October 1, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

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'Utter ferocity': See the devastating scene in a newly-liberated Ukrainian town
03:19 - Source: CNN

What we covered

  • Russian troops withdrew from the key city of Lyman in the Donetsk region after being surrounded by Ukrainian forces, according to Russia’s defense ministry.
  • It comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of four areas of occupied Ukraine — including the Donetsk region — in the largest forcible annexation of land in Europe since 1945.
  • Western governments have announced a new wave of sanctions and vowed not to recognize the regions as part of Russian territory, saying so-called referendums held there are a “sham.”
  • Ukrainian officials said more than 20 civilians — including 10 children — were killed in Russian shelling on a convoy of cars near the town of Kupiansk in eastern Ukraine.
15 Posts

Our live coverage of the war in Ukraine has ended for the day. Read about the latest here or in the posts below.

Steps of Russian Orthodox cathedral in NYC splashed with red paint

A Russian Orthodox cathedral on New York City’s Upper East Side appears to have been defaced with red paint on Friday night, the same day that the Russian Consulate building about six blocks away was graffitied with red spray paint.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday declared the annexation of four regions of Ukraine.

An eyewitness told CNN they saw a person in a face mask splash red paint on the steps of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral late Friday evening.

The act of vandalism was confirmed to CNN by Abbot Nicodemus, a cathedral spokesperson.

Remnants of the paint could be seen Saturday morning after the eyewitness observed a woman working to scrub it away.

“We sincerely do not understand those individuals that allow themselves acts of vandalism in relation to our cathedral. We pray for them,” Nicodemus said in a statement to CNN. “We want them to realize that the Russian Orthodox Church in the USA carries out important spiritual and peacemaking activities here, and we are open to all people, regardless of their nationality and political beliefs.”

The NYPD said it was not aware of or investigating this incident. 

Police previously told CNN they were investigating the red graffiti on the Russian Consulate building as a “possible bias incident.” There were no updates in that investigation.

It is the third case of vandalism since the beginning of the year where the cathedral has been covered with paint or written with “insulting” inscriptions, Nicodemus said.  

In addition, “insulting” calls and emails have been received by the cathedral as well, he said. Some have included direct threats against the clergy and parishioners. 

Saint Nicholas Cathedral is “compelled to turn such messages to the police,” said Nicodemus. “We are grateful to the law enforcement agencies of New York for their prompt response to our messages and their constant support.”

Half of parishioners at the church are Ukrainians, and it continues to be their main house of prayer, he added.

The church said that since February, their parishioners have been actively involved in collecting financial and humanitarian assistance for the victims of the war in Ukraine.

IAEA director general to travel to Kyiv and Moscow next week

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi speaks at a news conference in Vienna, Austria on June 9, 2022.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is expected to travel to Kyiv and Moscow next week, according to a press statement by the IAEA released Saturday. 

The visit is part of ongoing efforts around “implementing a nuclear safety and security zone around the ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant) as soon as possible,” according to the statement. 

Grossi also addressed the detention of the director general of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ihor Murashov, which the president of state nuclear company Energoatom said occurred earlier Saturday. 

“Such a detention of any member of the plant staff would be a source of grave concern in itself, but also for its psychological impact and pressure on the rest of the staff - which is detrimental to nuclear safety and security,” Grossi said. 

The Ukrainian flag is already in Lyman, Zelensky says

In his nightly address on Saturday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed the retreat of Russian forces from the strategic Donetsk city of Lyman.

“The Ukrainian flag is already in Lyman, Donetsk region. Fighting is still going on there. But there is no trace of any ‘pseudo-referendum’ there,” Zelensky said.

Zelensky also emphasized that “even more voices in the world have joined in condemning the pseudo-referendums and Russia’s attempt to annex the territory of Ukraine.”

The president noted a statement of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Zelensky said he unequivocally agreed with Guterres that “Russia violates the goals and principles of the UN, the UN Charter and that “pseudo-referendums” and attempted annexation will not have any legal force.” 

“When such words are heard at the highest level in the UN, everyone in the world understands everything,” Zelensky added. “And there is no such veto right in Russia that can stop or cancel this understanding of the world.”

“The world will not allow the times of colonial conquests, criminal annexations and total arbitrariness to return instead of international law,” Zelensky concluded.

Putin ally slams Russian generals after Lyman withdrawal and encourages "using low-yield nuclear weapons"

Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov attends an inauguration ceremony in Grozny, Russia October 5, 2021.

As Russia’s army faces the latest in a string of military defeats in Ukraine, pressure appears to be growing on Russian President Vladimir Putin to use nuclear weapons on the battlefield.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Chechen republic, said that Putin could use “low-yield” nuclear weapons on the battlefield.

In a statement slamming Russian generals in the wake of Russia’s withdrawal of its forces from the strategic town of Lyman, Kadyrov said it was time for the Kremlin to make use of every weapon at its disposal.

“I do not know what the Defense Ministry reports to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, but in my personal opinion we need to take more drastic measures, including declaring martial law in the border territories and using low-yield nuclear weapons. There is no need to make every decision with the Western American community in mind,” Kadyrov said on his Telegram channel. 

Earlier last week, Dmitry Medvedev, who served as Russia’s president between 2008 and 2012, also discussed nuclear weapons use on his Telegram channel, saying it was permitted if the existence of the Russian state was threatened by an attack even by conventional forces.

“If the threat to Russia exceeds our established threat limit, we will have to respond … this is certainly not a bluff,” he wrote. 

Some context: Concerns have risen sharply that Moscow could resort to nuclear weapons use after Putin’s proclamation of the annexation of parts of eastern and southern Ukraine. The announcement Friday was dismissed as illegal by the United States and many other countries, but the fear is the Kremlin might argue that attacks on those territories now constitute attacks on Russia.

In his speech at the Kremlin, the Russian leader made only passing reference to nuclear weapons, noting the United States was the only country to have used them on the battlefield. 

“By the way, they created a precedent,” he added.

It's nighttime in Ukraine. Catch up here

As Sunday nears in Ukraine, these are the latest developments.

Russia withdraws from Lyman: Russian forces retreated from Lyman, a strategic city in Donetsk for its operations in the east, the Russian defense ministry said Saturday, just a day after Moscow’s annexation of four regions — including Donetsk — that’s been declared illegal by the West.

The retreat marks Ukraine’s most significant gain since its successful counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region last month.

10 children killed in car convoy strike: The bodies of 22 civilians, including 10 children, were found following Russian shelling on a convoy of cars near the town of Kupiansk in eastern Ukraine, the Kharkiv regional prosecutor’s office said Saturday.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said on Telegram it would be investigating the “war crime.”

Zaporizhzhia plant director detained: The director general of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been detained by a Russian patrol, the president of state nuclear company Energoatom, Petro Kotin, said in a statement on Saturday.

Director General Ihor Murashov was in his vehicle on his way from the plant when he was “stopped, he was taken out of the car, and with his eyes blindfolded he was driven in an unknown direction.

Kotin and Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on Russia to release him.

How Russia's control of territory in Ukraine has shifted

The Ukrainian military’s sudden and successful counter-attack in the Kharkiv region this month has left Russian forces controlling less Ukrainian land than they did after their first thrust into the country in February 2022, according to a CNN analysis of exclusive data from the Institute for the Study of War.

Russia’s first massive push, which began on the night of Feb. 23, allowed it to secure or advance on one-fifth of Ukrainian territory, or about 119,000 square kilometers (46,000 square miles) of the total 603,500 square kilometers Ukraine claims and considers “temporarily occupied,” the analysis shows.

Seven months after launching an invasion — one that Western officials thought would be over in days with an overrun Ukrainian capital — Russia controls roughly 3,000 square kilometers (about 1,158 square miles) less land than it did in the first five days of the war, CNN found. (Unverified claims are excluded from the analysis.)

In a move to secure what it still controls, the Kremlin on Friday claimed to annex four Ukrainian regions, of which it has only partial control, adding to the seizure and annexure of the region of Crimea in 2014.

See how the advances stalled in this CNN interactive.

Russian troops leave Lyman to avoid encirclement, Russian defense ministry says

Russian troops have withdrawn from the town of Lyman in eastern Ukraine to avoid being surrounded by Ukraine’s army, the Russian Ministry of Defense said Saturday.

“In connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement, allied troops were withdrawn from the settlement of Krasny Liman to more advantageous lines,” the defense ministry said on social media platform Telegram.

The Russian name for the town of Lyman is Krasny Liman.

Russia state media reported that the reason for the withdrawal was due to Western-made artillery and intelligence.

Russia-24 reporter Yevgeny Poddubny acknowledged the withdrawal and claimed the reason for it was that “the enemy used both Western-made artillery and intelligence from North Atlantic alliance countries.”

More than 20 civilians, including 10 children, killed in Russian convoy shelling, says regional authority

Cars from a civilian convoy sit on the side of the road after Russian shelling in Kupiansk, Ukraine, in this photo released on October 1.

The bodies of 22 civilians, including 10 children, were found following Russian shelling on a convoy of cars near the town of Kupiansk in eastern Ukraine, the Kharkiv regional prosecutor’s office said Saturday.

“According to the data of investigators, the cars were shot by the Russian army on September 25, when civilians were trying to evacuate. Two cars burned completely. According to preliminary information, 22 people died, including 10 children. The investigation of the scene is ongoing,” the office said on the social media platform Telegram.

“A pre-trial investigation was started,” the statement continued, adding that on Friday prosecutors of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) “and the police discovered a convoy of seven cars that had been shot dead near the village of Kurylivka, Kupiansk district.”

The SBU confirmed on Telegram they would be investigating a “war crime” of a “civilian convoy in the so-called ‘grey zone’ between occupied Svatove in Luhansk region and liberated Kupiansk in Kharkiv region” where it said at least 20 people died, including 10 children, in “a brutal attack.”

CNN could not independently verify the allegations. 

There has been no official Russian response to the claims made by the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office and SBU.

Zelensky thanks Biden for over $12 billion more in aid for Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks at a press conference on August 24, in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked his American counterpart Joe Biden on Saturday for signing a bill that approves an additional support to Ukraine of over $12 billion.  

Zelensky thanked the United States for their “powerful act of solidarity” towards the Ukrainian people. 

“The day before, the bill was backed by both houses of US Congress. We appreciate this powerful act of solidarity of the American people with Ukraine. And the bicameral and bipartisan support of our state,” Zelensky added. 

The Ukrainian president emphasized the importance of the additional aid in the fight against Russia. 

“The law provides the financing of defense programs, as well as powerful direct budget support to Ukraine. This help is more important today than ever. We must continue to jointly oppose the aggression of the Russian Federation,” Zelensky said. 

Director of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant detained by Russian patrol, Ukrainian nuclear company says

A Russian vehicle is parked outside the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, on September 1.

The director general of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been detained by a Russian patrol, the president of state nuclear company Energoatom, Petro Kotin, said in a statement on Saturday.

Director General Ihor Murashov was in his vehicle on his way from the plant when he was “stopped, he was taken out of the car, and with his eyes blindfolded he was driven in an unknown direction. For the time being there is no information on his fate,” Kotin said. 

“Murashov is a licensed person and bears main and exclusive responsibility for the nuclear and radiation safety of the Zaporizhzhya NPP,” Kotin said, adding that his detention “jeopardizes the safety of operation of Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.”

Kotin called on the Russians to release Murashov and urged the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi to “free” him.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs “strongly condemns the illegal detention” of Murashov in a statement released on its website Saturday. 

“This crime is another manifestation of state terrorism from the side of Russia and a gross violation of international law. Russia should immediately free the Director General of the Zaporizhzhia NPP,” it said.  

“We call on the international community, in particular the UN, the IAEA and the G7, to also take decisive measures to this end,” the statement added. 

Some background: The Zaporizhzhia plant has been a focal point in the war, as both the Russians and Ukrainians have blamed each of shelling near Europe’s largest nuclear power station.

Since early March, when Russia captured the plant, international and local experts have voiced grave warnings, not only for the safety of the plant’s workers, but also for fear of a nuclear disaster that could affect thousands of people in the surrounding area.

Ukrainian flag raised at entrance to key Donetsk town of Lyman 

The Ukrainian flag has been raised at one of the entrances to the town of Lyman in the eastern part of Ukraine.

A video posted on social media and shared by President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff shows two Ukrainian soldiers standing on a military vehicle attaching the flag with tape to a large sign with the word “Lyman.”

“We are unfurling our country’s flag and planting it on our land. On Lyman. Everything will be Ukraine,” one of the soldiers said to the camera. 

The town — an important rail network hub — has been in Russian hands since late May and has been a focus of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the east for at least a week.

Even though Ukrainian soldiers appear to have a firm presence on the outskirts of the town, Ukrainian officials caution that heavy fighting continues.

Serhii Cherevatiy, an army spokesman, told CNN that while Russian forces inside the town were de-facto encircled, the situation remained “dynamic.” 

Russian forces had tried to form convoys to break through the encirclement, he told CNN, but their attempts had been unsuccessful.

On Friday, Ukrainian forces claimed control over the village of Drobysheve, a settlement that neighbors Lyman.

Retaking Lyman would give Ukrainian forces a platform to push further east toward towns like Kreminna and Rubizhne in the Luhansk region.

Ukrainian forces continue to encircle Lyman as troops enter neighboring village

Ukrainian soldiers near Lyman, Ukraine, on September 22. 

Ukrainian forces have entered Stavky, a village neighboring Lyman in the Kramatorsk district of Donetsk, Serhii Cherevatyi, the military spokesperson for the eastern grouping of Ukrainian forces, told local media on Saturday.

“The Russian group in the area of Lyman is surrounded. The settlements of Yampil, Novoselivka, Shandryholove, Drobysheve, and Stavky are liberated. Stabilization measures are ongoing there,” Cherevatyi said in a televised press conference. 

“[The liberation] of Lyman is important, because it is another step towards the liberation of the Ukrainian Donbass. This is an opportunity to go further to Kreminna and Severodonetsk. Therefore, in turn, it is psychologically very important,” he said.  

Cherevatyi said the Ukrainian troops actions are setting the tone to “break the course of these hostilities.” 

“Yes, there are many killed and wounded among them. However, the operation is not yet complete. And only after its completion, the headquarters will conduct an analysis and give more significant results,” he said.

Serhiy Hayday, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration, also spoke Saturday with further details on the Lyman takeover, suggesting Russian forces had offered to retreat, but to no avail from the Ukrainian side. 

“Occupiers asked [their command] for possibility to retreat, and they have been refused,” Hayday said.  

“There are several thousand of them. Yes, about 5,000. There is no exact number yet. Five thousand is still a colossal grouping. There has never been such a large group in the encirclement before. All routes for the supply of ammunition or the retreat of the group are all completely blocked,” he added. 

A Ukrainian member of Parliament and deputy head of the parliament’s committee on national security, Yurii Mysiagin, referenced the move into Stavky on Saturday by publishing a video on social media platform Telegram showing a Ukrainian tank moving up the road with a clear sign indicating the region of Stavky. CNN could not independently verify the original source or the date. 

There has been no official Russian response to the fighting in the region.  

Russia's claimed annexations could signal new phase of conflict

A Ukrainian soldier walks past a destroyed Russian tank on the front line with Russian troops in the Donetsk region on September 28.

The annexations could lay the groundwork for a dangerous new phase in Russia’s assault on Ukraine. Ukrainian forces have, in recent weeks, successfully expelled Russian forces from parts of Donetsk thanks in part to the advanced weaponry sent by the US and other allies. Kyiv now controls about 40% of Donetsk, though many towns and cities bear scars of war that will take years to heal.

Now that Russia formally recognizes Donetsk as its own territory, the Kremlin is likely to push forward to recapture it using some of the 300,000 Russian citizens who will be conscripted as part of a “partial mobilization” Putin announced last week.

“It will have to be liberated,” said Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, shortly before the speech.

Putin said Friday that while he was willing to negotiate with Ukraine, the sovereignty of those four regions would not be on the table.

“I want the Kyiv authorities and their real masters in the West to hear me. For everyone to remember. People living in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens. Forever,” the Russian president said during the annexation ceremony.

Putin has previously vowed to defend Russian territory “with all the means at our disposal,” including nuclear weapons. US officials have said that they don’t believe Putin would resort to tactical nuclear weapons – a type of bomb designed for use on the battlefield that is less powerful than traditional “strategic” nuclear weapons – though they cannot discount the possibility.

“We are looking very carefully to see if Russia is actually doing anything that suggests that they are contemplating the use of nuclear weapons. To date, we’ve not seen them take these actions,” US Secretary of State Blinken said Friday.

Putin declared annexation of 4 Ukrainian regions on Friday, which the West vowed to never recognize

President Vladimir Putin announced Russia would seize of nearly a fifth of Ukraine on Friday, declaring that the millions of people living there would be Russian citizens “forever.”

Under the annexation process, which is illegal under international law, Moscow will recognize four Ukrainian regions as Russian territory: Luhansk and Donetsk – home to two Russian-backed breakaway republics where fighting has been ongoing since 2014 – as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, two areas in southern Ukraine that have been occupied by Russian forces since shortly after the invasion began.

Putin’s announcement, made in a formal speech at the Kremlin’s opulent St. George’s Hall on Friday, follows so-called referendums in the regions that were universally dismissed as “shams” by Ukraine and Western nations.

Putin, however, attempted to claim that the referendums reflected the will of “millions” of people, despite reports from the ground suggesting that voting took place essentially – and in some cases, literally – at gunpoint. Western leaders have slammed the polls, saying that they fail to meet internationally recognized standards of free and fair elections.

The annexation announcement was met with a similar outcry. Members of the G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States – and the European Union have vowed to never recognize Russian sovereignty over the regions and to impose sanctions on Russia. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington would place visa restrictions on 910 individuals in Russia and Belarus, while a Biden administration official said the White House would impose “swift and severe costs” on Russia. The British government said it would implement services sanctions and an export ban that target “Russian economic vulnerabilities.”

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky called the move a “farce” in a pre-recorded video statement released shortly after Putin’s speech and vowed that “the entire territory of our country will be liberated.” Zelensky also said his country would apply for NATO membership “under an accelerated procedure,” but it’s unclear how long such a process would take. New NATO members must meet a series of criteria for membership and be unanimously approved by current alliance members.

“We see who threatens us,” Zelensky said. “It is in Ukraine that the fate of democracy in the confrontation with tyranny is being decided.”

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 14: (---EDITORIAL USE ONLY â MANDATORY CREDIT - "KREMLIN PRESS OFFICE / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the bilateral trade and energy sector meeting at the leaders' level on developments in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in Moscow, Russia on October 14, 2021. (Photo by KREMLIN PRESS OFFICE/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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