US alleges Iran has deployed military staff in occupied Crimea to provide assistance to Russian forces using Iranian-made drones to attack Ukraine in fighting – now in its 240th day.

Meanwhile, authorities in Ukraine have issued alerts over potential Russian airstrikes on the capital Kiev.
Meanwhile, authorities in Ukraine have issued alerts over potential Russian airstrikes on the capital Kiev. (AFP)

Friday, October 21, 2022

Dozens of towns and villages recaptured in Kherson region: Kiev

Around 88 towns and villages have been recaptured in the southern Kherson region, where Ukrainian forces were making advances in recent weeks.

"Kherson region: 88 settlements de-occupied," Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president's office, said on social media. 

Russian officials have vowed to turn the region's main city, also called Kherson, into a "fortress" by building up the city's defences. 

Kiev, five Ukrainian regions on alert for Russian air raids

Authorities in Ukraine have issued alerts over potential Russian airstrikes on the capital Kiev.

Warnings have also been issued for Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Rivne, Poltava, and Ivano-Frankivsk regions.

Earlier on Friday, authorities said at least 11 civilians were kill ed and 13 injured in Russian attacks on various Ukrainian areas, including Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia.

US urges Russia counterpart to maintain communications on Ukraine

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urged his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu to keep "lines of communication" open on the war in Ukraine, a spokesman said.

"Secretary Austin emphasised the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid the ongoing war against Ukraine," Brigadier General Pat Ryder said in a statement following their phone call.

Russia also confirmed the call - the second between the two officials since Moscow invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Ukrainian president, US officials discuss rebuilding of energy infrastructure

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held talks with members of the US House of Representatives.

“I welcome members of the House of Representatives of the US Congress Mike Turner, James Himes and Eric Swalwell in Kiev. Your visit at this time is a bold step that demonstrates strong bicameral and bipartisan support for Ukraine. It confirms that the United States is our strategic partner,” Zelenskyy said on his Telegram account.

Russia says two journalists among Ukraine bridge dead 

Two journalists were among four people killed by a Ukrainian night-time strike on a bridge in Russian-occupied Kherson, Russia's investigative committee said.

"There is information about two killed journalists," the committee, which probes major crimes, said. 

It said 13 people were wounded in the strike. "Children and representatives of the media" are among the dead and wounded, it said.

EU plans aid to Ukraine of $1.46B per month

The European Union is drawing up plans to provide Ukraine with $1.46 billion in economic aid per month next year, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen said.

Speaking after an EU leaders' summit, von der Leyen said Ukraine had requested that international donors provide "a stable, reliable and predictable flow" of macroeconomic support.

Von der Leyen said the money would be provided by the EU, United States and international economic institutions - and that it would henceforth be sent as regular cash injections, after initial delays.

Nie more grain ships leave Ukraine under Istanbul deal: Türkiye

Nine more ships have left Ukrainian ports under the Istanbul grain export deal, Türkiye's National Defense Ministry said.

A ministry statement, which did not disclose the point of origin of the ships, said shipments from Ukrainian ports have continued as planned.

Belarus president inspects drones, says does 'not need war'

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko insisted Minsk was not preparing to enter the Ukraine conflict, during a visit to inspect drones at a military centre in the west of the country. 

The autocratic leader, a close ally of Russia's Vladimir Putin, was shown Belarus-made drones, which he said had the potential to cover the border with Ukraine.

Lukashenko said he did not want to use the weapons against his country's southern neighbour, which says it has been hit in recent weeks by swarms of Iranian-made suicide drones operated by Russian forces.

Spain moves yacht linked to Russian oligarch after payments stop

Spanish authorities moved a luxury yacht linked to the sanctioned head of Russian defence group Rostec after the shipyard where it was berthed stopped receiving payments for its repairs, a transport ministry source said.

The multi-million-dollar Valerie was transferred to a marina last month, the source and other officials said, highlighting the logistical challenges authorities have faced managing vessels being held across Europe because of sanctions imposed over Russia's military actions in Ukraine.

Spain ordered the ship "frozen" - meaning the vessel can not be used or sold - in March, saying it was acting on European Union sanctions. The yacht is tied to Sergei Chemezov, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a police source and another source with knowledge of the matter said.

Superyacht Meridian A, formerly registered as Valerie (linked to chief of Russian state aerospace and defence conglomerate Rostec, Sergei Chemezov), is docked at Marina Vela Barcelona port while it's frozen by Spanish authorities in Barcelona, Spain.
Superyacht Meridian A, formerly registered as Valerie (linked to chief of Russian state aerospace and defence conglomerate Rostec, Sergei Chemezov), is docked at Marina Vela Barcelona port while it's frozen by Spanish authorities in Barcelona, Spain. (Reuters)

Russia says it destroyed foreign-made-weapons depot in Kherson region

Russia's Defence Ministry said that the Russian air force had destroyed a depot with foreign-made Ukrainian military equipment in Ukraine's Kherson region.

Earlier, explosions shook the Kharkiv region in Ukraine in a fresh wave of Russian missile and drone strikes, local authorities said.

"Three people were injured as a result of the second attack by the Russians in the Kyivskyi district," Kharkiv Governor Oleh Synyehubov said on Telegram.

Day after US drone accusations, Iran advises citizens not to visit Ukraine

Iran advised its citizens not to travel to Ukraine and urged Iranians already there to leave, semi-official news agencies reported, a day after the United States accused Iran of helping Russia operate drones against Ukraine.

The Iranian foreign ministry advisory did not refer to the US allegation. It gave a telephone number for the Iranian embassy in Kiev to call for advice.

"Due to the military escalation in Ukraine, all Iranians are strongly advised to refrain from travelling to Ukraine. Also, Iranians living in Ukraine are advised to leave the country for their own safety," the ministry statement said.

Ukraine killed four people evacuating Kherson: Russia

Russia said that Ukrainian forces had killed at least four people and wounded 13 more in a missile attack on civilians evacuating from the Russian-controlled city of Kherson.

A Ukrainian official acknowledged an attack, but said it occurred after a civilian curfew.

Russia-backed authorities in the southern Ukrainian region which Moscow proclaimed as annexed last month are evacuating around 50,000-60,000 people across the Dnipro River ahead of an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Kremlin 'condemns' arrests of Russian nationals at US request

The Kremlin condemned the arrests of two Russians - including the son of a senior official - on a US request in Europe for alleged sanctions evasion and illegal sale of US technology to Russian arms companies. 

"We are categorically against this and we condemn the practice of these kinds of arrests of Russian citizens," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, adding that Moscow will do "everything possible" to defend them. 

Moscow on Thursday confirmed that Artyom Uss, whose father is the governor of the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk, was arrested at Milan's Malpensa Airport this week on a US request. 

US: Iranian trainers on the ground help Russia on drone attacks

The United States said that Iranian military trainers were in Moscow-annexed Crimea helping Russian forces operate Iranian-made drones to attack targets in Ukraine.

Ukrainian citizens endured the first day of nationwide scheduled power outages since the war began eight months ago so repairs could be made to damaged or destroyed energy plants as winter approaches.

"We can confirm that Russian military personnel based in Crimea have been piloting Iranian UAVs and using them to conduct kinetic strikes across Ukraine, including in strikes against Kiev in recent days," US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told a daily briefing with reporters, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.

Ukraine foreign minister: Spoke to Israel PM about request for defence systems

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and discussed in detail Kiev's request for air and missile defence systems and technology.

"I informed him (about the) unspeakable suffering, loss of life, and destruction caused by Russian missiles and Iranian-made drones," he tweeted.

Earlier this week, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz denied selling weapons to Ukraine saying "We are not selling weapons to Ukraine," adding that Tel Aviv had not previously sold arms to Ukraine. 

Ukraine alleges Russia planting mines at hydroelectric dam

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of planting mines at a hydroelectric dam in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, which is under the control of Moscow's forces.

"According to our information, the aggregate and dam of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant were mined by Russian terrorists," Zelenskyy said.

"If the dam is destroyed... the North Crimean canal will simply disappear", and this would be "a catastrophe on a grand scale", the Ukraine leader added. Earlier, he told the European Union that "Russia's leadership has given the order to turn the energy system itself into a battlefield."

For live updates from Thursday (October 20), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies