October 2, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Maureen Chowdhury and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:06 p.m. ET, October 3, 2022
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11:12 a.m. ET, October 2, 2022

Liberation of Lyman shows "Ukrainians are making progress" in war with Russia, NATO chief says

From CNN’s Allegra Goodwin in London

The liberation of the city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine shows “Ukrainians are making progress,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday.

This gain by Ukraine “demonstrates that the Ukrainians are making progress, are able to push back the Russian forces,” Stoltenberg told NBC’s "Meet the Press" in an interview.

His comments follow the retreat of the Russian forces from the eastern Ukrainian city of Lyman, which marks Ukraine’s most significant gain since its successful counteroffensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region last month.

Stoltenberg added this was a result of “their courage, because of their bravery, their skills, but also because of the advanced weapons that the United States and other allies are providing.”

Russian state media Russia-24 reported Saturday that the reason for Russia’s withdrawal was because “the enemy used both Western-made artillery and intelligence from North Atlantic alliance countries.”

11:12 a.m. ET, October 2, 2022

It is possible to restore Nord Stream pipelines, Russian official says

From CNN's Katharina Krebs and Chris Liakos

There are technical possibilities to restore the infrastructure of the Nord Stream pipelines, a Russian official said Sunday.

"Of course, there are technical possibilities to restore the infrastructure, it takes time and appropriate funds. I am sure that appropriate opportunities will be found," Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said during an interview on Russian state media Russia 1 TV on Sunday.

His comments follow the discovery of four leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines earlier this week, near the Danish island of Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea.

Western leaders have called the incident a deliberate act and have vowed a strong response. The cause of the incident is still not confirmed.

According to Novak, the countries that took a negative position in relation to the Nord Stream project, the United States, Ukraine, and Poland, are interested in decommissioning the pipelines.

Novak said that “it is necessary first of all to figure out who did this, and we are sure that certain countries that previously expressed their positions are interested in this”.

On Friday, Russia's President Vladimir Putin claimed "Anglo-Saxons" were to blame for the explosions that damaged the Nord Stream pipelines.

10:55 a.m. ET, October 2, 2022

US senator expresses concern of a possible attack by Russia in NATO territory

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio also expressed concern about the possibility of a strike in NATO territory by Russian President Vladimir Putin during an interview Sunday with CNN's Dana Bash.

“I think it's quite possible that he could end up striking some of these distribution places where the supplies are coming through, including inside Poland. A lot of talk about nuclear, but I think the thing I worry most about is a Russian attack inside NATO territory, for example, aiming at the airport in Poland or some other distribution point,” he said.

Asked whether NATO would have to respond, he said it would “depend” on the nature, scale, and scope of an attack. Rubio suggested the risk of a nuclear attack from Putin is “higher today than a month ago” but that he is more concerned about “intermediate” steps Putin could take. 

Rubio also suggested that Russia was responsible for attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines last week. 

“I think it's pretty clear — someone did this, and the only people in that region who have both the motive and the capability to have done it, are Russia or Russian forces. So I think for me, it's not an intelligence matter at this point. It's a common sense matter,” he said.

10:22 a.m. ET, October 2, 2022

US defense secretary say Ukraine is "making progress" on the battlefield

From CNN's Ellie Kaufman

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he believes Ukraine is "making progress," in the Kherson region of the country as they continue to counter Russia's invasion, adding there has been a "kind of change in the battlefield dynamics."

Austin attributed the change to the skill of Ukrainian soldiers and their strategic use of weapons supplied by US and NATO allies, specifically their use of the high mobility air rocket systems, or HIMARS. He made the comments in an exclusive interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria that aired Sunday on "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

"What we're seeing now is a kind of change in the battlefield dynamics," Austin said. "They've done very, very well in the Kharkiv area and moved to take advantage of opportunities. The fight in the — the Kherson region's going a bit slower, but they're making progress." 

Austin said Ukrainian forces have used "technology like HIMARS" and employed it in the "right way" to "conduct attacks on things like logistical stores and command and control, that's taking away — taken away significant capability from the Russians." 

In doing so, Ukrainians have "changed the dynamics, and it's created an opportunity for the Ukrainians to maneuver," he added.

When asked why the US has not supplied longer-range weapons that Ukrainians have asked for, Austin said he communicates with his Ukrainian counterpart, Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov, "routinely," and believes the US has been "very effective in providing them those things that are very, very effective on a battlefield."

While the US has provided Ukraine with HIMARS and guided multiple launch rocket systems, or GMLRS, to be used with the HIMAR systems, Ukraine has asked for Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, which have a longer-range than the GLMR systems the US has provided so far. 

ATACMS have a range of about 185 miles. The maximum range of US-provided weapons to Ukraine is around 49 miles. 

Austin praised the successes Ukrainians have had on the battlefield and noted they are using the weapons and technology given to them by the US in the "right way." 

"It's not just about the equipment that you have. It's about how you employ that equipment, how you synchronize things together to create battlefield effects that then can create opportunities," he said.

Austin said what will happen in Ukraine is "hard to predict," but he said the US will "continue to provide security assistance to the Ukrainians for as long as it takes."

"The Ukrainians have amazed the world in terms of their ability to fight back, their ability to exercise initiative, their commitment to the defense of their democracy," he said. "And that willingness to fight has rallied the international community in an effort to help provide them the security assistance so that they can continue to fight."

10:06 a.m. ET, October 2, 2022

Ukraine ready to facilitate rotation of nuclear watchdog experts at Zaporizhzhia plant, foreign minister says

From CNN’s Kostan Nechyporenko and Pierre Meilhan

Ukraine is ready to facilitate the rotation of experts from the UN nuclear watchdog agency, at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Sunday.

Kuleba tweeted that he spoke to the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi and “stressed Russia must withdraw troops and military equipment from the station.”

The minister added that Grossi assured that the IAEA “spares no effort to ensure the release of the ZNPP director abducted by Russia.”

Grossi said Saturday that the IAEA received information about the detention of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant Director General Ihor Murashov, and that it “has been in contact with the relevant authorities and has been informed that Mr. Murashov is in temporary detention,” according to an IAEA statement.

“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 added.

The IAEA chief added that his agency “has been actively seeking clarifications and hopes for a prompt and satisfactory resolution of this matter.”

“He reiterated that this detention has a very significant impact on at least two of the seven indispensable nuclear safety and security pillars that he outlined at the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine,” the IAEA said.

Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear complex of its kind in Europe, was seized by Russian forces at the start of the war.

The plant and the area around it, including the nearby city of Enerhodar, have endured persistent shelling that has raised fears of a nuclear accident through the interruption of the power supply to the plant. Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of acts of nuclear terrorism.

 View Kuleba's tweet here:

12:44 p.m. ET, October 2, 2022

Russian officials criticize military leadership for Lyman retreat

From CNN's Katharina Krebs in London

Russian officials have criticized Russia’s military leadership following the retreat of Russian forces from the strategic eastern city of Lyman, in the Donetsk region.

Russian lawmaker and former army commander, Andrei Gurulev, said he could not explain this “surrender” from a military point of view, speaking on air on Soloviev Live, a pro-Kremlin channel on Saturday. 

“It is not clear to me why they didn’t correctly assess the situation at that time, didn’t strengthen the group of troops,” Russian State Duma deputy and former commander of the 58th Army, Lieutenant General Andrei Gurulev said.

“This is probably a significant milestone not only military but also political, especially now,” he also said, adding that “the problem is the general lies, the report of a good situation. This system goes from top to bottom.”

His comments follow the Russian defense ministry saying Saturday that Russian forces had retreated from Lyman, a city which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday has been “completely liberated.”

Russian state media Russia-24 reported Saturday that the reason for Russia's withdrawal was because “the enemy used both Western-made artillery and intelligence from North Atlantic alliance countries.”

On Saturday, the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, also criticized the withdrawal.

He wrote on Telegram that the troops “were not provided with the necessary communication, interaction and the supply of ammunition,” and blamed the commander of the Central Military District Alexander Lapin, accusing him of moving his headquarters to Starobilsk, “a hundred kilometers away from his subordinates,” and that he “was holed up in Luhansk."

“It's not a shame that Lapin is mediocre, but the fact that he is covered at the top by the leaders in the General Staff," said Kadyrov in his post on Saturday, adding that "there is no place for nepotism in the army, especially in difficult times.”

 

8:38 a.m. ET, October 2, 2022

US "very encouraged" by Ukrainian capture of the city of Lyman, defense official says

From CNN’s Kostan Nechyporenko

The Ukrainian capture of the city of Lyman is “significant” and the US is “very encouraged” by what it's seeing from the Ukrainian military right now, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Saturday.

Russian forces retreated from Lyman, a strategic city for its operations in the east, the Russian defense ministry said Saturday, just a day after Moscow’s annexation of the region that’s been declared illegal by the West.

“Lyman sits astride the supply lines of the Russians. And they've used those routes to push men and material down to the south and to the west. And without those routes it will be more difficult. So this presents a sort of a dilemma for the Russians going forward,” Austin told reporters during a news conference at the US Indo-Pacific Command in Honolulu, Hawaii.

But Ukrainian progress on the battlefield has led to concern about a potential escalation in the war, including the potential use of nuclear weapons.

“What it means in terms of potential escalation, I won't speculate on that,” Austin said. “But what it does mean for the battlefield is that the Ukrainians continue to make progress and they continue to present problems to the Russians that they'll have to resolve. And again, we all have to be encouraged by what we're seeing," he said.

Austin told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Friday that while Putin could turn to nuclear weapons, there is no indication he is heading in that direction at this time.

"There are no checks on Mr. Putin. Just as he made the irresponsible decision to invade Ukraine, you know, he could make another decision. But I don't see anything right now that would lead me to believe that he has made such a decision," Austin said.

CNN's Duarte Mendonca contributed to this report.

9:45 a.m. ET, October 2, 2022

Pope Francis begs Putin for an immediate ceasefire to "absurd" war in Ukraine

From CNN's Mia Alberti

Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from his window at the Vatican, on October 2.
Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from his window at the Vatican, on October 2. (Vatican Media/­Reuters)

Pope Francis has renewed his appeal for an immediate ceasefire to the ongoing war in Ukraine, citing fears of escalation and nuclear threats, during his weekly Sunday mass. 

"In the name of God, in the name of the sense of humanity, I renew my appeal for an immediate ceasefire", the Pope told the crowds at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome earlier today.

"My appeal is directed mainly at the President of the Russian Federation, begging him to stop for the love of his people", the Pope said, also appealing to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to be "open to serious peace proposals."

Pope Francis said the war in Ukraine has turned into a devastating, dangerous and concerning conflict — a humanity "wound that keeps on bleeding" and risks expanding. 

"Certain actions cannot be justified, ever... What to say about the fact that humanity is once again facing a nuclear threat? It's absurd," the Pope said.

The Pope also urged the international community to do "whatever they can" to promote dialogue to end "this inhumane tragedy".

"The war is an error and a horror," he said.

 

8:23 a.m. ET, October 2, 2022

Ukrainian President says eastern city of Lyman “completely liberated”

From Kostan Nechyporenko and Chris Liakos

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that the eastern city of Lyman in the Donetsk region has been “completely liberated”

In a short video post on his official Telegram channel, Zelensky said “As of 12:30 p.m. [local time, 5:30 a.m. ET], Lyman was completely liberated. Thanks to our military! Glory to Ukraine!”

On Saturday, the Russian defense ministry said that Russian forces had retreated from the strategic city, which is located in the Kramatorsk district of Donetsk region.

Russian state media Russia-24 reported Saturday that the reason for Russia's withdrawal was because “the enemy used both Western-made artillery and intelligence from North Atlantic alliance countries.”

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