Russia-Ukraine live updates: Russia backs out of grain deal after Black Sea 'attack'
(NEW YORK) — More than six months after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion into neighboring Ukraine, the two countries are engaged in a struggle for control of areas throughout eastern and southern Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whose forces began an offensive in August, has vowed to take back all Russian-occupied territory. But Putin in September announced a mobilization of reservists, which is expected to call up as many as 300,000 additional troops.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
Oct 29, 2:09 PM EDT
Russia claims withdrawal from grain deal is due to ‘terrorist attack’ in Black Sea
Russia claims that its withdrawal from the U.N.-brokered grain deal was a response to a drone attack Saturday in the waters of the Sevastopol Bay, in the Black Sea near Crimea.
“The Ukrainian armed forces, under the cover of a humanitarian corridor created as part of the implementation of the ‘Black Sea Initiative’ to export Ukrainian agricultural products, launched massive air and sea strikes using unmanned aerial vehicles against the ships and infrastructure of the Russian Black Sea Fleet at the naval base in Sevastopol,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Russia claimed the drones did not cause serious damage to infrastructure and that the Black Sea Fleet destroyed all the drones.
Russia accused British specialists of being involved in preparing the attack and training the Ukrainian military in the city of Ochakov.
“According to available information, representatives of this unit of the British Navy took part in the planning, support and implementation of a terrorist act in the Baltic Sea on September 26 this year to undermine the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines,” the Russian military claimed.
Oct 29, 1:45 PM EDT
Russia blames UK for Nord Stream blasts
Russia accused the British army of carrying out a “terrorist act” in the Baltic Sea to undermine the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines on Sept. 26.
“According to available information, representatives of this unit of the British Navy took part in the planning, provision and implementation of a terrorist act in the Baltic Sea on September 26 this year to undermine the Nord Stream-1 and Nord Stream-2 gas pipelines,” the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
The British Ministry of Defense denied the accusation calling it an “invented story.”
“To detract from their disastrous handling of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Ministry of Defence is resorting to peddling false claims of an epic scale. This invented story, says more about arguments going on inside the Russian Government than it does about the west,” the British Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Twitter.
Oct 29, 11:32 AM EDT
Russia suspends participation in UN-brokered grain deal
The Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia is suspending its participation in the execution of agreements on the export of grain from Ukrainian ports, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
“The Russian side suspends participation in the implementation of agreements on the export of agricultural products from Ukrainian ports,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday.
The decision was made “taking into account the terrorist act carried out on October 29 this year by the Kyiv regime with the participation of British specialists against ships of the Black Sea Fleet and civilian vessels involved in ensuring the security of the” grain corridor .”
Oct 28, 1:53 PM EDT
US approves additional $275M aid to Ukraine
The U.S. has officially announced another $275 million aid package for Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Friday.
The aid includes “additional arms, munitions, and equipment from U.S. Department of Defense inventories.”
Since the start of the conflict, the administration has provided $18.5 billion in assistance to Ukraine.
-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford
Oct 28, 1:16 PM EDT
Russia’s partial mobilization is complete
Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu announced that the partial mobilization of Russian citizens for the war in Ukraine is complete, reporting that 300,000 men in total have been mobilized.
Of those mobilized, 82,000 have been sent to Ukraine, while 218,000 are being trained, Shoigu said as he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday.
“We concluded the sending citizens who were called up as part of mobilization today; notification of citizens has ended, and no additional assignments are planned,” Shoigu said.
At the meeting, Putin urged the modernization of parts of the Russian military structure, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
-ABC News’ Anastasia Bagaeva and Tanya Stukalova
Oct 28, 11:11 AM EDT
‘We are seeing casualties mount up,’ Ukrainian politician tells ABC News
After some stunning successes over the summer, it appears that the Ukrainian army is now facing a much tougher fight on multiple fronts in the east and south. Sviatoslav Yurash, Ukraine’s youngest lawmaker, told ABC News Ukrainian forces are “seeing casualties mount up.”
“The reality is dire,” he told ABC News in an interview in Kyiv. “We are facing an onslaught of unparalleled proportions.”
Yurash, who is fighting in the military, recently returned from what he called “hell-like” conditions in the eastern Donbas.
“The reality is an artillery barrage day in, day out, night in, night out,” Yuras said.
Yurash said that Ukrainian troops still “lack” equipment.
Referring to U.S. support, he said, “nothing is enough, and everything is very welcome,” pointing out that the Ukrainians are fighting along 600 miles of front lines. Weapons systems such as the U.S.-supplied Howitzers and HIMARS are prioritized to particular points of the conflict zone.
He said additional support from the West is “desperately needed.”
Oct 27, 11:27 AM EDT
In address Putin calls the West’s policy ‘bloody and dirty’
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a rhetorical attack on the West, claiming it believes its world view is universal.
“The policy of the West is bloody and dirty, it denies the sovereignty of countries and peoples,” Putin said, delivering an address at the Valdai Club, a think tank forum.
Putin said that the “rules-based order” proposed by the West is designed to enable it to live without rules at all. He claimed that the West has no unity, calling it a “conglomerate.”
He described the destruction of the European Gas pipelines as “beyond all reason.”
Oct 27, 7:27 AM EDT
Russia threatens to target US satellites
Russia is threatening to target commercial satellites from the United States and its allies if they become involved in the war in Ukraine.
“Quasi-civilian infrastructure may be a legitimate target for a retaliatory strike,” Konstantin Vorontsov, deputy director of the non-proliferation and arms control department at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was quoted as saying by state media on Thursday. “We are talking about the involvement of components of civilian space infrastructure, including commercial, by the United States and its allies in armed conflicts.”
Oct 26, 3:23 PM EDT
Body of American killed in Donbas transferred to Ukrainian authorities
The remains of an American killed while fighting in the Donbas region are now in Ukraine’s custody and will soon be returned to family members, the U.S. State Department said in a statement Wednesday.
The U.S. citizen was identified as Joshua Jones, a U.S. Army veteran whose remains were recovered as part of a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine, according to Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office.
-ABC News’ Shannon Crawford and Jason Volack
Oct 25, 3:10 PM EDT
Biden warns Russia would be making ‘incredibly serious mistake’ if it uses tactical nuclear weapon
President Joe Biden told reporters he is unsure if disputed Russian claims that Ukraine’s military is planning to use a “dirty bomb” were a “false-flag operation” or if Russia is planning on deploying a dirty bomb itself, warning Russia against using nuclear weapons.
“Russia would be making an incredibly serious mistake for it to use a tactical nuclear weapon. I’m not guaranteeing you that it’s a false flag operation yet, I don’t know, but it would be a serious, serious mistake,” Biden told reporters at the White House on Tuesday.
-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson
Oct 25, 2:50 PM EDT
Ukraine accuses Russia of dirty bomb deception at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear energy operator, accused Russian forces of performing secret construction work at the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant over the last weeks, amid allegations from Russia that Ukraine’s military is preparing a “provocation” involving a radioactive device.
In calls with his British, French, Turkish and American counterparts over the weekend, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made an unsubstantiated allegation that Ukraine was preparing to launch a so-called dirty bomb. Britain, France and the U.S. rejected the claims calling them “transparently false.”
Ukraine also dismissed Moscow’s claim as an attempt to distract attention from the Kremlin’s own alleged plans to detonate a dirty bomb, which uses explosives to scatter radioactive waste in an effort to sow terror.
-ABC News’ Will Gretsky
Oct 25, 12:42 AM EDT
Blinken again speaks with Ukrainian counterpart, second time in as many days
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, on Monday after having a call with him on Sunday, and the “rhetoric surrounding so-called dirty bombs” was again on the agenda.
“The secretary reaffirmed enduring U.S. support for Ukraine in the face of continued Russian aggression, atrocities and rhetoric surrounding so-called ‘dirty bombs’ in Ukraine,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. “He noted our commitment to work with allies and partners to continue meeting Ukraine’s security assistance needs on the battlefield.”
Blinken tweeted: “Connected with @DmytroKuleba again today. It is important to once again emphasize that U.S. support for Ukraine is concrete, comprehensive and enduring.”
Oct 24, 9:16 AM EDT
Russian commander says troops readied in case of ‘radioactive contamination’
A senior commander of the Russian military said Monday that his troops have been readied to operate “in the conditions of radioactive contamination,” amid Moscow’s allegation that Ukraine is preparing to use a “dirty bomb” on its own territory.
“Work has been organised by the [Russian] Ministry of Defense for combating possible provocations from the side of Ukraine: forces and equipment have been put in readiness for fulfilling tasks in the conditions of radioactive contamination,” Kirillov said during a press briefing, as quoted by Russian state media.
The comments are further worrying signs that Russia is trying to build a false-flag narrative, blaming Ukraine for the possible use of nuclear weapons, which is clearly intended as a threat to both Ukraine and its Western allies.
Oct 24, 9:04 AM EDT
Russia responds to US, UK, France rejecting its ‘dirty bomb’ allegation
Russia responded on Monday to a joint statement from the United States, the United Kingdom and France rejecting Moscow’s “transparently false allegations” that Ukraine is preparing a provocation with the use of a “dirty bomb” on its own territory.
“The thing is that their mistrust toward the information shared by Russia doesn’t mean that the threat of the use of such a dirty bomb ceases to exist,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a press briefing. “The threat is obvious. This information was shared by the defense minister with his counterparts, and now it is up to them to believe or not believe in it.”
Oct 24, 8:39 AM EDT
Top Ukrainian general speaks out in exclusive rare interview
The commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine is real and that the West “should be worried,” but said his country is nonetheless winning the war.
Gen. Col. Oleksander Syrskiy made the comments in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Chief Foreign Correspondent Ian Pannell in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Sunday. As the 57-year-old top commander of his country’s land forces, Syrskiy has played a decisive role in turning the war in Ukraine’s favor, first leading the successful defense of the capital, Kyiv, and then — most recently — masterminding the counteroffensive in the northeast that upended the monthslong conflict and threw Russian forces onto the defensive.
The rare interview, airing Monday on ABC News’ Good Morning America, is one of the few times Syrskiy has spoken publicly at length and he described Ukraine’s tactics, the importance of Western support, the threat of renewed attacks from Belarus and his determination that Ukraine will reclaim all of its territory, including the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Ukraine’s successes, however, have been shadowed by the recent threats from Putin that Russia might resort to nuclear weapons to reverse the course of his war in Ukraine. Syrskiy told ABC News that he takes the threats seriously.
“We are and should be worried,” Syrskiy said. “I do believe that such a threat really exists and we have to take it into account.”
Oct 24, 8:32 AM EDT
US, UK, France reject Russia’s ‘dirty bomb’ allegation
The governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and France released a joint statement on Sunday rejecting “Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory.”
“We, the Foreign Ministers of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, reiterate our steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression,” they said in the joint statement. “We remain committed to continue supporting Ukraine’s efforts to defend its territory for as long as it takes.”
“Earlier today, the defense ministers of each of our countries spoke to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu at his request,” they continued. “Our countries made clear that we all reject Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory. The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation. We further reject any pretext for escalation by Russia.”
They added: “The Foreign Ministers also discussed their shared determination to continue supporting Ukraine and the Ukrainian people with security, economic, and humanitarian assistance in the face of President Putin’s brutal war of aggression.”
Oct 24, 8:21 AM EDT
Blinken speaks with Ukrainian counterpart about Russia’s ‘dirty bomb’ allegation
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke via telephone with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, on Sunday “to reaffirm the United States’ steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independent, and territorial integrity,” according to a statement from U.S. Department of State spokesperson Ned Price.
“Secretary Blinken expressed to Foreign Minister Kuleba that the United States rejects Russian Defense Minister Shoygu’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory and that the world would see through any attempt by Russia to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation,” Price said.
“They also discussed the U.S. and international commitment to continue supporting Ukraine with unprecedented security, economic and humanitarian assistance for as long as it takes, as we hold Russia accountable,” he added. “They further noted our ongoing efforts to manage the broader implications of President Putin’s war.”
Oct 23, 4:11 PM EDT
Russian Defense Minister claims Ukrainians planning ‘dirty bomb’ attack
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called the defense ministers of Turkey, France and the United Kingdom on Saturday, claiming Ukraine is preparing a provocation with the use of a “dirty bomb.”
The first mention of a possible Ukrainian “dirty bomb” attack appeared Sunday in a morning message of the RIA Novosti state-owned news agency. The article, citing “credible sources in various countries, including Ukraine,” stated that “the Kiev regime is preparing a provocation on the territory of its country related to the detonation of the so-called ‘dirty bomb’ or low-power nuclear munition.”
“The purpose of the provocation is to accuse Russia of using weapons of mass destruction in the Ukrainian theater of operations and thereby launch a powerful anti-Russian campaign in the world aimed at undermining confidence in Moscow,” RIA Novosti reported.
Shoigu also had a telephone conversation with the U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Sunday, during which they discussed the situation in Ukraine, according to a Pentagon official.
“Secretary Austin rejected any pretext for Russian escalation and reaffirmed the value of continued communication amid Russia’s unlawful and unjustified war against Ukraine,” said Pentagon press secretary, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder.
Oct 23, 1:20 PM EDT
Russian military jet crashes into a residential building, 2nd time in a week
A Russian Sukhoi Su fighter jet crashed into a residential building in southern Siberia on Sunday during a an apparent test flight just six days after another Russian Sukhoi Su jet slammed into an apartment block in Yeysk, Russia, near the Ukrainian border.
Two pilots were killed in Sunday’s crash in the southern Siberia town of Irkutsk, Russian officials said. The crash ignited a giant fireball when the aircraft nosedived into a two-story house, Igor Kobzev, the regional governor, said in a post on Telegram.
Kobzev confirmed two pilots were killed and said no civilian residents were injured.
The Sukhoi Su-30 jet was on a test flight when the crash occurred, according to the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations.
The crash came about a week after a Russian Sukhoi Su-34 crashed into an apartment block in the southern Russian city of Yeysk, near Ukraine, killing at least 15 people.
Authorities said the initial investigation indicated a technical malfunction of the aircraft caused the crash and that the pilots eject from the jet and survived.
Oct 22, 4:39 PM EDT
33 missiles have been fired at Ukraine, air force says
Thirty-three missiles were fired at Ukraine on Saturday morning, 18 of which were shot down, the country’s air force claimed. Local officials in regions across Ukraine are reporting that the strikes were aimed at energy facilities.
More than a million people were without power as of Saturday afternoon, according to presidential adviser Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
In the southeastern city of Nikopol, local authorities warned that air raid sirens would be switched off as a result of power cuts. Instead, emergency vehicles driving around the city will warn resident of incoming aerial threats.
Oct 22, 1:45 PM EDT
Russian authorities tell civilians in annexed Kherson to leave immediately
Russian authorities in the Ukrainian city of Kherson told civilians to leave immediately on Saturday because of what they called a tense military situation as Ukrainian forces advance. Kherson was illegally annexed by Russia earlier this month.
“Take care of the safety of your family and friends! Do not forget documents, money, valuables and clothes,” Russian authorities said.
At Oleshky on the opposite bank of the Dnipro, the agencies caught up with people arriving by river boat from Kherson, loaded with boxes, bags and pets, according to an article in Russian News Agency Interfax.
One woman carried a toddler under one arm and a dog under the other. Some boats were loaded with vegetables and pallets of food. Staff from Russia’s emergency ministry carried elderly people and children in prams from the vessels. Families then waited to board buses to the Russian-annexed city of Crimea, according to Interfax.
Meanwhile, in a briefing on Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said its forces had repelled a Ukrainian attempt to break through its line of control in the Kherson region.
Oct 21, 3:36 PM EDT
Ukraine accuses Russia of delaying passage of 150 grain ships
Russia is deliberately delaying the passage of ships carrying grain exports under a U.N.-brokered deal, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alleged in his evening address Friday.
Zelenskyy said the delay meant that Ukraine grain exports were short 3 million tons, which he said is enough to feed 10 million people.
“The enemy is doing everything to slow down our food exports … as of today, more than 150 ships are queuing to fulfill contractual obligations on the delivery of our agricultural products,” Zelenskyy said.
“This is an artificial queue. It only arose because Russia is deliberately delaying the passage of the ships,” he said.
-ABC News’ Jason Volack
Oct 21, 1:24 PM EDT
Russia has hit 30% to 40% of Ukraine’s overall power infrastructure, Ukrainian official tells Reuters
Russian attacks have hit 30% to 40% of Ukraine’s overall national power infrastructure, Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko told Reuters in an interview.
“We see that they targeted a number of new [facilities], but also they shelled [facilities] which had been already shelled before to destroy them absolutely,” Halushchenko said.
Asked about the scale of the damage, Halushchenko said Russian attacks have hit at least half of Ukraine’s thermal generation capacity and caused billions of dollars worth of damage.
Halushchenko said electricity imports could be one of the options Ukraine pursues to get through the crisis.
-ABC News’ Jason Volack
Oct 21, 11:03 AM EDT
Austin speaks with Russian defense minister about Ukraine
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart, Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu, for the second time since the invasion of Ukraine on Friday.
“Secretary Austin emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid the ongoing war against Ukraine,” the Pentagon said in a brief statement.
The first call between the two was in May and lasted an hour. Officials did not say how long the Friday call was.
Oct 20, 4:33 PM EDT
US believes Iranians are on the ground assisting Russian drone attacks in Ukraine
The U.S. believes Iranians are “on the ground” in Ukraine to assist Russia with its drone operations, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday.
“We can confirm that Russian military personnel that are based in Crimea have been piloting Iranian [drones] and using them to conduct strikes across Ukraine, including strikes against Kiev in just recent days. We assess that Iranian military personnel were on the ground in Crimea and assisted Russia in these operations,” Kirby told reporters.
Kirby did not know how many Iranians are in Crimea, but said the U.S. knows it is “a relatively small number.”
Kirby specified that the Iranians “have put trainers and tech support in Crimea, but it’s the Russians who are doing the piloting.”
“We’re going to continue to vigorously enforce all U.S. sanctions on both the Russian and Iranian arms trade. We’re going to make it harder for Iran to sell these weapons to Russia. We’re going to help the Ukrainians have what they need to defend themselves against these threats.”
-ABC News’ Justin Gomez
Oct 20, 2:53 PM EDT
DOJ says it will continue to be “relentless” in efforts to hold people responsible for war crimes accountable
The Justice Department will “continue” to be “relentless” in its pursuit to hold those responsible for war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine accountable, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday, while sitting next to his German counterpart, Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht.
“We are committed to finding ways to expand our cooperation with our German partners in these efforts,” Garland said.
Garland also thanked Germany for its help in apprehending a suspect accused of getting sensitive technologies to Russia as part of an indictment announced Wednesday.
The Justice Department charged five individuals including Yury Orekhov, the alleged mastermind behind the plot. Orekhov was arrested in Germany as part of the Justice Department’s task force KleptoCapture, which is cracking down on Russian-related crimes as the war in Ukraine continues.
Asked if any U.S. intelligence was compromised after Germany replaced its head of cybersecurity over alleged ties to Russia, Garland didn’t answer, saying intelligence sharing is what makes the relationship with Germany so strong.
-ABC News’ Luke Barr
Oct 20, 6:56 AM EDT
US will ‘not hesitate’ to sanction Iran over drone sales, official says
The United States is committed to stopping Russia from obtaining foreign weapons, including Iran-made drones, a State Department official said.
Officials from the United States, United Kingdom and France on Thursday raised the issue during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
“The United States began warning in July that Iran was planning to transfer UAVs to Russia for use in Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, and we now have abundant evidence that these UAVs are being used to strike Ukrainian civilians and critical civilian infrastructure,” Price said. “As Iran continues to lie and deny providing weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine, we are committed to working with allies and partners to prevent the transfer of dangerous weaponry to Russia.”
He added, “We will not hesitate to use our sanctions and other appropriate tools on all involved in these transfers.”
Oct 19, 8:08 PM EDT
Putin’s martial law declaration ‘speaks to his desperation’: Blinken
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told ABC News’ Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos in a new interview that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s declaration of martial law in illegally annexed parts of Ukraine “speaks to his desperation” as Ukrainian forces continue to make progress in rebuffing the invasion.
“Just in the last few weeks, he’s tried to mobilize more forces. He’s gone through with this sham annexation of Ukrainian territory,” Blinken said in a preview from the sit-down, which will air Thursday on Good Morning America.
Oct 19, 3:34 PM EDT
Ukraine to restrict electrical supply after Russia knocks out power plants
Ukraine will start restricting electricity supplies across the country on Thursday after Russia knocked out more power plants, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said on Wednesday.
“From 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., it is necessary to minimize the use of electricity … if this is not done, you should prepare for temporary blackouts,” Tymoshenko wrote in a Telegram post.
-ABC News’ Jason Volack
Oct 19, 2:26 PM EDT
Biden says Putin imposing martial law may be ‘his only tool available’ to brutalize Ukrainians
President Joe Biden reacted to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to impose martial law in illegally annexed Ukrainian areas, telling reporters it may be his only tool available.
“I think that Vladimir Putin finds himself in an incredibly difficult position. And what it reflects to me is it seems his only tool available to him is to brutalize individual citizens, in Ukraine, Ukrainian citizens to try to intimidate them into capitulating,” Biden said Wednesday.
“They’re not gonna do that,” he added
-ABC News’ Molly Nagle
Oct 19, 8:31 AM EDT
Putin announces he is imposing martial law in four occupied Ukrainian territories
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he will impose martial law in four Ukrainian territories occupied by Russian forces — Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye. All four regions were illegally annexed by Putin last month.
Marital law grants Russia’s authorities huge powers over the civilian population in the regions it is imposed. Martial law is set to go into effect on Thursday.
The decree, which Putin announced during a televised meeting with his security council, will now be sent to be rubber stamped by Russia’s upper chamber of parliament, the Federation Council.
Putin has also granted new powers to governors in several regions bordering Ukraine.
Putin’s decree includes other points ordering the rest of Russia itself put into various levels of “readiness.”
The decree puts eight regions bordering Ukraine into a state of “moderate level of response,” but also imposes a “level of heightened readiness” in the southern and central regions that include Moscow. All other Russians regions are put on a “basic level of readiness.”
The decree says these statuses grant special powers to local authorities that are similar to martial law and includes points imposing increased security at key facilities, puts transport and communications into a special regime and also envisages the creation of “territorial defense headquarters” in some regions.
Oct 19, 7:35 AM EDT
Russian civilians to evacuate Kherson
Russia has announced the mass evacuation of civilians from the key city of Kherson, as well as all of its civilian occupation administration there.
Russia’s newly appointed overall commander for its war in Ukraine, Gen. Sergey Surovikin, said on Tuesday that “difficult decisions” may have to be made in the near future regarding Russia’s position in Kherson. In his first public remarks since his appointment, he said the situation around Kherson was already “extremely difficult.”
The evacuation combined with Surovikin’s comments has fueled speculation that Russia may be preparing to retreat from the city in the face of a Ukrainian offensive, in what would be a major defeat for President Vladimir Putin.
Other Russian officials though have suggested the evacuation is in preparation of Russian defense of the city. Kherson’s Russian-appointed governor on Wednesday denied Russia was planning to “give up” the city.
Another senior occupation official has said the battle for Kherson will begin in the “very near future.”
Kherson is the only regional capital Russia managed to seize in its invasion and is a capital of one of the regions Putin annexed last month.
The city is located on the western side of the Dnieper river and Russian forces’ position there has become increasingly difficult, after Ukraine succeeded in destroying the bridges needed to supply it.
With the bridges destroyed, thousands of Russian troops risk becoming surrounded in Kherson city and cut off from any supplies.
Russia has already begun evacuating civilians to the eastern side of the Dneipr river. Independent military researchers said Russia has quickly built a pontoon bridge near Kherson that could be used for evacuation or re-supplies.
The Russian-appointed governor said around 60,000 civilians will be evacuated, over the course of seven days.
Oct 18, 5:14 PM EDT
Russia trying to make Ukrainians ‘suffer,’ US officials say
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian power stations shows Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to make Ukrainians “suffer” with deliberate attacks, speaking of attacks on Ukrainian power stations.
“He is trying to make sure that the Ukrainian people suffer,” Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing on Tuesday. “He’s making it very difficult for them.”
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder echoed those comments, saying Russia is trying to “inflict pain” on Ukrainian civilians with its strikes on population centers and infrastructure.
“We do continue to see them target, among other things, civilian infrastructure, to include energy related targets — power grids, for example,” Ryder said.
He added, “In terms of why we think they’re targeting those areas, I think obviously trying to inflict pain on the civilian society as well as try to have an impact on Ukrainian forces.”
ABC News’ Ben Gittleson and Matt Seyler
Oct 18, 4:59 PM EDT
UN commission releases detailed report on war crimes in Ukraine
The United Nations’ Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has released its first in-depth, written report on what it calls “an array of war crimes, violations of human rights and international humanitarian law” committed in the country during the first weeks of Russia’s brutal invasion.
The report outlines what investigators say are “documented patterns of summary executions, unlawful confinement, torture, ill-treatment, rape and other sexual violence.”
The inquiry zeroed in on four regions of Ukraine– Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy–and focused on incidents that took place following Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24 through the end of March.
Investigators traveled to 27 cities and towns, conducted nearly 200 interviews and “inspected sites of destruction, graves, places of detention and torture, as well as weapon remnants, and consulted a large number of documents and reports.”
Due to the sheer number of allegations, the commission could not investigate all the claims it received. The commission said it intends to “gradually devote more of its resources” to a broader investigation within the country, according to the report.
ABC News’ Shannon Crawford
Oct 18, 2:25 PM EDT
NATO to send Ukraine anti-drone systems: NATO Secretary General
Ukraine will receive anti-drone systems from NATO in the coming days according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“The most important thing we can do is deliver on what allies have promised, to step up and deliver even more air defense systems,” Stoltenberg said, according to Reuters.
He added, “NATO will in the coming days deliver counter-drone systems to counter the specific threat of drones, including those from Iran.”
ABC News’ Will Gretsky
Oct 18, 7:00 AM EDT
30% of Ukraine’s power stations destroyed
About a third of Ukraine’s power stations have been destroyed by Russian attacks in the last week, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday.
“Since Oct. 10, 30% of Ukraine’s power stations have been destroyed, causing massive blackouts across the country,” he said on Twitter. “No space left for negotiations with Putin’s regime.”
ABC News’ Guy Davies
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