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UKRAINE UPDATE: 17 OCTOBER 2022

Massacre at Russian training camp; mayor’s office in annexed city hit by missile

Massacre at Russian training camp; mayor’s office in annexed city hit by missile
The wreckage of a vehicle near building ruins in the recently recaptured village of Lyptsi, near Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine, 15 October 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Sergey Kozlov)

At least 11 soldiers were killed after two men — said to be from an unnamed ex-Soviet state — opened fire at a Russian military training camp near the border with Ukraine, according to state-run media. The incident comes as Russia intensifies mobilisation efforts and has already deployed thousands of new recruits into combat.

A missile struck the mayor’s office in Russian-annexed Donetsk on Sunday. More than a dozen explosions were reported near the Belgorod airport in Russia, not far from the border with Ukraine, injuring at least four. A day earlier, a fiery blast occurred at a Belgorod-area fuel depot.

President Vladimir Putin plans to hold a security council meeting in the coming week, Russian media reported. No day was given and no specific agenda was provided. Russia’s leader typically gathers the council a few times a month; it last met on 14 October, the day Moscow launched dozens of missile strikes across Ukraine.

Key developments

On the ground

Two people were injured in a strike in the Belgorod region, about 50km north of the border with Ukraine, the region’s governor said. Social media posts suggested multiple explosions and showed smoke billowing. Russian forces conducted five missile and 23 air strikes, as well as attacks from multiple-launch rockets, in the past 24 hours and more than 30 settlements were hit, Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said on Facebook early on Sunday. It said Russian attacks were repelled in several areas, but there were no indications of major changes at the frontline. Ten Ukrainians were killed and 14 injured in Saturday strikes, according to the deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s staff, Kyrylo Tymoshenko.

Ukraine, Turkish officials meet on grain deal

Oleksander Kubrakov, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, held talks on Sunday with Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s defence minister, on the Black Sea safe-transit deal that’s seen more than 7.5 million tonnes of Ukrainian farm products shipped since August.

Separately, in Moscow, UN Deputy Secretary-General Martin Griffiths held talks on the deal with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin, according to Tass. There was no immediate word on the outcome.

Kubrakov said there was “no doubt” the initiative, which runs until 22 November, will continue. Ukraine is keen to speed up vessel inspections by the Turkish-run coordination centre, Tass reported. More than 340 ships have sailed under the initiative so far, including another four on Sunday.

 

 

Belarus says Russia sending 9,000 troops for joint force

Moscow plans to send about 9,000 troops to Belarus for a new joint force, while warplanes are also en route, Tass reported, citing officials in Minsk. A Belarusian monitoring group spotted Russian MiG-31 fighters flying into Minsk.

The first of the trains carrying the Russians have begun to arrive and the process will take several days, Belarusian officials said.

Belarus announced the force last week, fuelling fears it could be a cover for a new move by Russian troops into Ukraine from the north. Moscow launched its failed drive toward Kyiv in February from Belarusian territory.

Mayor’s office in Russian-annexed city hit by missile strike

The mayor’s office in the Russian-annexed Ukrainian city of Donetsk was hit by a missile on Sunday, injuring four people and causing substantial damage, state news agencies reported.

RIA said the attack was a direct hit on the building in downtown Donetsk, the capital of one of the self-declared separatist zones in the Donbas region. Local officials also reported one person was killed in another attack in the area on Sunday.

The strike came as several explosions were heard in the Belgorod region of Russia, about 50km north of the Ukrainian border. Social media posts show smoke billowing from around the city’s airport.

Forced deportations amount to ‘ethnic cleansing of Ukrainians’

Massive, forced deportations of Ukrainians, including children subsequently put up for adoption, “likely amount to a deliberate ethnic cleansing campaign” and a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, said the Institute for the Study of War.

Moscow may be carrying out a wider ethnic cleansing campaign “by depopulating Ukrainian territory through deportations and repopulating Ukrainian cities with imported Russian citizens”, the US-based military analysts said in a report.

Ukrainian sources have said that reconstruction projects in Mariupol, the southern city mostly razed by Russian bombardments in the spring, are intended to house “tens of thousands of Russians.”

Gazprom threatens to cut gas supplies to countries that cap prices

Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller said the Russian gas giant would suspend supplies to countries that impose a price cap, reiterating a threat made by the Kremlin.

Miller said any cap would be a breach of contract terms and thus lead to a halt in deliveries, Tass reported. With European leaders discussing a possible limit on prices for fuel from Russia, Vladimir Putin and his government have said they would cut shipments in retaliation.

Most of Russia’s gas exports to western Europe, once its largest export market, have been suspended amid ongoing tensions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Iran ‘stepping up arms deliveries to Russia’

Tehran will supply Russia with what officials describe as the first Iranian-made surface-to-surface missiles, in addition to replenishing its supply of attack drones, The Washington Post reported, citing US and allied security officials.

Iran is preparing for the first time to send Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar short-range ballistic missiles, the newspaper reported, citing officials briefed on the matter. Such missiles would help Moscow replenish a fast-shrinking supply of precision-guided munitions, such as those used in last week’s strikes against several Ukrainian cities.

Iran has repeatedly denied supplying drones to Russia despite mounting evidence of their use in the war. Ukraine’s military estimates Russia still has about 300 Iranian-made drones with plans to buy thousands more. Separately, the UK Defence Ministry said on Sunday that Russia was probably incapable of producing advanced munitions at the rate they’re being expended.

Eleven killed in shooting at Russian training base

At least 11 people were killed and 15 wounded at a training base in the Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border on Saturday, Russia’s Defence Ministry said, according to Interfax. Unconfirmed reports on Telegram put the death toll much higher. The Belgorod region’s governor called the incident “terrorism”.

The two citizens of another unnamed ex-Soviet state who opened fire at the weapons training session for “volunteers” headed to Ukraine were killed, the ministry said. Calling the attackers “terrorists”, the ministry provided few other details. The region’s governor said all the dead and wounded were military personnel.

Moscow has sought to build up the ranks of its military by offering citizens of former Soviet states the chance to receive Russian passports in return for serving in its military.

Ukraine’s Naftogaz in talks to market gas reserves — report  

Ukraine is in talks with US drillers to pump gas from its untapped reserves to Europe and ease the region’s energy crisis by the end of the decade, The Telegraph reported, citing an interview with an adviser to Naftogaz’s chief executive.

“We have a number of resources and gas reserves there that are basically the second largest in Europe,” said Myron Wasylyk. “We estimate there could be up to 40 billion cubic metres.”

Musk signals he’s backing off Starlink threat 

Elon Musk said on Saturday he’d continue to fund Starlink satellites in Ukraine “for free” after a standoff with the US Defence Department over the cost of their deployment.

Musk threatened a day earlier to cut financial support for SpaceX’s satellite internet service in Ukraine, claiming that the operation had cost his company $80-million so far. The Pentagon said it was in talks with SpaceX while the US is looking at other options. DM

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