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UKRAINE UPDATE: 18 OCTOBER 2022

Russia strikes Kyiv with explosive drones; EU signs off on additional €500m in weapons aid

Russia strikes Kyiv with explosive drones; EU signs off on additional €500m in weapons aid
Ukrainian rescuers work at the site of a destroyed residential building after a drone attack in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, 17 October 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Oleg Petrasyuk)

Russia attacked Kyiv for the second time since last Monday, striking the city centre with Iranian-made drones that are essentially winged missiles, capable of loitering until they lock on to a target. Four people were killed and residential buildings were damaged, local authorities said.

Foreign ministers of the European Union agreed to train around 15,000 Ukrainians, including for combat, as soon as mid-November and signed off on an additional €500-million in weapons financing. They were also due to discuss reports about Iran’s military support for Russia’s invasion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans a security council meeting this week, state media reported. The group last met on 10 October, the day Moscow launched dozens of missile strikes across Ukraine.

Key developments

On the ground

Apart from the attack on Kyiv, an X-59 missile was fired from a Russian Su-35 aircraft from the direction of the Black Sea and hit an infrastructure facility in the Odesa region, the Southern Operational Command said on Facebook. On Sunday, 14 Ukrainian civilians were killed by Russian attacks and another 15 were injured, according to the deputy head of the president’s staff, Kyrylo Tymoshenko. Russia attacked the Mykolaiv region with explosive-laden drones late on Sunday, hitting industrial infrastructure and a pharmaceutical warehouse, Ukraine’s southern operational command said on Facebook.

Belarus to conduct live-fire exercises with Russia 

As many as 9,000 servicemen from Russia will be deployed to Belarus as part of a joint military force, Valeriy Revenko, an assistant to the minister of defence for Belarus, said during a briefing for military diplomats.

The Russian unit will contain nearly 170 battle tanks, as many as 200 armoured personnel carriers and as many as 100 cannons and large-calibre mortars, he said. While the bulk of the “joint force” will be composed of local servicemen, Russian and Belarusian troops will participate in exercises that include live fire and anti-aircraft missiles, according to Revenko.

Russia had already begun to send its “air force component” to Belarus, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday, without elaborating.

 

 

State-TV journalist who protested against war ‘has left Russia’ 

Marina Ovsyannikova, the state-TV journalist who gained international prominence by staging an anti-war protest on the country’s top news programme, has left Russia with her daughter after fleeing house arrest, her lawyer said.

Ovsyannikova is “under the protection of a European country”, Dmitry Zkhvatov said, declining to specify which one.

Put on Russia’s wanted list earlier this month, Ovsyannikova faced criminal charges under Russia’s new “fake news” law for an anti-war protest held near the Kremlin over the summer. She had been fighting a custody battle with her ex-husband over their daughter. A Moscow court on Monday ruled in favour of the husband in the case.

Georgia questions visa-free policy for Russians

The flow of Russians into Georgia is a “challenge” and may require a review of the visa-free regime, Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili said at a news conference in Moldova, where she held talks with her Moldovan counterpart, Maia Sandu.

Nearly 70,000 Russians fled to Georgia last month after Putin announced a partial mobilisation on 21 September to bolster his forces in Ukraine. Tens of thousands had already left Russia for Georgia in the weeks following Moscow’s 24 February invasion.

Polish company helps rebuild infrastructure 

Polish digital terrestrial television provider Emitel provided an additional 50 transmitters to Ukraine to help rebuild infrastructure damaged by Russian shelling, according to a company statement. Since May, Emitel, owned by the UK fund Cordiant, has been running a logistics point in eastern Ukraine where it helps to prepare equipment necessary to maintain the broadcasting of TV and radio signals.

‘Partial mobilisation’ completed in Moscow, says mayor 

Sergey Sobyanin, the mayor of Moscow, said on his website on Monday that a “partial mobilisation” had been completed in Russia’s largest city, and that collection points for the drafted would be closed at 2pm local time.

Putin ordered the call-up on 21 September, which aimed to draw 300,000 reservists. The mobilisation spurred an exodus of draft-age men from the country. Last Friday, Putin sought to reassure Russians by saying that the mobilisation effort would wrap up in a couple of weeks and wouldn’t be extended. Several Russian regions have recently reported the first losses among the mobilised.

Ukraine says blackouts happening as power supply targeted in attacks  

Electricity infrastructure in central and northern Ukraine was damaged by Russian attacks, national power grid operator Ukrenergo said in a statement on Facebook. The situation was currently under control and repairs were being made, but Ukrenergo did not rule out planned rolling blackouts.

The power supply in Lviv in western Ukraine was subject to rolling blackouts, regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi said on Telegram. The Lviv region had cut consumption by 10% since 12 October, Kozytskyi said.

Russian drones hit sunflower oil terminal in Mykolayiv

Russian drones damaged two huge tanks each containing 7,500 tonnes of sunflower oil, with oil leaking on to the street, Ukrayinska Pravda reported, citing local news site Novyny-N and the Mykolayiv region’s spokesperson, Dmytro Pletenchuk. The terminal handled almost 17% of the world’s sunflower oil export, Pletenchuk said without giving details about the ownership of the reservoirs.

Iran becoming ‘accomplice’ in war, says Lithuanian minister

“Iran, with its drones and missiles, is becoming an accomplice in the war, in a similar fashion as Belarus,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters in Luxembourg, as his EU counterparts weighed whether to impose more sanctions on Iran after reports on alleged arms deliveries to Russia. Iran’s foreign ministry has denied exporting any weapons for use in the war in Ukraine.

Nuclear plant again disconnected from power grid 

Russian shelling of critical infrastructure facilities on Monday damaged the last line connecting the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to Ukraine’s power grid, Ukraine’s Energoatom reported on Telegram. “The backup transformer used for the ZapNPP’s own needs turned off and the diesel generators started,” the regulator said. Fuel for the generators was delivered to the station last week.

“Such nuclear blackmail by a terrorist country should not go unanswered by the world community! Ukraine needs protection of the sky above its energy facilities!” Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said on Facebook.

 

 

German intelligence expects more Russian espionage

German intelligence services expect the fighting in Ukraine to continue next year and have warned of increasing Russian activities in Germany.

“Putin feels threatened by the attractiveness of the Western social model of freedom and democracy in Ukraine and its neighbouring countries,” Bruno Kahl, the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service BND, told a public hearing in Berlin. Putin would therefore continue to enforce his goals by military means.

Intelligence experts also expect an increase in Russian espionage and subversive activities in Germany, said Thomas Haldenwang, the head of the domestic intelligence service BfV.

Iran denies exporting any weapons for use in Ukraine war

Iran is not a party in Russia’s war on Ukraine and has made efforts to end the conflict, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani told reporters in Tehran.

Germany doesn’t expect winter lull in fighting

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said she was not hopeful that the onset of winter would lead to a lull in the fighting in Ukraine.

“We mustn’t entertain the hope that calm will come,” Lambrecht said in an interview with public broadcaster ZDF. “We are seeing how Russia has changed its strategy in a very calculated way and is now attacking infrastructure and civilian targets,” she added.

She promised Germany would supply Ukraine’s armed forces with equipment to help them cope with the colder conditions, including tents and power generators. DM

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