Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu (L) both pushed the lie that Ukraine is preparing a “dirty bomb” (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1707 GMT:
Vladimir Putin has told pro-Kremlin activists that all residents of occupied Kherson city should be moved out.
Now, of course, those who live in Kherson should be removed from the zone of the most dangerous actions, because the civilian population should not suffer.
Russian and Russian proxy officials have said 70,000 residents have been transported out of the city and across the Dnipro River.
Putin did not comment on signals, including from the proxy officials, of a withdrawal of Russian forces (see Original Entry).
The Russian proxy deputy administrator of the Kherson region announced a 24-hour curfew has been imposed in Kherson city.
UPDATE 1120 GMT:
With Russia under pressure in the east and south, UK military intelligence says Russian commanders have probably started deploying units threatening to shoot any retreating troops.
Russian generals likely wanted their commanders to use weapons against deserters, including possibly authorizing shooting to kill such defaulters after a warning had been given. Generals also likely wanted to maintain defensive positions to the death.
The tactic of shooting deserters likely attests to the low quality, low morale and indiscipline of Russian forces.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: The International Atomic Energy Agency has knocked back Russia’s disinformation that Ukraine is preparing to use a “dirty bomb”.
Facing the defeat of its invasion, the Kremlin has put out a series of lies about Ukraine’s supposed military plans. Last week it featured the falsehood of Kyiv’s development of an explosive laced with radioactive material.
At the request of the Zelenskiy Government, The IAEA visited three Ukrainian sites. Its head Rafael Grossi concluded in a statement, “Our technical and scientific evaluation of the results we have so far did not show any sign of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at these three locations.”
The Agency said there would be further analysis of environmental samples to bolster its finding.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy responded:
We have clear and irrefutable evidence that no one in Ukraine has created or is creating any dirty bombs.
The only thing that is dirty in our region now is the heads of those in Moscow who, unfortunately, seized control of the Russian state and are terrorizing Ukraine and the whole world.
Russian Proxy Official: Withdrawal From Kherson City “Most Likely”
The Russian proxy deputy administrator in the occupied Kherson region, Kirill Stremousov, posted on Thursday that it is “most likely” Russian forces will withdraw from Kherson city.
Stremousov indicated that the troops will cross to the left bank of the Dnipro River, following the removal of tens of thousands of Ukrainian residents. He posted on Telegram that “the remaining residents of Kherson put themselves in danger”.
From late August, a Ukrainian counter-offensive has advanced through the region, among the first areas seized in the Russian invasion. The loss of Kherson city would be a symbolic and strategic blow to Vladimir Putin, and it would open the way for Ukrainian pressure on Crimea, occupied by Russia since 2014.
Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Southern Military Command, expressed wariness that Russia would fake the withdrawal, “This could be a manifestation of a particular provocation, in order to create the impression that the settlements are abandoned, that it is safe to enter them, while they are preparing for street battles.”
However, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed confidence that Ukrainian forces will retake the city in a “methodical” and “effective” counter-offensive.
A “Western official”, said it is likely that most Russian military commanders have already moved across the Dnipro River to the east bank, “leaving pretty demoralized and often in some cases leaderless troops to face off Ukrainians on the other side”.
Russians Again Cut Power to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant
Pursuing the transfer of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant — the largest in Europe — to the control of Russia’s nuclear agency Rosenergoatom, Russian forces have again knocked the complex off Ukraine’s power grid.
Russian shelling damaged the two remaining high-voltage lines on Thursday.
All 20 backup diesel generators were turned on to ensure cooling of the plant’s reactors. However, Ukrainian officials warned that there is only a 15-day supply of diesel fuel.
Renat Karchaa, advisor to the general director of Rosenergoatom, said the transfer will occur after the plant uses up all available fuel reserves.
The Russian-installed head of occupied Energodar, Alexander Volga, confirmed that the integration of the complex and its Ukrainian staff into Russian systems has begun.
Zelenskiy: 4.5m Ukrainians Without Power
In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskiy said about 4.5 million people are without power under a series of emergency and stabilization blackouts, following waves of Russian attacks on energy infrastructure.
Kyiv officials said earlier in the day that power had been restored to all consumers after the latest Russian missile strikes on Monday. However, they said, the scheduled blackouts would be implemented to ensure that a surge in consumption did not overload the grid.
Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said 450,000 residents are without power on Friday night, an increase of 50%. He urged people to ease pressure on an overloaded system, “Save electricity as much as possible.”
Zelenskiy said 10 regions were under rolling blackouts, and others might be implemented.
To endure Russian energy terror and such a challenge is our national task, one of the main ones now. The very fact that Russia resorted to terror against the energy industry shows the weakness of the enemy. They cannot defeat Ukraine on the battlefield, and that is why they are trying to break our people in this way – to humiliate Ukrainians, to strike at the morale of our people, at the resistance of our people.
Another Exchange of POWs
Zelenskiy confirmed another swap of Ukrainian and Russian prisoners of war.
In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskiy said 107 Ukrainian troops were freed: “Many of them were wounded, and very seriously.”