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UKRAINE UPDATE: 14 OCTOBER 2022

Erdoğan and Putin meet in Kazakhstan; Kyiv region struck by Iranian-made drones

Erdoğan and Putin meet in Kazakhstan; Kyiv region struck by Iranian-made drones
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 13 October 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Vyacheslav Prokofyev / Kremlin / Sputnik Pool)

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met on Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Kazakhstan, where the pair discussed a potential Turkish gas hub. Before the meeting, Erdoğan said Ankara’s goal was to help stop the ‘bloodshed’ in Ukraine, and ‘a fair peace can be achieved through diplomacy’. More grain vessels sailed on Thursday under the safe-transit deal that Turkey helped to broker.

The Kyiv region — although not Ukraine’s capital itself — was struck by Iranian-made drones on Thursday morning as air raid sirens rang out across much of the country for a fourth morning. Air strikes continued in the south, including Mykolaiv, where a multistorey apartment building was destroyed.

Ukraine’s allies gathered for a Nato defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels that was expected to result in the offer of more air defence capabilities. The UK got things started by pledging Amraam rockets capable of shooting down cruise missiles.

Key developments

On the ground

Russia carried out missile and drone strikes on more than 40 settlements overnight, notably around Makariv in the Bucha district to the northwest of the capital. Other cities, including Mykolaiv, Vinnytsya and Cherkasy also sustained damage, Ukraine’s military said. On Thursday, Russia carried out one missile attack, 15 airstrikes and 22 shellings from multiple launch rocket systems, the Ukrainian General Staff said on Facebook. Five Russian Kalibr missiles were shot down by Ukraine’s air defences, according to Facebook postings from Ukraine’s West and South commands.

Ex-boxing champ Klitschko calls Putin’s nuclear threat a bluff 

Vitali Klitschko, the former world heavyweight boxing champion who’s now mayor of Kyiv, said Putin’s threats to use nuclear arms in Ukraine were only a “big bluff”.

“If Putin talks about nuclear weapons, it shows a weakness” because his “army isn’t successful in the east or south” of Ukraine, Klitschko told Bloomberg Television.

Putin has threatened to use “all weapons systems available to us” as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine faced growing setbacks against a military deploying powerful modern arms supplied by its US and European allies.

 

 

Russia, Nato to hold nuclear drills despite rising tensions

Moscow and Nato are both proceeding with nuclear exercises, even as tensions escalate over Putin’s threats to use “all means available” — including atomic weapons — to defend land he claims to be Russian.

The drills come as Russia steps up its missile attacks on Ukraine, nearly eight months into its invasion and as its troops struggle to make headway on the ground.

In Washington, John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, told reporters that the annual Nato exercise to be conducted later in the autumn was planned “even in advance of the February 24 invasion of Ukraine by Russia” and will be held more than 1,000km from Russia. He said Russia’s planned exercise occurs every two years and is also “within the normal bounds of what Russia has done in the past”.

Nato vigilant in monitoring any change in Russia’s nuclear posture 

The alliance will be especially vigilant when Russia starts an expected annual exercise of its nuclear forces, its chief Jens Stoltenberg told reporters after a two-day meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels. Asked how allies will be able to distinguish preparations for a nuclear exercise from preparations for an attack, Stoltenberg said “we have very good intelligence”, adding that allies have monitored Russian nuclear forces for decades. “Of course, we will remain vigilant, not least in light of the veiled nuclear threats and the dangerous nuclear rhetoric we have seen from the Russian side.”

Russian attacks damaged 30% of Ukrainian energy infrastructure

Russian missiles and drones damaged energy capacity and facilities, including transmission stations and generating companies, in the attacks that started on Monday and continued throughout the week, Ukraine’s Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said on Bloomberg TV.

“The main target, as we understand, was just to make it difficult for us to survive this winter,” Halushchenko said.

He said Ukrainian officials expect to meet International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi in Kyiv on Thursday, days after he held a similar meeting with Putin. Grossi will bring the Russian response to Ukrainian demands as he meets with officials from both countries.

Ukraine sees possible Russian gas transit halt

That is one possible scenario after missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure this week, Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said on Bloomberg TV on Thursday. “Today transit is going on, though it decreased dramatically,” Halushchenko said. “We consider the scenario when Russia stops the transit.”

Russia, Ukraine agree on another prisoner swap

Russia and Ukraine have struck another prisoner swap agreement involving more than 70 military personnel.

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Thursday that 20 troops had been freed from Ukrainian captivity. The Ukrainian Presidency on Thursday and earlier this week announced the liberation of a total of 52 soldiers by Russia.

The deal comes after the countries last month conducted a major exchange of captives. Ukraine turned over 55 prisoners, including pro-Russian tycoon Viktor Medvedchuk, while Russia handed over 215 soldiers, the majority of whom were involved in the defence of Ukraine’s Azovstal steel plant, and 10 foreigners.

Occupation chief says residents should leave Kherson

The head of the Russian occupation administration in Ukraine’s Kherson region asked Kremlin authorities to help organise the departure of residents “because of the daily missile attacks by the Ukrainian military”.

Vladimir Saldo made the unusual appeal in an address on state television, less than two weeks after Putin signed annexation documents declaring Kherson and three other Ukrainian regions part of Russia “forever”. Russian forces don’t fully control any of the four regions and Ukraine’s military has been gradually advancing toward Kherson in recent weeks.

Russia limits heavy traffic on damaged Crimean Bridge

Russia has barred heavy freight trucks from using the damaged bridge linking it with the annexed Crimea peninsula, forcing them to travel by ferry or use a land detour via other occupied Ukrainian regions.

A queue of 900 trucks has built up waiting to cross the Kerch Strait by ferry, state TV reported. Vehicles travelling to Crimea through Ukrainian regions recently annexed by Russia in a move condemned as illegal by the UN, have a security escort.

Moscow blamed Ukrainian military intelligence for the 8 October explosion on the 19km bridge across the Kerch Strait.

Zelensky asks Cabinet to consider ending visa-free regime with Belarus  

Volodymyr Zelensky asked Ukraine’s Cabinet to consider the cancellation of Kyiv’s visa-free regime with Belarus, according to a statement on the President’s website. The move came after a public e-petition launched in July and supported by more than 25,000 people.

Zelensky said all checkpoints on the Ukraine-Belarus border are closed, except one in Volyn, which is used for Ukrainian citizens returning back to the country from abroad.

Scholz deplores Putin’s ‘crusade’

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz accused Russia’s president of waging a “crusade” against Europe and its liberal order of peace and prosperity, in some of his strongest comments about the almost eight-month invasion of Ukraine.

“Vladimir Putin and his enablers made one thing very clear: This war is not only about Ukraine,” Scholz told a conference in Berlin. “They consider their war against Ukraine to be part of a larger crusade, a crusade against liberal democracy, a crusade against the rules-based international order.”

Czech government bans Russian entry on tourist visas

The Czech Republic joined Poland, Finland and the Baltic states in announcing a ban on entry by Russian citizens with Schengen visas issued by other European Union states for the purposes of tourism, sports or culture.

Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky told reporters that entry will be denied to Russians arriving by plane from a non-Schengen country starting on 25 October. The Czech Republic was the first EU country to suspend the issuance of new visas to Russian citizens, days after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

European gas prices whipsaw after Putin’s infrastructure comment

European natural gas swung as anxiety mounted over the safety of infrastructure that’s key to ensuring supply to the continent.

Traders are on edge with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying any energy infrastructure in the world is at risk after the recent Nord Stream explosions — regarded by many as a veiled threat of future sabotage efforts.

 

 

Another six grain ships depart 

Six vessels carrying a total of 154,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain sailed early on Thursday, taking total foodstuffs shipped under the safe-transit deal brokered by Turkey and the UN for three Black Sea ports to almost 7.4 million tonnes since early August, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister said on Twitter.

Nato countries back German plan for anti-missile shield 

At least 15 countries of the Nato military alliance have signed a letter of intent to join a long-term German project to create a European anti-missile shield that would boost protection for much of the continent.

The system will have several layers to intercept various kinds of missiles from different heights, possibly linking up Israeli Arrow 3 air defence systems as well as US-made Patriots and German Iris-Ts, and would be fully deployable through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

UK providing air defence missiles to Ukraine

The UK said it would donate Amraam air defence missiles to help Ukraine defend against Russian missile strikes. The rockets would be provided in the coming weeks and would help defend Ukrainian infrastructure, Britain’s defence ministry said in a statement. The UK said it would also donate more drones for information-gathering and 18 extra howitzer artillery guns, in addition to 64 already delivered. DM

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