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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Oct. 24

People queue up to wait a ration food from World Central Kitchen organisation in the center of Mykolaiv, Oct. 24, 2022.
People queue up to wait a ration food from World Central Kitchen organisation in the center of Mykolaiv, Oct. 24, 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 p.m.: U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner "does not expect miracles" at her appeal hearing on Tuesday against a nine-year Russian jail term for having cannabis oil in her luggage, her lawyers said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The twice Olympic gold medalist was arrested on February 17 at a Moscow airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, which is banned in Russia. She was sentenced on August 4 to nine years in a penal colony on charges of possessing and smuggling drugs.

Griner's lawyers, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said she would take part in Tuesday's hearing by video link from the detention center where she has been held, and that they expected a verdict the same day.

10 p.m.:

9:42 p.m.:

8:54 p.m.: Kyiv on Monday accused Russia of purposefully delaying the arrival from Turkey of more than 165 cargo ships heading to Ukrainian ports to be loaded with grain, Agence France-Presse reported.

Russia's inspectors "have been significantly prolonging the inspection of vessels... As a result, more than 165 vessels have been stuck in a queue near the Bosphorus Strait and this number continues to grow daily", the Ukrainian foreign ministry said

"We have reason to believe that the delays in Russia's inspections of the Grain Initiative's vessels are politically motivated," it added.

8:03 p.m.:

7:09 p.m.: A Ukrainian mortar team takes pride in accurate strikes, even at a distance and at night, aided by drones that provide the exact location of Russian troops and military equipment. The team leader, a former life insurance sales manager, says the targeting data helps his fellow soldiers remain at a safe distance during artillery duels in the Donetsk region. But, he adds, they need to move quickly after firing. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

6:17 p.m.:

5:09 p.m.: Ukraine’s top soccer club on Monday urged FIFA to remove Iran from the World Cup because of the country’s alleged military support to the Russian invasion, The Associated Press reported.

Shakhtar Donetsk chief executive Sergei Palkin accused Iran of “direct participation in terrorist attacks on Ukrainians,” suggesting his own country’s team should play in Qatar instead as a replacement.

“This will be a fair decision that should draw the attention of the whole world to a regime that kills its best people and helps kill Ukrainians,” Palkin said in a statement one day before his team plays at Celtic in the Champions League.

The White House said Thursday that the U.S. has evidence that Iranian troops are “directly engaged on the ground” in Crimea supporting Russian drone attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure and civilian population. And the head of Ukraine’s intelligence service, Kyrylo Budanov, said in a published interview on Monday that Russian forces had used about 330 Iranian-built “Shahed” drones as of Saturday — and that more had been ordered.

4 p.m.: A senior Russian official says that authorities have taken steps to boost weapons production amid the fighting in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, said he visited the country’s top tank factory in the Ural Mountains city of Nizhny Tagil on Monday to discuss ways of increasing output.

Medvedev noted that foreign observers have predicted that Russia would run out of its weapons stockpiles soon, adding that such forecasts were bound to fail.

He said that “production of weapons and equipment — from tanks and cannons to precision missiles and drones — is increasing many fold.”

“You just wait,” he said.

3:18 p.m.: Norwegian police on Monday placed into custody two more Russians on suspicion of taking photographs of a restricted military installation in northern Norway, The Associated Press reported.

Prosecutor Steffen Ravnåsen told Norwegian broadcaster NRK the Russian citizens - a man and a woman in their 30s - were arrested Saturday near Bjerkvik which houses Norwegian Armed Forces military facility and barracks. Norway is a member of NATO.

Ravnåsen said the pair, who were in a car with Russian number plates, is suspected of illegally taking photos. The case has been referred to Norway’s domestic security agency PST which handles similar cases that involved Russians allegedly taking photos or flying drones illegally.

In recent weeks, several Russian citizens have been detained in Norway including four Russian nationals — three men and one woman — who were seen taking photos in central Norway of objects covered under a ban on photography. They have since been released.

2:30 p.m.:

2:10 p.m.: Sweden’s center-right government will fulfil all requirements under a deal with Turkey to join NATO and will concentrate external relations to its immediate neighborhood while dropping the previous administration’s “feminist foreign policy,” the country’s top diplomat said Monday, according to the Associated Press.

Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said the new government shares Turkey’s concern about the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization in Turkey, Europe and the United States.

“There will be no nonsense from the Swedish government when it comes to the PKK,” Billstrom told the Associated Press in an interview. “We are fully behind a policy which means that terrorist organizations don’t have a right to function on Swedish territory.”

Turkey stalled Sweden's and Finland’s historic bids to join NATO over concerns that the two countries — Sweden in particular — had become a safe haven for members of the PKK and affiliated groups.

1:50 p.m.: Amid the ruins of two Ukrainian towns recently recaptured from Russian forces, the local population is cold and traumatized. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

1:30 p.m.: Iran will not remain indifferent if it is proven that its drones are being used by Russia in the Ukraine war, the Iranian foreign minister said Monday, amid allegations the Islamic Republic has supplied drones to Moscow to attack Ukraine, Reuters reported.

"If it is proven to us that Iranian drones are being used in the Ukraine war against people, we should not remain indifferent," state media cited Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying.

However, Amirabdollahian said defense cooperation between Tehran and Moscow will continue.

1:20 p.m.: U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that Iran is “making a big mistake” by supplying Russia with drones that are targeting Ukraine’s infrastructure, the Associated Press reported.

“We’ve been trying for a while now to have a nuclear agreement with Iran so that we can make the world a safer place and now they’re going off aiding the Russians and making the world a less safe place,” Pelosi said in Zagreb, Croatia.

The United States and key Western allies have accused Russia of using Iranian-made drones to attack civilians and power plants in Ukraine. Iran has denied it is supplying Russia with the explosive-laden missiles but the distinctive triangle-shaped drones have been seen.

Pelosi was in Croatia to attend an international forum aimed at supporting Ukraine’s independence in the face of the Russian aggression.

1:05 p.m.:

12:45 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday called on Israel to join the fight against Russia and repeated a request for Israeli air defense systems, Reuters reported.

"Isn't it time for your state to choose who you are with as well?" Zelenskyy said in a video speech to a conference for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

"Is it with the democratic world, which is fighting side by side against the existential threat to its existence? Or with those who turn a blind eye to Russian terror, even when the cost of continued terror is the complete destruction of global security," he said.

Israel has condemned the Russian invasion. But it has been wary of straining relations with Moscow, a power broker in neighboring Syria where Israeli forces frequently attack pro-Iranian militia, and wants to ensure the wellbeing of Russia's Jews.

12:30 p.m.:

12:15 p.m.: The United States has no indications that Russia has decided to employ a nuclear weapon, biological weapon or chemical weapon, a U.S. military official told reporters on Monday, despite U.S. concerns about false Russian warnings of a Ukrainian dirty bomb plot, Reuters reported.

The remarks followed calls between the U.S. defense secretary and his Russian counterpart on Sunday and a call on Monday between the top U.S. and Russian generals.

11:50 a.m.: Ukraine’s top diplomat is urging the U.N. nuclear watchdog to immediately send an inspection team to the country to counter Moscow’s claim that Kyiv is preparing a “provocation” involving a dirty bomb, The Associated Press reported.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Monday he made the request in a call with Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Kuleba said Grossi agreed to send a team of inspectors, adding that “unlike Russia, Ukraine has always been and remains transparent. We have nothing to hide.”

The U.S., Britain and France said in a joint statement that they “reject Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory.”

11:35 a.m.: Russian military Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov and British Chief of Defense Staff Tony Radakin spoke by phone on Monday to discuss what Moscow called the possibility that Ukraine could use a "dirty bomb" with radioactive material, the Russian defense ministry said, according to Reuters.

It gave no further details of the call, which followed a series of conversations on Sunday in which Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Western defense ministers that Moscow believed Ukraine was preparing to detonate such a device.

VOA’s national security correspondent Jeff Seldin reported on Monday’s phone call, sharing on Twitter a statement by Britain’s Ministry of Defense which said Radakin spoke with Gerasimov and that he "rejected Russia’s allegations that Ukraine is planning actions to escalate the conflict, and he restated the UK’s enduring support for Ukraine."

11:20 a.m.: The Russian military says it has readied its forces for the possible use of a dirty bomb by Ukraine in a false flag attack to be blamed on Russia. That claim that has been strongly rejected by the U.S. and its allies, The Associated Press reported.

Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov, head of the Russian military’s radiation, chemical and biological protection forces, said Monday that Russian military assets already had been prepared to operate in conditions of radioactive contamination.

Speaking at a briefing, Kirillov claimed that a dirty bomb explosion could spew deadly radiation at distances of up to 1,500 kilometers (900 miles).

Ukraine has rejected Moscow’s claims as an attempt to distract attention from its own plans to detonate a dirty bomb, and its Western allies also dismissed the Russian claims as “transparently false.”

11:05 a.m.:

10:50 a.m.: Ukraine’s top diplomat is urging the U.N. nuclear watchdog to immediately send an inspection team to the country to counter Moscow’s claim that Kyiv is preparing a “provocation” involving a dirty bomb, The Associated Press reported.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Monday he made the request in a call with Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Kuleba said Grossi agreed to send a team of inspectors, adding that “unlike Russia, Ukraine has always been and remains transparent. We have nothing to hide.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu alleged in phone calls with his counterparts from the United States, Britain, France and Turkey that Ukraine was preparing a provocation involving a dirty bomb — a device that uses explosives to scatter radioactive material.

The U.S., Britain and France said in a joint statement that they “reject Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory.”

10:25 a.m.: Ukrainian forces are piling pressure on Russian troops in the southern region of Kherson that Moscow occupied at the start of its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Losing control of the region would be another big setback for President Vladimir Putin.

Reuters has published an explainer about why the region is strategically important for the course of Russia's war in Ukraine.

9:50 a.m.:

9:40 a.m.: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says rebuilding Ukraine will be a “task for a generation” that no country, donor or international institution can manage alone, The Associated Press reported.

Scholz spoke at a German-Ukrainian business forum on Monday, a day before he and the head of the European Union’s executive Commission host a gathering of experts to help mobilize international support for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

The chancellor pointed to the EU’s decision in June to make Ukraine a candidate to join the bloc. He said that “this decision also sends a signal to private investors: anyone who invests in rebuilding Ukraine today is investing in a future EU member country that will be part of our legal community and our single market.”

Scholz said it’s important not just to repair destroyed energy plants and networks, but to make them more efficient — ultimately allowing an expansion of Ukrainian electricity exports to the EU and a step-by-step transition to climate neutrality.

He stressed the need for more transparency and “an even more determined fight against corruption” as Ukraine strives ultimately to join the EU.

9:20 a.m.: Ukraine estimates the cost of post-war national reconstruction at nearly $750 billion so far, Reuters reported Monday, citing Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

He made the comments in a speech to a German-Ukrainian business forum at which he touted the investment potential of the Ukrainian agriculture sector and thanked Berlin for providing Kyiv with air defenses.

Shmyhal told the forum that rebuilding will be a forward-looking process. He added that “in the process of transformation, incredible opportunities for European companies will open up — in the energy sector, in agriculture, in the military sector, in IT and all other (areas),” The Associated Press reported him as saying.

9:05 a.m.: Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov says that Russian forces aren’t going to pull back from the key southern city of Kherson any time soon, The Associated Press reported.

He said in an interview published Monday that the Russians are beefing up their defenses in the city amid a parallel effort to evacuate officials and encourage civilians to leave.

“In many aspects, it’s an information operation and a manipulation,” Budanov said, adding that the evacuation effort has “created an illusion that the game is lost.”

“At the same time, they are bringing in new military units and preparing the streets of the city for defense,” he added.

8:40 a.m.: A new poll shows that most Ukrainians consider it necessary to continue armed resistance against Russia, the Kyiv Independent reported Monday.

8:10 a.m.: Romanian Defense Minister Vasile Dincu resigned on Monday, saying he could not collaborate with the country's president, amid pressure weeks after he said Ukraine's only chance to end the war was to negotiate with Russia.

European Union and NATO state Romania shares a 650-kilometer (400 mile) border with Ukraine, is host to a U.S. ballistic missile defense system and, as of this year, has had a permanent alliance battlegroup stationed on its territory, Reuters reported.

Some 2.65 million Ukrainians have fled to Europe through Romania in the eight months since the war started.

"My gesture (resignation) comes as it is impossible to cooperate with the Romanian president, the army's commander-in-chief," Dincu said in a statement. "I think my withdrawal from the post is necessary so as to not harm decisions and programs which require fluid command chains and to not block a series of projects which are absolutely necessary for ... the ministry and the army."

In early October, Dincu said Ukraine needed international allies to negotiate security guarantees and peace with Russia, sparking criticism from President Klaus Iohannis and leaders of the ruling governing coalition. He later said his comments were taken out of context.

Iohannis said Ukrainians were paying with blood in the war and only they could decide what and when to negotiate, a position held by Romania and the EU.

7:50 a.m.: Ukraine’s presidential office said Monday that at least six civilians were killed and another five were wounded by Russian shelling of several Ukrainian regions over the previous 24 hours, The Associated Press reported.

The city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region has come under the most intense attacks.

“The Russians have been shelling power plants, schools and hospitals, subjecting the elderly and the disabled to suffering and death in the cold and darkness,” Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko said in televised remarks.

The southern Mykolaiv region also came under Russian shelling that targeted energy facilities.

Kyiv and seven other regions planned rolling blackouts Monday as authorities worked to fix the damage to energy facilities inflicted by the Russian bombardment.

Ukrainians were again asked to avoid using energy-hungry home appliances in an effort to lower the load on electricity networks.

7:25 a.m.: Ukraine's national anti-corruption agency declared former central bank governor Kyrylo Shevchenko a wanted man on Monday along with two employees of the Ukrgazbank lender, on suspicion of embezzling more than $5.42 million (200 million hryvnia).

Shevchenko abruptly resigned this month citing health problems, but later saying he had faced political pressure after an old embezzlement case against him was reawakened immediately after his departure, Reuters reported.

Shevchenko assumed the post in July 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, promising to maintain the bank's independence and to cooperate with the International Monetary Fund.

In resigning, he noted the bank's successes since the start of Russia's invasion on February 24 this year, including the uninterrupted operation of the financial system and its prevention of panic on the foreign exchange market and of large-scale capital outflow to protect reserves.

7:05 a.m.: A U.N. spokesperson said on Monday that "much more needs to be done" to clear a backlog of more than 150 ships involved in a Black Sea grain-export deal, and Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations had all acknowledged the problem.

"There are currently over 150 vessels waiting around Istanbul to move and these delays have the potential to cause disruptions to the supply chain and port operations," said Ismini Palla, U.N. spokesperson for the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

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, Reuters reported. Moscow also won guarantees for its own grain and fertilizer exports.

6:45 a.m.: French President Emmanuel Macron and Pope Francis held nearly an hour of private talks on Monday, with the crisis in Ukraine and prospects for peace there expected to have been their main topic of discussion.

Macron, accompanied by his wife Brigitte, arrived at the Vatican and was greeted with an honor guard of Swiss Guards in the San Damaso courtyard before taking an elevator to the official papal study in the Apostolic Palace.

The Vatican said their private talks lasted 55 minutes. Both sides were expected to issue statements later.

Macron is in Italy to attend an international conference organized by Italy's Sant'Egidio Community, a worldwide peace and charity group.

He and the pope will jointly close the conference at a special ceremony at the Colosseum in Rome on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Opening the conference on Rome's outskirts on Sunday, Macron said he believed there was a chance for peace in Ukraine, even as Russia warned the conflict could escalate.

As Macron meets Pope Francis, abuse victims urge swifter reparations.

6:20 a.m.:

6 a.m.: China's exports to sanctions-hit Russia rose at a double-digit pace for the third consecutive month in September, bucking the trend of weakening external demand elsewhere amid the Russia-Ukraine war and a global economic slowdown, Reuters reported.

Reuters calculations based on Chinese customs data on Monday showed shipments of Chinese goods to Russia rose 21.2% from a year earlier in dollar terms, slowing from a 26.5% increase in August yet outperforming China's overall export growth of 5.7% by a large margin, as interest rate hikes to curb red-hot inflation in major economies weakened demand for Chinese goods.

Top exports to Russia included smartphones, generator sets, excavators and containers.

Imports from Russia jumped 55.2% compared with a 59.3% increase in August, partly driven by a 22% annual rise in oil imports, the customs data showed.

Oil supplies from Russia totaled 7.46 million tons, equivalent to 1.82 million barrels per day (bpd), compared with 1.96 million bpd in August.

As Western nations have shunned Russia, cooperation with Beijing has become increasingly important for Moscow. Bilateral trade has surged to $136.09 billion in value in the first nine months, up 32.5%.

5:30 a.m. Russian authorities in the occupied territory of Kherson continue to encourage residents to flee in anticipation of a Ukrainian counter-offensive, according to The Guardian. The Russian-installed deputy head of the region Kirill Stremousov said about 25,000 people have been evacuated since Tuesday.

4:30 a.m.: A Russian TV presenter apologized on Monday for calling for Ukrainian children to be drowned, as Russia's state Investigative Committee said it was probing his remarks, Reuters reported.

In a show last week on state-controlled broadcaster RT, presenter Anton Krasovsky said Ukrainian children who saw Russians as occupiers under the Soviet Union should have been "thrown straight into a river with a strong current" and drowned.

Ukraine said on Sunday that RT was an inciter of genocide and should be banned worldwide. Margarita Simonyan, the channel's editor-in-chief, said she had suspended Krasovsky because of his "disgusting" comments, adding that no one at RT shared his views.

Krasovsky said in a social media post he was "really embarrassed."

4 a.m.: The Russian-installed administration of Ukraine's Kherson region said on Monday it was organizing some local men into militia units, Reuters reported.

In a notice on Telegram, the occupation authorities said men had the "opportunity" to join territorial defense units if they chose to remain in Kherson of their own free will.

However, men in other occupied Ukrainian regions such as Donetsk have previously been compelled to join and fight with the armies of Russia's proxies in the war with Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week declared martial law in the occupied regions, empowering their Russian-installed administrations to step up mobilization.

Compelling civilians to serve in the armed forces of an occupying power is defined as a breach of the Geneva Conventions on conduct in war.

Russian authorities have ordered civilians to evacuate from Kherson, one of four Ukrainian regions Russia said it had annexed last month even as Kyiv's forces have made significant military gains.

Russia and its proxies in Kherson have stepped up the urgency of their warnings to leave in the face of Ukraine's counter-offensive.

"It's vital to save your lives," Education Minister Sergei Kravtsov said in a video message on Sunday.

3:15 a.m.: Two Russian Indigenous Siberians were so scared of having to fight the war in Ukraine, they changed everything to take a small boat across the treacherous Bering Sea to reach American soil, Alaska’s senior U.S. senator said after talking with the two.

The two, identified as males by a resident, landed earlier this month near Gambell, on Alaska’s St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Strait, where they asked for asylum.

“They feared for their lives because of Russia, who is targeting minority populations, for conscription into service in Ukraine,” Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Saturday during a candidate forum at the Alaska Federation of Natives conference in Anchorage.

“It is very clear to me that these individuals were in fear, so much in fear of their own government that they risked their lives and took a 15-foot skiff across those open waters,” Murkowski said when answering a question about Arctic policy.

Thousands of Russian men fled the country after Putin announced a mobilization in September to call up about 300,000 men to bolster Russia’s depleting forces in Ukraine.

2:30 a.m.: Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Renikov said he would be talking Monday with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about “another act of Russian nuclear blackmail and response of the Free World.”

The foreign ministers of the United States, Britain and France reiterated their support for Ukraine in a statement late Sunday, and said their defense ministers made clear to Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu their rejection of “Russia’s transparently false allegations.”

For Austin, his phone call Sunday with Shoigu was the second between the two ministers in three days. The Pentagon said Austin rejected any pretext for Russian escalation and reaffirmed the value of continued communication amid “Russia’s unlawful and unjustified war against Ukraine.”

2 a.m.: Russia continues to use Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) against targets throughout the Ukrainian territory, the British Ministry of Defense said on Monday.

Russia is likely using the Iranian Shahed-136 UAVs to infiltrate Ukrainian air defenses and as a substitute for Russian-manufactured long-range precision weapons that are becoming increasingly scarce, the ministry said in its update on Twitter.

Ukrainian efforts to contain the UAVs have been successful, the ministry said.

1 a.m.: Ukraine rejected Russia's allegations that Ukrainian forces might detonate a radioactive device, and accused Russia of planning to carry out such an act and blame it on Ukraine.

“Russian lies about Ukraine allegedly planning to us a ‘dirty bomb’ are as absurd as they are dangerous,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during his nightly address Sunday that Russia was the only one in the region capable of using nuclear weapons.

“If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all this,” Zelenskyy said. “I believe that now the world should react in the toughest possible way.”

12:05 a.m.: U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, will attend a forum in Zagreb this week aimed at supporting Ukraine's independence and the return of the Crimean peninsula to Kyiv, her office announced on Sunday, according to a Reuters report.

"Discussions will be centered on the international community's efforts to support the Ukrainian people while holding Russia accountable for its documented war crimes and attempted illegal annexations," Pelosi's office said in a statement.

Pelosi, who visited the war-torn country earlier this year, has been a strong supporter of providing aid and military assistance to Ukraine since Russia invaded it on February 24.

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

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