The EU agrees to the eighth round of sanctions against Russia and President Vladimir Putin formally annexes four regions in Ukraine, as fighting enters its 224th day.

People wait in line during food and medical distribution in the recently retaken town of Lyman in Donetsk region, on October 5, 2022, amid the Russian offensive in Ukraine.
People wait in line during food and medical distribution in the recently retaken town of Lyman in Donetsk region, on October 5, 2022, amid the Russian offensive in Ukraine. (AFP)

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Ukraine presses counterattack as Putin expects a stable war in annexed regions

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he expected the situation to "stabilise" in Ukrainian regions annexed by the Kremlin after Moscow suffered military setbacks and lost several key towns to Kiev.

He also ordered his government to seize control over Europe's largest nuclear power plant in the Russia-controlled region of Zaporizhzhia with IAEA head Rafael Grossi en route to Kiev for consultations on the facility.

Ukraine claimed victories over Russian troops in the eastern region of Luhansk as the Kremlin vowed to recapture territory lost in a lightning Ukrainian counteroffensive. 

Iranian-made drones hit Ukraine's Kiev region for first time - officials

Dozens of firefighters rushed to douse blazes in a town near Ukraine's capital Kiev following multiple strikes caused by what local officials said were Iranian-made loitering munitions, often known as 'kamikaze drones'.

Six drones hit a building overnight in Bila Tserkva, around 75 km south of the capital, said the governor of the Kiev region, Oleksiy Kuleba.

Ukraine has reported a spate of Russian attacks with Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in the last three weeks, but the strike on Bila Tserkva was by far the closest to Kiev.

US: OPEC 'aligning' with Russia following production cut

The decision by OPEC to significantly reduce daily oil production is a "clear" sign that the bloc is siding with Russia amid a growing power rivalry with the West, the White House said.

"It's clear that OPEC is aligning with Russia with today's announcement," spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One. "The global economy is responding to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's war and so by making this decision, it is going to have an effect on low- and middle-income countries."

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, known as OPEC+, agreed on Wednesday to cut production by 2 million barrels per day from the August 2022 required production levels, starting in November. 

Russian arrivals in EU drop 20 percent: border agency

The number of Russian citizens entering the European Union last week was 20 percent lower than the previous week after EU countries imposed new restrictions, the bloc's border protection agency said. 

The agency said in a statement that nearly 53,000 Russian citizens had entered the bloc between September 26 and October 2.

The highest number – 29,000 – came through Finland, followed by Estonia (8,877) and 8,536 who crossed into Poland from Ukraine. 

Russia says ready to supply gas via undamaged pipeline

Moscow said it was ready to quickly supply gas to Europe through an undamaged section of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany, after recent leaks heightened geopolitical tensions.

"If the necessary legal decisions are made by European colleagues regarding [Nord Stream 2's] certification ... I think Russia in a short period of time could provide appropriate supplies through this gas pipeline," Russian deputy prime minister Alexander Novak said on state television. 

Stoltenberg, Zelenskyy discuss Ukraine's military gains against Russia

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy discussed Kiev’s recent gains against Russian forces.

In a tweet after their phone conversation, Stoltenberg said he “praised the brave Ukrainian people and forces for the impressive progress in regaining their territory from Russian aggressor.”

He reassured Zelenskyy that “NATO will sustain and step up support for Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

Stoltenberg also reiterated NATO’s call for Russia to “stop the war it has started.” 

Kremlin vows to win back territory recaptured by Ukraine

The Kremlin vowed to take back land lost to Kiev within Ukrainian regions it has annexed, saying the territories will be Russian "forever".

"The given territories will be taken back," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters after Moscow suffered a series of military defeats.

He said regions annexed by Moscow "will be Russian forever and will not be returned". 

Ukraine claims gains in the Luhansk region: governor

Ukraine claimed gains in the eastern Luhansk region previously entirely under Russian control, after gaining ground in the neighbouring Donetsk region and on the southern front.

"The de-occupation of the Luhansk region has already officially started. Several settlements have already been liberated from the Russian army, and the Ukrainian flag is being raised there by the Armed Forces of Ukraine," Luhansk regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said on Telegram.

EU agrees fresh Russia sanctions over annexations

The EU has agreed a new round of sanctions against Russia after Moscow's annexation of four regions in Ukraine, the Czech presidency of the bloc has said.

The latest package — the eighth since Russia's offensive in February — is now going through a final approval procedure which, if no objections emerge, will be published and come into effect on Thursday, the Czech Republic's EU ambassador said on Twitter.

"We have just reached a political agreement on new sanctions against Russia — a strong EU response to Putin's illegal annexation of territories," ambassador Edita Hrda said. The details of the sanctions package were not given.

Russia says it should be part of Nord Stream leaks probe: Agencies

Moscow should be part of the probe into leaks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, a senior Russian diplomat has reportedly said, after Sweden blocked off the area around the pipelines pending an investigation.

"There should really be an investigation. Naturally, with the participation of Russia," Russian deputy foreign minister Sergey Vershinin said as quoted by Russian news agencies.

IAEA head Grossi says he may visit Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant again

International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi has said that he may visit Ukraine's Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant again, according to Russian state-owned news agency TASS.

TASS reported Grossi, who headed an IAEA delegation to the plant last month, as saying that he would continue discussing the creation of a "safety zone" around the facility.

Zaporizhzhia plant to operate under Russian supervision after annexation: RIA

Russia's Foreign Ministry has said that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant will operate under the supervision of Russian agencies after President Vladimir Putin formally annexed the wider Zaporizhzhia region this week, the RIA state-owned news agency has reported.

Russia moved to annex Zaporizhzhia and three other regions after holding what it called referendums – votes that were denounced by Kiev and Western governments as illegal and coercive.

Russia-backed Kherson official says Russian troops 'regrouping'

A Russia-backed official in Kherson region has said that Russian forces there are regrouping for a counterattack, amid rapid Ukrainian gains in the region annexed by Russia, state-owned news agency RIA reported.

RIA quoted Kirill Stremousov as saying that Russian forces are "conducting a regrouping in order to gather their strength and deliver a retaliatory blow".

Ukraine forces approaching borders of Luhansk region, UK says

The Ukrainian armed forces have advanced up to 20 kilometres (12 miles) beyond the Oskil river in the northeastern Kharkiv region into Russia's defensive zone towards the town of Svatove in Luhansk region, Britain has said.

"Politically, Russian leaders will highly likely be concerned that leading Ukrainian units are now approaching the borders of Luhansk Oblast, which Russia claimed to have formally annexed last Friday," the British Ministry of Defence said in an intelligence bulletin.

The intelligence update added that it was highly likely that Ukraine could now strike the Svatove-Kremina road in Luhansk region and added that Ukraine continued to make progress is its operations in the southern front as well.

US military aid to Ukraine boosts risk of clash: Russian envoy

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, Anatoly Antonov, Russia's ambassador to the United States, has said.

"We perceive this as an immediate threat to the strategic interests of our country," Antonov said on the Telegram messaging app on Wednesday.

"The supply of military products by the US and its allies not only entails protracted bloodshed and new casualties, but also increases the danger of a direct military clash between Russia and Western countries."

One injured in attack by Iran-made drones near Kiev: Governor

One person has been injured in an attack with Iranian-made drones on the town of Bila Tserkva southwest of Kiev, the region's governor has said.

"During the night, the enemy carried out strikes with Shahed-136 type kamikaze drones against Bila Tserkva," governor Oleksiy Kuleba said on social media, adding that the attack left one person injured and damaged infrastructure.

Russia to resume gas deliveries to Italy: Gazprom

Russia will resume gas deliveries to Italy after suspending them due to a transport problem in Austria, Russian energy giant Gazprom has said in a statement.

"Transportation of Russian gas through the territory of Austria is resuming," Gazprom said, adding that a "solution" was found with Italian buyers following regulatory changes in Austria.

Most Russian gas delivered to Italy passes via Ukraine through the Trans Austria Gas Pipeline (TAG), to Tarvisio in northern Italy on the border with Austria.

Hungary: New EU price cap on Russian oil will not apply to pipeline shipments

A price cap for Russian oil proposed as part of the European Union's eighth round of sanctions against Russia will not apply to pipeline shipments, Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has said in a statement.

Hungary, which has been the most vocal critic of sanctions against Russia in the EU, largely relies on Russian crude shipments and Russian gas, both imported via pipelines.

Russian TV protester confirms she has gone on the run

Russian TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, famous for staging an on-air protest against Russia's offensive in Ukraine, confirmed she had escaped house arrest over charges of spreading fake news again, saying she had no case to answer.

"I consider myself completely innocent, and since our state refuses to comply with its own laws, I refuse to comply with the measure of restraint imposed on me as of 30 September 2022 and release myself from it," she said on Telegram.

Her lawyer said she was due to turn up to a hearing at 10:00 Moscow time (07 00 GMT) at a Moscow district court, but that investigators had failed to establish her whereabouts. Ovsyannikova, 44, was given two months' house arrest in August over a protest in July.

Kazakhstan snubs Russian demand to expel Ukrainian ambassador

Kazakh authorities have rejected a demand from Russia that they expel Ukraine's ambassador over comments about killing Russians, chiding Moscow for what they called an inappropriate tone between "equal strategic partners".

Russia's ties with Kazakhstan and some other ex-Soviet allies have become strained during the conflict in Ukraine, notably over attempts by President Vladimir Putin to renege on post-USSR border agreements in the country's east.

Tensions escalated after Ukraine's ambassador in Astana, Petro Vrublevskiy, said in August in an interview with a local blogger, referring to the fighting in Ukraine, that "the more Russians we kill now, the fewer of them our children will have to kill".

Russia demanded that Kazakhstan expel the diplomat in response, but Astana instead asked Kiev to replace him, telling him his comments were unacceptable for a country with a large ethnic Russian minority.

Putin formally annexes four regions 

President Vladimir Putin has completed the formal annexation of more than 15 percent of Ukraine, just as Russian forces battle to halt a Ukrainian counter-offensive across swathes of the territories.

In the biggest expansion of Russian territory in at least half a century, Putin signed on Wednesday laws admitting the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), the Luhansk People's Republic (LNR), Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region into Russia.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed four federal constitutional laws on the entry of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions into the Russian Federation," the lower house of parliament said.

New US military aid to Ukraine poses 'immediate threat' to Russia

Russia's envoy to the US has said Washington's decision to provide more military aid to Ukraine poses an "immediate threat" to Russia's strategic interests.

Washington's new deployment risks a direct military clash between Russia and Western countries, said Anatoly Antonov, Russia's ambassador to the US.

It comes after US President Biden told his Ukrainian counterpart Zelenskyy that another $625 million in military assistance, including HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, is on the way. 

For live updates from Tuesday (October 4), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies