Latest news from Russia and the war in Ukraine

President Putin gets ready to meet Xi Jinping

Russia has increasingly looked to China for support as its relations with the West deteriorate, and Beijing has called for a diplomatic resolution to the war in Ukraine.

Alexei Druzhinin | Afp | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday as both leaders attend a security summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

The leaders are set to discuss the war in Ukraine as well as Taiwan when they meet at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization , according to Yury Ushakov, President Putin’s foreign affairs advisor, according to comments reported by Russian state news agency Ria Novosti on Tuesday.

The news agency quoted Ushakov as stating that Beijing “has a balanced approach to this issue” and understands the reasons for the “special military operation,” as Russia labels its invasion of Ukraine.

“If we are talking about a bilateral agenda, then a conversation on trade and economic cooperation will be very important during this contact. In the current difficult situation, in the face of illegitimate Western sanctions, this cooperation demonstrates stability, continues to develop progressively, gain momentum,” he said.

It’ll be Xi’s first foreign visit since the start of the Covid pandemic. China has tacitly supported Russia’s position regarding Ukraine but has also appeared keen to insulate itself from the global geopolitical and economic fallout from the war, having called for a cease-fire in Ukraine earlier this year.

— Holly Ellyatt

112 houses flooded, 11 people rescued but no casualties after Kryvyi Rih flooding

Ukrainian officials have released more details on the flowing in the city of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, which was targeted by Russian missile strikes yesterday.

Kyrylo Timoshenko, deputy head of the office of President Zelenskyy, posted on Telegram that after the strikes by Russian missiles, which targeted a major dam on the Inhulets river, 112 houses were flooded and rescuers had to save 11 people.

No deaths have been reported.

The local authorities organized four collection points for citizens to evacuate to in order to reach a safe zone, he added as he detailed how the river level rose after the dam was damaged.

“As a result of such a breach, the water level in the Ingulets River rose from 100cm to 190cm,” he said, saying that in order to lower the water level, it was necessary to blow up part of the hydraulic structures downstream.

After what he described as “the exhausting work of this long night,” the water level in the river has already dropped by 40cm, a detail also noted by the head of Dnipropetrovsk Regional Military Administration Valentyn Reznichenko.

“The water level in the Ingulets River has already dropped by 40 centimeters at the moment and continues to fall. Thank you to the rescuers, emergency services and everyone who worked through the night and continues to work now. Each of you did an incredible job,” Reznichenko said.

— Holly Ellyatt

European Commission chief visits Kyiv

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers the State of the European Union address to the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France, on Sept. 14, 2022.

Yves Herman | Reuters

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is in Kyiv on Thursday to discuss how to progress Ukraine’s membership bid to join the European Union.

“In Kyiv, for my 3rd visit since the start of Russia’s war. So much has changed,” von der Leyen said on Twitter.

“Ukraine is now a candidate” for EU membership, she said, adding that she would hold talks with President Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal about progressing its membership application.

The Ukraine’s membership bid was formally accepted earlier this year but it’s expected that it will take years for it to join the union.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russians’ flight from Kharkiv region shows ‘breakdowns in command and control’

The manner in which Russian forces withdrew, and fled, from the region of Kharkiv on northeastern Ukraine suggests a breakdown in command structures, the U.K. said in its latest intelligence update Thursday.

A damaged military vehicle is seen after the withdrawal of Russian forces in Balakliia, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine, on Sept. 13, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

“Ukrainian forces continue to consolidate their control of newly liberated areas of Kharkiv Oblast. Russian forces have largely withdrawn from the area west of the Oskil River,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Twitter.

“The way in which Russian forces have withdrawn in the last week has varied. Some units retreated in relatively good order and under control, while others fled in apparent panic,” it said.

“Such abandonment highlights the disorganised retreat of some Russian units and likely localised breakdowns in command and control.”

High-value equipment abandoned by withdrawing Russian forces included capabilities essential to enable Russia’s artillery-centric style of warfare, the ministry noted, including at least one Zoopark counter-battery radar and at least one IV14 artillery command and control vehicle.

— Holly Ellyatt

‘Active hostilities’ in Kherson amid reports of shelling and looting by Russian forces

De-occupied settlements in the region of Kherson in southern Ukraine are coming under Russian fire, a regional official warned on Thursday as he told residents to evacuate.

“The situation in the de-occupied settlements of the Kherson region is extremely difficult,” Yaroslav Yanushevych, head of the Kherson Regional Military Administration, said on Telegram, noting that one town had seen all of its houses damaged or destroyed while another had seen 80% of its properties destroyed.

Ukraine recently launched a counteroffensive in southern Ukraine to reclaim Russian-occupied territories. Unlike its counterattack in northeastern Ukraine, which has seen most of the region of Kharkiv de-occupied, a significant part of Kherson — the region above Russian-annexed Crimea — remains occupied by Russian forces although Ukraine has launched a series of counterattacks there and has made some gains.

A destroyed house following a missile strike in Mykolaiv on Aug. 29, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Dimitar Dilkoff | Afp | Getty Images

Yanushevych said the first thing Ukraine’s armed forces did when they liberated settlements from Russian occupation was to advise residents to leave immediately in expectation of Russian reprisals and attacks.

Yesterday Yanushevych said the “situation in the Kherson region remains extremely difficult, active hostilities continue.” 

The region’s infrastructure was being subjected “to devastating destruction every day due to shelling by the occupiers. In the temporarily occupied settlements, the Russians continue to seize administrative premises and loot,” he said. CNBC was unable to verify the information in the official’s post.

— Holly Ellyatt

Zelenskyy tells Crimeans that Ukraine is coming

Zelenskyy tells Crimeans that Ukraine is coming

Video source: Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited a key city recently liberated by Ukrainian troops and had a message for residents of Crimea: “We will arrive.”

Zelenskyy spoke to reporters after visiting scenes of destruction inflicted by Russian troops and helping to hoist Ukraine’s flag at Izyum, which only a week ago was held by invading forces. A Ukrainian counteroffensive sent Russian troops into a retreat and reclaimed the city on Sept. 10.

“We will come,” Zelenskyy said, addressing residents of Crimea. “I don’t know when. And nobody knows when. But we have plans. So we’ll come, because…it’s our land, and it’s our people.”

Zelenskyy expressed concern about the cumulative effect of televised Russian propaganda on Crimean children who have never known what it’s like to be part of Ukraine. Russia’s military seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

“The information war is very strong, and Russia attacked [Crimeans] by television, media … and of course, it will be very difficult for children when we come,” Zelenskyy said.

— Ted Kemp

Russians target dam near Kryvyi Rih, causing flooding and evacuation of parts of the city

Russians have shelled a dam on the Inhulets River near Kryvyi Rih — President Zelenskyy’s home city — leading to flooding in parts of the city and residents being evacuated.

Oleksandr Vilkul, the head of the Kryvyi Rih military administration, said on Telegram last night that Russian missiles had hit a “very large hydrotechnical structure,” widely reported as a dam near the city.

“Dear residents of Kryvyi Rih, Russia has committed another terrorist act. They hit a very large hydrotechnical structure in Kryvyi Rih with eight cruise missiles. The attempt is to simply wash away a part of our city with water. We are monitoring the situation, the response efforts are underway, all services are involved, everyone is on the site. But the water level in the Inhulets River has risen,” Vilkul said.

He then named streets that citizens were being asked to evacuate as “the water in the Inhulets River has risen.”

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office, said eight Russian cruise missiles had attacked Kryvyi Rih, calling it a “terrorist act.”

“After all, rockets are aimed at buildings that are critically important for people’s livelihood,” he said in a post on Telegram with a video showing high water levels on the river and partially submerged trees on the banks.

“Today, the Russian troops directed the maximum number of their weapons to hydrotechnical structures. The goal is obvious — an attempt to create an emergency situation. It is not important to them whether people will remain without water or whether the city will be flooded. They need us to panic so it would be difficult for us to make decisions. So let’s not panic,” he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

President Zelenskyy involved in car accident, is unhurt

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a flag-hoisting ceremony in Izium after Ukrainian forces took control of the city from Russian forces in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Sept. 14, 2022.

Metin Atkas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was involved in a car accident in Kyiv last night, the president’s office said late last night.

Zelenskyy was not injured in the incident, the circumstances around which are now being investigated.

Presidential Press Secretary Serhii Nykyforov said on Facebook last night that “a car collided with the car of the President of Ukraine and escort vehicles.”

“Medics accompanying the head of the state provided the driver of the car with medical aid and transferred him to an ambulance. The president was examined by a doctor, no serious injuries were found. The law enforcement officers will find out all the circumstances of the accident.”

— Holly Ellyatt

‘It’s not surprising to us,’ Pentagon says of Ukraine counteroffensive

Ukrainian soldiers stand guard as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends flag hoisting ceremony in Izium after the Ukrainian forces took control of the city from the Russian forces in Kharkiv, Ukraine on September 14, 2022.

Metin Atkas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Pentagon hailed a series of lightning advances Ukraine made against Russian forces in the southern and eastern parts of the war-weary country.

“Certainly, since the beginning of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, we’ve seen the Ukrainians demonstrate a remarkable adaptability and their ability to use their warfighting capabilities to great effect,” Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters at the Pentagon.

“So, it’s not surprising to us that they have pushed as quickly as they have,” he added.

Ryder declined to confirm Ukrainian government reports that cited specific gains the country had made, adding that he would not speak on behalf of a foreign military.

He added that the U.S. would continue to provide security assistance to Kyiv and hailed Ukrainian forces’ “remarkable adaptability on the battlefield.”

— Amanda Macias

Estonia, one of NATO’s smallest countries, prepares additional aid package for Ukraine

Estonia’s Defence minister Hanno Pevkur speaks to the media before the Informal Meeting of European Union Defence Ministers.

Tomas Tkacik | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that his government is preparing another aid package for the war-torn country.

“The Ukrainian armed forces and people have shown immense courage. It is a proud feeling to see reports of success along Ukraine’s eastern front – it is a sure sign that our collective aid has had a positive impact and that it must continue,” Pevkur said, according to an Estonian readout of the meeting.

Estonia, one of NATO’s smallest member countries and a nation that borders Russia, has donated two field hospitals to Ukraine since Russia’s war broke out in late February.

Pevkur also met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.

“I was interested in hearing from the Minister of Defence about the specifics of aid that is needed now – that will be the basis for putting together our next aid package to Ukraine. In addition, we are currently contributing towards training efforts,” he added.

— Amanda Macias

30-40% chance of a collapse in the Russian army, says retired Air Marshal

A former senior member of the British armed forces has told Sky News said there is a 30-40% chance that Russia’s armed forces could collapse and the war could be over by Christmas.

Retired RAF Air Marshal Edward Stringer, the ex-director-general of the Defence Academy and director-general of Joint Force Development, Strategic Command, told Sky’s Kay Burley he previously thought the war would go into next year, but things have changed on the ground.

Two soldiers look at the southern frontline from their position, which is 5 km from it. Soledar is a town in the Donetsk region, where it is being hammered by Russian artillery as it sits along the crucial road that leads out of besieged Severodonetsk.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

He said: “I do not see that the Russians will be able to rebuild their armed forces to be able to re-seize the initiative and retake the offensive again.

“And so now we are into seeing how this develops on the ground and one hopes that Zelenskyy will be in a position where he can start to negotiate favourable terms and perhaps even defeat the entire Russian invasion of his country

“Eventually all conflicts end in negotiation. One has to calibrate to what extent you have to keep channels open and to what extent you allow him (Putin) to think that he’s still part of the family of nations.

“I always thought it would go into next year. I think it is possible now, and one hates to be the person that says it will all be over by Christmas, but it is possible now that there could be a collapse in the Russian armed forces… it’s a good 30-40%, and that calls into question the future of Putin, Putinism, and the West should think very strongly now about what the world looks like post-Putin.”

Read the original post here from Sky News.

— Sky News

As war began, Putin reportedly rejected a Ukraine peace deal recommended by aide

Vladimir Putin’s chief envoy on Ukraine told the Russian leader as the war began that he had struck a provisional deal with Kyiv that would satisfy Russia’s demand that Ukraine stay out of NATO, but Putin rejected it and pressed ahead with his military campaign, according to three people close to the Russian leadership who spoke to Reuters.

The Ukrainian-born envoy, Dmitry Kozak, told Putin that he believed the deal he had hammered out removed the need for Russia to pursue a large-scale occupation of Ukraine, according to these sources. Kozak’s recommendation to Putin to adopt the deal is being reported by Reuters for the first time.

Putin’s threat to halt all supplies raises the risk of energy rationing in Europe this winter.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Putin had repeatedly asserted prior to the war that NATO and its military infrastructure were creeping closer to Russia’s borders by accepting new members from eastern Europe, and that the alliance was now preparing to bring Ukraine into its orbit too. Putin publicly said that represented an existential threat to Russia, forcing him to react.

But, despite earlier backing the negotiations, Putin made it clear when presented with Kozak’s deal that the concessions negotiated by his aide did not go far enough and that he had expanded his objectives to include annexing swathes of Ukrainian territory, the sources said. The upshot: the deal was dropped.

Read the whole story by Reuters here

— Reuters

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