After scenes of jubilation in the newly liberated city of Kherson in southern Ukraine over the last few days, the hard work — to restore power and water supplies in the region and to clear landmines left by retreating Russian forces — is now beginning.
President Zelenskyy visited Kherson on Monday morning and thanked Ukrainian troops for their service. The president said that 400 war crimes, allegedly carried out by Russian forces during their eight-month occupation of the region, were being investigated.
In other news, Russia's foreign ministry denied a report that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had been taken to hospital after arriving in Bali on Sunday for the G-20 summit that's beginning on Tuesday. Indonesian officials suggested he had been taken to hospital for a heart condition. Russia denied this, calling it fake news.
The U.S., U.K. and EU jointly call for the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative
The European Union, United States and United Kingdom jointly called on Russia and Ukraine to extend and expand the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is up for renewal at the end of this week.
"We call on the parties to the Initiative to extend its term and scale up its operations to meet the evident demand," the joint statement said. "And we reiterate our support for other efforts by the United Nations to facilitate access to food and fertilizer in global markets."
The group affirmed its commitment to global food security in the statement, noting that sanctions are not directed at Russia's food or fertilizer sectors.
The U.N.-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative was agreed to in July. Since then, the U.N. estimates the deal has facilitated the export of approximately 10 million tons of grain and other foods from Ukraine. Russia has not yet agreed to the year-long renewal of the program, claiming that the agreement exempting its fertilizers from sanctions is not being respected.
— Rocio Fabbro
IAEA will send nuclear safety missions to four Ukrainian nuclear sites, including Chornobyl
The International Atomic Energy Agency will send nuclear safety and security missions within the coming weeks to three active nuclear power plants in Ukraine, as well as to the Chornobyl site.
An agreement was reached between the Ukrainian government and the IAEA, at the request of Ukraine, to dispatch teams of nuclear safety and security experts to the Khmelnytskyi and Rivne nuclear power plants in southern Ukraine and an expert mission to Chornobyl, the IAEA said in a statement. Experts are continuously present at the Zaporizhzhia plant, the largest in Europe, which has been under Russian military occupation since March.
"From the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the IAEA has been doing everything it can to prevent a nuclear accident with potentially serious consequences for public health and the environment," IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in a statement.
"Immediately after I received this latest request from Ukraine, we developed concrete proposals and began preparing the technical and logistical details and we are now ready to deploy these new missions soon," he said. "While the world is focused on the precarious nuclear safety and security situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, we must not forget the other nuclear facilities located in a country at war."
Each mission should last for about a week, according to Grossi, but more may follow if needed.
The IAEA has regularly carried out safeguard activities in these facilities. Last month, at the request of the Ukrainian government, the agency completed in-field verification to test the nuclear capabilities and activities of the sites following Russia's "dirty bomb" allegations.
— Rocio Fabbro
U.N. General Assembly calls for Russian reparations to Ukraine
The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution calling for Russia to be held accountable for violating international law by invading Ukraine including by paying reparations.
The vote in the 193-member world body was 94-14 with 73 abstentions. It was the lowest level of support of the five Ukraine-related resolutions adopted by the General Assembly since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of its smaller neighbor.
The resolution recognizes the need to establish "an international mechanism for reparation for damage, loss or injury'" arising from Russia's "wrongful acts" against Ukraine.
It recommends that the assembly's member nations, in cooperation with Ukraine, create "an international register" to document claims and information on damage, loss or injury to Ukrainians and the government caused by Russia.
— Associated Press
Kremlin press secretary confirms Russia-U.S. talks in Turkey
Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov confirmed that talks between Russia and the U.S. took place in Turkey.
"Such negotiations indeed took place. It was an initiative of the American side," Peskov told TASS, a Russian state-owned news agency. Peskov did not, however, disclose the participants or the subject of the negotiations.
The U.S. CIA Director, William Burns, reportedly held a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin's spy chief, Sergei Naryshkin, according to Reuters. Burns was set to caution the Kremlin about the consequences of using nuclear weapons, and was expected to raise the issue of U.S. prisoners in Russia, an anonymous White House official told Reuters.
This conversation in Ankara, the Turkish capital, was the first known face-to-face meeting between U.S. and Russian officials since the start of the war.
— Rocio Fabbro
Backlog of 60 ships waiting to transport agricultural goods from Ukraine
The organization overseeing the export of Ukrainian agriculture products said there is a backlog of 60 vessels waiting to be loaded with cargo.
The U.N.-led Joint Coordination Center also said that about eight loaded vessels are waiting for inspection in Turkish territorial waters.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered in July among Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, eased Russia's naval blockade and saw the reopening of three key Ukrainian ports. Since the deal was signed, more than 450 ships carrying 10.7 million metric tons of grain and foodstuffs have left for destinations around the world.
Kyiv has previously blamed Moscow for holding up inspections and delaying vessel movements.
— Amanda Macias
Four vessels will depart Ukraine’s ports under Black Sea Grain Initiative
The organization overseeing the export of agricultural products said four vessels carrying barley, corn, and sunflower meal left Ukrainian ports.
The amount of grain and other foodstuffs exported under the Black Sea Grain Initiative so far exceeds 10.7 million metric tons.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered in July among Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, eased Russia's naval blockade and saw three key Ukrainian ports reopen.
— Amanda Macias
182 towns and villages in Kherson now under Ukrainian control, national police chief says
Ukrainian police control 182 towns and villages in the Kherson region, with a continuously increasing police presence in the territories vacated by Russia, according to the head of the Ukrainian national police.
Police chief Igor Klymenko acknowledged that, beyond the Ukrainian victory in the region, officials are now faced with the difficult task of ensuring the safety of the city following Russian occupation.
"There is still a lot of work to do. Especially for our explosives technicians," Klymenko said in a Facebook post. "It is necessary to examine every administrative building, infrastructure facilities, so that it becomes possible to restore the normal life of the cities."
Klymenko said police units will be patrolling streets "day and night" and are at the disposal of locals.
The withdrawal of Russian forces from the southern Ukrainian region late last week was met with celebrations, as inhabitants unfurled their Ukrainian flags and took to the streets. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the regional capital earlier to participate in an official ceremony to raise the national flag in the city and to present state awards to Ukrainian soldiers.
— Rocio Fabbro
U.S. sanctions military procurement network assisting Russia
The United States has imposed new sanctions on a military procurement network in Asia and Europe to try to curb military supply chains aiding Russia.
The Department of State and the Treasury have jointly designated 14 individuals and 28 entities accused of supplying Russia with military technology. Among the sanctioned are Milandr, a microelectronic developer operating in Russia. They also include family members and associates of Suleiman Kerimov, a Russian billionaire, former politician and ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Earlier this year, the U.S. blocked over $1 billion in Kerimov's property interest.
Additional designations were placed on two Swiss companies tied to U.S.-sanctioned businessman and known Putin associate, Andrey Guryev.
"The United States will continue to crack down on Russia's attempts to evade international sanctions to fund its war machine," the State Department said in a statement. "Businesses worldwide are advised to do their due diligence in order to avoid being targeted for sanctions."
The U.S. and allies have imposed a barrage of sanctions on Russia and Russian-connected individuals and entities since the start of the war. The countries have tried to punish enablers of Russia's war in Ukraine in an attempt to alienate Moscow from networks that could supply it with the weapons, technology and funds used in the conflict.
— Rocio Fabbro
Lockheed Martin wins $520 million contract to replenish U.S. arsenals after Ukraine security assistance
The U.S. Army awarded multiple contract options worth more than $520 million to Lockheed Martin for its Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems to replenish U.S. arsenals.
In recent months, the Pentagon has provided Ukraine with weapons system for its fight against Russia.
"This award enables us to replenish our own inventory while providing critical capabilities for our allies and international partners," said Douglas Bush, the Army's assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology.
— Amanda Macias
U.K. announces about $5 million in aid dedicated to repairing Ukrainian energy infrastructure
The U.K. announced its first tranche of funding for the Ukraine Energy Support Fund, which aims to help repair Ukrainian energy infrastructure damaged by Russian shelling.
"Russia's attacks on vital infrastructure show that Putin is resorting to desperate measures. But even in the face of missile attacks and blackouts, the resolve of the Ukrainian people remains unbroken," said British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in a statement.
"The Government of Ukraine said it needed specialized energy equipment to repair critical national infrastructure, and the U.K. is delivering on their request," he added.
Cleverly asked for all partners to allocate funds following the U.K.'s contribution of approximately $5 million.
"We need all partners to step up their support and show Putin that his attempts to destroy Ukraine will be met with fierce resistance," Cleverly added.
— Amanda Macias
More than 6,500 people have died in Ukraine, UN says
The United Nations has confirmed 6,557 civilian deaths and 10,074 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
No other country wants peace more than Ukraine, Ukraine's top diplomat says
Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba called for an end to the "normalization of Russian aggression," saying support for Ukraine and toleration of Russia are irreconcilable.
"No other country in the world wants peace in Ukraine more than Ukraine itself," Kuleba said in an address at the European Union Foreign Affairs Council. "We have never wanted this war in the first place. But we also know that accepting Russian ultimatums will not bring peace. Quite the opposite." Kuleba asked the council to cease all engagement with Russia, including its foreign minister, who is "in reality a war criminal complicit in the crime of aggression against Ukraine," he said.
In order to "pave the way for the peace process," Kuleba said Russia must first "withdraw troops from the Ukrainian territory within internationally recognized borders."
Kuleba underscored eight top priorities, including, at the top of the list, "stronger energy sanctions on Russia, expanding the list of individual sanctions, and a total ban on Russian propaganda." He noted that Ukraine is "at a good pace" on its path to EU membership, with plans to complete the requirements for membership by the end of this year.
Ukraine will also be putting forward a United Nations General Assembly resolution to establish a special tribunal for Russia's crime of aggression in Ukraine, according to Kuleba. He called on the council to support the resolution.
Following the address, Kuleba said in a tweet that the liberation of Kherson "proves Ukraine can win."
— Rocio Fabbro
Biden and Chinese President Xi discuss Ukraine war and Russia's nuclear threats
U.S. President Joe Biden held a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. Biden brought up the war in Ukraine as the pair "exchanged views on key regional and global challenges" in their approximately three-hour meeting, according to the White House.
"President Biden raised Russia's brutal war against Ukraine and Russia's irresponsible threats of nuclear use," the White House wrote in a readout of the meeting. The leaders further "underscored their opposition to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine," according to the readout.
This was Biden's first face-to-face meeting with the Chinese president since taking office. The meeting came as tensions between the two economic superpowers have been at their highest in recent memory. The U.S. has also become increasingly concerned about China's "no limits" relationship with Russia.
Xi encouraged Biden and other Western allies to engage in talks with Russia to mitigate "the current situation in Ukraine," according to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"We support and look forward to a resumption of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine," the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in a readout of the meeting. "At the same time, we hope that the United States, NATO and the EU will conduct comprehensive dialogues with Russia."
The G-20 summit is expected to have a similar focus, with leaders from the world's leading and emerging economies set to discuss the litany of challenges facing the global economy. Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend.
— Rocio Fabbro
Kremlin says grain talks with U.N. last week were 'constructive'
The Kremlin said on Monday that talks with the United Nations last week on a deal safeguarding the shipment of grain from Ukrainian ports had been "fairly constructive," raising hopes that it can be rolled over smoothly.
Senior U.N. officials met a Russian delegation in Geneva on Friday to discuss Moscow's grievances about the Black Sea grain initiative, which has since August lifted a Russian blockade of the seaports of one of the world's main grain exporters.
"There were talks with the U.N. last week, fairly constructive talks. We have our interest in this deal, which was originally part of the whole mechanism of the deal," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Russia has been demanding unhindered access to world markets for its own food and fertiliser exports in return for agreeing to a rollover of the Black Sea deal, which is due for renewal on Nov. 19. Moscow has indicated that it could quit the deal if progress is not made on its concerns.
"We are actually still a week away from the extension date, so work is ongoing," Peskov added.
NATO's Stoltenberg warns against underestimating of Russia
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned people not to underestimate Russia despite its latest setback in the war in Ukraine following its withdrawal from Kherson.
"We should not make the mistake of underestimating Russia. The Russian Armed Forces retain significant capabilities, as well as a large number of troops. And Russia has demonstrated the willingness to bear significant losses," Stoltenberg said during a visit to the Netherlands Monday.
"They have also shown extreme brutality. We have all seen the horrific scenes from the liberated territories, as well as the indiscriminate attacks on civilians and critical infrastructure. The coming months will be difficult," he noted, adding that Putin's aim "is to leave Ukraine cold and dark this winter. So we must stay the course."
Ukraine claims it has launched furthern investigations into 400 war crimes allegedly perpetrated by Russian forces in Kherson. Russia denies targeting civilians despite repeated attacks on residential buildings and civilian infrastructure across Ukraine.
— Holly Ellyatt
Ukraine's air force targets Russian troops clustered along eastern bank of the Dnieper River
Ukraine's air force reportedly struck clusters of Russian troops, weapons and equipment on the left bank of the Dnieper River. That's the eastern side of the Dnieper where Russian forces retreated to last week after withdrawing from the city of Kherson.
"Our aviators hit four areas of ... [Russian] forces, weapons and equipment on the left bank," Ukraine's Operational Command South said on Facebook Monday, adding that 40 Russian troops had been killed as a result.
"So far, the enemy losses amounting to 40 tanks and seven armored combat vehicles have been confirmed. Other losses are being verified," it added.
OC South said Russian forces continue to set up defenses on the left bank of the Dnieper, "trying to create additional defense lines and hold occupied lines."
It added that they continued to fire on Ukrainian troops and de-occupied settlements along the right bank of the Dnieper, "employing aviation, heavy artillery, MLR systems, and mortars," the statement read.
— Holly Ellyatt
Correction: This post was updated to reflect that Russian troops retreated to the eastern side of the Dnieper River.
Zelenskyy visits recaptured Kherson as alleged Russian war crimes are investigated
krainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the newly liberated city of Kherson on Monday, saying Ukraine is ready for peace. Russian troops withdrew from the city and the area to the west bank of the Dnipro river last Thursday, saying they could no longer supply their troops in the region.
"We are moving forward," he told troops standing in formation in front of the administration building in the city's main square, according to comments translated by Reuters.
"We are ready for peace, peace for all our country," he added as he thanked Ukraine's allies for supplying weaponry that has helped turn the tide of the war in Ukraine's favor.
There were scenes of jubilation in Kherson over the weekend as residents gave Ukrainian troops a hero's welcome as they entered the city that had been occupied by Russian forces for eight months.
In his nightly address on Sunday evening, Zelenskyy said investigators had already documented more than 400 alleged war crimes by Russian troops in the region, with "the bodies of both civilians and military personnel" found.
Reuters noted that minutes before Zelenskyy arrived, and after he finished speaking, shelling and gunfire were heard in the vicinity of the city.
— Holly Ellyatt
Russia denies foreign minister has been taken to hospital
Russia's foreign ministry denied a report that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was taken to hospital as he arrived in Bali on Sunday for the G-20 meeting this week, calling it "fake news."
AP reported that Sergei Lavrov had been taken to the hospital after landing in Bali, where he was set to attend the summit that begins on Tuesday. It cited Indonesian officials as sources for the report.
Lavrov was due to attend the G-20 summit in Bali in place of President Vladimir Putin, who had said previously he would not attend the meeting. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to attend virtually.
Indonesian officials did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for comment.
— Holly Ellyatt
Winter will bring unique challenges to both sides in the war, UK says
As temperatures plummet in Ukraine and winter approaches, both Ukraine and Russia are likely to face a new set of challenges as the war continues.
Winter will bring a change in conflict conditions for both Russian and Ukrainian forces, according to the latest military assessment by Britain's Ministry of Defense.
"Changes to daylight hours, temperature and weather will present unique challenges for fighting soldiers," the U.K. said on Twitter Monday. "Any decisions that the Russian General Staff make will be in part informed by the onset of winter."
Daylight will be reduced to fewer than nine hours a day, compared with 15 to 16 hours at the height of summer, the ministry noted, meaning that will result in "fewer offensives and more static defensive frontlines."
"The average high temperature will drop from 13 degrees Celsius through September to November, to zero through December to February. Forces lacking in winter weather clothing and accommodation are highly likely to suffer from non-freezing cold injuries," the ministry said.
"Additionally, the 'golden hour' window in which to save a critically wounded soldier is reduced by approximately half, making the risk of contact with the enemy much greater."
Ukraine's spring and fall are characterized by melting snows and heavy rain, respectively, with both causing muddy conditions throughout the country in what is known as the "rasputitsa," or "muddy road season."
The U.K. said the likely increase in rainfall, wind speed and snowfall in the next few weeks and months will provide additional challenges to the already low morale of Russian forces, but also present problems for kit maintenance.
"Basic drills such as weapon cleaning must be adjusted to the conditions and the risk of weapon malfunctions increase."
— Holly Ellyatt
Kherson region 'still very dangerous,' Zelenskyy warns, as de-mining teams get to work
As Ukraine's jubilation at last week's liberation of the city of Kherson continued over the weekend, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reminded civilians on Sunday night that the situation in the region remains dangerous.
"Please do not forget that the situation in the Kherson region is still very dangerous. First of all, there are mines. Unfortunately, one of our sappers died, and four others were injured while clearing mines," he said in his nightly address, urging Kherson's residents "to be very careful and immediately inform the rescuers about all dangerous objects."
"Detention of Russian soldiers and mercenaries who were left behind in this territory and neutralization of saboteurs are also ongoing," he said, noting that investigators had already documented more than 400 alleged war crimes by Russian forces.
"The bodies of both civilians and military personnel are being found," he said, adding that in the Kherson region, "the Russian army left behind the same atrocities as in other regions of our country, where it was able to enter."
With so much attention on Kherson last week, it's been easy to forget that fierce fighting is continuing in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Zelenskyy said Sunday that "the fighting in the Donetsk region is as intense as in previous days. The level of Russian attacks is not decreasing."
"As of now, the territory of five of our regions was hit by missile, air and artillery strikes of the occupiers during the day. These are Sumy region, Kharkiv region, Zaporizhzhia region, Luhansk region, and Donetsk region. We do everything to make the enemy feel our retaliation. To the maximum."
Zelenskyy is preparing for another busy week on the diplomatic circuit as the Group of Twenty meeting takes place in Bali on Tuesday. Zelenskyy will attend the meeting virtually. Russia's President Vladimir Putin is not attending the summit, but Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be there.
— Holly Ellyatt
De-mining teams get to work in Kherson city center today
Residents of the newly liberated city of Kherson have been told to stay away from the city center, and to evacuate to safer regions altogether if possible, as Ukrainian forces get to work to rid the city and surrounding area of land mines planted by retreating Russian troops.
Yaroslav Yanushevych, the governor of the Kherson region, said on Telegram that while residents continue to celebrate last week's withdrawal of Russian troops from the city, it's not safe for residents to gather in public places. De-mining works are taking place in Kherson city center on Monday.
"Dear friends, it is already the second day of celebration of Kherson region celebration. People take streets and squares with Ukrainian flags, rejoice, and express their gratitude to AFU [Armed Forces of Ukraine]. But I want to warn everyone. De-mining works are being carried out. The enemy mined almost everything. I am begging you: do not gather in crowded places ," he said Sunday.
Various images have emerged of abandoned military vehicles and buildings with warnings — that they contain landmines — scrawled on them.
— Holly Ellyatt
Russian forces building defensive lines across the river from Kherson city, official says
Having retreated from the city of Kherson and the west bank of the Dnipro river, Russian forces are continuing to build defensive lines on the eastern bank in the Kherson region, a Ukrainian army official said on Sunday.
Oleksandr Shtupun, a spokesperson for the general staff of the Ukrainian army, said Russia is "continuing to equip defensive lines" on the left bank of the river and is "concentrating its efforts on restraining the actions" of the Ukrainian forces "in certain directions."
He added that Russia is conducting "offensive operations" in the Bakhmut, Avdiiv, and Novopavliv areas.
Ukrainian forces recaptured the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine last week after Russian forces announced they were withdrawing from the regional capital. The retreat marked the latest blow to Russia's invasion of Ukraine but Russian troops have not gone far, having regrouped on the opposite bank of the Dnipro river. It's expected they will continue to shell Kherson city from there.
On Sunday, the governor of the Kherson region Yaroslav Yanushevych called on residents of the west bank of the river to evacuate the area, saying "a high probability of enemy shelling remains on the right-bank of Kherson region. The Russian army, when it flees, begins to fight with civilians out of hopelessness. We have repeatedly seen this in many liberated settlements."
He said Russian forces had also seriously damage power and water supply infrastructure and recommended that civilians evacuate to safer regions.
— Holly Ellyatt