gas cap – as announced in the most recent round of EU sanctions this week – the assembled leaders are moving towards a “consensus” on an alternative benchmark price to the Dutch Title Transfer Facility (TTF) gas price, Teresa Ribera told Reuters.

Historically, TTF has been used as a benchmark for the delivery of both pipeline and Liquified Natural Gas into Europe but has been distorted by the shifting supply landscape since the Ukraine conflict.

Eastern commander is latest Russian general to be sacked, report suggests

Friday 7 October 2022 15:12 , Andy Gregory

Russia has sacked the commander of its Eastern Military District, Colonel-General Alexander Chaiko, the Russian news site RBC has reported, in the latest reshuffle of top brass amid a string of battlefield embarrasments.

RBC cited publicly available state registers to report that Lieutenant-General Rustam Muradov had been appointed to head the Eastern Military District, which covers troops based in Russia’s Far East, though much of its strength is currently deployed in Ukraine.

Mr Muradov, who was sanctioned by the European Union in February, previously served in the Donbas region and commanded Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region of Azerbaijan inhabited mostly by ethnic Armenians.

It comes days after RBC reported that the commander of the Western military district, Colonel-General Alexander Zhuravlyov, had been replaced, following dramatic Russian losses in Kharkiv last month and Ukraine’s recapture of the strategic hub of Lyman.

In September, the deputy defence minister in charge of logistics, General Dmitry Bulgakov, was also replaced by Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, accused by the EU of orchestrating the siege Mariupol early in the war, which killed thousands of civilians.

A month prior, the state-owned RIA news agency reported that the commander of the Black Sea fleet had been fired after a series of humiliations including the sinking of its lead warship and the loss of eight warplanes in an attack on a Russian base in Crimea.

Russian PM requests role in Nord Stream investigation

Friday 7 October 2022 14:34 , Reuters

Russia’s prime minister has sent a letter to the Swedish government requesting a role for Russian authorities in the investigation into the explosions that damaged the Nord Stream pipelines, Sweden’s foreign ministry has said.

A Swedish crime scene investigation of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines from Russia to Europe has found evidence of detonations and prosecutors suspect sabotage.

“On October 6, a letter was received from Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin to prime minister Magdalena Andersson requesting that Russian authorities and the company Gazprom be involved in the Swedish investigation,” the Swedish foreign ministry said.

Sweden has previously rejected calls from the Kremlin for Russia to be part of the investigation.

UN rights body agrees to appoint expert to scrutinise Russia

Friday 7 October 2022 14:04 , Andy Gregory

The UN’s top human rights body has voted to appoint an independent expert to step up scrutiny of Russia’s domsetic rights record, as arbitrary arrests, a crackdown on dissenting voices and limits on free speech worsen during the war in Ukraine.

The 47-member Human Rights Council passed the proposal, presented last week by all European Union member countries except Hungary, on a 17-6 vote, with 24 abstentions.

The Human Rights Council majority agreed to name a “special rapporteur” to keep tabs on rights violations in Russia, in part by relying on help from Russian groups and activists who are both still in the country and abroad.

Peace prize should not be seen as birthday gift to Putin, says Nobel committee chair

Friday 7 October 2022 13:48 , Andy Gregory

Nobel committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen has said that the peace prize shared by rights activists from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia should not be seen as a “birthday gift” to Vladimir Putin, who turns 70 today.

“The prize is not addressing President Putin, not for his birthday or in any other sense, except that his government, as the government in Belarus, is representing an authoritarian government that is suppressing human rights activists,” Ms Reiss-Andersen said.

All three laureates had made “an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human rights abuses and the abuse of power”, she added.

Belgium expresses hopes ‘last hurdles’ for EU gas price cap can be overcome

Friday 7 October 2022 13:21 , Andy Gregory

Belgium’s prime minister Alexander De Croo has expressed hope that the “last hurdles” to an EU-wide price cap on natural gas – announced in this week’s sanctions – could be agreed at a meeting today.

But with each member state depending on different energy sources and suppliers, they are struggling to see eye-to-eye on the best way ahead.

summed up the challenge for the EU as it considers a possible gas-price ceiling.

“A price cap on gas, if that could be achieved, would be grand — with the caveat that we cannot endanger security of supply,” said Latvian PM Krisjanis Karins. “So we cannot set the price so that no one would sell gas into Europe.”

Mr De Croo, however, said he hoped the “last hurdles” to a price cap would be overcome today in Prague, but also that leader should agree on a joint path of action to send two important messages.

“One to the energy markets, to make it clear we no longer accept these prices, we will not continue to pay this market manipulation. Secondly, an important signal to our populations, to our companies, that we are going to tackle the problem at the root,” he said.

New governor of Ukraine central bank vows to ensure a strong independent regulator

Friday 7 October 2022 13:05 , Andy Gregory

The new governor of Ukraine’s central bank has said his “absolute priority” will be to ensure an institutionally strong and independent regulator, describing this as crucially important for ensuring macroeconomic and financial stability.

Before the Ukrainian parliament approved his appointment, Andriy Pyshnyi had helped advise the government on implementing sanctions against Russia, as the head of Ukraine’s central bank.

Drone ‘crashes’ into military airfield in Russia’s Kaluga region

Friday 7 October 2022 12:00 , Andy Gregory

A drone has crashed into a military airfield in Russia’s Kaluga region, some 130 miles northeast of Ukraine, according to the region’s governor.

“Today there was an explosion at the Shaykovka military airfield in Kaluga region,” governor Vladislav Shapsha wrote on Telegram. “A drone, presumably coming from the direction of the border, crashed,” he said.

“The airfield infrastructure and equipment were not damaged. There is no threat to operations.”

Putin’s defence minister ‘should have shot himself’, says Russian-backed official

Friday 7 October 2022 11:35 , Andy Gregory

A Russian-installed official in Kherson has lambasted Vladimir Putin’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu, saying he should consider shooting himself over recent military defeats by Kyiv.

In an astonishing public insult to Russia’s top brass, Kirill Stremousov criticised “generals and ministers” in Moscow for their failure to understand the problems on the ground.

“Indeed, many say: if they were a defence minister who had allowed such a state of affairs, they could, as officers, have shot themselves,” he said in the four-minute video message. “But you know the word ‘officer’ is an incomprehensible word for many.”

My colleague Namita Singh has the full report:

Putin’s defence minister ‘should have shot himself’, says Russian official

Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian human rights campaigners win Nobel Peace Prize

Friday 7 October 2022 11:16 , Andy Gregory

Human rights campaigners from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in what will be viewed by many as a rebuke to Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko.

Ales Bialiatski – a jailed human rights advocate from Belarus – took the award, along with Russian human rights organisation Memorial and the Ukrainian human rights organisation the Centre for Civil Liberties.

Our international editor David Harding has more details here:

Rebuke to Putin as Eastern European rights campaigners win Nobel Peace Prize

Ukraine will ‘never’ call for use of nuclear weapons, Zelensky aide says

Friday 7 October 2022 10:56 , Andy Gregory

Volodymyr Zelensky was referring to imposing sanctions on Russia when he suggested preventive strikes were necessary to preclude any use of nuclear weapons, and Ukraine will “never” call for such an attack, his spokesperson has said.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the remarks, made by Mr Zelensky during a discussion with an Australian think-tank yesterday, confirmed the need for what Moscow calls its “special operation” in Ukraine.

Serhii Nykyforov said hints at the use of nuclear weapons were “afforded only by the terrorist state Russia”, adding: “You will never hear such calls from Ukraine.”

Majority of Ukrainian tanks on battlefield are likely seized from Russia, claims UK

Friday 7 October 2022 10:39 , Andy Gregory

Tanks seized from Russia now potentially account for more than half of those being used on the battlefield by Ukraine, the UK’s ministry of defence has claimed.

Kyiv has likely captured at least 440 Russian battle tanks and around 650 other armoured vehicles since Vladimir Putin’s invasion began, the department said in an “intelligence update”.

“The failure of Russian crews to destroy intact equipment before withdrawing or surrendering highlights their poor state of training and low levels of battle discipline,” it added.

“With Russian formations under severe strain in several sectors and increasingly demoralised troops, Russia will likely continue to lose heavy weaponry.”

Death toll from Zaporizhzhia strike rises to 11

Friday 7 October 2022 10:22 , Andy Gregory

The death toll from a Russian missile attack on an apartment building in the city of Zaporizhzhia has risen to 11, Ukraine’s emergency service has said.

Twenty-one people were rescued from the rubble of residential buildings that were hit with modified S-300 missiles, the service said on Friday.

Regional governor Oleksandr Staruch claimed that the strike was not random and that Russian forces had deployed Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones for the first time, damaging two infrastructure facilities in Zaporizhzhia.

Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of targeting the same spot twice in order to kill responders, telling a summit of European leaders in Prague: “In Zaporizhzhia, after the first rocket strike today, when people came to pick apart the rubble, Russia conducted a second rocket strike. Absolute vileness, absolute evil.”

Volunteers search rubble for survivors after the strike in Zaporizhzhia (Dimitar DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Volunteers search rubble for survivors after the strike in Zaporizhzhia (Dimitar DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images)

West ‘must build very credible deterrents’ to avoid war’s expansion, says Lithuania’s president

Friday 7 October 2022 10:06 , Andy Gregory

The West must build strong deterrence to ensure that Moscow does not want to risk expanding the war in Ukraine, Lithuania’s president Gitanas Nauseda has said.

“We have to build very credible deterrents that Kremlin’s regime does not want to test our ability to respond,” he told reporters upon arriving at the European Political Community summit in Prague.

“We have to be strong and not let us [be] manipulated because the Kremlin regime is very good at that,” Mr Nauseda added.

Zelensky’s comments about ‘pre-emptive strikes’ confirm need for Ukraine invasion, claims Lavrov

Friday 7 October 2022 09:48 , Andy Gregory

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has claimed that that remarks by Volodymyr Zelensky suggesting Nato should launch “pre-emptive strikes” on Russia “confirmed the need” for what Moscow calls its “special operation” in Ukraine.

“By doing so, [he] essentially presented the world with further evidence of the threats posed by the Kyiv regime,” Mr Lavrov said. “This is why a special military operation was launched to neutralise them.”

In a discussion with the Lowy Institute, an Australian think-tank, the Ukrainian president said (see post at 08:01 am) he believed strikes were necessary to preclude any use of nuclear weapons, however his office later clarified that Mr Zelensky was not referring to nuclear strikes.

EU’s Borrell to push member states for more support for Ukraine

Friday 7 October 2022 09:31 , Andy Gregory

The European Union’s foreign policy chief has said he will push the bloc to earmark more money to support Ukraine with weapons.

“I will ask the leaders to support the proposal for a new tranche for European Peace Facility to continue providing military support to Ukraine, also to the training mission,” Josep Borrell told reporters as he arrived for the inaugural European Political Community summit in Prague.

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