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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Oct. 13

A Ukrainian territorial defense deminer takes Russian ammunition left behind as his team clears mines near Grakove village, Oct. 13, 2022.
A Ukrainian territorial defense deminer takes Russian ammunition left behind as his team clears mines near Grakove village, Oct. 13, 2022.

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EDT.

9:02 p.m.: Investigations into the suspected sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines linking Russia with Europe are "progressing well," despite World War II munitions on the seabed, Denmark said Thursday, Agence France-Presse reported.

"It's a zone marked by the presence of munitions -- used or not -- from World War II," Danish Defense Minister Morten Bodskov told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the NATO defence alliance in Brussels. "There's a lot of stuff at the bottom of the sea, so it's not so easy."

The two Nord Stream pipelines were damaged by four explosions under the Baltic Sea at the end of September, causing major gas leaks.

Sweden has announced that preliminary underwater inspections backed up suspicions of probable sabotage.

8 p.m.: Ukraine could extradite Russian war crimes suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) even though Moscow is not a member, the tribunal's prosecutor said on Thursday, accordant to Agence France-Presse.

Kyiv authorities could send Russians to the Hague-based court if trials could not take place in Ukraine for legal reasons, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan said.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, refused to join the ICC when the court was set up in 2002 to try people for offenses including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

"Legally yes it wouldn't represent an obstacle to our jurisdiction," Khan told journalists at the headquarters of the EU's judicial agency, Eurojust.

The ICC opened its own probe into the war in Ukraine shortly after Russia invaded, but has said it is keen for Ukraine to bring suspects to justice where possible.

7:10 p.m.: A court in Belarus's eastern region of Mahilyou has sentenced a man to 11 years in prison on charges of joining a group involved in damaging railways to disrupt the supply of Russian arms and troops to Ukraine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The Minsk-based Vyasna (Spring) human rights center said on October 13 that the Mahilyou regional court handed down Alyaksey Shyshkavets' sentence a day earlier.

Shyshkavets was arrested in March. He was found guilty of assisting an extremist group by creating an online chatbot to recruit members to commit unlawful acts in Belarus, according to the court.

Shyshkavets was among some 60 men and women arrested for their alleged involvement in damaging Belarus's railways to impede the progress of Russian troops and arms into Ukraine since the start of Moscow's invasion of its neighbor in late February.

6:27 p.m.:

5:36 p.m.: A Reuters/Ipsos poll released this week shows that almost two-thirds of Americans are keeping track of the Russia/Ukraine crisis, and while a majority support the U.S. providing weapons to Ukraine, most believe that this could cause the war to escalate, with just over half afraid that the U.S. may be headed toward a nuclear war with Russia.

4:55 p.m.: Ukraine's top prosecutor said on Thursday his office had opened criminal proceedings relating to Russian missile strikes that struck Kyiv and cities across Ukraine this week, Reuters reported.

Speaking at a joint press conference with International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan in The Hague, Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin described the strikes since Monday as "a classic act of terror" by Russia.

He said the more than 112 Russian missile strikes, Moscow's biggest aerial offensive since the start of its invasion on February 24, had killed 17 people and injured 93.

4 p.m.:

3:12 p.m.: Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday defended her government’s decisions to buy large quantities of natural gas from Russia, which was her country’s primary gas supplier when she left office, The Associated Press reported.

Speaking in Lisbon, Merkel said that “you always act in the time you are in” and that she doesn’t regret her decisions. She said that it was clear that Germany needed to diversify its energy supplies as it moved away from nuclear and coal-fueled power generation and that gas would be needed during that transitional period.

Merkel said that “from the perspective of that time, it was very rational and understandable to get pipeline gas, including from Russia, that was cheaper than LNG from other parts of the world.”

She added that “even in the Cold War, Russia was a reliable energy supplier.”

2:30 p.m.: Hundreds of thousands of Russians have fled their country since President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial” mobilization on September 21. Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA, asked men who have crossed the borders into Georgia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan what they think about the war in Ukraine.

2:15 p.m.: Moscow has submitted concerns to the United Nations about an agreement on Black Sea grain exports, and is prepared to reject renewing the deal next month unless its demands are addressed, Russia's Geneva U.N. ambassador told Reuters on Thursday.

The agreement, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July, paved the way for Ukraine to resume grain exports from Black Sea ports that had been shut since Russia invaded. Moscow won guarantees for its own grain and fertilizer exports.

The agreement helped stave off a global food crisis: Russia and Ukraine are two of the world's biggest grain exporters and Russia is the number one fertilizer exporter. But Moscow has repeatedly complained about its implementation, arguing it still faces difficulty selling fertilizer and food.

In an interview with Reuters, Gennady Gatilov, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said Moscow had delivered a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday setting out a list of complaints. U.N. officials are due in Moscow on Sunday to discuss the renewal of the agreement.

2:00 p.m.:

1:50 p.m.: The Ukrainian military says the country is ready for a possible attack from Belarus, The Kyiv Independent reported Thursday.

Ukraine “takes measures” to ensure that Ukrainian troops are “in the appropriate number with the necessary weapons, military equipment, and combat potential,” the media organization quoted Lieutenant General Serhii Naiev as saying.

“We are ready for an attack from the Republic of Belarus,” it quoted Naiev as saying.

1:40 p.m.:

1:25 p.m.: Russian authorities have promised free accommodation to all residents of the occupied Kherson region who choose to evacuate to Russia, The Associated Press reported.

Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin made the announcement Thursday shortly after the Russia-backed leader of Kherson asked the Kremlin to organize evacuation from four cities, citing the danger from missile strikes.

Vladimir Saldo said in an online statement that “these missile strikes cause serious damage, first and foremost to the residents” and that missiles also hit “hotels, residential buildings, markets, (places) where there are lots of civilians.”

Saldo said a decision has been made to evacuate residents of Kherson, Nova Kakhovka, Hola Prystan and Chornobaivkato to the Russian regions of Rostov, Krasnodar and Stavropol, as well as to annexed Crimea.

The plea comes as Ukrainian forces are pushing their counteroffensive deeper into the southern region, one of four that Russia recently annexed illegally.

In a separate statement, Saldo’s deputy Kirill Stremousov tried to play down the announced evacuation, saying that “no one’s retreating ... no one is planning to leave the territory.”

Earlier on Thursday, the British military said on Twitter that Russia-backed Kherson authorities have ordered the evacuation because they anticipate combat to extend to the city of Kherson.

1:05 p.m.:

12:50 p.m.: The governor of a Russian border region accused Ukraine of shelling an apartment block there on Thursday, but a Kyiv official said a stray Russian missile was to blame, Reuters reported.

Vyacheslav Gladkov said a school had been damaged in a village close to the border, and that the top floor of an apartment block had been struck in the city of Belgorod.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter that Russia had launched a missile towards the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv but “something went wrong and it hit (a) residential building.”

12:35 p.m.:

12:20 p.m.: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be crossing a “very important line” if he were to order the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, as the military alliance and Russia are both due to hold nuclear exercises in the coming days, The Associated Press reported.

NATO is holding its exercise, dubbed “Steadfast Noon” next week. The long-planned maneuvers are conducted around the same time every year and run for about one week. It involves fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear warheads, but doesn’t involve live bombs.

Russia usually holds its own maneuvers around the same time, and NATO is expecting its exercise of its nuclear forces sometime this month. Stoltenberg said Thursday NATO will “closely monitor” what Russia is up to.

Asked what NATO would do if Russia launched a nuclear attack, Stoltenberg said: “We will not go into exactly how we will respond, but of course this will fundamentally change the nature of the conflict. It will mean that a very important line has been crossed.”

He added that “even any use of a smaller nuclear weapon will be a very serious thing, fundamentally changing the nature of the war in Ukraine, and of course that would have consequences.”

12:05 p.m.:

11:45 a.m.: Ukraine and Russia say 20 soldiers on both sides have been released as part of a prisoner exchange, 40 soldiers in all, The Associated Press reported.

“As a result of the negotiation process on the exchange today, 20 Russian servicemen were returned from the territory of Ukraine controlled by the Kyiv regime,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said.

The soldiers are being provided with the necessary medical and psychological assistance and would soon be taken to the Ministry of Defense’s medical facilities for treatment and rehabilitation.

Ukraine also said its 20 soldiers have been freed from captivity in Olenivka, in the occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. They are now undergoing medical checkups.

The head of the Ukrainian president’s office, Andriy Yermak, vowed on Telegram: “We will bring everyone back.”

It is relatively rare for Russia to speak publicly about POW swaps. The last large-scale exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine, involving nearly 300 people, took place at the end of September.

11:30 a.m.:

11:15 a.m.: Ukrainian entries dominated Thursday’s shortlist to win European Union’s top human rights prize, The Associated Press reported.

The Christian Democrat, Socialist and Liberal groups, the three biggest within the European parliament, all nominated the people of Ukraine as their choice to win the Sakharov Prize this year for their resistance to the Russian invasion.

On top of that, the conservative ECR group specifically named Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as their favorite for his endurance and defense of his people.

The overwhelming support for the Ukraine cause reduced other nominees to outsiders, including Brazil environmental activist Sonia Guajajara and imprisoned WikiLeaks activist Julian Assange.

If Ukraine wins, it would be the second straight year that the EU would send a political message to the Kremlin with the Sakharov Prize, after imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny won it last year.

The winner of the prize will be announced Wednesday and the 50,000-euro prize will be awarded during the December 14 session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

11:05 a.m.:

10:55 a.m.: The head of one of the Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia told residents on Thursday to leave amid fighting between Russian and advancing Ukrainian forces, Reuters reported.

A day after the United Nations Security Council condemned Moscow's incorporation of four partially occupied regions into its territory as illegal, the Russian-installed governor of one of those, Ukraine's southern Kherson region, appealed for residents to take their children and leave.

The official, Vladimir Saldo, asked for Moscow's help in transporting civilians into Russia, saying the cities in the region were subject to missile attacks.

10:40 a.m.:

10:20 a.m.: Ukraine has received $1.3 billion in additional emergency financing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Thursday.

He said on Telegram that the funds would be used “to finance priority needs: strengthening defense capabilities, paying pensions, social programs and supporting the economy.”

According to Shmyhal, the IMF has given Ukraine $2.7 billion since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion on February 24, and will shortly begin work with Ukraine on “preparing a special new program that will start next year.”

10:10 a.m.: The head of Ukraine's state nuclear energy firm decried as "fake news" on Thursday Moscow's assertions that the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant would require Russian fuel, Reuters reported.

Energoatom chief Petro Kotin told Reuters in an interview there were two years' worth of fuel supplies stored at the six-reactor plant, which is still operated by Ukrainian staff.

Kotin also said the staff were facing threats of forced conscription into the Russian military.

"It is just an unprecedented situation for the... biggest nuclear power plant in Europe," Kotin said in his office, where a large photograph of the plant hangs behind his desk.

He was speaking after an official of Rosenergoatom, Russia's nuclear power operator, was quoted by Russia's TASS state news agency as saying that the plant would be switched to Russian fuel once its reserves are exhausted.

9:55 a.m.:

9:40 a.m.: Power has largely been restored across Ukraine following this week's attacks by Russia on Ukrainian energy facilities, the head of the Ukrainian grid operator said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, Chief Executive Officer of Ukrenergo, told national television that some repair work was continuing on damaged infrastructure but supplies had been widely restored.

"We have essentially restored power supply 100% to all our regions, as of last night. This is the biggest joy energy workers can have right now," he said.

9:20 a.m.:

9:05 a.m.: Ekaterina Fomina lived her whole life in Moscow. And although the investigative journalist studied for a year abroad, leaving Russia was never her plan. Fomina is one of hundreds to have fled increased repression on media as Russia tightly controls coverage of the war, including imposing hefty sentences for "false news" of the conflict, VOA’s Anush Avetisyan reported.

Galina Arapova, a senior media lawyer and director at the nonprofit Mass Media Defence Centre, says at least 12 journalists are currently facing charges in Russia related to their war coverage.

Arapova, who also left Russia, believes Moscow’s aim with such legal actions "is not necessarily to jail everyone but certainly to intimidate." And in many ways, the Russian authorities succeeded: entire editorial teams have left.

The European Fund for Journalism in Exile this year has assisted 21 media organizations and their teams — around 400 people in all — to settle in eight European countries.

8:45 a.m.: Police in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, have detained an activist who openly protested against Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Kazakhstan to participate in a two-day summit in the capital, Astana.

Vera Zharylqasymova told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that individuals in civilian clothes detained her husband, Rafiq Zharylqasymov, on Thursday but showed no identification or documents proving they were police.

"Rafiq told me by phone that plainclothes men are taking him to the Bostandyq district police department, after which the phone call stopped. There hasn't been any information from him since," Zharylqasymova said.

Zharylqasymova added that she believes her husband's detainment is most likely linked to his recent call to hold a rally in Almaty to protest Putin's presence in the Central Asian nation.

Zharylqasymov was detained one day after he posted a video on Facebook calling for officials to stop Putin's visits to Kazakhstan, calling him "a terrorist" over Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine launched in late February.

8:30 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, did not discuss the Ukraine war during a bilateral meeting in Kazakhstan on Thursday, the Kremlin said.

8:15 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday that Moscow could export more gas via Turkey and turn it into a new supply "hub", bidding to preserve Russia's energy leverage over Europe, Reuters reported.

At a meeting in Kazakhstan, Putin said Turkey offered the most reliable route to deliver gas to the European Union, and the proposed platform would allow prices to be set without politics.

Russia is looking to redirect supplies away from the Nord Stream Baltic gas pipelines, damaged in explosions last month that are still under investigation. Russia blamed the West, without providing evidence, and rejected what it called "stupid" assertions that it had sabotaged the pipelines itself.

Putin told Erdogan the hub would be "a platform not only for supplies, but also for determining the price, because this is a very important issue."

8:05 a.m.: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country is determined to ensure the “strengthening and continuation” of U.N. and Turkish-brokered deals that led to the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports and allows Russia to ship fertilizers, The Associated Press reported.

Erdogan made the comments at the start of a meeting Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the sidelines of regional summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.

He said the focus is on the transportation of grain and fertilizer, “in other words, the strengthening and the continuation of the Istanbul agreement.”

The Turkish leader said, “We are determined to transport Russia’s grain and fertilizer to underdeveloped countries through Turkey,” adding that Ankara and Moscow could jointly designate the countries the products would go to.

A day earlier, U.N. officials expressed hope that the meeting between Putin and Erdogan would lead to an extension of the grain initiative and facilitate the export of Russian fertilizers.

7:55 a.m.:

7:40 a.m.: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Twitter Thursday that he welcomed “the strong message” sent by the U.N. General Assembly to condemn Russia’s attempt to take over four Ukrainian regions.

The General Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly condemned Russia's "attempted illegal annexation" of four partially occupied regions in Ukraine and called on all countries not to recognize the move, strengthening a diplomatic international isolation of Moscow since it invaded its neighbor.

Three-quarters of the 193-member General Assembly - 143 countries - voted in favor of a resolution that also reaffirmed the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

7:20 a.m.: The United States reaffirmed its commitment to defend "every inch" of NATO territory ahead of talks among defense ministers from the alliance on Thursday that will include closed-door discussions by its Nuclear Planning Group, Reuters reported.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made the remarks affirming America's commitment to NATO's collective defense following repeated nuclear threats by Russian President Vladimir Putin amid battlefield setbacks in his nearly eight-month-long invasion of Ukraine.

"We are committed to defending every inch of NATO's territory - if and when it comes to that," Austin said.

Austin spoke shortly before attending a meeting by NATO's senior body on nuclear matters, which handles policy issues associated with the alliance's nuclear forces.

NATO has not given details of the nuclear discussions taking place on Thursday. The alliance says its nuclear policy is under "constant review, and is modified and adapted in light of new developments."

7:10 a.m.: Russian officials say Ukrainian forces have shelled a western region inside Russia near the border with Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said Thursday Ukrainian attacks damaged a residential building in the city of Belgorod – the region’s administrative center – while an unexploded projectile landed on a school sports ground.

Vyacheslav Gladkov said a nearby village was also shelled but there were no injuries.

The reports of shelling within Russia came as the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament threatened an even tougher response to what he describes as Kyiv’s “terror attacks.”

Russia on Monday sent a barrage of missile strikes across Ukraine in retaliation for what President Vladimir Putin said was a Ukrainian “terrorist” action that blew up the Kerch Bridge that links the annexed Crimea to Russia.

Parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on Telegram that Russia struck more than 70 energy facilities in Ukraine this week and that the “response will be even tougher” if Ukrainian attacks continue.

Volodin added that “All the organizers and perpetrators of the terrorist attacks must be found, those who resist must be destroyed."

6:50 a.m.: Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said Thursday on Twitter that Russia’s recent barrage of missile attacks against Ukrainian cities is acting to mobilize Ukrainians and their allies to redouble their efforts to defeat Russia.

6:35 a.m.: A group of NATO members and Finland, which is in the process of joining the alliance, has signed a letter of intent to procure air-defense systems as part of a project to improve and coordinate Europe's security in the skies, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Thursday that the agreement, part of the European Sky Shield Initiative, has taken on further importance with Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

"A total of 15 states have come together to organize joint procurements under German coordination with regard to European air defense. It is something where we have gaps," she said in Brussels after the signing.

The group that signed the letter of intent includes Germany, Britain, Slovakia, Norway, Latvia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, and Slovenia. Estonia is also looking to join the project.

Some NATO members have been looking to improve their air-defense systems in the wake of Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine. Others need to replace or upgrade systems after giving weaponry to Ukraine.

6:20 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has released a new National Security Strategy for a post-Cold War world, which describes competition with China and Russia as well as collaboration on global issues such as climate change, public health, and food and energy security, according to an article published by Politico.

6:05 a.m.: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz underscored the implications of the war in Ukraine for the West in a speech on Thursday, calling it part of a crusade by Russia against liberal democracy, Reuters reported.

"(Russian President) Vladimir Putin and his enablers have made one thing very clear: this war is not only about Ukraine. They consider their war against Ukraine to be part of a larger crusade, a crusade against liberal democracy," said Scholz in a recorded speech at the Progressive Governance Summit in Berlin.

5:45 a.m.: Russian missiles targeted more than 40 Ukrainian cities and towns on Thursday, officials said, hitting critical infrastructure in Ukraine's capital region, a day after the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling Moscow's annexation of Ukrainian territory "illegal" and Ukraine's allies committed more military aid.

5:26 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian troops continued counteroffensive operations toward Svatove and Kreminna. Russian forces are continuing defensive operations in this area. Russian forces are likely reinforcing the frontline in western Zaporizhia Oblast. The Russian military continues to face problems equipping individual its soldiers with basic personal equipment.

4:12 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said Russian forces are likely attempting to consolidate a new front line west from the village of Mylove. In recent days, the update said, the Russian occupation authorities have likely ordered preparation for the evacuation of some civilians from Kherson. It is likely that they anticipate combat extending to the city of Kherson itself.

3:49 a.m.: Australia is considering a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to provide military training support against the Russian invasion.

In the wake of deadly missile attacks in Ukraine by Russia, Australian officials said it was clear that the conflict would be “protracted” and that the Canberra government was “working on how we stand with Ukraine over the long term.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Wednesday that any military training authorized by the Canberra government would only happen outside of Ukraine’s borders.

3:17 a.m.: The top U.S. general on Wednesday condemned indiscriminate Russian missile strikes on Ukraine that killed civilians, suggesting they met the definition of war crimes under the international rules of war, Reuters reported.

"Russia has deliberately struck civilian infrastructure with the purpose of harming civilians," Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a news briefing at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

"They have targeted the elderly, the women, and the children of Ukraine. Indiscriminate and deliberate attacks on civilian targets is a war crime in the international rules of war."

2:14 a.m.: The Czech Republic will turn away Russian tourists holding Schengen-zone visas issued by any country, starting Oct. 25, the foreign minister said Wednesday, as it joined other European Union member states in tightening entry rules.

The Czech Republic had immediately stopped visas for Russians, except on humanitarian grounds, after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February. But it had been allowing in visitors at airports who had visas issued by other countries in the EU's Schengen travel zone.

The tightening of rules, approved by the government Wednesday, means even those with EU visas from other states will not be allowed to enter.

1:41 a.m.: Iranian-made kamikaze drones hit Ukraine's capital region early Thursday, sending rescue workers rushing to the scene, The Associated Press reported. Kyiv regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba said the strike occurred in the area around the capital city. It was not yet clear if there were any casualties.

1:06 a.m.:

12:02 a.m.: Many Finnish pharmacies ran out of iodine tablets Wednesday, a day after the Nordic country’s health ministry recommended that households buy a single dose in a case of a radiation emergency amid increasing fears of a nuclear event due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, Reuters reported.

“An accident at a nuclear power plant could release radioactive iodine into the environment, which could build up in the thyroid gland,” the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said Tuesday.

Pharmacies in many locations in Finland reported Wednesday they had run out of iodine tablets as citizens rushed to purchase the medicine. Drug wholesalers also said their stockpiles were emptied out.

The ministry didn’t mention Russia’s war in Ukraine and didn’t disclose where such nuclear accidents could potentially take place.

Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse, Reuters and The Associated Press.

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