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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Oct. 15

Ukrainian people who live in Greece hold a Ukrainian flag as they protest in central Athens, to condemn the Russian strikes against multiple cities across Ukraine and to mark Ukraine's Defenders Day, on Oct. 14, 2022.
Ukrainian people who live in Greece hold a Ukrainian flag as they protest in central Athens, to condemn the Russian strikes against multiple cities across Ukraine and to mark Ukraine's Defenders Day, on Oct. 14, 2022.

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

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

10:25 p.m.: Russia's attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukrainian cities away from the front lines will complicate the dire economic situation facing the country, which has seen a tenfold increase in poverty this year, a top World Bank official said on Saturday.

Arup Banerji, World Bank regional country director for Eastern Europe, said Ukraine's rapid restoration of power after this week's large-scale Russian attacks on energy facilities reflected the efficiency of the wartime system, but Russia's shift in tactics has elevated risks.

"If this continues, the outlook is going to be much, much harder," he told Reuters in an interview. "As winter really starts biting ... certainly by December or January, and if the houses are not repaired ... there may be another internal wave of migration, of internally displaced persons."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy this week told international donors that Ukraine needed about $55 billion: $38 billion to cover next year's estimated budget deficit, and another $17 billion to start to rebuild critical infrastructure, including schools, housing and energy facilities.

9:22 p.m.: Ukrainian investigators have completed the exhumation of soldiers in one of two mass graves discovered after Russian troops retreated from the town of Lyman in eastern Donetsk region, police said on Friday.

"Police have removed the bodies of 34 Ukrainian defenders from the mass grave," Donetsk regional police said in a statement, according to Reuters. "Work continues at a second location where more than 120 civilians are buried. The fate of each person who died will be determined."

The soldiers' bodies have all been transferred to a morgue and will be returned to their relatives for burial once they are identified and the cause of death is determined, the police said.

Since Sept. 29, Donetsk police said they had found the bodies of 144 people, 85 of them civilians, with 108 exhumed from makeshift graves, and the rest found in buildings or on the streets. Some of the civilians, they said, "have signs of violent death, in particular shrapnel injuries."

8:54 p.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron has backed a proposal to train up to 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the country, Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu told newspaper Le Parisien on Saturday, according to Reuters.

"They will be assigned to our units for several weeks," he said, adding that military training for the use of Caesar howitzers had previously been offered to Ukrainian soldiers. "But now it's a change of scale," Lecornu said.

The minister said France had delivered 18 Caesar howitzers to Ukraine and that talks were going on to send six more. On top of these, France is also weighing the delivery of ground-to-ground missiles, Lecornu said.

He also pledged that France would provide Crotale short-range anti-air missiles, which are used to intercept low-flying missiles and aircraft.

"The number (of Crotales) is being determined with the Ukrainians, but it will be significant to allow them to defend their sky," Lecornu said.

7:44 p.m.: A fuel depot in Russia's Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, caught fire after shelling on Saturday, its governor said, without specifying the origin of the shelling, Reuters reported.

Russian border regions including Belgorod have accused Ukraine of attacking targets, including power lines and fuel stores, since Moscow sent its armed forces into Ukraine on Feb. 24. There was no immediate comment from Kyiv.

"We have another shelling. One of the shells hit an oil depot in the Belgorod district. Emergency services are already battling the fire. There is no danger of [the fire] spreading," the governor of Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said on social media, posting a picture of flames and black smoke rising into the air.

7 p.m.: Elon Musk said earlier Saturday that his rocket company, SpaceX, would continue to fund its Starlink internet service to Ukraine, Reuters reported. But it wasn’t clear that he was serious.

But he later appeared to indicate it was. When a Twitter user told Musk "No good deed goes unpunished," he replied "Even so, we should still do good deeds."

Musk said on Friday that SpaceX could not indefinitely fund Starlink in Ukraine. The service has helped civilians and military stay online during the war with Russia.

6:20 p.m.: Kyiv region Gov. Oleksiy Kuleba said a missile that hit a power site Saturday morning didn't kill or wound anyone, The Associated Press reported.

Citing security, Ukrainian officials didn't identify the site, one of many infrastructure targets the Russian military tried to destroy after an October 8 truck bomb explosion damaged the bridge that links Russia to the annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Ukrainian electricity transmission company Ukrenergo said repair crews were working to restore electricity service but warned residents about further possible outages.

5:25 p.m.: Regions of southern Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed saw more heavy fighting Saturday as Ukrainian soldiers pressed a ground campaign, The Associated Press reported.

To the north and east of Kherson, Russian shelling killed two civilians in the Dnipropetrovsk region, Gov. Valentyn Resnichenko said. He said the shelling of the city of Nikopol, which is across the Dnieper from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, damaged a dozen residential buildings, several stores and a transportation facility.

Officials said the Russian military carried out a number of strikes with Iranian-made kamikaze drones and S-300 missiles in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Dmytro Pocishchuk, a hospital medic in the Zaporizhzhia region's capital who has treated dozens of people wounded during Russian attacks in recent weeks, said people sought safety outdoors or in his building's basement when the familiar blasts started at 5:15 a.m. local time on Saturday.

“If Ukraine stops, these bombings and killings will continue. We can’t give up to the Russian Federation,’" Pocishchuk said several hours later. He put a small Ukrainian flag on the broken windshield of his heavily damaged car.

4:30 p.m.: Two volunteer soldiers on Saturday fired at other troops at a Russian military firing range near Ukraine, killing 11 and wounding 15 others, before being killed, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The ministry said in a statement that the shooting took place in the Belgorod region in southwestern Russia that borders Ukraine. It said that the two volunteers from an unnamed ex-Soviet nation fired on other soldiers during target practice and were killed by return fire.

The ministry called the incident a terrorist attack.

The shooting comes amid a hasty mobilization ordered by President Vladimir Putin to beef up Russian forces in Ukraine — a move that triggered protests and caused hundreds of thousands to flee Russia.

3:45 p.m.: The Ukrainian armed forces' general staff said in a Facebook post that troops had on Saturday repelled a total of 11 separate Russian attacks near Kramatorsk, Bakhmut and the town of Avdiivka, just to the north of Donetsk, Reuters reported.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian forces, which rained cruise missiles on several Ukrainian cities on Monday, had hit targets in seven regions over the last two days.

"Some of the missiles and drones were shot down but unfortunately, not all of them. Unfortunately, there is destruction and casualties," he said. Kyiv said on Friday that it expected the United States and Germany to deliver sophisticated anti-aircraft systems this month.

Zelenskyy also said almost 65,000 Russians had been killed since the February 24 invasion, a figure far higher than Moscow's official September 21 estimate of 5,937. In August the Pentagon said Russia has suffered between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties, either killed or wounded.

3: p.m.: Ukrainian troops still hold the strategic eastern town of Bakhmut despite repeated Russian attacks, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Saturday.

Zelenskiy, speaking in an evening address, also said Russian missiles and drones had continued to hit Ukrainian cities, causing destruction and casualties, Reuters reported.

Although Ukrainian troops have recaptured thousands of square kilometers of land in recent offensives in the east and south. But as Kyiv's forces meet more determined resistance, fighting has become particularly intense in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk provinces bordering Russia.

Russian forces have repeatedly tried to seize Bakhmut, which sits on a main road leading to the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk, both in the Donetsk region.

"Active fighting continues in various areas of the front. A very difficult situation persists in the Donetsk region and Luhansk region," Zelenskyy said. "The most difficult (situation) is in the direction of Bakhmut, as in previous days. We are holding our positions."

2:30 p.m.: Elon Musk tweeted on Saturday that his rocket company SpaceX would continue to fund its Starlink internet service in Ukraine, a day after he said it could no longer afford to do so.

It was not immediately clear whether Musk's offer was genuine.

1:45 p.m.: Russian forces shelled the Ukrainan city of Nikopol wounding at least seven people, reports The Kyiv Independent . Yevhen Yevtushenko, head of the Nikopol district military administration, said two people were injured during the night and five people were wounded in the Saturday morning attack. He said that the attacks were focused on “maximum damage to civilians”. More than 50 Russian shells were fired into Nikopol overnight, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Governor Valentyn Reznichenko said on Telegram.

12:40 p.m.: Ukraine’s military General Staff reports that Russia has lost nearly 64,700 troops since February 24th. The report found Russian forces had also lost 2,524 tanks, 5,179 armored fighting vehicles, 3,951 vehicles and fuel tanks, 1,582 artillery systems, 365 multiple launch rocket systems, 186 air defense systems, 268 airplanes, 242 helicopters, 1,210 drones, and 16 boats.

11:33 a.m.: Ukrainian troops have launched an offensive in Kherson Oblast reports the Kyiv Independent. Kirill Stremousov, a deputy head of the Russian illegal occupation government in Kherson Oblast, said that the Ukrainian military is trying to launch an offensive near the village of Dudchany.

The Ukrainian government has not confirmed the military action, but the offensive was reported by several pro-Kremlin war journalists, including Yevgeny Poddubny and Alexander Kots.

10:57 a.m.: Saudi Arabia will provide $400 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The announcement from the oil-rich country comes amid criticism for its decision to side with Russia on a deal to cut global oil production.

Saudi Arabia’s agreement to cut oil production was criticized by U.S. President Joe Biden who has since called for a re-evaluation of ties with the kingdom. The United States has sought to isolate Moscow and believes that a rise in oil prices from decreased production will provide Russia with more oil revenue to fund the war in Ukraine.

9:50 a.m.: Power has again been restored at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility, reducing worries about an accident at one of the war’s most sensitive sites, reports the New York Times. Ukrainian engineers continue to operate the plant under the watch of Russian soldiers. Moscow recently said it was nationalizing the facility. The nuclear plant sits in one of four Ukrainian provinces that Russian President Vladimir Putin declared had been annexed to Russia this month.

8:40 a.m.: A Russian missile strike seriously damaged a key energy facility in Ukraine’s capital region, the country’s power system operator said, as reported by the Associated Press.

Kyiv region Governor Oleksiy Kuleba said the strike did not kill or wound anyone.

Electricity transmission company Ukrenergo said repair crews were working to restore power but warned residents about possible outages.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, urged Kyiv area residents and people in three neighboring regions to reduce their energy consumption during evening hours of peak demand.

7:52 a.m.: The first Russian soldiers to take part in a new joint force with Belarusian troops have arrived in Belarus, Minsk's defense ministry said on Saturday. “The first convoys of Russian servicemen from the regional force group have arrived in Belarus,” the ministry said, adding that their mission was “exclusively to strengthen the protection and defense of the border."

Images from the ministry showed soldiers being welcomed by women wearing traditional costumes and greeting them with bread and salt. The deployment raised fears that Belarusian troops could join Russian forces in their offensive in Ukraine.

Minsk said that the contingent was “purely defensive.”

5:32 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said contingents of mobilized Russian reservists have been deployed to Ukraine over the last two weeks. Their average level of personal equipment is almost certainly lower than the already poor provision of previously deployed troops. Many reservists are likely required to purchase their own body armor.

Endemic corruption and poor logistics remain one of the underlying causes of Russia’s poor performance in Ukraine, the update concluded.

4:34 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that Ukrainian and Western officials continue to reiterate that they have observed no indicators of preparations for a Belarusian invasion of Ukraine, despite alarmist reports in the Belarusian information space that President Alexander Lukashenko has introduced a “counter-terrorist operation” regime.

The assessment said Russian troops conducted limited ground attacks west of Kreminna and in northwestern Kherson Oblast in order to regain lost positions. Russian troops also continued ground attacks around Bakhmut and Donetsk City.

3:22 a.m.: Hungary on Friday published a national consultation survey asking citizens to agree or disagree with the government's opposition to European Union sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Agence France-Presse reported.

"We believe that the sanctions are destroying us," reads a statement on the government's Facebook page, where the taxpayer-funded, seven-question survey is published. The survey has no legal implications.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has sought close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent years, has frequently railed against the sanctions.

Budapest, highly dependent on Russian oil and gas and currently seeing record inflation, has already secured an exemption from EU sanctions on Russian crude oil imports via pipelines.

2:31 a.m.: Sweden's coast guard said Friday there were no longer any visible leaks from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

"During their latest flights over the Baltic Sea, coast guard aircraft have not been able to see any roiling on the sea's surface," the coast guard said in a statement, citing two flights Thursday and Friday, Agence France-Presse reported.

Preliminary underwater inspections back up suspicions of probable sabotage, Sweden says.

Although the pipelines were not in operation, they contained gas before falling victim to the apparent sabotage.

1:21 a.m.: Ukraine's central bank chief said on Friday he plans to ask the global financial crime watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to expel Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.

Newly appointed central bank governor Andriy Pyshnyi said on Facebook that he would make the request on behalf of the bank in a letter to the FATF before the organization's plenary session on October 18-21. Russia is a member of FATF; Ukraine is not.

Pyshnyi accused Russia of "creating serious threats to the security and integrity of the world's financial system" and demanded that Moscow be made to "feel the price" for its invasion of Ukraine.

12:02 a.m.: The shareholders of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Friday elected Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko to chair the boards of governors of both institutions in 2023, Reuters reported.

The unanimous decision, which came during the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington, means that Marchenko will also chair next year's annual meeting of the institutions, which is scheduled to be held in Morocco.

It marks the first time that Ukraine will lead the institutions since it joined 30 years ago, Marchenko said in a statement released by the Ukrainian finance ministry.

Some information in this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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