October 4, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Adrienne Vogt, Sana Noor Haq and Aditi Sangal, CNN

Updated 1:27 a.m. ET, October 5, 2022
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3:15 a.m. ET, October 4, 2022

Russia removes commander following losses in Kharkiv, records show

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

Destroyed Russian armored vehicles left behind by the Russian forces in Izium, Kharkiv, Ukraine, on October 2.
Destroyed Russian armored vehicles left behind by the Russian forces in Izium, Kharkiv, Ukraine, on October 2. (Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Russian authorities have removed the commander of the country's Western Military District (WMD), according to records from its Unified State Registry published Monday.

The Unified State Registry, which functions as a state record of all registered legal entitles, has listed Col. Gen. Roman Berdnikov as the new commander of the Western Military District. It comes as Russian forces have pulled out from many parts of eastern Ukraine. 

The WMD, based in western Russia, is one of five Russian military districts. It played a significant role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Berdnikov replaces Col. Gen. Alexander Zhuravlyov, who has also been a commander in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, where Russian forces suffered heavy losses in past weeks. Bednikov’s appointment comes on the heels of the Russian retreat from the strategic eastern city of Lyman, in the Donetsk region.

More on the former commander: Zhuravlyov, known for overseeing one of the most brutal chapters of Syria’s war, also oversaw a rocket artillery brigade, whom CNN identified launching cluster munitions attacks in residential districts of Kharkiv in late February, during the early days of the war.

Russian officials have criticized the country’s military leadership following the retreat in Lyman. Lawmaker and former army commander Andrei Gurulev said he could not explain this “surrender” from a military point of view, speaking on Soloviev Live, a pro-Kremlin TV channel on Saturday.

Berdnikov graduated from the Kyiv Suvorov Military School in 1991 and from the Moscow Higher Combined Arms Command School in 1995.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has yet to confirm the leadership change at the Western Military District.

8:29 a.m. ET, October 4, 2022

EU summons Russian ambassadors over "illegal" annexation of Ukrainian territories

From CNN's Chris Liakos

The European Union has summoned in a "coordinated manner” the Russian ambassadors in EU member states following Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision last week to annex Ukrainian regions, an EU spokesperson told CNN Monday. 

“In response to latest steps by Russia escalating even more its aggression against Ukraine — with sham referenda and illegal annexation of the Ukrainian territories — the EU summoned in coordinated manner the Russian ambassadors in the EU member states and to the EU institutions,” Peter Stano, the EU’s spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy, told CNN.

Stano said the move aims to “convey strong condemnation of these actions” and demand the “immediate halt to steps undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity and violating UN Charter and international law.”

The summoning started on Friday last week, according to Stano. The Russian ambassador to the EU was summoned in Brussels Monday afternoon, he added.

3:17 a.m. ET, October 4, 2022

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

From CNN'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 Ukrainian 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.

8:28 a.m. ET, October 4, 2022

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

From CNN's 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 toward 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."

3:19 a.m. ET, October 4, 2022

Russian Parliament begins process to rubber-stamp annexations as Moscow struggles to define borders

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, despite the fact that the Kremlin is not in full control of those regions and has not settled upon the exact boundaries of the territories it is attempting to absorb.

Legislative approval of the annexation, which is illegal under international law, 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.

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

Russian forces have suffered a series of surprising defeats in eastern Ukraine, forcing them to retreat and abandon several positions in areas the Kremlin declares it is annexing. Much of the territory Moscow claims as its own in Donetsk region is under the control of Ukrainian forces, and the Kremlin appears unsure of the exact borders of the regions it plans to annex. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow needed to “continue consulting” with the local populations before establishing its borders.

Read more here.

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

US considering responses to possible Russian escalation in Ukraine

From CNN's Jim Sciutto

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.”

Read more:

8:28 a.m. ET, October 4, 2022

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

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv and Mick Krever in London

Ukrainian forces have made additional gains in the country’s south, pushing toward 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 defense 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.