Russia-Ukraine War News Live Updates (October 23): Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told his French counterpart in a telephone call on Sunday that Moscow was concerned Ukraine could use a “dirty bomb”, the Russian defence ministry said. According to a readout of a phone call between Shoigu and France’s Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu published by the Russian defence ministry, Shoigu also said the war was trending towards “further, uncontrolled escalation.” Russian missiles pounded Ukrainian energy and other facilities on Saturday, causing blackouts in various regions, Kyiv said, while Russian occupation authorities in the southern city of Kherson urged civilians to evacuate. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the Russian attacks had struck on a “very wide” scale. He pledged his military would improve on an already good record of downing missiles with help from its partners. With the war about to start its ninth month and winter approaching, the potential for freezing misery loomed as Russia continued to attack Ukraine’s power grid. Thousands of civilians have left Kherson after warnings of a Ukrainian offensive to recapture the city. Russian-installed authorities order all residents of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson to leave immediately, news agency AP reported on Friday.
Russia’s defence ministry said on Sunday its forces had continued to launch attacks against Ukraine’s energy and military infrastructure over the last 24 hours. Russia also said it had destroyed a large ammunition depot in Ukraine’s central Cherkasy region and had repelled Ukrainian counter-offensives along the frontlines in southern and eastern Ukraine. Reuters could not independently verify the claims. (Reuters) Russia’s military leadership has withdrawn its officers in the Russian-annexed city of Kherson across the Dnieper River in anticipation of an advance of Ukrainian troops, the Institute for the Study of War think tank said Sunday. To delay the Ukrainian counteroffensive as the Russians complete their retreat, Moscow has left newly mobilised, inexperienced forces on the other side of the wide river, it added. The troop movements come as the Ukrainian military said its forces have continued their counteroffensives in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. On Saturday, Russian-installed authorities in Ukraine told all Kherson residents to leave immediately ahead of the expected action by Ukrainian troops to take back the city. Kherson has been in Russian hands since the early days of the eight-month-long war in Ukraine. (AP) In the last, brief conversations Viktoria Skliar had with her detained boyfriend, the Ukrainian prisoner of war was making tentative plans for life after his release in an upcoming exchange with Russia. The next time Skliar saw Oleksii Kisilishin, he was dead — one of several bodies in a photo of people local authorities said were killed when blasts ripped through a prison in a part of Ukraine’s Donetsk region controlled by Moscow-backed separatists. For months, Skliar had held out hope she would reunite with her partner, who had been one of the defenders of the Azovstal steel plant, the last redoubt of Ukrainian fighters in the besieged city of Mariupol. Read more. The Group of Seven (G7) industrialised nations condemned Russia’s kidnapping of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant leadership and called for the immediate return of full control of the plant to Ukraine. “We condemn Russia’s repeated kidnapping of Ukrainian ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant) leadership and staff,” G7 Nonproliferation Directors General said in a statement dated Saturday. “We urge Russia to immediately return full control of the ZNPP to its rightful sovereign owner, Ukraine,” it said. Russian forces have been in control of the nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, since the early days of their invasion of Ukraine, which began in February. (Reuters) Weapons shortages across Europe could force hard choices for Ukraine’s allies as they balance their support for Ukraine against the risk that Russia could target them next. For months, the United States and other NATO members have sent billions of dollars worth of weapons and equipment into Ukraine to help it fight back against Russia. But for many of the smaller NATO countries, and even some of the larger ones, the war has strained already-depleted weapons stockpiles. Some allies sent all their reserve Soviet-era weaponry and are now waiting for U.S. replacements. It can be difficult for some European countries to rapidly resupply because they no longer have a strong defense sector to quickly build replacements, with many relying on a dominant American defense industry that has elbowed out some foreign competitors. Now they face a dilemma: Do they keep sending their stocks of weapons to Ukraine and potentially increase their own vulnerability to Russian attack or do they hold back what’s left to protect their homeland, risking the possibility that makes a Russian victory in Ukraine more likely? It’s a tough calculation. (AP) Weapons shortages across Europe could force hard choices for Ukraine’s allies as they balance their support for Ukraine against the risk that Russia could target them next. For months, the United States and other NATO members have sent billions of dollars worth of weapons and equipment into Ukraine to help it fight back against Russia. But for many of the smaller NATO countries, and even some of the larger ones, the war has strained already-depleted weapons stockpiles. Some allies sent all their reserve Soviet-era weaponry and are now waiting for US replacements. It can be difficult for some European countries to rapidly resupply because they no longer have a strong defence sector to quickly build replacements, with many relying on a dominant American defence industry that has elbowed out some foreign competitors. Now they face a dilemma: Do they keep sending their stocks of weapons to Ukraine and potentially increase their own vulnerability to Russian attack or do they hold back what’s left to protect their homeland, risking the possibility that makes a Russian victory in Ukraine more likely? It’s a tough calculation. (AP) Russian occupation authorities in the Ukrainian city of Kherson told civilians they should leave immediately because of the tense military situation. Thousands of civilians have been leaving for days across the Dnipro River after warnings of a looming Ukrainian offensive to recapture the city, but Saturday’s warning was delivered with renewed urgency. * Critical infrastructure across Ukraine was pounded by more than a dozen Russian missiles, the Ukrainian air force said, with several regions reporting strikes on energy facilities and power outages. * Russia has accused Ukraine of rocketing the Nova Kakhovka dam and planning to destroy it in what Ukrainian officials called a sign that Moscow might blow it up and blame Kyiv. Neither side produced evidence to back up their allegations. * Russian air attacks have hit at least half of Ukraine’s thermal generation capacity, causing billions of dollars of damage since Oct. 10, though not all power units have stopped working completely, Ukraine’s energy minister said. * Iran on Saturday strongly condemned a call by France, Germany and Britain for the United Nations to probe accusations that Russia has used Iranian-origin drones to attack Ukraine, its foreign ministry said. (Reuters) Russian-installed authorities of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson have ordered all residents to evacuate immediately. Ukrainian forces pressing an offensive in the south have zeroed in on Kherson, a provincial capital that has been under Russian control since the early days of the invasion. On Saturday, Russia said its forces had prevented an attempt by Ukraine to break through its line of control in Kherson. The possible fall of the city would deal another humiliation to Moscow after a string of battlefield defeats and other setbacks, further cornering Russian President Vladimir Putin and setting the stage for a potential escalation of the nearly 8-month-old war. (Read more) Critical infrastructure across Ukraine was pounded by more than a dozen Russian missiles on Saturday, the Ukrainian air force said, with several regions reporting strikes on energy facilities and power outages. Ukraine’s air force command reported that 33 missiles had been fired at Ukraine on Saturday morning, and that 18 of those had been shot down. Since Oct. 10, Russia has launched a series of devastating salvos at Ukraine’s power infrastructure, which have hit at least half of its thermal power generation and up to 40% of the entire system. Local officials in regions across Ukraine reported strikes on energy facilites and power outages as engineers scrambled to restore the ruined network. Some advised residents to stock up on water in case of cut-offs. (Reuters) Iran on Saturday strongly condemned a call by France, Germany and Britain for the United Nations to probe accusations that Russia has used Iranian-origin drones to attack Ukraine, its foreign ministry said. Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said Friday’s call by the so called E-3 group of countries was “false and baseless” and that it was “strongly rejected and condemned”. Ukraine says Russia has used Iranian-made Shahed-136 attack drones that cruise towards their target and explode on impact. Tehran denies supplying the drones to Moscow and Russia has denied its forces used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine. “The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in its pursuit to protect its national interest and to secure the rights of the noble Iranian people, reserves the right to respond to any irresponsible action,” the Iranian foreign ministry website quoted Kanaani as saying. (Reuters) A video of a helicopter having a close shave with vehicles on road in Ukraine has gone viral on social media, garnering over a million views on Twitter. The clip, posted on Twitter by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, showed a helicopter approaching a road that is apparently open to civilians and flying very close to the vehicle. ‘Welcome to Ukraine’, read the caption. One Twitter user commented: “Below the radar has a new meaning”. A few others praised the pilot. “That’s definitely years of training respect for the fighter pilot,” commented one. “Pretty decent overtaking manoeuvre by the chopper there,” read another comment. (Read more) Welcome to Ukraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/LdFhrzwn2m Near the front door of the second-floor apartment is a pile of blankets, just in case. Plastic sheeting covers the broken windows in the main bedroom. The lower half of the wall protrudes precariously out, seemingly ready to fall. Nataliia Rebenko, 64, and her husband, Oleksiy Rebenko, 72, have been living like this for months, since fighting ceased in their northern Ukraine city, Chernihiv. But now, as temperatures drop, they worry how they will make it through the winter. “It’s already getting really cold,” Oleksiy Rebenko said. “And we are worried because in Chernihiv, the infrastructure that brings us heating could be destroyed. So we are already thinking of a backup plan.” For many in Europe, the rising cost of heating homes this winter has already caused alarm, contributing to soaring inflation and cutting into support for Ukraine in the war. But in Ukraine itself, there is a far deeper worry — about keeping warm at all. (Read more) The United States and key Western allies accused Russia Friday of using Iranian drones to attack civilians and power plants in Ukraine in violation of a 2015 UN Security Council resolution and international humanitarian law. Russia countered by accusing Ukraine of attacking infrastructure and civilians for eight years in the eastern separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed earlier this year. The US, France, Germany and Britain supported Ukraine’s call for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to send a team to investigate the origin of the drones. Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the drones are Russian and warned that an investigation would violate the UN Charter and seriously affect relations between Russia and the United Nations. (AP) Friday afternoons at the Chop-Chop Barbershop in central Moscow used to be busy, but at the beginning of a recent weekend, only one of the four chairs was occupied. “We would usually be full right now, but about half of our customers have gone,” said the manager, a woman named Olya. Many of the clients — along with half of the barbers, too — have fled Russia to avoid President Vladimir Putin’s campaign to mobilise hundreds of thousands of men for the flagging military campaign in Ukraine. Many men have been staying off the streets out of fear of being handed a draft notice. As Olya came to work last Friday, she said, she witnessed the authorities at each of the four exits of the metro station, checking documents. (Read more) ➡️ Russia has accused Ukraine of rocketing the Nova Kakhovka dam and planning to destroy it in what Ukrainian officials called a sign that Moscow might blow it up and blame Kyiv. Neither side produced evidence to back up their allegations. ➡️ To Ukrainian soldiers entrenched north of Kherson, a drop-off in Russian shellfire and armour movements signals that their foes dug into a nearby tree line are suffering serious manpower, supply and hardware woes. The #Russian withdrawal from western #Kherson Oblast has begun. Russian forces likely intend to continue that withdrawal over the next several weeks but may struggle to withdraw in good order if #Ukrainian forces choose to attack.https://t.co/K7MWzKbivCpic.twitter.com/4fkGxSlxx3
➡️ Russian air attacks have hit at least half of Ukraine’s thermal generation capacity, causing billions of dollars of damage since Oct. 10, though not all those power units have stopped working completely, Ukraine’s energy minister said. ➡️ The minister said he saw no signs of progress towards a deal involving Russia, Ukraine and the United Nations nuclear watchdog on resolving the situation at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s biggest nuclear power station. ➡️ Ukraine is taking down 85% of Iranian-made “kamikaze” drones fired by Russia but needs its allies’ support to prevent Tehran selling Moscow ballistic missiles, an air force spokesperson said. (Reuters) The Iranian Shahed-136 drone was designed to explode on impact, and on Monday, Russian forces launched dozens of them at targets across Ukraine. One hit an apartment building in Kyiv, the capital, killing four people, including a woman who was six months pregnant. As the war enters its ninth month, the Shahed is among dozens of types of drones, including remote-controlled surveillance types and programmable flying bombs, being used on battlefields in Ukraine. They also include military drones produced by the United States, Turkey and Russia and commercial-grade drones made in China. The full range of models, and which countries supplied them, is unclear. But the rapid increase in the number and types of unmanned drones deployed in the war signals that smaller, less-expensive weapons like the Shahed will probably become a staple of modern armed conflicts. (Read more)
Some residents of the Russian-held city of Kherson were shown leaving by boat on Wednesday after Moscow-installed officials told them it was not safe and said they were relocating their own staff in the face of a looming Ukrainian assault. The images of people fleeing were broadcast by Russian state TV which portrayed the exodus – from the right bank of the Rover Dnipro to its left bank – as a calculated attempt to clear the city of civilians before it became a combat zone. (Read more) Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the West to warn Russia not to blow up a dam that would flood a large area of southern Ukraine. In a television address, Zelenskyy said Russian forces had planted explosives inside the huge Nova Kakhovka dam, which holds back an enormous reservoir, and were planning to blow it up. “Now everyone in the world must act powerfully and quickly to prevent a new Russian terrorist attack. Destroying the dam would mean a large-scale disaster,” he said. President Zelenskyy urges West to warn Russia not to blow up a dam that would flood a large area of southern Ukraine, as his forces prepare to push Moscow’s troops from occupied Kherson in fighting – now in its 241st day
Russia has accused Kyiv of rocketing the dam and planning to destroy it in what Ukrainian officials called a sign that Moscow might blow it up and blame Kyiv. Neither side produced evidence to back up their allegations. The vast Dnipro bisects Ukraine and is several kilometres wide in places. Bursting the dam could send a wall of water flooding settlements below it, towards Kherson, which Ukrainian forces hope to recapture in a major advance. (Reuters) In other news, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke for the first time since May and a top Russian diplomat said the call was needed to eliminate misunderstandings, TASS news agency reported. The Pentagon declined to offer specifics beyond saying that Austin, who initiated the conversation, emphasised a need for lines of communication amid the war in Ukraine. ‘It was horror’: Liberated Ukrainians share tales of occupation Russian troops spent weeks searching for Mariya, the 65-year-old common-law wife of a serving Ukrainian army officer. Twice, she said, they ransacked her cottage in a village outside the town of Balakliya, Ukraine, and when they did eventually detain her months later, they tortured her repeatedly under interrogation, using electric shocks and threats of rape. The recapturing by Ukrainian fighters of much of the Kharkiv region a month ago is now revealing what life was like for thousands of people living under Russian military occupation from the early days of the war. For many, there were periods of calm but almost no food or public services. For those like Mariya, accused of sympathising with or helping the Ukrainians, it was pure hell. (Read more) Police officers shoot at a drone during a Russian drone strike, which local authorities consider to be Iranian-made Shahed-136 UAVs, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv October 17, 2022. (Photo: Reuters) Ukraine rations power and warns of lethal winter, despite war gains Russian attacks on the Ukrainian power grid forced nationwide power cuts Thursday, deepening the misery of a people facing winter without enough light or heat, while Ukraine’s president accused Moscow of planning to blow up a dam, which would cause catastrophic flooding and knock out more power supply. The government ordered Ukrainians to minimize electricity use from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., after 10 days of concerted missile and drone attacks on utilities that have left civilians struggling with rolling blackouts and scattered shortages of clean water. Ukrainian and United Nations officials have warned of a deadly humanitarian crisis for civilians in the coming cold months. Speaking remotely by video to European Union leaders, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday that “we have information” that Russian forces had mined the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam on the Dnieper River. If the dam were destroyed, he said, towns would be inundated and “hundreds of thousands of people could be affected.” (Read more)