October 3, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Rhea Mogul, Sana Noor Haq, Laura Smith-Spark, Mike Hayes and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 1:58 a.m. ET, October 4, 2022
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10:03 a.m. ET, October 3, 2022

It's 5 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

From CNN Staff

Ukraine's forces retook more territory in the eastern Donetsk region on Sunday, a military spokesperson said, following the liberation of the key city of Lyman. Ukraine also struck Russian targets during efforts to win back neighboring Luhansk, the official added.

Ukrainian forces have also made additional gains in the country’s south, pushing towards the occupied city of Kherson and capturing the town of Zolota Balka on the western bank of the Dnipro river, according to a regional official and pro-Russian military blogger.

“Our Armed Forces are powerfully advancing just along the bank of the Dnipro closer to Berislav,” Serhii Khlan, adviser to the head of Ukraine’s Kherson region military administration, said in a news briefing.

Catch up on more of the latest headlines from Russia's war in Ukraine:

  • Russia begins process to rubber-stamp annexations: Russia’s legislature on Monday began the process of approving President Vladimir Putin’s decision to annex four parts of Ukraine in violation of international law, a move that comes as the Ukrainian military continues to liberate towns previously occupied by Russian forces. The procedure is expected to be a formality, although it will take a couple of days. Putin and his allies effectively control both branches of the Russian legislature, and the space for political dissent in Russia has shrunk in recent years. Meanwhile, the Kremlin said Monday that Moscow will “continue consulting” with the residents of the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions to establish the exact borders of the Ukrainian regions claimed to be annexed by Russia following last week's so-called referendums, which have been dismissed by Ukraine and Western nations as "a sham." Part of the territory in these regions is still currently under control of the Ukrainian military. Putin's spokesperson declined to comment on whether Russia will consider this as its own land.

  • The US is considering how to respond to possible Russian escalation in Ukraine: With concerns growing that Vladimir Putin will escalate Russia’s war in Ukraine, the US is considering how to respond to a range of potential scenarios, including fears that Russians could use tactical nuclear weapons, according to three sources briefed on the latest intelligence. The US has since the start of the conflict been developing contingency plans to respond, including to the possibility that Russia’s President could escalate via a step just short of a nuclear attack on Ukraine.
  • Swedish Coast Guard says leak from Nord Stream 2 pipeline has increased in size: The Swedish Coast Guard said that one leak from the Nord Stream 2 pipeline had not stopped but instead grown larger in size, according to Swedish authorities. Following a fly-over of the leak locations on Monday morning a leak from Nord Stream 1 was no longer visible and therefore could be said to have stopped, the Swedish Coast Guard said. However, “the smaller one from Nord Stream 2 is instead slightly larger than yesterday” and measured around 30 meters in diameter, the coast guard said in a statement.
  • Russian forces look to bolster numbers: The Russian military is carrying out “door-to-door” checks in occupied areas of Ukraine, looking for young men of conscription age, the Ukrainian military said on Monday, adding that Moscow has stepped up document inspections at checkpoints. Ukrainian officials have been warning for some time that Russia planned on using its claimed annexations as a pretext to draft Ukrainians in occupied areas.
9:48 a.m. ET, October 3, 2022

Ukraine is offering the US targeting oversight in bid for new long-range rockets, officials tell CNN 

From CN's Alex Marquardt

In an effort to overcome Biden administration resistance to providing it with a new set of powerful, long-range rocket systems, the Ukrainian government is now offering the US full and ongoing visibility into their list of intended Russian targets, multiple officials familiar with the discussions tell CNN.

Why this matters: The remarkable transparency essentially gives the US veto power over Ukrainian targeting of Russia and is meant to convince the administration that providing the critical weapons would not lead to strikes inside Russian territory, which the US fears would escalate the war and draw it directly into a conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At issue are the Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, surface-to-surface missiles that can fly around 200 miles (300 kilometers), about four times the distance of the rockets used by the HIMARS mobile systems the US began sending to Ukraine four months ago.

U.S. Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) fires a missile into the East Sea during a South Korea-U.S. joint missile drill on July 29, 2017 in East Coast, South Korea.
U.S. Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) fires a missile into the East Sea during a South Korea-U.S. joint missile drill on July 29, 2017 in East Coast, South Korea. (South Korean Defense Ministry/Getty Images)

Despite Ukraine’s proposal, the Biden administration still has not approved the new long-range ATACMS weapons, and argues that Ukraine is doing well with the HIMARS systems it currently has. In fact on Wednesday the administration announced funding for 18 more HIMARS for Ukraine, bringing the total to over 30 US systems.

There are also concerns inside the administration that providing the longer-range ATACMS weapons would cross a red line in the eyes of Moscow, which would see the US becoming “a direct party to the conflict.”

But that red line is becoming murkier with Friday’s annexation of four Ukraine territories by Russia. The US has stated that it will support the use of western weapons inside those zones even if Russia now considers it part of its official territory.

Still, the idea of taking a more active role in discussions over Ukrainian targeting raises American fears of being seen as more involved than it would like.

12:45 p.m. ET, October 3, 2022

Lyman residents tell CNN that Russians left the city in an orderly fashion

From CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and Victoria Butenko in Lyman, Ukraine

Ukrainian military manoeuvre through the streets of Lyman, Ukraine, on October 2.
Ukrainian military manoeuvre through the streets of Lyman, Ukraine, on October 2. (CNN)

The ghostly emptiness of the streets of Lyman in eastern Ukraine belies this city’s strategic significance.

There is no sign of Russian troops at all – few damaged Russian tanks, or Russian dead, or Russian prisoners. Members of the Ukrainian National Guard from the Dnipro-1 unit hover in small numbers on some streets.

The occasional rattle of gunfire, or thud of artillery, pierces the silence. A few locals emerge, riding bicycles, searching for food, bewildered about what is happening.

“One day I wear one cap, another day a different cap”, said one woman in tears, pretending to take off a hat.

“How can we live like this”, she said, referring to the changing control of the town.

CNN were likely the first media into the recently liberated city, arriving thirty minutes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared the town completely cleared of Russians troops.

Ukrainian officials and troops had spoken repeatedly of large numbers of Moscow’s better units being trapped there. Yet on Sunday there were few signs of encirclement to be seen.

Some officials said Russian corpses had already been cleared away, and prisoners removed. But locals offered another explanation: that Russian forces had left the city on Friday in an orderly fashion.

“They got on their tanks, and drove out”, said Tanya, riding her bicycle back to the bomb shelter, where she still spends the nights with 15 others.

A Ukrainian army spokesperson, asked to respond to CNN’s reporting, denied there had been a Russian withdrawal two days ago, saying there had been fighting in the area as recently as Saturday.

Read more of CNN's reporting from the ground here.

9:43 a.m. ET, October 3, 2022

Russian Parliament begins process to rubber-stamp annexations, in violation of international law

From CNN's Olga Voitovych and Joshua Berlinger

Members of the Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament, attend a session to approve laws on annexing Ukraine's Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions into Russia, in Moscow, Russia, on October 3.
Members of the Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament, attend a session to approve laws on annexing Ukraine's Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions into Russia, in Moscow, Russia, on October 3. (Russian State Duma/Reuters)

Russia’s legislature on Monday began the process of approving President Vladimir Putin’s decision to annex four parts of Ukraine in violation of international law, a move that comes as the Ukrainian military continues to liberate towns previously occupied by Russian forces.

The procedure is expected to be a formality, although it will take a couple of days. Putin and his allies effectively control both branches of the Russian legislature, and the space for political dissent in Russia has shrunk in recent years.

The lower house, the State Duma, voted unanimously Monday to approve the annexation, according to Russia’s state-run TASS news agency. The upper house, the Federation Council, is scheduled to hold meetings on the topic on Tuesday, TASS reported.

But the maneuverings inside the ornate halls of the Kremlin stand in stark contrast to the facts on the ground in the detritus-strewn battlefields of eastern Ukraine.

Where things stand on the ground: Russian forces have suffered a series of surprising defeats in eastern Ukraine, forcing them to retreat and abandon several positions in areas the Kremlin is annexing. Pro-Russian propagandists and bloggers have been unusually critical of the war effort in recent days, as town after town falls to Ukrainian forces.

One prominent Russian pro-government tabloid, Komsomolskaya Pravda, said Russian forces had to retreat in the strategically important city of Lyman because they lacked manpower and communicated poorly, and commanding officers there made “mistakes.”

Now, much of the territory Moscow claims as its own in Donetsk region is under the control of Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that the country had taken back Lyman, while the Ukrainian military said it had recaptured the nearby villages of Drobysheve and Torske, putting Kyiv in a better position as it seeks to take back the Luhansk region.

9:22 a.m. ET, October 3, 2022

US considering how to respond to possible Russian escalation in Ukraine, sources say

From CNN's Jim Sciutto

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the signing ceremony with separatist leaders on the annexation of four Ukrainian regions at the Grand Kremlin Palace, on September 30, in Moscow, Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the signing ceremony with separatist leaders on the annexation of four Ukrainian regions at the Grand Kremlin Palace, on September 30, in Moscow, Russia. (Getty Images)

With concerns growing that Vladimir Putin will escalate Russia’s war in Ukraine, the US is considering how to respond to a range of potential scenarios, including fears that Russians could use tactical nuclear weapons, according to three sources briefed on the latest intelligence.

The US has since the start of the conflict been developing contingency plans to respond, including to the possibility that Russia’s President could escalate via a step just short of a nuclear attack on Ukraine, through what one source described as a “nuclear display,” such as a potential military strike on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, or the detonation of a nuclear device at high-altitude or away from populated areas.

Officials caution the US has not detected preparations for a nuclear strike. However, experts view them as potential options the US must prepare for as Russia’s invasion falters and as Moscow annexes more Ukrainian territory.

US officials have also taken somber note of the Russian President’s repeated public threats to use nuclear weapons. In a televised address late last month, Putin said, “If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people. This is not a bluff.”

On Friday, at a ceremony in which he announced the illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions, Putin said Russia would use “all available means” to defend the areas, adding that the US had “created a precedent” for nuclear attacks in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.

“Putin is capable of anything,” Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN. While noting there is no evidence yet of preparations for such an attack, Quigley added, “You have to take him seriously.”

The US is studying the range of potential scenarios in order to have contingency plans in place for how it and its partners would respond to any such attacks. The potential for a “nuclear display” is considered an option if Putin stops short of ordering a nuclear strike on Ukrainian forces or population centers, opting instead for what one official described as a “show of bravado.”

8:31 a.m. ET, October 3, 2022

Ukrainian official: Ukraine makes further gains in south, including capturing town on bank of Dnipro river

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv and Mick Krever in London

Ukrainian forces have made additional gains in the country’s south, pushing towards the occupied city of Kherson and capturing the town of Zolota Balka on the western bank of the Dnipro river, according to a regional official and pro-Russian military blogger.

“Our Armed Forces are powerfully advancing just along the bank of the Dnipro closer to Berislav,” Serhii Khlan, adviser to the head of Ukraine’s Kherson region military administration, said in a news briefing.

The head of the Russian-appointed administration in Kherson, for his part, acknowledged that Ukrainian forces were advancing along the Dnipro river.

“What can I say, my friends?,” Kirill Stremousov said on Telegram. “The Nazi forces got through a little bit further but our defense is working.”

“We are repelling all the attacks and to be fair those who are panicking today on social media they have to take a pause. It’s not Kharkiv here, it’s not Lyman here. We are holding our defence lines.” 

Boris Rozhin, a Russian military blogger, said that Russian forces were trying to hold off Ukraine’s offensive.

“Artillery duels are going on between Zolota Balka and Dudchan,” said on Telegram. “Armed Forces of Ukraine are equipping strongholds in occupied positions.

8:21 a.m. ET, October 3, 2022

Swedish Coast Guard says leak from Nord Stream 2 pipeline has increased in size

From CNN’s Livvy Doherty

The release of gas emanating from a leak on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea on September 27 is seen in this handout image provided by Swedish Coast Guard.
The release of gas emanating from a leak on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea on September 27 is seen in this handout image provided by Swedish Coast Guard. (Swedish Coast Guard/Getty Images)

The Swedish Coast Guard said that one leak from the Nord Stream 2 pipeline had not stopped but instead grown larger in size, according to Swedish authorities.

Following a fly-over of the leak locations on Monday morning a leak from Nord Stream 1 was no longer visible and therefore could be said to have stopped, the Swedish Coast Guard said.

However, “the smaller one from Nord Stream 2 is instead slightly larger than yesterday” and measured around 30 metres in diameter, the coast guard said in a statement.

The coast guard added that it is taking "emergency" measures for a longer time than expected, due to the larger leak.

The coast guard's announcement came after Russian state-owned energy supplier Gazprom earlier stated all leaks had stopped in both pipelines, but said it is still working to “reduce pressure in line B of the Nord Steam 2 gas pipeline.”

It is unclear if pressure in line B could lead to the larger leak seen by the coast guard.

The pipelines, which run under the Baltic Sea near Sweden and Denmark, were created to funnel gas from Russian into the European Union.

More background: When Swedish authorities first cited the leaks on Tuesday it prompted fears around European reliance on Russian energy, a problem that has only deepened since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February.

European leaders swiftly denounced the leaks, with European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, saying the leaks were likely "the result of a deliberate act." European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen referred to them as "sabotage action."

US President Joe Biden said the leaks were a "deiberate act of sabotage," after it emerged that European security officials on Monday and Tuesday observed Russian Navy support ships in the vicinity of leaks in the Nord Stream pipelines likely caused by underwater explosions.

At the time it was unclear whether the ships had anything to do with the explosions, these sources and others said -- adding that it was one of the many factors investigators would be probing.

CNN's Allie Malloy, Maegan Vazquez, Katie Bo Lillis, Natasha Bertrand and Kylie Atwood contributed reporting.

5:35 p.m. ET, October 3, 2022

Ukrainian forces advance into the Luhansk region, pro-Russian officials say

From Olga Voitovych in Kyiv and Mick Krever in London

After regaining the key eastern Ukrainian city of Lyman over the weekend, Ukrainian forces have continued their counteroffensive and pushed into the Luhansk region, according to pro-Russian officials and propagandists.

“The Armed Forces of Ukraine managed to cross the administrative border of the LPR and gain a foothold in the direction of the settlement of Lysychansk,” Andrey Marochko, a military leader in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), said on Telegram on Monday.

Russia controls nearly all of Ukraine’s Luhansk region; Ukrainian forces liberated the Luhansk village of Bilohorivka at the end of September.

Ukrainian forces have continued their offensive towards the Russian-occupied towns of Svatove and Kreminna, in the Luhansk region, a pro-Russian journalist, military blogger and analyst said.

“In the face of the threat to our grouping in the area of ​​the settlement of Borova, it was decided to withdraw it to the line of the Zherebets River, which was done tonight,” Yuriy Podolyaka wrote on Telegram.

“In the area of ​​Kreminna, the enemy is also not particularly active today, but the concentration of troops suggests that a new offensive in this direction (towards Svatove and Kreminna) should begin any day,” he said.

Kyiv is now advancing into the Luhansk region, according to military representative for the so-called People's Militia of the Luhansk People's Republic.

"Now the Ukrainian media have begun to very actively share information that the Armed Forces of Ukraine have crossed the administrative border of the LPR, and they are rejoicing,” Andrey Marochko said, quoted by the Luhansk Media Center.

“But in fact, there are no administrative borders for the military now, in fact, Ukrainian troops entered ‘the fire bag’ and are being actively destroyed by our troops," Marochko added.

10:08 a.m. ET, October 3, 2022

Russian tabloid describes "mistakes" in battle for Lyman

From CNN's Mick Krever

Ukrainian troops pose for a photo in Lyman, Ukraine, in this picture released in social media October 1.
Ukrainian troops pose for a photo in Lyman, Ukraine, in this picture released in social media October 1. (Oleksiy Biloshytskyi/Reuters)

Russian troops in eastern Ukraine withdrew from the city of Lyman after facing a lack of manpower, poor communications and “mistakes” by commanding officers, according to a revealing report in a Russian pro-government tabloid.

“The risk of being encircled and the prospects of the humiliating captivity were too big, and the commanders made a decision to retreat,” the writer, who was embedded with Russian troops, wrote in Komsomolskaya Pravda.

Residents of Lyman who spoke with CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh said that Russian troops began retreating late on Friday – just as Russian President Vladimir Putin was celebrating his claimed annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk region, where Lyman is located. 

The author of the newspaper report said the Russian troops had described “all the usual stuff.” 

“No decent communication between different units. Nobody knows what is happening at the neighboring positions. When you ask for the artillery support through a convoluted system of reports, it takes time and our targets are long gone.”

The reason for the Russians’ retreat, too, was “typical,” the report said.

“Not enough soldiers, mistakes of the commanders when organizing the defense,” according to the tabloid account.

“The so-called ‘500’s’ – the contract soldiers who refuse to fight and leave the battlefield. Late arrival of the reserves played its role too as well as lack of coordination between units on the ground and lack of modern equipment when it comes to intelligence.”