Ukraine's counteroffensive to retake more of the Russian-occupied southern Kherson continues to build as Russian authorities evacuate civilians from the area. Ukraine says Moscow is forcibly deporting Ukrainians to Russia. The Kremlin denies the accusation.
Russian missiles were fired on Zaporizhzhia overnight, Ukrainian officials said, further endangering the site of the massive nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his nightly address alleged that Russian forces planted mines at a major hydroelectric dam in Kherson, the destruction of which he warned would cause a "catastrophe on a grand scale."
Meanwhile, a Russian court has ordered the arrest of former state TV reporter Marina Ovsyannikova, who made a highly publicized protest against the war on live Russian television in March.
Ukraine says Russia deliberately delaying passage of 150 grain ships
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of deliberately delaying the passage of ships carrying grain exports under a U.N. brokered-deal, and said 150 vessels were waiting to be loaded.
Kyiv has exported almost 11 million tonnes of grains and other foods since July, when the United Nations signed the agreement with Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.
In a video address, Zelenskyy said the delay meant Ukraine grain exports were short 3 million tonnes — which he said was enough to feed 10 million people.
Combat training session for civilians in Russia
E3 calls for UN to probe Russia's alleged use of Iranian drones
Britain, France and Germany on Friday called for a United Nations probe of accusations Russia has used Iranian-origin drones to attack Ukraine, allegedly violating a U.N. Security Council Resolution.
In a letter signed by their U.N. envoys and seen by Reuters, the three backed Ukraine's call on Monday for such a probe, arguing the drone use breached U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231 endorsing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Ukraine says Russia has used Iranian-made Shahed-136 attack drones — munitions that cruise toward their target before plummeting at velocity and detonating on impact.
Tehran denies supplying the drones to Moscow and Russia has denied its forces used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine.
"We would welcome an investigation by the UN Secretariat team responsible for monitoring the implementation of UNSCR 2231 and stand ready to support the work of the Secretariat in conducting its technical and impartial investigation," the three nations, a group known as the E3, said in the letter.
Ukraine says world must stop Russia getting missiles from Iran
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.
Russia has stepped up attacks on Ukrainian energy facilities and cities since Oct. 10, using missiles and what Kyiv says are Iranian-made Shahed-136 attack drones. Air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said Ukraine's air defenses were proving increasingly effective against the drones but indicated they were less effective against missiles.
"If we take the last two weeks and the results in taking down drones, our air defense is 85% effective," Ihnat told a briefing. "Now we've learned to recognize them and shoot them down more effectively."
Tehran denies supplying Shahed-136 drones to Moscow and the Kremlin denies its forces have used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine.
"Ukraine currently doesn't have effective air defense systems against ballistic missiles. Iran will likely supply those (to Russia), unless the world finds a way to stop it," Ihnat said.
The United States has dismissed Iran's denial that it has sold the drones to Moscow and said Iranian military trainers are in annexed Crimea helping Russian forces operate the drones.
Biden underscores U.S. commitment to Ukraine, despite Republican threats to funding
President Joe Biden reaffirmed that the United States has the means and the will to continue supporting Ukraine in a press briefing.
"When we're supporting Ukraine we're supporting all of Europe. We're supporting NATO," Biden said. "Do you think that Mr. Putin decides he's just going to deal with Ukraine and that's the end of it? No."
Biden also expressed confusion at Republicans' recent comments on reducing aid - or even cutting funding altogether - to Ukraine in the midst of its fight against Russia, if they were to regain control of the Congress. He referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as "brutal dictator," underscoring U.S. commitment to Ukraine's cause.
— Rocio Fabbro
At least 260,000 people conscripted in Russia, officials say
The number of Russian citizens conscripted to join the country's war against Ukraine has reached at least 260,000 people, state media reports.
The Russian Duma said Thursday that Moscow was close to reaching its goal of mobilizing 300,000 people, TASS reported.
It comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin said one week ago that the process would be complete in two weeks.
— NBC News
Deputy Treasury secretary speaks with Singaporean officials about Russian price cap on oil
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo discussed the price cap on Russian oil with Singaporean government officials, according to a Treasury readout of the meeting.
A price cap on Russian oil is expected to stabilize global energy prices by keeping low-priced Russian oil on global markets while slashing Moscow's revenue.
"Deputy Secretary Adeyemo emphasized the price cap coalition's work to create a robust but simple attestation system to ease compliance for service providers," according to the readout.
Adeyemo also discussed sanctions and export controls placed on Russia.
— Amanda Macias
More than 6,300 people have died in Ukraine, U.N. says
The United Nations has confirmed 6,306 civilian deaths and 9,602 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor on Feb. 24.
The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said the death toll in Ukraine is likely higher, because armed conflict can delay fatality reports.
The international organization said most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as missiles and airstrikes.
— Amanda Macias
Zelenskyy discusses reconstruction of Ukraine with European Bank President
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy met with the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Odile Renaud-Basso, to discuss the restoration of Ukraine following the extensive cross-sector damage left by Russian attacks.
"Missile strikes and kamikaze drone attacks caused a great deal of destruction," Zelenskyy said in a Telegram post. "Therefore, it is necessary to work on the rapid restoration of our state today."
Reconstruction priorities include energy, infrastructure and educational spheres, as well as residential sites — all of which have been targets of Russia's recent military strikes on major cities across Ukraine.
— Rocio Fabbro
Zelenskyy thanks U.S. lawmakers for visit to Kyiv
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked members of the U.S. House of Representatives for their visit to Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.
"Your visit at this time is a bold step that demonstrates strong bicameral and bipartisan support for Ukraine. It confirms that the United States is our strategic partner."" Zelenskyy said in a recent Telegram post, accompanied by a video of Zelenskyy greeting and sitting down with Reps. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, James Himes, D-Conn., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.
"We discussed the situation on the frontline, Ukraine's preparation for winter and the need to rebuild the energy infrastructure that was destroyed, the strengthening of sanctions against the aggressor country, and the priority needs of the Armed Forces," Zelenskyy said. He also underscored the importance of a robust Ukrainian air defense system.
Earlier this month, the State Department announced another $725 million in military assistance to Ukraine. The U.S. has provided extensive security assistance to Ukraine, totaling more than $16 billion since the start of Russia's invasion on Feb. 24.
— Rocio Fabbro
Defense secretary Austin speaks with Ukrainian counterpart about additional security assistance packages
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said he spoke to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin about additional air defense systems in upcoming U.S. security assistance packages for Ukraine's fight.
Reznikov said that Austin "assured that no matter who negotiates with whom, U.S. support of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity remains unwavering."
Austin also spoke with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu in a separate call. The Kremlin confirmed the call in a readout.
— Amanda Macias
At least half Ukraine's thermal power capacity hit by Russian attacks, says Ukraine's Energy Minister
Russia has hit at least half of Ukraine's thermal generation capacity and had carried out more than 300 air strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities since Oct. 10, Ukraine's energy minister Herman Halushchenko said.
Halushchenko told Reuters in an interview that 30% to 40% of overall national power infrastructure had been hit in attacks that he depicted as intended to destroy Ukraine's energy system — a goal that he said had not been achieved.
"I can tell you that that is at least half of our generation capacities. Even more," he said, when asked about the scale of the damage.
Russia stepped up its aerial attacks on Ukraine last week using missiles and drones to target Kyiv, other major cities and energy infrastructure.
Ukrainian National Guard stand guard in the northern occupied territories of Kharkiv region
Photos show National Guard of Ukraine protecting the the northern occupied territories of Kharkiv region amid the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.
— Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images
U.S. Defense Secretary Austin reiterates U.S. commitment to Ukraine in call with Defense Minister Reznikov
United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov "to reiterate the unwavering U.S. commitment to supporting Ukraine's ability to counter Russia's aggression," according to Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder.
In their call, Austin "underscored the international community's continued support in building Ukraine's enduring strength and safeguarding Ukraine's ability to defend itself in the future." Austin also highlighted U.S.-Ukraine cooperation in the wake of the Oct. 12 Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at NATO headquarters, where both ministers were present.
The call followed Austin's conversation with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, which marked their first call in five months.
— Rocio Fabbro
Zelenskyy calls on West to warn Russian not to blow up dam
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the West to warn Russia not to blow up a huge dam that would flood a swath of southern Ukraine, as his forces prepare to push Moscow's troops from Kherson in one of the war's most important battles.
In a television address, Zelenskyy said Russian forces had planted explosives inside the huge Nova Kakhovka dam, which holds back an enormous reservoir that dominates much of southern Ukraine, and were planning to blow it up to cover their retreat.
"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.
Russia accused Kyiv earlier this week of planning to rocket the dam. Sergei Surovikin, the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, said Ukrainian forces had already used U.S.-supplied HIMARS missiles against it in what Ukrainian officials called a sign Moscow could be planning to blow it up and blame Kyiv.
U.S. Defense Secretary Austin talks with Russian Defense Minister Shoigu
United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu for the first time in five months, calling for open lines of communication as the war approaches its ninth month.
"Secretary Austin emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid the ongoing war against Ukraine," said Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder.
This is only the second time Austin and Shoygu have spoken since the start of Russia's war in Ukraine. In their first call on May 13, Austin urged immediate ceasefire and made the same request to maintain open lines of communication.
— Rocio Fabbro
Ukrainian forces pile pressure on Russian-held Kherson
Ukrainian forces continued to pile on the pressure on Russian positions in occupied Kherson, targeting resupply routes across the Dnieper river as Kyiv inched closer to a full-scale assault to retake the strategic southern port city.
As many as 2,000 Russian draftees have poured into the Kherson region "to replenish losses and strengthen units on the front line," according to Ukraine's Army General Staff.
The Antonivskyi Bridge that is on a main route from Crimea to Russian-held territories in southern Ukraine was struck late Thursday, said Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine's southern operational command, but but only after the 10 p.m. local curfew, to avoid civilian casualties.
"We do not attack civilians and settlements," Humeniuk told Ukrainian television after Kirill Stremousov, the Moscow-installed deputy chief of the regional administration claimed that at least four civilians were killed as a result of Ukrainian strikes.
— Associated Press
Local residents receive food and humanitarian aid in Sviatohirsk, Donetsk region after liberation of the area
Ukrainian civilians queue for humanitarian aid provided by the Red Cross as people try to survive amid the wave of Russia's missile strikes in the eastern city of Sviatohirsk.
— Getty Images
Russia could be about to withdraw its troops from another part of Ukraine
Russian authorities are carrying out mass evacuations of civilians from occupied Kherson in southern Ukraine, and defense analysts now believe that the movement of people is setting the scene for Moscow to withdraw its troops from a large part of the region.
Up to 60,000 civilians are planned to be evacuated in the coming days from the western part of the Kherson region to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, with residents told to then travel to other Russian-occupied regions.
Residents were told to leave Kherson after Russian-installed officials warned them that Ukraine is preparing to launch a large-scale offensive. Ukraine has decried the evacuations, likening them to deportations and telling residents not to comply.
Read the full story here.
— Holly Ellyatt
Reconstruction underway in Izium five weeks after Russian withdrawal
Reconstruction is underway in Izium, roughly five weeks after Russian forces withdrew from the strategic eastern city, ending its occupation in the face of a Ukrainian counter-offensive.
A video report published by the AFP news agency shows crews of Ukrainian construction workers rebuilding the badly-damaged and destroyed infrastructure, restoring asphalt and filling bomb craters on roads, and dismantling signs of Russian occupation like its ad-hoc military bridges.
Many of the residents however still rely on aid for basic necessities such as water and electricity.
The city of formerly 45,000 people in the Kharkiv region has seen the majority of its population flee due to the war, with as few as 8,000 residents remaining, according to the AFP. Mass graves were found in the surrounding woods after the Russians withdrew, with one containing at least 440 bodies.
— Natasha Turak
Kyiv vows to 'hit back even harder' if Russia attacks hydroelectric dam
Kyiv vowed to retaliate forcefully if Russia destroys a major hydroelectric dam in Ukraine's Kherson region, after its top officials warned of alleged Russian plans to attack the plant.
"Russian terrorists are agonizing. Nuclear blackmail did not work, now they are trying to scare everyone by blowing up the Kakhovska HPP," the head of the Ukrainian president's office, Andriy Yermak, wrote on Twitter referring to the dam.
"There is right response to blackmail. Harder sanctions, further de-occupation of our territories, more weapons, and an even tougher stance on each and every of Russia's crimes. They won't break us," he wrote. "We will hit back even harder."
Russian forces have occupied Ukraine's southern Kherson region since early March. But Ukrainian forces are making substantial inroads into the territory in a counter-offensive that's forced the Russian-imposed authorities there to begin evacuating civilians.
— Natasha Turak
Announcement of 15,000 new Russian troops deployed to Belarus is likely a ruse, UK says
Belarus' announcement of a new Belarus-Russia Group of Forces on its territory with as many as 15,000 Russian troops and 70,000 Belarussian troops may be an exaggeration used to distract, Britain's Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence update.
"On 15 October 2022, the Belarussian authorities released a video claiming to show the arrival of Russian troops in Belarus. However, to date it is unlikely that Russia has actually deployed a significant number of extra troops into Belarus," the ministry wrote in a Twitter post.
"Russia is unlikely to be able to generate combat-ready formations of the claimed size: its forces are committed in Ukraine. The Belarussian military highly likely maintains minimal capability to undertake complex operations," it said.
The announcement, it claimed, "is likely an attempt to demonstrate Russian-Belarussian solidarity and to convince Ukraine to divert forces to guard the northern border."
— Natasha Turak
Russian court orders arrest of reporter who criticized war on state TV
A Russian court ordered the arrest of Marina Ovsyannikova, the TV reporter working for state news outlet Channel One Russia who made a high-profile criticism of the war on live television in March.
After spending years working for the country's state news outlets, Ovsyannikova later said she felt "ashamed of working for Kremlin propaganda." The act that prompted her initial house arrest was when she held up a poster during a live on-air nightly broadcast that read, in a mix of Russian and English, "No war" and "Stop the war, don't believe the propaganda, you are being lied to. Russians against war."
"With regard to Ovsyannikova, the court ordered her held in custody for one month and 29 days, imposed from the moment the accused is extradited to the Russian Federation or from the moment of her arrest in the Russian Federation," court officials said, according to local news agency Interfax.
Ovsyannikova was already under house arrest, but her lawyer said she has fled the country.
The Kremlin announced a law shortly after it began its invasion of Ukraine that outlawed any spreading of "false information" about the war, which it calls its "special military operation," with penalties of up to 15 years in prison.
— Natasha Turak
Zelenskyy warns Russia aims to attack hydroelectric dam
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is warning that Russia may attack a hydroelectric dam in Kherson, where a growing Ukrainian counteroffensive is taking place.
Zelenskyy alleged that Russian forces have planted mines at the dam, which would threaten the entire canal network that stretches some 250 miles (402 km).
"Russia is preparing (to attack) the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plan," Zelenskyy said in his nightly address. "According to our information, the aggregates and dam of the Kakhovka HPP were mined by Russian terrorists."
He warned that this would create "a catastrophe on a grand scale," and added, "With this terrorist attack, they can destroy, among other things... supplying water from the Dnipro River to Crimea. In the event of the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP dam, the North Crimean canal will simply disappear."
Russian forces have occupied the region in the country's south since the early months of the war and Moscow illegally annexed the territory in early October, but its forces are now ordering civilians to evacuate as renewed conflict draws nearer.
— Natasha Turak
Blinken discusses humanitarian crisis in Ukraine with UN chief
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on continued coordination to address the urgent security and humanitarian crises in Ukraine.
"Secretary Blinken and Secretary-General Guterres emphasized the importance of safeguarding UN principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, especially in light of Russia's illegal attempted annexation of Ukraine's territory," according to a State Department readout of the call.
— Amanda Macias
Vladimir Putin visits military training center outisde town of Ryazan, Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defese Minister Sergei Shoigu meet soldiers during a visit at a military training center of the Western Military District for mobilized reservists, outside the town of Ryazan.
— Mikhail Klimentyev | AFP | Getty Images