UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tells the Security Council that Ukraine is increasingly headed "towards an endless cycle of horror and bloodshed," as fighting continues on the 211th day.

Reports from the United Nations rights body show
Reports from the United Nations rights body show "a catalog of cruelty — summary executions, sexual violence, torture and other inhumane and degrading treatment against civilians and prisoners of war," Guterres said. (Reuters)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

UN chief at Security Council urges probe into Ukraine war 'catalog of cruelty'

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged a probe into the "catalog of cruelty" in Ukraine's war as he opened a Security Council meeting with the top Russian and US diplomats.

Reports from the United Nations rights body show "a catalog of cruelty — summary executions, sexual violence, torture and other inhumane and degrading treatment against civilians and prisoners of war," Guterres said.

"All these allegations must be thoroughly investigated, to ensure accountability," he said, without directly pointing the finger at Russia.

Blinken tells Security Council world 'can't let Putin get away with it'

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged the world to hold President Vladimir Putin accountable for the Ukraine conflict, at a Security Council meeting attended by Russia.

"The very international order we've gathered here to uphold is being shredded before our eyes. We cannot — we will not —let President Putin get away with it," Blinken said.

Russia FM rejects Western accusations on Ukraine at Security Council

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has rejected Western accusations at a UN Security Council session on abuses in Ukraine, calling instead for punishment of Kiev's government.

"The United States and their allies with the connivance of international human rights organisations have been covering the crimes of the Kyiv regime," Lavrov said after the Security Council heard accounts of abuses by Russian forces.

Kremlin proxies in Ukraine double down ahead of annexation votes

Kremlin-supported officials in Ukrainian regions controlled by Moscow's forces have vowed to press ahead with polls this week on annexation by Russia, after world leaders condemned the votes and said the results would be void.

Four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine — Donetsk and Lugansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south — announced that they would hold the votes over five days, beginning on Friday.

Ukraine, US energy ministers discuss sanctions on Rosatom

Ukraine's energy minister German Galushchenko discussed the possibility of sanctions on Russia's nuclear power supplier Rosatom with US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm at talks in the United States, Ukraine's energy ministry has said.

"German Galushchenko emphasised that the Russian state corporation Rosatom takes direct part in the aggression against Ukraine and covers up acts of nuclear terrorism," the ministry wrote on its website.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last month it was "not normal" that Western countries have not yet imposed sanctions on Rosatom.

Russia: Some 10,000 volunteers to fight in Ukraine

The Russian military has said that at least 10,000 people had volunteered to fight in Ukraine, one day after President Vladimir Putin ordered a mobilisation of reservists.

"During the first day of partial mobilisation, about 10,000 citizens arrived at recruitment offices of their own accord without waiting for a summons," Vladimir Tsimlyansky, a military spokesman, told Russia's Interfax news agency.

China: protracted Ukraine crisis not in interests of all parties

An expanded and protracted Ukraine crisis is not in the interests of all parties, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi has told his Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau on the sidelines of a United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

China hopes that the "flame of war" will go out as soon as possible, a Chinese foreign ministry statement cited Wang as saying.

Poland distributes iodine pills as fears grow over Ukraine nuclear plant

Poland, concerned about fighting around Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear powerplant, has distributed iodine tablets to regional fire departments to give to people in the event of radioactive exposure, a deputy minister said.

Iodine is considered a way of protecting the body against conditions such as thyroid cancer in case of radioactive exposure. 

Shelling at the site of Zaporizhzhia — Europe's biggest nuclear power plant — has damaged buildings close to its six reactors and cut power cables, risking a nuclear catastrophe that would affect neighbouring countries. Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the shelling around the plant.

Putin ally Medvedchuk freed in swap with Ukraine: Separatists

A leader of Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has confirmed the release of President Vladimir Putin's ally Viktor Medvedchuk in a prisoner swap with Ukraine.

"Fifty-six people were released, 55 of them servicemen...Viktor Medvedchuk was also released from captivity," Denis Pushilin told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, referring to the former Ukrainian lawmaker, who was accused of high treason.

Moscow says 55 servicemen from Ukraine prisoner swap now in Russia

Russia has said that 55 servicemen released in the largest prisoner exchange with Kiev since the start of Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine are now in Russia.

"All servicemen have been delivered to the territory of the Russian Federation by military transport aircraft and are in medical institutions of Russia's defence ministry," the ministry said in a statement.

It said that the released prisoners were "in mortal danger" while in captivity. "They are receiving the necessary psychological and medical assistance," it added.

Five UK prisoners released by Russia arrive in Britain: BBC

Five UK prisoners of war who were released by Russia as part of an exchange with Ukraine have arrived in Britain, non-profit organisation Presidium Network was reported as saying by the BBC on Thursday.

The five are Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner, John Harding, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill.

Presidium Network, which says it carries out evacuations of families and individuals from war zones and which has been supporting the family of Healy, said: "We know that all are back safety in the UK", according to the BBC.

Russian offensive has cost Ukraine '$1 trillion'

Russia's offensive in Ukraine has caused almost $1 trillion of damage, a Kiev government official has said, as the conflict batters the country's economy.

In terms of "direct and indirect costs" Ukraine had suffered "somewhere close to $1 trillion" in damages, said Oleg Ustenko, economic advisor to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The figure was equivalent to five times Ukraine's annual GDP before the invasion in February, Ustenko said at an event hosted by the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin.

Pro-Russia separatists say at least six killed in shelling of Donetsk market

Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine say at least six civilians have been killed and six more injured in a missile strike on a market in the centre of Donetsk.

"Ukraine's military are firing on the centre of Donetsk," the military headquarters of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) said in a post on social media.

"According to the information received, six people were killed and six people were injured," Alexei Kulemzin, the Russia-appointed mayor of Donetsk, said in a post on his Telegram channel.

Ukraine allies must stand firm against Russian blackmail: Macron

Ukraine's allies must stand firm against Russian President Vladimir Putin's "blackmail" of suggesting that nuclear weapons could be used in the offensive against Kiev, French President Emmanuel Macron has said in an interview.

"Our task is to hold our line, that is to say, help Ukraine as we are doing, to protect its territory and never to attack Russia," Macron told BFM television on Thursday during his return from the UN General Assembly in New York.

"Russia is very clearly under pressure" but "I am not going to take part in any escalation" of the conflict, Macron added.

OSCE slams ‘climate of fear, intimidation’ in Russia

The world's largest security body said that laws enacted by Russia's government have created a "climate of fear and intimidation" that has curtailed the work of journalists and activists.

The new report on Thursday commissioned under the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) noted "repression has gradually intensified since 2012... and reached its peak with the new reform laws adopted after the beginning of the war" in Ukraine.

According to the report, "a climate of fear and intimidation" had been created through the use of criminal law, violence against civil society activists and media, propaganda and other tactics.

Uzbekistan warns citizens not to join foreign armies amid Ukraine conflict

Uzbekistan's state prosecutors have warned citizens against joining foreign armies after Russia offered fast-track citizenship to those who sign up and Ukraine said it had captured Uzbeks fighting alongside Russians.

Those fighting in military conflicts abroad faced criminal prosecution under Uzbek law, the Central Asian nation's Prosecutor General's office said in a statement late on Wednesday.

A video circulated in Ukrainian social media this month showed two Uzbeks captured in fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces; the detainees said they had been recruited in Moscow.

Finland’s border guard says traffic on border with Russia increasing

Traffic arriving at Finland's eastern border with Russia "intensified" overnight, the Finnish Border Guard said on Thursday, while adding that the situation was under control.

Finland is closely monitoring the situation in its neighbour after President Vladimir Putin's order of military mobilisation for the military campaign in Ukraine, Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen said on Wednesday.

Finnish land border crossings have remained among the few entry points into Europe for Russians after a string of Western countries shut both physical frontiers and their air space to Russian planes in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Hungary PM Orban says EU’s Russia sanctions should be scrapped: Report

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told his ruling Fidesz party that sanctions against Russia imposed by the European Union should be scrapped, the pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet has reported.

Orban, a harsh critic of EU sanctions on Moscow over its offensive in Ukraine, made the remarks at a closed-door meeting of his party members on Wednesday, before the start of the autumn political season.

Magyar Nemzet cited Orban as saying — without giving a source — that the EU sanctions have driven up gas prices and inflation, and if these measures were to be scrapped, gas prices would drop by 50% immediately while inflation would also fall.

Russia says it has list of foreign banks who can only sell assets with Putin’s approval

Russia's Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev has said that government officials have drawn up a list of foreign banks that will only be allowed to sell their Russian assets with approval from President Vladimir Putin.

The list was drawn up by the finance ministry and Russia's central bank, Moiseev told a banking conference on Thursday in the central city of Kazan.

Moiseev also said that the finance ministry had not received any information from Expobank about a request to purchase the Russian assets of any foreign bank.

Czechia calls on Russia to ‘immediately’ cease its military actions in Ukraine

Czechia’s foreign minister urged Russia to end its attack against Ukraine in a speech  at the 77th UN General Assembly in New York City.

Jan Lipavsky said "Russia must immediately cease its military actions and withdraw all its troops from the entire territory of Ukraine," said FM Lipavsky on Wednesday.

Criticising Russia for its "complete disregard for the resolutions" adopted by the UN General Assembly, Lipavsky said it is "appalling."

Zelenskyy: Russia not serious about ending Ukraine conflict

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has suggested that Russia's decision to mobilise some reservists showed that Moscow isn't serious about negotiating an end to its nearly seven-month-long war.

Speaking by video to the UN General Assembly meeting of world leaders hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement, Zelenskyy insisted his country would prevail in repelling Russia's attack and forcing its troops out, and also urged the United Nations to strip Russia of its veto power on the Security Council.

Zelenskyy suggested any Russian talk of negotiations is only a delaying tactic, and that Moscow's actions speak louder than its words. "They talk about the talks but announce military mobilisation. They talk about the talks but announce pseudo-referendums in the occupied territories of Ukraine," he said.

Erdogan: Russia, Ukraine swap 200 POWs under Türkiye's mediation

Ukraine and Russia have exchanged more than 200 prisoners of war as a result of Türkiye's mediation and diplomatic traffic conducted with Russia and Ukraine's presidents, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced.

Erdogan told reporters in New York City on Wednesday that the prisoner exchange under Türkiye's mediation was an "important step" towards ending the conflict between the two countries.

"I would also like to thank all my friends who contributed to this process," he said while thanking his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Ukraine confirms exchange of 215 prisoners of war

Ukraine has confirmed the exchange of a record-high 215 imprisoned soldiers with Russia, including fighters who led the defence of Mariupol's Azovstal steelworks that became an icon of Ukrainian resistance.

"We have managed to liberate 215 people," the Ukraine presidency's chief of staff Andriy Yermak announced on television.

For live updates from Wednesday (September 21), click here

Source: AP