A medic walks past a burning car after a Russian missile and drone strike on Kyiv, Ukraine, October 10, 2022 (Roman Hrytsyna/AP)
UPDATE 1605 GMT:
Ukraine Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko says 30% to 40% of national power infrastructure, including half of thermal generation capacity, have been hit by Russian missile and drone attacks.
“It’s quite a lot of capacity,” he said. “We see that they targeted a number of new [plants], but also they shelled [facilities] which had been already shelled before to destroy them absolutely.” The damage was billions of dollars.
However, the Minister said Ukraine would cope through conservation and possibly electricity imports.
UPDATE 1409 GMT:
A Russian proxy official in the occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine denies that Russia intends to blow up the Nova Kakhovka Dam to check Ukraine’s counter-offensive.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned on Thursday night that the Russians are placing mines on the dam (see 0611 GMT).
Kirill Stremousov, the Russian proxy deputy head of administration in Kherson, insisted the claim is “false”.
Zelenskiy’s Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak said Ukraine will “not succumb to peace by coercion”.
There is right response to blackmail. Harder sanctions, further de-occupation of our territories, more weapons, and an even tougher stance on each and every of Russia's crimes.
They won't break us. We will hit back even harder.
— Andriy Yermak (@AndriyYermak) October 21, 2022
UPDATE 1402 GMT:
A scene from Izyum, liberated earlier this month in the Kharkiv region by the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the northeast of the country:
VIDEO: Five weeks after the recapture of the strategic town of Izyum in eastern Ukraine, a new battle for reconstruction is taking place. An army of construction workers are busy rebuilding what is left of the infrastructure and deleting any sign of Russian occupation. pic.twitter.com/pUbMu77vRZ
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) October 21, 2022
UPDATE 1353 GMT:
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to say if Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian forces to withdraw from the Kherson region in southern Ukraine —- the first territory seized in the February 24 invasion —- in the face of a Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Moscow and Russian proxy officials say they are moving 60,000 residents out of the area.
Peskov referred the question to Russia’s Defense Ministry.
UPDATE 0844 GMT:
Residents in liberated areas of the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine have spoken of abuses by Russian troops including execution, torture, and threats of rape.
Mariya, the 65-year-old common-law wife of a serving Ukrainian Army officer, says of her detention enduring electric shocks and the threats of sexual violence, “In a word, it was horror. I thought I would not come out alive.”
Police say some of the 534 victims recovered across the region show signs of abuse: “There are bodies that were tortured to death. There are people with tied hands, shot, strangled, people with cut wounds, cut genitals.
Mariya recalls, “Men screaming so hard I cannot describe it enough….If they stripped me to my underwear, you can imagine what they did to the girls.”
Another resident of the town of Balakliya, lumberjack Serhii, was seized as he was walking his dogs with his brother and a friend. The three were stripped, beaten and interrogated. At 3 am they were taken into the forest, made to dig a trench, and put through a mock execution.
Held in a basement, the men were released after two weeks without explanation.
Others were not so lucky. The body of Serhii Avdeev, a welder who had served in the Ukrainian army, was found in a pit at a camp vacated days earlier by retreating Russian troops. He had at least 15 bullet wounds and four bullets in his corpse. One of his nails and part of his finger were torn off.
UPDATE 0637 GMT:
The Ukraine General Staff says up to 2,000 newly-mobilized Russian men have arrived in the occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine.
Analysts expect the Russian recruits, part of Vladimir Putin’s hasty “partial mobilization”, will have little effect given their inadequate training and supplies (see 0501 GMT).
UPDATE 0622 GMT:
Russian forces have attacked Kharkiv city this morning, hitting an administrative and production building.
Governor Oleh Syniehubov said six civilians have been injured.
Russian S-300 missiles damaged a residential building, school, and infrastructure in Zaporizhzhia city in southern Ukraine. Three civilians were injured.
UPDATE 0611 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned that Russian forces intend to destroy the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric dam in the occupied eastern Kherson region, hoping to check the advance of the Ukrainian counter-offensive in southern Ukraine.
In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskiy said the Russians have mined the dam, threatening a 400-km (268-mile) Soviet-built canal network.
Zelenskiy said in his latest address:
With this terrorist attack, they can destroy, among other things, even the possibility of supplying water from the Dnipro River to Crimea. In the event of the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP dam, the North Crimean canal will simply disappear.
Such an attack on the Kakhovka HPP will mean exactly the same as the use of weapons of mass destruction.
UPDATE 0501 GMT:
Another scene from Vladimir Putin’s “partial mobilization” to save his invasion of Ukraine….
Vladimir Shishkanova, 23, told his sister Olesya in a phone call last week:
They gave us absolutely no equipment. The army has nothing, we had to buy all our gear ourselves.
I even had to paint my gun to cover the rust. It is a nightmare….Soon they’ll make us buy our own grenades.
Shishkanova’s story matches numerous accounts from recently-mobilized men of lack of training, supplies, and adequate command even as they are put on the frontline in Ukraine.
Anastasia, a teacher from Bryansk near the Ukraine border, wrote on Telegram, “From morning to evening, I scan the internet to find good deals for our boys.” She is a member of the Help for Soldiers group, based in Russia’s Sverdlovsk region near the Ural mountains.
She said the local recruitment office in Sverdlovsk “strongly advised” mobilized men to bring their own gear: “We had to spend our monthly salary on my husband’s gear so that he at least has a chance to come back. Frankly, it is completely embarrassing. It is a mess.
In one video, a man says he was given body armor made for Airsoft games with no actual bullet resistance. Similarly, Shishkanova told his sister that his unit had been given Airsoft gun scopes.
Prices for bulletproof vests have risen by 500% up to 50,000 rubles ($795).
ORIGINAL ENTRY: The European Union, the US, and the UK have sanctioned Iran over its supply of drones for Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s civilian areas and infrastructure.
Both the EU and the UK announced restrictions on Thursday against three Iranian actors and Shahed Aviation Industries, the company supplying the drones.
Those cited are Chief of Staff of Iran’s armed forces, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Hossein Bagheri; Revolutionary Guards logistics officer Gen. Sayed Hojatollah Qureishi; and drone commander Brig. Gen. Saeed Aghajani. They are subject to asset freezes and travel bans.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said:
Iran’s support for Putin’s brutal and illegal war against Ukraine is deplorable. Today we are sanctioning those who have supplied the drones used by Russia to target Ukrainian civilians. This is clear evidence of Iran’s destabilizing role in global security.
These cowardly drone strikes are an act of desperation. By enabling these strikes, these individuals and a manufacturer have caused the people of Ukraine untold suffering. We will ensure that they are held to account for their actions.
The Biden Administration has already expanded its sanctions on Iran, in place over Tehran’s nuclear program and activities across the Middle East, over the hundreds — or thousands, according to Ukrainian officials — of UAVs delivered to Russia since August.
The new restrictions are largely symbolic. However, they point to further constriction of the Islamic Republic as talks to renew the 2015 nuclear agreement with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia). Resolution in those discussions would lift US sanctions; however, they have been stalled since March, currently because of Iran’s demand for strict limits on International Atomic Energy Agency inspections.
The Iranian regime publicly deny any provision of weapons to Moscow. However, Tehran’s officials and diplomats have spoken not only of the drone supply but also preparations to send surface-to-surface missiles for Russia’s campaign to break Ukrainian infrastructure.
Ukrainian air defenses have downed about 60% of the Shahed-136 “kamikaze” drones. However, the use of drone “swarms” has ensured that some have hit targets.
Since October 10, Russian missile and drone strikes have knocked out almost 1/3 of Ukraine’s power plants as well as killing scores of civilians. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday that limits on electricity use, including rolling blackouts, will be necessary to conserve supply.
On Thursday the White House confirmed US intelligence, already fed to media outlets, that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are in Russian-occupied Crimea to provide training.
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said:
Russian military personnel based in Crimea have been piloting Iranian UAVs and using them to conduct kinetic strikes across Ukraine, including in strikes against Kyiv in recent days.
The information we have is that the Iranians have put trainers and tech support in Crimea, but it’s the Russians who are doing the piloting.
Tehran is now directly engaged on the ground and through the provision of weapons … that are killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure. These are systems that the Russian armed forces are not familiar using and these are organically manufactured Iranian UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]. The Russians just don’t have anything in their inventory.
There were operator and system failures early on. Either they weren’t being piloted appropriately and properly and were failing to reach targets or the systems themselves were suffering failures and not performing to the standards that apparently the customers expected. So the Iranians decided to move in some trainers and some technical support to help the Russians use them with better lethality.