Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed the four laws ratifying the Russian Federation’s claimed annexation of the occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Russian forces do not fully control any of the four areas, and it remains unclear where Russia is attempting to set its new external border.
Ukraine has made major and rapid advances this week, with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy saying in an address on Tuesday night that “dozens” of towns have been recaptured. Ukrainian forces captured the town of Dudchany on the west bank of the Dnipro River in their major advance in Kherson region, and in the east, Ukrainian forces were advancing after capturing Lyman, the main Russian bastion in the north of Donetsk province.
Russia is at risk of losing control of the strategic towns critical to retaining the city of Kherson and eventually Crimea, western officials have judged, but they warned the fighting along the Dnipro river “will not be an easy rush into constrained territory”.
Zelenskiy on Tuesday signed a decree formally declaring the prospect of any Ukrainian talks with Vladimir Putin “impossible”. The decree formalised comments made by Zelenskiy on Friday after the Russian president proclaimed the four occupied regions of Ukraine were to become part of Russia.
Pro-Russian leaders in the occupied regions have claimed that the situation is stabilising this morning. Denis Pushilin, installed as governor in Donetsk by Russia has said “the situation on the front line in the Lyman direction is stabilising, the defence line is being strengthened”, while Kirill Stremousov, part of the occupiation administration imposed on Kherson, has been quoted saying that Russian forces were “conducting a regrouping in order to gather their strength and deliver a retaliatory blow” in the region, and that “the advance of the armed forces of Ukraine in the Kherson direction has stopped.”
The UK ministry of defence has said in its daily operational briefing that “Ukraine continues to make progress in offensive operations along both the north-eastern and southern fronts. In the north-east, in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine has now consolidated a substantial area of territory east of the Oskil River.”
Putin said in televised comments that he signed a decree making “corrections” to the partial mobilisation drive he announced 21 September. The Russian preisdent said the decree would defer conscription for additional categories of students, including those enrolled at accredited private universities and certain postgraduate students.
The EU has agreed to set a price cap on Russian oil and ban trade in numerous technical and consumer goods, as part of further sanctions designed to counter Vladimir Putin’s ability to wage war on Ukraine. The latest round of sanctions, the eighth since February, were signed off by EU ambassadors on Wednesday, a week since the measures were proposed, a time scale regarded as lightning speed in Brussels.
Russia’s foreign ministry has said the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) will operate under the supervision of Russian agencies after the annexation declaration. Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is expected to visit Moscow in the coming days to discuss the situation at the plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since the earliest days of the war. Energoatom, the Ukrainian state-enterprise that owns the plant, has said it may restart it to ensure safety.
Oleksandr Starukh, Ukraine’s governor of Zaporizhzhia, said that overnight “the enemy fired rockets at the regional centre and the outskirts of the city. Infrastructure facilities were destroyed.”
Zelenskiy has posted a series of images of damaged buildings across social media from recently liberated Lyman, with the message “Our Lyman after the occupier. All basics of life have been destroyed here. They are doing so everywhere in the territories they seize. This can be stopped in one way only: liberate Ukraine, life, humanity, law and truth as soon as possible.”
Russian TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, famous for staging an on-air protest against Russia’s war in Ukraine, confirmed she had escaped house arrest over further charges of spreading fake news, saying she had no case to answer.
Anatoly Antonov, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, says Washington’s decision to send more military aid to Ukraine poses a threat to Moscow’s interests and increases the risk of a military clash between Russia and the west.
Russia’s foreign ministry said that it had expelled a Lithuanian diplomat.
The British Prime Minister Liz Truss has said that Ukraine “will win” and that no peace deal should give away Ukrainian territory. She said “The Ukrainian people aren’t just fighting for their security but for all of our security. This is a fight for freedom and democracy around the world. We should not give in to those who want a deal which trades away Ukrainian land. They are proposing to pay in Ukrainian lives for the illusion of peace. We will stand with our Ukrainian friends, however long it takes. Ukraine can win. Ukraine must win. And Ukraine will win.”
France’s junior minister for European affairs Laurence Boone has clarified the situation in which Russians fleeing the partial mobilisation for the war in Ukraine can obtain visas to stay in France, saying “We have limited conditions under which visas can be given. We will make sure dissident journalists, people who fight the regime, artists and students can still come here, and we will issue visas on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the security risks.”
The UN has outlined the “unspeakable suffering and devastation” inflicted on Ukrainians. Christian Salazar Volkmann, presenting a report on rights in Ukraine to the UN human rights council in Geneva, said “disturbing accounts” were emerging of violations in detention, of both civilians and prisoners of war, while enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention had become “widespread” in territory controlled by Russia and its proxies. There were two documented cases of Ukrainian servicemen having been tortured to death, he said.
About 2,000 videos, photographs and audio files of alleged war crimes have been submitted to the UN mandated international commission of inquiry (UN COI) on Ukraine. The footage was captured through an app designed to create verifiable evidence.
Two women in Russia-annexed Crimea, including Miss Crimea, have been found guilty of discrediting the Russian army by singing a patriotic Ukrainian song.
European Union finance ministers agreed Tuesday to integrate the EU’s support payments to Ukraine into its 2023 budget to make payments more structured and predictable.
Russia’s retreat from Lyman has sparked vociferous criticism of the handling of the war on Russian state television. Vladimir Solovyov, host of a primetime talkshow on state TV channel Russia 1 and one of the Kremlin’s biggest cheerleaders, said on air on Sunday: “We need to pull it together, make unpopular, but necessary decisions and act.”