Putin laying groundwork for possible nuclear attack, Zelensky says

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an informal annual summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States  - Shutterstock
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an informal annual summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States - Shutterstock

Ukrainian leader Volodomyr Zelensky has said that he believed Moscow was laying the groundwork for a possible nuclear attack.

"They begin to prepare their society. That's very dangerous," he told the BBC.

"They are not ready to do it, to use it. But they begin to communicate. They don't know whether they'll use or not use it. I think it's dangerous to even speak about it."

He urged the world to act now as Russia’s threats were a “risk for the whole planet”.

"All Putin is afraid of is not a nuclear strike. He’s afraid of his society, of his people," he said.

"Because only this people can replace him, strip him of his power and give it to another person."

07:02 PM

That's all for today

Today's top stories included:

  • Moscow is laying the groundwork for a possible nuclear attack, Zelensky warns

  • Putin sacks his second commander in a week after dramatic losses in Kherson

  • Elon Musk's internet devices reportedly stopped working on the frontline

  • The White House play down Biden's 'Armageddon' comments

  • Blackout after explosion near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

  • Putin directly confronted by key ally over progress of Ukraine war, says US intelligence

  • Ukrainian missile kills four in a bus in occupied territory

  • Russia's kamikaze drones strike on apartment block kill 12 in Zaporizhzhia

06:34 PM

Russian society is being prepared for nuclear war, Zelensky says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Russian society is being prepared for the use of nuclear weapons.

He told the BBC: "They begin to prepare their society. That’s very dangerous. They are not ready to do it, to use it. But they begin to communicate. They don’t know whether they’ll use or not use it. I think it’s dangerous to even speak about it."

Zelensky also denied having recently called for "pre-emptive strikes" on Russia to prevent tactical nuclear strikes, saying his calls for pre-emptive sanctions had been mistranslated and urged the world to act now as Russia’s threats were a “risk for the whole planet”.

"All Putin is afraid of is not a nuclear strike. He’s afraid of his society, of his people," he said.

"Because only this people can replace him, strip him of his power and give it to another person."

06:23 PM

UN nuclear watchdog chief to discuss Zaporizhzhia protection zone

The UN nuclear watchdog's chief Rafael Grossi will travel to Russia early next week for talks on setting up a protection zone around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had previously said Grossi would travel to Kyiv and Moscow this week. He was in Kyiv on Thursday.

Separately, four IAEA staff relieved the two who had been at the plant since Sept 1. The four will "provide support" to the protection zone once it is agreed, the IAEA said.

06:20 PM

Musk says claims his devices are not working in Ukraine are 'bad reporting'

Elon Musk has criticised a FT report about Ukrainian troops having problems with communication devices powered by his Starlink satellite broadband service.

Sharing a link to his piece on Twitter, reporter Christopher Miller wrote: "NEW: Ukraine troops reported outages of Starlink devices on frontline, hindering efforts to liberate territory from Russian forces, Ukrainian officials & soldiers told us."

Elon Musk replied: "Bad reporting by FT. This article falsely claims that Starlink terminals & service were paid for, when only a small percentage have been. This operation has cost SpaceX $80M & will exceed $100M by end of year. As for what’s happening on the battlefield, that’s classified."

06:06 PM

Kyiv troops report problems with Elon Musk internet devices

Ukrainian troops have reported outages of communication devices powered by Elon Musk's Starlink satellite broadband service, according to the FT.

Some of the outages have led to a “catastrophic” loss of communication in recent weeks, one senior Ukrainian government official said.

Many of the outages were reported as troops breached the frontline into Russian-controlled territory and some during pitched battles, according to the official.

Musk has recently angered Ukraine by suggesting some of its eastern regions "preferred Russia".

05:53 PM

White House plays down Biden's 'Armageddon' warning

The White House has played down President Joe Biden's "Armageddon" warning over the war in Ukraine, saying it had no indications that Russia is preparing to imminently use nuclear weapons.

President Joe Biden yesterday warned the risk of a nuclear “Armageddon” is at its highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, adding that Vladimir Putin was “not joking” over using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Asked about Biden’s comments, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said: "He was reinforcing what we have been saying, which is how seriously... we take these threats."

04:54 PM

Macron says Nordic probe still can't lay blame for Nord Stream attacks

French President Emmanuel Macron revealed that Nordic leaders had told their European partners it was still impossible to say at this stage who was behind attacks on the NordStream pipeline.

He added that French infrastructure such as pipelines, cables and satellites were points of vulnerability and needed to be reinforced in the current context of geopolitical tension.

04:47 PM

Macron calls for 'prudence' after Biden warned of 'Armageddon'

French President Emmanuel Macron said "we must speak with prudence" after US President Joe Biden said there was a risk of nuclear "Armageddon" in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"We must speak with prudence when commenting on such matters," Macron told reporters at the end of a European Union summit in Prague.

Biden had said earlier that Russian President Vladimir Putin's threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine had brought the world closer to "Armageddon" than at any time since the Cold-War Cuban Missile Crisis.

04:38 PM

Children among 12 dead in killer drone attacks in Zaporizhzhia

Two children were among 12 killed in kamikaze drone strikes on an apartment building in Zaporizhzhia city on Thursday, local police have said.

Oleksandr Starukh, regional governor, said explosive-carrying Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones had damaged two infrastructure facilities in the city, with other missiles also striking the city injuring one person.

Tehran denies supplying the drones to Moscow.

03:39 PM

Blackout after explosion near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

An explosion near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant's distribution device has cut power to a nearby city, Moscow-backed officials have said.

"A blackout occurred as a result of another Ukrainian artillery shelling of civilian infrastructure of the city of Energodar.

"The military-civilian administration of the city of Energodar reports that an explosion was registered during the shelling near the thermal power plant distribution device, which killed the lights in the entire city of Energodar and nearby settlements," the administration told Russian news agency TASS.

Power specialists currently work on rerouting the system to reserve lines in order to restore power supply, the press service said.

03:28 PM

Putin's Belarus ally is in a 'very fragile' political position

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, an ally of Vladimir Putin, is in a politically "very fragile" position due to Russia's military setbacks in Ukraine, exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya has said.

Speaking just before a jailed Belarusian rights activist co-won the Nobel Peace Prize, Tsikhanouskaya - who herself had been mentioned as a possible winner this year - also said Belarusians deserved global recognition for standing up to "a dictator".

"A weakened Kremlin means a weakened Lukashenko," Tsikhanouskaya told Reuters in an interview during a visit to Paris.

"Lukashenko's position is very fragile. People have energy and desire to bring democratic changes and our economic situation is worsening because of sanctions," she said.

Lukashenko, one of President Putin's few firm allies, has allowed Russia to use Belarusian territory as a launchpad for missile strikes into Ukraine and a point of entry for Russian soldiers and warplanes since the start of the war.

03:23 PM

Moscow claims ground in Donetsk

Russian forces have made their first claim of gaining ground in Donetsk in east Ukraine since the start of Kyiv's counter-offensive that rattled Russia's war effort.

The announcement came as Russia's Orthodox leader said President Vladimir Putin's rule had been divined by God, congratulating him on his 70th birthday and as the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to rights defenders in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Separatist forces in the war-battered Donetsk region said they had reclaimed a series of villages near the Ukraine-controlled industrial town of Bakhmut, which has been under Russian shelling for weeks.

03:21 PM

Russia to consider its own Nord Stream investigations

Russia will consider its own investigation into Nord Stream pipelines' leaks as Denmark does not want Russia to be engaged in its own examination, Russian embassy in Denmark said on its website on Friday.

It also said that refusal by Denmark to allow Russia to be part of the investigation undermines the reliability of any future results.

03:15 PM

Russia sacks eastern commander in latest top brass reshuffle

Russia has reportedly sacked the commander of its Eastern Military District after officials publicly criticised military leaders over failures in the war.

Colonel-General Alexander Chaiko was fired the latest reshuffle of top brass amid a string of battlefield reversals in Ukraine, the Russian news site RBC reports.

RBC cited publicly available state registers to report that Lieutenant-General Rustam Muradov had been appointed to head the Eastern Military District, which covers troops based in Russia's Far East, though much of its strength is currently deployed in Ukraine.

On Monday, it reported that the commander of the Western military district, Colonel-General Alexander Zhuravlyov, had been replaced, shortly after dramatic Russian losses in northeast Ukraine last month and Ukraine's recapture of the strategic hub of Lyman, in Donetsk region.

Since then, Russian forces have has also lost control of several hundred square kilometres of Ukraine's Kherson region - territory that Moscow now considers part of Russia.

02:42 PM

Putin gets tractor for his 70th birthday

Russian President Vladimir Putin has received a tractor for his 70th birthday.

President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus presented Putin with a gift certificate for the vehicle as the leaders of several ex-Soviet nations met at the Czarist-era Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg.

Tractors have been the pride of Belarusian industry since Soviet times and eccentric dictator Lukashenko told reporters he used a model in his garden similar to the one he gifted Putin.

It wasn't clear how the Russian leader responded to the gift, which Lukashenko's office revealed.

Putin didn't mention the gift in televised remarks at the start of the meeting when he talked about the need to discuss ways of settling conflicts between ex-Soviet nations.

He also emphasized the need to exchange information to fight terrorism, illegal drugs and other crime.

The leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose alliance of ex-Soviet nations, have another gathering to attend next week in Kazakhstan's capital of Astana.

02:23 PM

Putin directly confronted by key ally over progress of Ukraine war, says US intelligence

A member of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle challenged him over his handling of the Ukraine war, US intelligence sources have claimed, in a sign the Russian president is under mounting pressure, writes Joe Barnes.

The disagreement was deemed significant enough to be included in the daily intelligence briefing handed to President Joe Biden.

The official, who was not named, reportedly raised concerns over mismanagement of Russian troops in Ukraine directly with Putin.

"Since the start of the occupation we have witnessed growing alarm from a number of Putin’s inner circle," a Western intelligence official told the Washington Post.

"Our assessments suggest they are particularly exercised by recent Russian losses, misguided direction and extensive military shortcomings."

Read the full story here.

02:21 PM

Gunners prepare to fire on a target 10 miles away

A SAU-122 - Self-Propelled Artillery gun of the Artillery Battalion of the 14th Mechanised Brigade, hidden in a forest east of Kupiansk - JULIAN SIMMONDS/Telegraph
A SAU-122 - Self-Propelled Artillery gun of the Artillery Battalion of the 14th Mechanised Brigade, hidden in a forest east of Kupiansk - JULIAN SIMMONDS/Telegraph

Hidden in a forest east of Kupiansk, Ukrainian gunners prepare to fire on a target nearly ten miles away.

The Daily Telegraph's Julian Simmonds took this photo of the Kupiansk Front in eastern Kharkiv, showing a SAU-122 - Self-Propelled Artillery gun of the Artillery Battalion of the 14th Mechanised Brigade.

Kupiansk was liberated from Russian occupation late last month.

01:39 PM

Russia's nuclear threats are to make 'West to lean on Kyiv'

Russia is keeping "the nuclear issue high on the agenda" as a way of "encouraging the West to lean on Kyiv", a security and defence analyst has said.

Michael Clarke, the former director general of the Royal United Services Institute, told Sky News: "If any of the nuclear warheads were on the move anywhere in Russia, Western intelligence would know about it, I promise you.

"And they are being watched like a hawk. While that is the case, the Kremlin is trying to keep the nuclear debate going in the West and it is succeeding."

He said the situation in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia is where there is a "nuclear issue". Fighting near Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has stoked fears of a nuclear catastrophe at Europe's largest facility.

01:24 PM

Russian diplomats will call Alaska pair

The Russian embassy in Washington has confirmed it is aware of two Russians who have claimed asylum in Alaska to avoid being drafted to military duty in Ukraine, and that diplomats will speak to them over the phone, reports TASS news agency.

The pair sailed 300 miles through rough waters on a small boat and immediately applied for refuge from the US state upon landing on a remote Alaskan island in the Bering Sea.

A spokesperson for Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski's office said: "The Russian nationals reported that they fled one of the coastal communities on the east coast of Russia to avoid compulsory military service."

Nadezhda Shumova, head of the consular department of the Russian embassy in Washington, told TASS: "The embassy is aware of the situation with the detained Russian citizens in the state of Alaska. Today we received a notification about this from the Anchorage branch of the US Customs and Border Guard Service."

01:14 PM

Loan repayment holidays for Russian servicemen

New Russian conscripts will start getting loan repayment holidays from its central bank.

The law allows for servicemen to receive grace periods on mortgages, consumer and credit card loans for the duration of their service and for 30 days afterwards, Sberbank said.

The payment holidays also apply to family members of those serving in Russia's armed forces.

Sherbank said in a statement: "From October 7, Sberbank retail clients can apply for a grace period on loan payments as part of a federal law that came into force today."

It recommended banks offer payment holidays shortly after President Vladimir Putin said 300,000 people would be mobilised to boost Russia's military effort.

Local Russian officials seemed to be "frantically looking for ways to fund their mobilized units as the Kremlin increasingly expects local administrations to pay for the war effort from their own budgets", the Institute for the Study of War has said.

12:58 PM

Ukraine's defence minister urges Russian troops to stop fighting

Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov has said Russian soldiers who refuse to fight will be guaranteed "life, security and justice".

"We guarantee life, security and justice to everyone who refuses to fight immediately. And we will get a tribunal for those who gave criminal orders. You can still save Russia from tragedy, and the Russian army from humiliation," he said in a video address to Russian troops.

He added that they had been “deceived and betrayed” by the Kremlin and were paying “with blood for someone’s fantasies and false goals”, adding: "You will remain in memory as thieves, rapists and murderers... you will be made guilty. And they will betray you again, as they have already betrayed you more than once."

12:50 PM

Man held over selling weapons electronics to Russia in the Netherlands

A man has been arrested on suspicion of selling computer chips that could be used in weapons to Russia following a Europe-wide investigation.

The 55-year-old allegedly breached a ban on electronics exports to Russia imposed as part of European sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

Dutch prosecutors said in a statement they had arrested the suspect in the east of the Netherlands and seized evidence including his inventory of electronics, his bank accounts, and his administration.

It marked the first arrest of its kind in the country and the suspect was said to have "consciously pretended" the goods he exported were to be used elsewhere than their real destination, Russia.

The arrest was made on September 30 and the suspect remains in custody after approval of a judge, the FIOD said.

Dutch public prosecutors and customs officers worked together on the arrest, with support from European police coordination agency Europol.

12:36 PM

Netherlands won't face rolling blackouts thanks to UK imports

As Britain faces rolling blackouts this winter due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Netherlands's gas network operator said its import connections with the UK were among the reasons its supply will be safe.

The National Grid yesterday warned millions of households could have their electricity cut off for three hours at a time if Britain cannot import enough energy from Europe.

Today a statement by the Netherlands operator said: "Gasunie Transport Services recently analysed that no gas shortages need to occur in the Netherlands if Russian gas in Europe were to be completely eliminated for a year.

"Due to the high filling level of the gas storages (more than 90 percent), the doubling of the  LNG  import capacity via the Eemshaven and Rotterdam, the full utilization of the import connections with the UK and Belgium and the significant demand reduction as a result of the high prices, the preconditions for this scenario are currently met."

Unlike many European countries Britain, where about 80 percent of homes are heated using gas, has no large-scale gas storage site after Centrica closed the Rough facility in 2017.

The shutdown has left the UK with storage capacity equivalent to about four-to-five days of winter gas demand, down from 15 days previously, and limits its buffer in the event of any supply disruptions.

12:02 PM

Drone crashes into Russian military airfield

A drone has crashed into a military airfield in Russia's Kaluga region, said the region's governor.

"Today there was an explosion at the Shaykovka military airfield in Kaluga region," governor Vladislav Shapsha wrote on Telegram.

"A drone, presumably coming from the direction of the border, crashed," he said.

"The airfield infrastructure and equipment were not damaged. There is no threat to operations."

Kaluga is just over 130 miles northeast of Ukraine.

11:57 AM

Putin turns 70

A sculpture of Russian President Vladimir Putin is displayed by demonstrators outside Prague Castle - EVA KORINKOVA/REUTERS
A sculpture of Russian President Vladimir Putin is displayed by demonstrators outside Prague Castle - EVA KORINKOVA/REUTERS

Among the tributes to Vladimir Putin as he turns 70 today is a sculpture by demonstrators displayed outside the grand Prague Castle, where a European summit is taking place.

PM Liz Truss is among those attending the first meeting of the European Political Community, which the EU has proposed as a new group of nearly every country on the continent, barring Russia and Belarus.

11:46 AM

Nobel Peace Prize goes to Belarussian, Russian and Ukrainian human rights campaigners

This year's Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to human rights campaigners in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

The jailed Belarus human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, the Russian group Memorial and the Ukrainian organisation, Centre for Civil Liberties were announced as the winners in Oslo today.

Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee,  said: "The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to honour three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy and peaceful co-existence in the neighbour countries Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

She went on to call on Belarus to release Mr Bialiatski from prison.

11:42 AM

UN nuclear safety inspection team to double in size

The UN nuclear safety inspection team at Zaporizhzhia plant is expected to double in size to four later today.

Two International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors stationed at the Russian-controlled site will be replaced by a team of four, a local Moscow-installed official Alexander Volga told Russian news agency TASS.

He added that power units at Europe's largest nuclear plant will be recommissioned subject to routine maintenance.

11:27 AM

Russia's terror drone strategy is failing, think tank says

Russia's attempts to use Iranian-made drones as terror weapons against civilians are failing, according to a think tank.

"They have used many drones against civilian targets in rear areas, likely hoping to generate nonlinear effects through terror," said the Institute for the Study of War.

"Such efforts are not succeeding."

It added the Kremlin has likely used a significant portion of the reportedly ”hundreds” of drones provided to Russia by Iran.

On Putin's mobilisation orders, it said local Russian officials seemed to be "frantically looking for ways to fund their mobilized units as the Kremlin increasingly expects local administrations to pay for the war effort from their own budgets".

"The Ministry of Defense is demonstrably not providing even basic military equipment to mobilized personnel.

"It appears to be leaving wealthy oblasts to fill that gap, while mobilized men from poorer oblasts may be going without non-crowdsourced equipment entirely."

11:09 AM

Missiles kill 11 in tower block, four in bus

Eleven people were killed and 21 others were rescued after a suspected Russian missile demolished an apartment block in Zaporizhzhia on Thursday, the State Emergency Service said in a statement.

Ukraine still controls the city, capital of a province that Russia claims to have annexed.

Russia's RIA news agency meanwhile reported that a Ukrainian missile had hit a bus in the Russian-controlled city of Kherson, killing four and wounding three civilians.

09:08 AM

MoD: Ukraine captured more than 1,000 Russian armoured vehicles

The Ministry of Defence has released the following update:

Re-purposed captured Russian equipment now makes up a large proportion of Ukraine’s military hardware.

Ukraine has likely captured at least 440 Russian Main Battle Tanks, and around 650 other armoured vehicles since the invasion. Over half of Ukraine’s currently fielded tank fleet potentially consists of captured vehicles.

The failure of Russian crews to destroy intact equipment before withdrawing or surrendering highlights their poor state of training and low levels of battle discipline.

With Russian formations under severe strain in several sectors and increasingly demoralised troops, Russia will likely continue to lose heavy weaponry.

08:15 AM

Nadhim Zahawi resists apologising over mini-Budget because of Putin

Nadhim Zahawi, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, apologised for the turmoil the Government's mini-Budget had caused.

But not before initially resisting, saying that Vladimir Putin wanted Britain to be divided.

08:14 AM

In pictures: Ukraine today

Ukraine - YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images
Ukraine - YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images
Ukraine - YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images
Ukraine - YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images
Ukraine - Evgeniy Maloletka/AP
Ukraine - Evgeniy Maloletka/AP
Ukraine - SERGEY KOZLOV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Ukraine - SERGEY KOZLOV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

06:42 AM

The limo driver, osteopath and the lucrative $300m arms deal to Ukraine

A limousine driver and an osteopath in the US are among the private arms dealers involved in a trade which has exported about $300 million (£269 million) worth of weapons to Ukraine during the war.

Joe Biden’s administration has quietly fast-tracked private arms sales to Kyiv since Russia’s invasion began in February, cutting a weeks-long approval process to a matter of hours.

Martin Zlatev, 45, a former limousine driver, and Dr Heather Gjorgjievski, 46, an osteopath, are among those who entered the lucrative business since Moscow began building up troops on Ukraine’s border last December.

Read the full story by Rozina Sabur here

06:35 AM

Russians fleeing military service seek asylum in Alaska

Two Russians attempting to avoid being drafted to military duty in Ukraine sailed 300 miles through rough waters on a small boat to claim asylum in Alaska.

The pair immediately applied for refuge from the US state upon landing on a remote Alaskan island in the Bering Sea.

A spokesperson for Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski's office said: "The Russian nationals reported that they fled one of the coastal communities on the east coast of Russia to avoid compulsory military service."

Read the full story by Josie Ensor here

04:11 AM

Russia’s defence minister told to ‘shoot himself’ by Kremlin official

Russia’s defence minister, General Sergei Shoigu, has been urged to kill himself over defeats on the battlefield in a shocking broadside by one of the Kremlin’s own officials.

Kirill Stremousov, appointed head of Kherson region last week, spoke as Ukraine’s army announced that its counter-offensive had seized back almost 3000km2 of land from Russia.

In the southern prong of the assault in Kherson region, Kyiv’s forces have retaken 400 km2 and liberated nearly 30 towns and villages, according to a military spokeswoman. Moscow's army has also been evicted from 2,400km2 in the Kharkiv offensive in the north-east.

Read the full story by By Nataliya Vasilyeva here

Vladimir Putin and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu 
Vladimir Putin and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu

03:17 AM

Ukraine's newest weapon: special Himars rockets

Ukrainian troops have received a new type of Himars rocket capable of devastating half a square mile of land in a single salvo, as they prepare to take on Russian defensive positions in Kherson.

The new ammunition variant for the long-range rocket system, supplied by the US, is designed to blast almost 200,000 tungsten ball bearings across a large area, causing damage to troops and soft skinned vehicles.

Current Ukrainian stocks of the precision rockets use the M31 Unitary Warhead, best suited for destroying individual targets such as headquarters buildings or ammunition dumps.

Read the full story by Dominic Nicholls here

03:03 AM

Today's top stories

  • US President Joe Biden said the risk of nuclear "Armageddon" is at the highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, as Russian officials speak of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering massive setbacks

  • Ukrainian troops have received a new type of Himars rocket capable of devastating half a square mile of land in a single salvo, as they prepare to take on Russian defensive positions in Kherson

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv's forces were swiftly recapturing more territory especially in the south while Moscow's military leadership faced rare public backlash from within Russia over its handling of the war

  • The EU imposed its latest round of sanctions on Russia, expanding bans on trade and individuals over Moscow's formal annexation last Friday of four Ukrainian regions

  • At least three people were killed in Russian strikes after missile attacks tore through high-rise buildings in Zaporizhzhia city