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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Oct. 16

A firefighter works at the site of the burning after shelling in Donetsk, the capital of Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine, Oct. 16, 2022.
A firefighter works at the site of the burning after shelling in Donetsk, the capital of Donetsk People's Republic, eastern Ukraine, Oct. 16, 2022.

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

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

11:30 p.m. The Kyiv Independent reports that Ukrainian forces "killed 50 Russian troops and destroyed two tanks, three large-caliber howitzers, Giatsint self-propelled guns, a self-propelled artillery installation, a mortar, a Tor missile system, an electronic warfare station, and three armored vehicles" on Sunday.

10:25 p.m.: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said almost 65,000 Russians had been killed since the February 24 invasion, a figure far higher than Moscow's official Sept. 21 estimate of 5,937 dead, Reuters reported.

9:20 p.m.: A 17th-century Czech chateau is now home to Ukrainian refugees. With no central heating, it's hardly luxurious, but for Anna Serdyuk, her mother, two children, and a niece, it's given them a chance to get settled after fleeing Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the story.

8:15 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made note of World Food Day, celebrated on Oct. 16.

“For decades, the world has worked to solve the problem of famine. And it is unlikely that any of the founders of the U.N. could have thought at the time that in the 21st century all of us in the world will again be forced to fight the threat of mass famine, moreover artificial famine!” Zelenskyy said.

“A famine for which only one country in the world is responsible - Russia - and its terrorist war against the free world. When Russia blocked our Ukrainian ports and disrupted normal food supply chains, it returned the world to a situation as if these decades of work for international food security had never existed,” he said.

“Fortunately, Ukrainian ports started working again for the export of agricultural products. Since July, we have been supplying exactly the amount of food that restores stability to the world market. And precisely to those segments of the food market that ensure the consumption of some of the most fragile countries in Africa and Asia.”

7:30 p.m.: OPEC+ member states lined up on Sunday to endorse a steep production cut agreed this month after the White House, stepping up a war of words with Riyadh, claimed Saudi Arabia had coerced some other nations into supporting the move, Reuters reported.

Washington noted on Thursday that the cut would boost Russia's foreign earnings and suggested it had been engineered for political reasons by Riyadh, which on Sunday emphatically denied it was supporting Moscow in its war with Ukraine.

The kingdom's defense minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, also said the October 5 decision to reduce output by 2 million barrels per day - which was taken despite oil markets being tight - was unanimous and based on economic factors.

His comment was echoed by Iraq and several other producer states.

6:23 p.m.:

5:17 p.m.: Russian forces continue to target civilian infrastructure in towns and villages across Ukraine as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian troops are fending off repeated Russian attacks on the strategic eastern town of Bakhmut and after reports of a deadly Russian military range shooting, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

The General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said early on October 16 that Russian forces had targeted more than 30 towns and villages across Ukraine, launching five missile and 23 air strikes and up to 60 rocket attacks in the past 24 hours.

In response, Ukraine's air forces carried out 32 strikes, hitting 24 Russian targets, it said.

4:33 p.m.:

3:55 p.m.: Prague and other Czech cities are donating old trams and buses to war-torn Ukraine where public transit systems across the country have been damaged by Russian bombing. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the story.

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.

2:45 p.m.: Russian-installed proxies in Kherson Sunday published a video of around 100 residents transferred to Russia's Krasnodar Krai, The Kyiv Independent reports. The video depicted women, children, and the elderly, carrying backpacks and suitcases.

The Institute for the Study of War said Saturday that Russia may be forcing deportations of Ukrainians as part of a “deliberate ethnic cleansing campaign."

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said Friday that “several thousand” children from Kherson Oblast were “already in other regions of Russia, resting in rest homes and children’s camps.”

2 p.m.: Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S. expressed optimism Sunday about securing the money needed for the continued operation of a satellite network funded by billionaire Elon Musk that has provided key battlefield and humanitarian contacts in the war with Russia.

“It’s there, it’s working,” Oksana Markarova told CBS’ “Face the Nation." “It will need to be working for a longer time.”

She did not indicate whether Musk had agreed to continue funding his rocket company SpaceX's Starlink internet service in Ukraine but said the country's collaboration with the company has been excellent.

"We got the Starlinks in Ukraine very quickly, in some areas for humanitarian support, it’s the only connection that we have," Markarova said, “and it’s very important to continue having it and I’m positive that we will find a solution there.”

On Friday, senior U.S. officials confirmed that Musk had asked the Defense Department to take over funding for the service Starlink provides in Ukraine. Starlink, which provides broadband internet service using more than 2,200 low-orbiting satellites, has provided crucial battlefield communications for Ukrainian military forces since early in the nation’s defense against Russia’s February invasion.

1:15 p.m.: National security adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN Sunday the U.S. would not make any distinction in its response to Russia if it used a nuclear weapon in its war with Ukraine.

He was responding to a hypothetical question of whether the US would make a distinction between so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons and those used in a wide-scale attack.

“The use of a nuclear weapon on the battlefield in Ukraine is the use of a nuclear weapon on the battlefield in Ukraine, and we’re not going to slice the salami,” Sullivan said. “The notion that somehow there’s differences in use here, I think, is a dangerous notion.”

“From our perspective, we believe it is incumbent upon the United States, working with our NATO allies and partners and other responsible countries around the world, including the likes of China and India, to send a very clear and decisive message to Russia that they should not contemplate the use of nuclear weapons in this conflict,” Sullivan added.

12:15 p.m.: Ukrainian infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov met with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in Istanbul Sunday to negotiate an extension of the U.N.-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative, The Kyiv Independent reported.

In an interview with Reuters Thursday, Russian ambassador to the U.N. Gennadiy Gatilov said Russia was prepared to reject renewing the deal in November unless its demands are addressed.

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.

12 p.m.:

Israeli diaspora affairs minister Nachman Shai Sunday tweeted a message to Israel's leadership Sunday.

"The time has come for Ukraine to receive military aid as well, just as the U.S. and NATO countries provide," he posted.

His tweet followed earlier reports that Iran is preparing to ship Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar missiles to Russia.

Though Israel has provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine and is reportedly providing Kyiv with intelligence on Iranian-made suicide drones, it has repeatedly rejected Ukraine’s calls for air defense systems.

11:05 a.m.: Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has withstood more than 130 Russian missile and drone attacks over the past week, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Sunday, The Kyiv Independent reported.

“The aggressor sought to intimidate Ukrainians and paralyze the state’s energy,” Shmyhal said. He noted that Russia has failed in that goal, as "Ukraine was prepared."

10:30 a.m.: The Ukraine Defense Ministry’s intelligence directorate Sunday announced a reward of $100,000 for the capture of Igor Girkin, also known as Igor Strelkov, a former Russian intelligence agent said to have triggered Russia’s war against Ukraine when he helped seize Sloviansk, Donetsk Oblast, in 2014, Kyiv Independent reported.

Girkin is one of three individuals accused of participating in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine, which killed 283 people.

10:15 a.m.: Russian state-controlled media RIA Novosti Sunday announced that Russian president Vladimir Putin will call a security council meeting in the coming days; it would follow on the tails of a meeting on Oct. 10, which was held in aftermath of the explosion at the bridge connecting Crimea to Russia.

9:45 a.m.: The Belarus defense ministry said Sunday that just under 9,000 Russian troops would be stationed in Belarus as part of a "regional grouping" of forces to protect its borders.

"The first troop trains with Russian servicemen who are part of the (regional grouping) began to arrive in Belarus," Valeriy Revenko, head of the defense ministry's international military cooperation department, wrote on Twitter. "The relocation will take several days.”

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said last week that his troops would deploy with Russian forces near the Ukrainian border, citing what he said were threats from Ukraine and the West.

9:40 a.m.: Security experts are cautioning that Russian President Vladimir Putin may escalate his cyber operations in time for the November midterms as retaliation for U.S. involvement in the conflict, The Hill reported Sunday.

James Turgal, vice president of the cyber consultancy Optiv, points to recent cyberattacks against U.S. government and airport websites for which Moscow-backed hackers have claimed responsibility, saying these may have been testing grounds for Russian efforts to interfere in the upcoming election.

The Hill also quotes a report cybersecurity firm Recorded Future issued Thursday:

"The Russian government likely views electoral interference and voter influence ahead of the US midterm elections as an appropriate response to the US’s defensive military support to Ukraine and to US participation in unprecedented international sanctions that have isolated Russia and heavily damaged its economy,” the report warned.

9:15 a.m.: Russia has opened a criminal investigation after gunmen shot dead 11 people at a military training ground near the Ukrainian border, authorities said on Sunday, as fighting raged in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Russia's RIA news agency, citing the defense ministry, said two gunmen had opened fire during a firearms training exercise on Saturday, targeting a group who had volunteered to fight in Ukraine.

The attackers were from a former Soviet republic, the ministry said, without elaborating, and said they had been shot dead.

A senior Ukrainian official, Oleksiy Arestovych, said the two men were from the mainly Muslim, Central Asian republic of Tajikistan and had opened fire on the others after an argument over religion.

9 a.m.: Russian forces hit Nikopol, in the central eastern Dnipropetrovsk region Sunday, The Kyiv Independent reported. The paper quoted Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, who said that Russia struck the city more than 30 times with artillery and around 50 times with Grad multiple rocket launchers, targeting the city’s Palace of Culture, a school, a cafe, industrial areas, and electrical substations. Six people were wounded and two hospitalized.

8:30 a.m.: France is pledging air defense missiles to protect Ukrainian cities against drone strikes and an expanded training program for Ukrainian soldiers.

The French defense minister said up to 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers will be embedded with military units in France, rotating through for several weeks of combat training, more specialized training in logistics and other needs, and training on equipment being supplied by France.

Sébastien Lecornu, was speaking in an interview published Sunday in Le Parisien newspaper.

France is also replenishing its own weaponry stocks after donating mobile howitzers and other weaponry to Ukraine. The minister said the French defense budget for 2023 will climb to its highest levels since World War II, at 44 billion euros.

8 a.m.: Iran is preparing the first shipment of Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar missiles for Russia, the The Washington Post reported Sunday.

Both are short-range missiles able to hit targets 300 and 700 kilometers away, respectively.

Independent news outlets have recently published photos showing Iran-made suicide drones used to strike targets in Iran, and Pentagon officials also publicly confirmed the use of Iranian drones in Russian airstrikes, as well as Ukraine’s success in shooting some of the drones down.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier in the week that Russia ordered 2,400 Shahed-136 drones from Iran, and Ukrainian intelligence says hundreds of them have already been delivered.

Iran denied supplying the weapons to Russia.

7:40 a.m.: Pro-Kremlin officials in the city of Donetsk Sunday blamed Ukraine for a rocket attack that struck the mayor’s office. The administration said on the Telegram messaging app that the main entry into the building had been hit and several nearby cars damaged.

Separately, Ukrainian authorities on Sunday reported that at least six people were wounded as a result of rocket attacks across from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, where Russia has stationed its troops. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said that two residents of Nikopol had been hospitalized following the strikes, which also damaged five power lines, gas pipelines, and a raft of civilian businesses and residential buildings.

5:20 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said in its latest Ukraine assessment that Russia is conducting forced deportation of Ukrainians that likely amount to a deliberate ethnic cleansing campaign in addition to apparent violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Russian forces continued counterattacks west of Kreminna and ground attacks in Donetsk Oblast.

4:21 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry said Russia’s defense industry is probably incapable of producing advanced munitions at the rate they are being expended. Recent attacks represent a further degradation of Russia’s long-range missile stocks, which is likely to constrain their ability to strike the volume of targets they desire in future.

3:13 a.m.: Margarita, whose son is serving in the Belarusian Army and is currently deployed near the Ukrainian border, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty last week that she instructed him to "run in the opposite direction or surrender" if he is ordered to fight Ukrainians.

She said mothers worried about their own sons amid rumors of an imminent call-up should "hide them somewhere."

"You just need to not go to the military office and hide the children," Margarita said, "so they're not going to fight for other people's interests."

1:32 a.m.: Polish pipeline operator PERN said Saturday that the pumping of crude oil in the damaged Druzhba pipeline has been restored, Reuters reported.

"PERN's technical services restored the full functionality of the damaged pipeline used to deliver crude oil to the company's German customers on Saturday," PERN said in a statement.

The leak was discovered late on Tuesday and PERN said the next day that there was no sign that third-party interference caused the damage.

"The causes that led to the leakage are being investigated. ... Currently, the activity of PERN services is focused on clearing the area and restoring it to its original condition, PERN said Saturday.

12:02 a.m.: Arab media reported Saturday that Egypt's energy minister, Tarek el Molla, who attended the East Mediterranean Gas Forum in Cyprus on Friday, said that gas supplies in the East Med region will be what he called “a life-saver for Europe at a time of crisis," and "could eventually meet Europe's gas needs if the proper investments are made," reports Edward Yeranian from Cairo for VOA.

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

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