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The latest developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. All times EDT.
3:15 p.m.: Ben Hodges, the former commanding general of the U.S. Army Europe, told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine he believes the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula could be liberated by summer, Al Jazeera reported.
“When I look at the situation, I see that the situation of the Russians is getting worse with every week,” Hodges said. “They say war is a test of will and logistics – and on both counts Ukraine is far superior.”
“The Russians have to lose [the war]; otherwise, they’ll try again in two or three years,” he added.
Hodge said he believes Moscow’s “one hope” is that the West will waver in its support for Ukraine.
10:01 p.m.: Some of oilfield service firm Schlumberger's more than 9,000 Russian employees have begun receiving military draft notices through work, Reuters reported, and the company is not authorizing remote employment to escape mobilization, according to people familiar with the matter and internal documents.
Schlumberger's cooperation with authorities by delivering the military call-ups and its refusal to allow Russian staff to work outside the country has caused a backlash, according to the sources. They view the actions as tacit support for the war in Ukraine by Schlumberger.
Russian law requires companies to assist with delivering a summons to employees and to conduct a military registration if at least one of its employees is liable for service, according to advocacy group Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, which tracks corporate performance on human rights issues.
Schlumberger suspended new investments and technology deployment in Russia, but unlike some of its peers and customers, decided to remain.
9:02 p.m.: Kremlin-backed authorities in the eastern Luhansk region of Ukraine, illegally annexed by Moscow last month, say 10 captured servicemen have returned to the area in a prisoner exchange with Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.
They are currently undergoing rehabilitation, Russian-backed human rights official Victoria Serdyukova told Russian state news agency Tass on Friday.
The announcement follows a prisoner exchange on Thursday, in which 20 Ukrainian soldiers and 20 Russian soldiers were swapped.
The last large-scale exchange of prisoners between Russia and Ukraine, involving nearly 300 people, took place at the end of September.
8: p.m.: The retreating Russian forces left enormous quantities of ammunition and supplies in their wake, Ukrainian soldiers told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
"Everything was done beautifully and precisely,” said Oleksandr, a 30-year-old soldier sitting in a Ukrainian Army SUV on the main square in Lyman earlier this week.
7:10 p.m.: Kyiv will find a solution to keep the Starlink internet service working in Ukraine, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Friday, Reuters reported.
Elon Musk said earlier on Friday that his rocket company SpaceX could not indefinitely fund Starlink in Ukraine.
"Let's be honest. Like it or not, @elonmusk helped us survive the most critical moments of war. Business has the right to its own strategies. Ukraine will find a solution to keep #Starlink working. We expect that the company will provide stable connection till the end of negotiations," Podolyak wrote on Twitter.
6:33 p.m.: Forces from the United Kingdom are training Ukrainian recruits "how to survive and be as lethal as possible on the battlefield."
5:55 p.m.: The Biden administration's next security assistance package for Ukraine is expected to include munitions and vehicles but not significant new capabilities or counter-air defenses, two U.S. officials briefed on the $725 million package told Reuters on Friday.
The package is the first aid package since Russia's barrage of rocket attacks on civilian population centers in Ukraine in recent days.
One of the officials said that while the aid package was not expected to include material to defeat missile attacks like the ones seen over the last week, it was designed to bolster Ukraine's ability to beat back Russia in the counter offensive that has yielded large territorial gains in recent weeks.
5:15 p.m.: A 50-year-old Russian man has been detained in Arctic Norway with two drones and is suspected of flying the unmanned aerial vehicles somewhere in the country, police said Friday, according to The Associated Press.
Numerous drone sightings have been reported near Norwegian offshore oil and gas platforms in recent weeks.
The Russian citizen, who was not identified, was detained on Tuesday. On Friday, the suspect who had confessed to flying a drone in Norway, was ordered held for two weeks in custody.
Customs officers found two drones and several electronic storage devices in his luggage during a routine check at the Storskog border crossing, the sole crossing point between NATO-member Norway and Russia, prosecutor Anja Mikkelsen Indbjør said in a statement. Norway’s Arctic border with Russia is 198 kilometers long.
4:20 p.m.: Women in Russia make up a rising proportion of those being detained in protests against President Vladimir Putin's mobilization for the war in Ukraine, data show, as many Russian men fear being sent to the frontlines if they demonstrate.
Court documents also show more women in Moscow being charged in relation to anti-war protests in February and March in the early weeks of the conflict than in anti-Putin protests in previous years, Reuters reported.
3:55 p.m.: The European Union is set to announce next week that it’s setting up a military training mission in Europe for thousands of Ukrainian troops and will provide around half a billion more euros (dollars) to help buy weapons for the war-torn country, diplomats and officials said Friday, according to The Associated Press.
The aim is to train almost 15,000 Ukrainian troops in a number of EU countries, chiefly Poland and Germany, the officials said. It would range from standard military training to specialized instruction, based on Ukraine’s needs. The EU hopes to have it operational by mid-November.
EU foreign ministers will endorse the plans at a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday. The officials and diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity to provide details before the plans are officially announced.
3:07 p.m.: European foreign ministers will on Monday discuss the transfer of Iranian drones to Russia and could come to a political agreement on future sanctions related to such activity, two diplomats said on Friday, according to Reuters.
Ukraine has reported a spate of Russian attacks using Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in recent weeks. Iran denies supplying the drones to Russia, while the Kremlin has not commented.
Three drones operated by Russian forces attacked the small town of Makariv, west of Ukraine's capital, early on Thursday, with officials saying that critical infrastructure facilities were struck by what they said were Iranian-made "suicide drones."
The diplomats said although an agreement on new listings was not possible on Monday, there could be a political agreement that would pave the way for sanctions at a later stage.
2:30 p.m.: Valentina is from Siberia, but she welcomed Ukrainian troops as liberators when they recaptured the village where she lives in southern Ukraine with bowls of hot borscht. Despite her Russian heritage, the soup is, she insists, the Ukrainian version of the dish, which is popular in several countries in the region. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.
2:05 p.m.: NATO said on Friday it would launch its annual nuclear exercise "Steadfast Noon" on Monday, with up to 60 aircraft taking part in training flights over Belgium, the North Sea and Britain to practice the use of U.S. nuclear bombs based in Europe, Reuters reported.
The nuclear drills - which do not involve live bombs - are taking place amid heightened tensions after Russia repeatedly threatened nuclear strikes in Ukraine following major military setbacks on the battlefield there.
"Steadfast Noon" is likely to coincide with Moscow's own annual nuclear drills, dubbed "Grom", which are normally conducted in late October and in which Russia tests its nuclear-capable bombers, submarines and missiles.
NATO said the Western drills were not prompted by the latest tensions with Russia.
1:20 p.m.: Belarus said on Friday that Russian troops would soon be arriving to take part in a "regional grouping" of forces to protect its borders, Reuters reported.
"Troops from the Russian component of the Regional Grouping of Forces will start arriving in Belarus in the next few days," the Minsk defense ministry said.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said earlier this week that his troops would deploy with Russian forces near the Ukrainian border, citing what he said were threats from Ukraine and the West.
12:50 p.m.: Large sections of the damaged Nord Stream pipelines built to supply gas to Europe might need to be replaced, the head of Gazprom said, while Turkey on Friday backed Russian proposals to build a gas hub there as an alternative supply route, Reuters reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin this week proposed Turkey as a base for gas supplies after the Nord Stream pipelines under the Baltic Sea were damaged last month by blasts.
The European Union, which previously turned to Russia for about 40% of its gas needs, is however seeking to wean itself off Russian energy following the invasion of Ukraine in February.
12:10 p.m.: A French and a Ukrainian nongovernmental organization have filed a complaint for “complicity in war crimes” against TotalEnergies, which they accuse of having operated a gas field that allegedly produces kerosene used by Russian warplanes in Ukraine. The French oil giant denied producing kerosene for the Russian military, The Associated Press reported.
The Paris counterterrorism prosecutor’s office confirmed on Friday that it formally received the complaint and is going to examine it.
A statement from TotalEnergies denounced “outrageous and defamatory” accusations which “are an insult to the integrity of our teams and go against our values.”
The move by Ukrainian human rights group Razom We Stand (Together We Stand) and French organization Darwin Climax Coalition follows the publication in August of an investigation by British NGO Global Witness and French newspaper Le Monde.
“We are very determined to hold Total accountable,” Svitlana Romanko, the director of Razom We Stand, told the Associated Press. “We expect from the prosecutor that he and his bureau will open the case and investigate to show connections with Russia ... and all financial tools that have enabled bombarding the civilians in my country,” she said.
11:45 a.m.: French-based food conglomerate Danone says it will transfer control of its essential dairy and plant-based business in Russia, retaining only its infant-nutrition branch, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Friday.
Danone is one of the few multinationals to have remained in Russia since the Ukraine war began. The company said in a statement on October 14 that it had decided to look for a buyer in a move that could lead to a write-off of up to 1 billion euros ($980 million).
"Danone considers that this is the best option to ensure long-term local business continuity, for its employees, consumers and partners," the group said in the statement.
Danone will however retain the activities of its "specialized nutrition" arm, which includes infant milk. "Danone's priority remains to act responsibly and respectfully to its local employees, consumers, and partners throughout the process," the statement said.
Danone employs 8,000 people in Russia.
11:05 a.m.: The head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said on Twitter Friday that he has arrived in Poland after an “intensive week of consultations with Russia and Ukraine.”
He said that the parties are “moving closer to the establishment of a protection zone for Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant – the plant’s situation is untenable and we need immediate action to protect it.”
Grossi traveled to the region to hold intensive negotiations with leaders from both countries aimed at improving security at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility. His meeting with Ukrainian officials Thursday took place in a bomb shelter in Kyiv, due to Russian missile attacks there and in other Ukrainian cities this week.
10:45 a.m.: A heavily armed U.S. battalion is set to remain in Lithuania until at least 2026, amid fears about Russia’s intentions in the region following its invasion of Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.
The Baltic NATO member’s defense minister announced the decision Friday after a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Bucharest.
“The decision to extend the presence of the rotational battalion in Lithuania shows that the U.S. takes Baltic security seriously,” Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said. “It also sends a message to Russia. The Americans are here, and they are not going anywhere.”
The U.S. Army deployed a contingent of some 500 soldiers to Lithuania on a troop rotation basis in 2019. The forces include the U.S. Armored Brigade Combat Teams that have been on exercises in the eastern flank countries since 2017.
Additional U.S. forces arrived in Lithuania, a month after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, and the rotation of the U.S. 3-66 Armor battalion’s rotation has been extended.
10:30 a.m.: The United States on Friday warned it can impose sanctions on people, countries and companies that provide ammunition to Russia or support its military-industrial complex, as Washington seeks to increase pressure on Moscow over the war in Ukraine, Reuters reported.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, at a gathering of officials from 32 countries to discuss sanctions on Russia, said the department will issue guidance on Friday making clear that Washington is willing and able to impose such a crackdown.
10:00 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday there was no need for massive new strikes on Ukraine and that Russia was not looking to destroy the country, Reuters reported.
“We do not set ourselves the task of destroying Ukraine. No, of course not,” Putin said. He said there was “no need for massive strikes” now because most designated targets had been hit.
Putin told a news conference at the end of a summit in Kazakhstan that his call-up of Russian reservists would be over within two weeks and there were no plans for a further mobilization. He also repeated the Kremlin position that Russia was willing to hold talks, although he said they would require international mediation if Ukraine was prepared to take part.
Taken together, Putin’s comments appeared to suggest a slight softening of his tone as the war nears the end of its eighth month, after weeks of Ukrainian advances and significant Russian defeats.
9:50 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin reckons a mobilization of army reservists he ordered last month to bolster his country’s deployment in Ukraine will to be completed in two weeks, The Associated Press reported.
Putin told reporters after attending a summit in Kazakhstan on Friday that 222,000 reservists have been mobilized. The Russian Defense Ministry had said it was aiming for a total of around 300,000 reservists. A total of 33,000 of them are already in military units, and 16,000 are involved in the military operation in Ukraine.
The call-up, announced by Putin in September, has proved hugely unpopular in Russia, where almost all men under the age of 65 are registered as reservists.
The Russian leader initially described the mobilization as “partial” and said only those with combat or service experience would be drafted. However, a decree he signed outlined almost no specific criteria.
Russian media reports have described attempts to round up men without the relevant experience, including those ineligible for service for medical reasons. In the wake of the president’s mobilization order, tens of thousands of men left Russia.
9:20 a.m.: Russian forces have launched at least four missile strikes on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, The Associated Press reported.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov reported the explosions on Friday afternoon. He offered no details on the extent of the damage or possible casualties.
The governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Syniehubov, urged local residents to heed air raid sirens and take cover in bomb shelters.
On Thursday evening, two Russian strikes left Kharkiv, where the pre-war population stood at 1.4 million, without electricity.
The Ukrainian army has retaken most of the previously occupied areas of the Kharkiv region, but the Russians continue to shell the region’s capital with missiles.
8:15 a.m.: Elon Musk said on Friday SpaceX cannot "indefinitely" fund the Starlink internet service in Ukraine and send it several thousands more terminals after a report suggested that his rocket company had asked the Pentagon to pay for the donations, Reuters reported.
Musk's comment on the question of support for the internet service in Ukraine comes after he angered many Ukrainians with a proposal to end Russia's war in their country that included ceding some territory.
"SpaceX is not asking to recoup past expenses, but also cannot fund the existing system indefinitely *and* send several thousand more terminals that have data usage up to 100X greater than typical households. This is unreasonable," Musk said on Twitter.
The billionaire boss of Tesla said Starlink was spending nearly $20 million a month, he called it a "burn", for maintaining satellite services in Ukraine. He recently said that SpaceX had spent about $80 million to enable and support Starlink in Ukraine.
Musk drew widespread criticism from Ukrainians over his peace plan in which he proposed that Ukraine permanently cede the Crimea region to Russia, that new referendums be held under U.N. auspices to determine the fate of Russian-controlled territory, and that Ukraine agree to neutrality.
7:50 a.m.: The International Committee of the Red Cross says it shares “frustration” about incomplete access to prisoners amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to The Associated Press. However, the humanitarian organization notes that there are limits on what it can do.
ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson said Friday that “we have been able to visit hundreds of POWs on both sides, but there are thousands more who we have not been able to see.” He noted that the third Geneva Convention obliges parties to international armed conflicts to grant the ICRC immediate access to all POWs, wherever they are held.
On Thursday, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, Andriy Yermak, said Kyiv was giving the ICRC three days to send a mission to the Olenivka penal colony, located in a Russian-run part of the Donetsk region, where many Ukrainian POWs are held. Olenivka was the scene of a deadly explosion in July, for which Russia and Ukraine blamed each other.
Watson said that “our teams are ready on the ground and have been ready for months to visit the Olenivka penal facility and any other facility where POWs are held.”
But he added that “beyond being granted access by high levels of authority, this requires practical arrangements to materialize on the ground. We cannot access by force a place of detention or internment where we have not been admitted.”
Watson said that the call for full and regular access to prisoners of war goes to both sides.
7:20 a.m.: Repairs to the bridge between the annexed Crimean peninsula and southern Russia, which was damaged in an explosion last Saturday, are to be finished by July 2023, a document published on the Russian government's website said, according to Reuters.
The Crimea bridge, a showcase project of Russian President Vladimir Putin's rule, was damaged in a blast that Russia has blamed on Ukraine. Some Ukrainian officials celebrated the incident but Kyiv has not claimed responsibility.
6:55 a.m.: Train operations were suspended early on Friday near Novyi Oskol, a town in Russia's Belgorod region that borders Ukraine, after remains of a missile fell near the railway, said regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, according to Reuters.
Gladkov said on the Telegram messaging app that anti-craft defenses shot down missiles near Novyi Oskol, a town of about 18,000 people which lies about 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of the border with Ukraine.
"Power lines are damaged. Trains are temporarily suspended," Gladkov said, adding that there were no casualties.
Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports and there was no immediate reaction from Kyiv.
6:25 a.m.: Russia is keeping up its targeted attacks on critical infrastructure across Ukraine, in a fifth straight day of intensified bombardments, The Associated Press reported Friday.
Multiple Russian missile strikes shook the capital of the Zaphorizhzhia region overnight as the city continued to be a focal point for Russian fire.
Zaporizhzhia regional Governor Oleksandr Starukh said Friday morning several explosions were reported in the city overnight at infrastructure facilities, causing fires. Preliminary reports mentioned no victims.
The heavier Russian barrage began last Monday and comes as Ukraine pushes its military counteroffensive on the southern front.
Ukraine’s presidential office says Friday that over the previous 24 hours at least nine civilians were killed and 15 injured.
Friday is Defender’s Day in Ukraine, which traditionally is a public holiday, but celebrations are muted because of the war against Russia’s invasion.
In Kyiv, a concert at the central opera house was cancelled because of planned, rotating power outages across the city as energy infrastructure damaged by bombing is repaired.
In the Kherson region, which is a key link to Crimea, the Ukrainian army continued to slowly advance along the right bank of the Dnipro.
Ukraine’s armed forces commander-in-chief Valeriy Zaluzhny vowed to forge ahead with a counteroffensive launched last month. “We’re getting (what is) ours back. No one and nothing will stop us,” Zaluzhny said in a video message. “We have buried the myth of the invincibility of the Russian army.”
5:55 a.m.: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked Ukraine's Defenders Day holiday on Friday by promising victory over Russia and freedom for Ukraine, Reuters reported.
In a video address delivered on hills outside the capital Kyiv, Zelenskyy thanked Ukraine's armed forces for defending their country. He said everything that had been taken away from Ukraine would be returned, and no soldier left in captivity.
"It seems that the current enemy in its evil unites all the enemies of our statehood that we faced before," Zelenskyy said on the wooded hills outside the village of Vitachyv, site of an historic military outpost overlooking the Dnipro River.
5:28 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said that in the past three days, pro-Russian forces have made tactical advances towards the center of the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast. Russia likely views seizing Bakhmut as a preliminary to advancing on the Kramatorsk-Sloviansk urban area which is the most significant population center of Donetsk Oblast held by Ukraine. However, the update noted, its overall operational design is undermined by the Ukrainian pressure against its northern and southern flanks, and by severe shortages of munitions and manpower.
4:28 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that public reports of the first deaths of ill-prepared mobilized Russian troops in Ukraine have sparked renewed criticism of the Russian military command. Russian forces are continuing defensive operations in anticipation of potential Ukrainian attacks towards Kreminna, while Ukrainian forces made gains northwest of Svatove.
3:19 a.m.: In the small town of Velyka Oleksandrivka in southern Ukraine that has been retaken in a Ukrainian counteroffensive, signs of Russian occupation and fighting are clearly visible, The Associated Press reported.
The village is in the Kherson region, which Moscow illegally annexed. Now wrestled away from Russia’s hold, the town is fraction of what it used to be.
Bridges have been blasted into pieces and blackened vehicles are left on damaged roads. Public buildings and private homes bear the scars of shelling. Tattered Ukrainian blue and yellow flags flew outside of municipal centers, sign of defiance against the Russian occupiers.
Ukraine recaptured the town of some 7,000 people a week ago, but residents say recovery from the occupation will take time. Constant threat of shelling and the fear of Russian soldiers breaking into homes and demanding information about Ukraine’s army were unbearable, said Oleksandr Soltan, 58.
Tetyana Patsuk’s house was turned into a pile of rubble.
“It’s a disaster,” the 72-year-old woman said. “I’ve been crying for a month. I am still shocked. I can’t recover from that feeling that I have lost everything now … and that’s it. I was left with nothing. All the clothes are here, everything!”
Patsuk’s basement was used as a shelter for her and some of her neighbors during the heaviest bombardments.
“There is no house which was not damaged by them (Russians), everything here, everything,” she said.
2:13 a.m.: Agence France-Presse, citing a source close to the case, reported that French energy giant TotalEnergies is facing legal action for "complicity in war crimes" for allegedly helping fuel Russian planes that have bombed Ukraine.
1:20 a.m.: Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller told Russia's State TV Channel One on Thursday that a big section of the damaged Nord Stream pipelines might need to be replaced, TASS news agency said, according to Reuters. A section of the pipeline was now filled with water across a significant distance, TASS paraphrased Miller as saying, in a series of bullet points on the agency's Telegram channel.
Separately, Prime news agency paraphrased Miller as saying the affected length covered hundreds of kilometers on the Russian side of the pipeline.
On Wednesday, Miller, head of the Russian state-controlled natural gas monopoly, said repairs to the damaged Nord Stream pipelines would take at least a year.
12:02 a.m.: Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended decisions made during her time in power to buy natural gas from Russia, The Associated Press reported.
“You always act in the time you are in,” Merkel said Thursday, adding she doesn’t regret decisions she made. 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 for the 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.”
But the former German leader said that Russia's “brutal attack” on Ukraine is “a turning point, and the new government of course has to deal with that and it is doing so.”
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.