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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Oct. 27

A Ukrainian service member holds a display munition during a mine-clearing demonstration with the Armtrac 400 demining machine in the background, in the Kharkiv region, Oct. 27, 2022.
A Ukrainian service member holds a display munition during a mine-clearing demonstration with the Armtrac 400 demining machine in the background, in the Kharkiv region, Oct. 27, 2022.

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

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

11:25 p.m.: Over the 28 years of Alexander Lukashenko’s repressive rule, Belarusians who oppose him, despise him, or just want to criticize any particular policy could feel relatively safe expressing their views inside the confines of their homes, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

Now they may want to think again, legal and digital experts say -- especially if they use things like GPS tracking apps, online dating services, or a voice-controlled virtual assistant like Alisa, a product of the Russia-based Internet company Yandex.

Lukashenka signed a decree last week requiring telecom operators and website owners to connect to a new, state-designed system that would allow the Belarusian KGB to surveil almost any online activity.

The October 18 decree crystalizes a law passed last year that on paper gave state security agencies unlimited powers to spy on citizens’ digital footprints, including at-home smart devices, but provided no mechanism for doing so.

In combination with the 2021 law, the new decree allows the KGB to access information that Internet providers, websites, and databases store on individuals – from the pages they visit and the messages they post on forums to their activity with online banking services, dating sites, and more.

9:08 p.m.: U.S. automaker Ford has completed its withdrawal from the Russian market with the sale of its 49% stake in the Russian-based Sollers Ford joint venture, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported Thursday.

Ford said it had finalized the deal to sell its stake in Sollers Ford for a "nominal" undisclosed price.

Ford secured an option to buy back the shares within a five-year period "should the global situation" change in the coming years, the company said. The joint venture with Russian company Sollers was established in 2011.

Ford suspended its business operations in Russia in March citing deep concerns about Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. At the time, Ford took a $122 million write-down in connected with the suspension while stressing that it had already greatly reduced its presence in Russia.

A slew of foreign automakers have halted operations in Russia or exited entirely.

Earlier on October 26, German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz said it would exit Russia by selling shares in its industrial and financial services subsidiaries to a local investor.

8:28 p.m.:

7:51 p.m.: A local official told Russian conscripts, "You are not cannon fodder," in a video published online recently. The men responded by angrily shouting that, actually, that's exactly what they are. The incident, in the Ardatovsky district some 360 kilometers east of Moscow, followed a stream of videos in which Russian conscripts complain of old equipment and poor training. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

7:03 p.m.: Germany is struggling to ramp up defense procurement or even just replace arms and munitions it has supplied to Kyiv, several sources told Reuters eight months after Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged 100 billion euros to bring the military up to speed, Reuters reported.

“There is almost no movement at all,” a source involved in German defense procurement procedures said on Thursday, adding very few orders had been placed so far.

The source was echoed by managers in the defense industry who expressed disappointment at what they see as the government’s sluggishness in replenishing the Bundeswehr’s inventories, caused by slow procedures and a lack of decisions at the top level.

“We would have expected to see many more orders by now,” one defense industry manager, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

6:13 p.m.: The Ukrainian interior ministry said in a statement Thursday that local police found a mass grave outside the city of Izium, which Ukraine’s forces retook last month as part of a sweeping offensive in the northeast, The Associated Press reported.

The statement cited locals as saying that Russian troops dumped the bodies in a pit outside the nearby village of Kopanky in mid-April and then leveled the ground with tanks.

“Locals say that (Ukrainian) soldiers died in battle and were buried there. The Russians did not put a single mark on the grave and did not allow the villagers to go to the cemetery. People found three crosses, and (used them to) mark the perimeter of the grave, removed weeds,” Dmytro Soima, a local police representative, was cited as saying in the ministry’s statement.

His account could not be independently verified.

5:18 p.m.: Residents of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv have been getting creative amid power cuts, Reuters reported Thursday.

When near-daily rolling blackouts began in his Kyiv apartment block, Taras Logginov knew anyone getting stuck in the lifts of the 17-storey building would appreciate some basic supplies to help them through the ordeal.

With Russian strikes on Ukraine's power infrastructure now wreaking havoc on the hundreds of high rises in the capital Logginov and other thoughtful residents regularly leave so-called "survival kits" in lifts across the city.

A typical pack contains water, energy bars and sweets, a torch and a container for going to the toilet. Logginov also includes extra items such as bubble solution to keep children entertained, or a square of foam to sit on.

"I could of course claim that I thought of this myself, but in truth I saw it on the internet," grinned Logginov, 63, referring to dozens of social media posts offering tips on how to survive blackouts that can last several hours.

4:31 p.m.:

3:29 p.m.: The Ukrainian capital Kyiv and four regions may have to cut electricity supplies for longer than planned after Russian strikes overnight targeting energy infrastructure, a senior official said on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office, said energy supplies would be significantly limited in Kyiv itself and the central regions of Kyiv, Zhytomyr and Cherkasy and the northern region of Chernihiv.

Authorities had previously said power could be shut off for four hours a day to ease the strain on the generating system as technicians worked to repair the damage.

“According to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, due to enemy attacks, the previously approved electricity shutdown schedules in these areas will not be observed, and the duration of shutdowns may exceed four hours,” said a statement on Zelenskiy’s website.

2:40 p.m.: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters on Thursday that the U.S. has still not seen anything to indicate that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to use a dirty bomb, The Associated Press reported.

He said there are continued concerns that the conflict could escalate, and said that’s why it is critical for the U.S. to keep the lines of communication open with allies and with Russia.

“We’re going to continue to communicate that any type of use of a weapon of that sort, or even the talk of the use of a weapon of that sort is dangerous and irresponsible,” said Austin, who spoke with his Russian counterpart twice in the last week. “It’s important to make sure that we’re talking to adversaries and allies alike and making sure that that we’re tamping down dangerous talk.”

Asked if there are concerns Russia might use its upcoming nuclear exercises as a cover for a strike inside Ukraine, Austin said, “It’s something we continue to watch. And we haven’t seen anything to cause us to believe at this point that that is some kind of cover activity.”

Moscow has repeatedly made the unfounded claim that Ukraine is preparing to use a “dirty bomb,” an explosive devise with radioactive material, on its own territory. Western officials have dismissed the claim as misinformation possibly designed as a pretext for Russia to justify its own military escalation.

2:25 p.m.:

2:10 p.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow has no intention to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

“We see no need for that,” Putin said Thursday at a conference of international foreign policy experts, adding: “There is no point in that, neither political, nor military.”

Without offering evidence, he repeated Moscow’s claim that Ukraine was plotting to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in a false flag attack blaming Russia. Ukraine has rejected the unsubstantiated accusation, and Western allies have dismissed it as “transparently false.”

Putin said Russia knows the Ukrainian facilities allegedly working on the purported project and asserted, again without providing proof, that Kyiv’s plan is to rig a missile with radioactive waste and blow it up, casting it as a Russian nuclear strike. He maintained the goal was to politically isolate Russia and to force its allies to end any cooperation with Moscow.

Meanwhile, a senior Ukrainian military officer, Gen. Oleksii Hromov, the chief of the main operational department of the Ukrainian military’s General Staff, on Thursday accused Russia of planning to stage explosions at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and blame them on Ukraine in a false flag attack.

Russia took control of the Zaporizhzhia plant in the opening days of the invasion. Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of attacking the plant, which has been shut after continuous shelling.

1:05 p.m.:

12:20 p.m.: Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak reacted with scorn to a speech Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered Thursday at a conference of international policy experts, where Putin sought to cast the conflict in Ukraine as part of efforts by the West to secure its global domination.

Putin accused the U.S. and its allies of trying to dictate their terms to other nations in a “dangerous and bloody” domination game. The Russian leader claimed that “he who will sow the wind will reap the whirlwind.” He said, “humankind now faces a choice: accumulate a load of problems that will inevitably crush us all or try to find solutions that may not be ideal but working and could make the world more stable and secure,” The Associated Press reported.

In a message sent on Twitter, Podolyak characterized Putin’s comments as Freudian, saying that Putin was the aggressor, and tried to blame the aggression on other countries. Podolyak quoted Putin’s words back to him, saying the one who starts a wind will get a storm.

11:55 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the world faced the most dangerous decade since World War II as Western elites scrambled to prevent the inevitable crumbling of the global dominance of the United States and its allies, Reuters reported.

In a broadside against Washington and its allies, which he accused of inciting the conflict in Ukraine, Putin said the West was playing what he cast as a "dangerous, bloody and dirty" geopolitical game that was sowing chaos across the world.

"The historical period of the West's undivided dominance over world affairs is coming to an end," Putin, Russia's paramount leader, told the Valdai Discussion Club. Russia did not consider the West to be an enemy of Russia despite the current phase of confrontation, he added.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, triggering the biggest confrontation with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis in the depths of the Cold War when the Soviet Union and the United States came closest to nuclear war. Tens of thousands of people have been killed while the West has imposed the most severe sanctions in history on Russia, one of the world's biggest suppliers of natural resources.

Putin cast the conflict in Ukraine as a battle between the West and Russia for the fate of the second largest Eastern Slav country. It was, he said, partly a "civil war" as Russians and Ukrainians were one people. Kyiv flatly rejects both those ideas.

Asked about a potential nuclear escalation, Putin said the danger of nuclear weapons usage would exist as long as nuclear weapons existed.

11:25 a.m.: Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Thursday that the threat of a nuclear conflict has risen amid the fighting in Ukraine, The Associated Press reported.

Maria Zakharova argued that “the more the U.S. is drawn into supporting the Kyiv regime on the battlefield, the more they risk provoking a direct military confrontation between the biggest nuclear powers fraught with catastrophic consequences.”

She charged that unlike the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis when the Soviets and the United States quickly negotiated a compromise, “Washington now keeps upping the ante, apparently believing that it’s capable of controlling the escalation.”

Zakharova said that instead of the ongoing “thoughtless and mad” escalation, the U.S. should take a more responsible approach shown during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The warning comes as Moscow has made unsubstantiated allegations of a Ukrainian plot to detonate a radioactive dirty bomb, claims rejected by Ukraine and denounced its Western allies as “transparently false.”

11:05 a.m.:

10:45 a.m.: Europe’s energy crisis, triggered by Russia slashing natural gas flows amid its war against Ukraine, has forced some people to turn to cheaper heating sources like firewood as the weather gets colder, The Associated Press reported.

But as more people stock up and burn wood, prices have skyrocketed, shortages and thefts have been reported, and scams are emerging. Foresters are putting GPS devices into logs to track the valuable stocks, and fears are rising about the environmental impact of increased air pollution and tree-cutting.

The clamor for firewood is not limited to poorer nations like Moldova but has surged across richer regions of Europe, too. Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic’s state-owned forests are seeing much stronger demand for the limited amounts of firewood they sell as part of their sustainable forest management.

Often it’s coming from people who have never ordered firewood before and seem unaware that it needs to be purchased two years ahead so it can dry out enough to be burned in wood stoves, according to the forest service in southwest Germany’s state of Hesse.

German forest rangers also are seeing more people gathering fallen wood in forests, often not knowing it’s illegal. Czech state forests, which sell wood only for household consumption, have had to limit the amount of firewood sold to individuals to prevent speculative purchases. In Poland, demand for small firewood from state forests grew 46% and larger firewood was up 42% through the end of August from a year earlier. This was even before fall, when demand for firewood is highest.

10:15 a.m.:

9:50 a.m.: Delegations from Russia and Ukraine are among those meeting in Australia this week to decide the future of Antarctica’s pristine waters, The Associated Press reported.

Conservationists say new marine protected areas and rules to prevent overfishing are desperately needed, but that Russia could use its veto-like powers to once again block progress.

Achieving the required consensus for action among this diverse group of 27, which also includes China, the United States and the European Union, has always been an immense challenge.

And when two of the members are at war — and relations between China and many Western nations have deteriorated — consensus looms as an even bigger obstacle. Just this month, Russian bombing in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, partially destroyed Ukraine’s Antarctic research center.

Yet despite the enormous political hurdles, some remain hopeful that scientific arguments will win through. The U.S. is paying more attention to the region under President Joe Biden, and this year has sent a relatively high-level delegation led by Monica Medina, an assistant secretary in the State Department.

9:35 a.m.: Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said it has conducted 28 prisoner swaps with Russia since February, the Kyiv Independent reported Thursday.

It quoted Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar as saying 978 Ukrainians have been released from Russian captivity since February 24, including 99 civilians.

The media organization also quoted Security Service's spokesman Artem Dekhtiarenko as saying that Ukraine has returned the bodies of 579 soldiers.

9:20 a.m.:

8:45 a.m.: Poland tore down four monuments on Thursday to Red Army soldiers who died during World War Two, as historically strained relations between Warsaw and Moscow hit new lows due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported.

The legacy of World War II is a divisive issue in Polish-Russian relations, and the conflict in Ukraine has prompted Poland to step up the demolition of memorials to fallen Soviet troops across the country.

A worker stands on a crane to dismantle a Red Army monument in Glubczyce, Poland, Oct. 27, 2022. Poland dismantled four communist-era monuments to Red Army soldiers in a renewed drive to remove symbols of Moscow’s post-World War II domination and to stress its condemnation of Moscow’s current war on neighbouring Ukraine.
A worker stands on a crane to dismantle a Red Army monument in Glubczyce, Poland, Oct. 27, 2022. Poland dismantled four communist-era monuments to Red Army soldiers in a renewed drive to remove symbols of Moscow’s post-World War II domination and to stress its condemnation of Moscow’s current war on neighbouring Ukraine.

Russia argues that it liberated Poland when its forces drove out German Nazis at the end of the war. Most Poles believe that the Soviet Union replaced Nazi occupation with another form of repression.

"This monument is a monument of lies," said Karol Nawrocki, head of Poland's Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), as he stood before a statue in Glubczyce in southern Poland shortly before its demolition.

8:30 a.m.:

8:10 a.m.: Australia said on Thursday it will deploy 70 soldiers to Britain to help train Ukrainian troops there and ship 30 more armored vehicles to bolster Kyiv’s war against Russia’s invasion, Reuters reported.

“We expect this now to be a protracted conflict,” Defense Minister Richard Marles told ABC television. The latest package takes Australia’s support for Ukraine to about A$655 million ($425 million) since the conflict began in February.

“We’re mindful that Ukraine needs to now be supported over the longer term if we’re going to put Ukraine in a position where it can resolve this conflict on its own terms,” he said.

Australia, one of the largest non-NATO contributors to the West’s support for Ukraine, has been supplying aid and defense equipment and has banned exports of alumina and aluminum ores, including bauxite, to Russia. It has also placed sanctions on hundreds of Russian individuals and entities.

Australian troops, who will arrive in Britain in January, will join a UK-led international training exercise but will not enter the war zone in Ukraine, Marles said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba thanked Australia for the latest aid.

7:55 a.m.: Nearly 10 million Ukrainians are potentially at risk of mental disorders including acute stress, anxiety, depression, substance use and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, according to a recent report by the World Economic Forum. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) on Thursday said on Twitter that it is stepping up assistance for those in need.

7:40 a.m.: Russian-installed authorities in Ukraine's occupied region of Zaporizhzhia ordered phone checks on local residents, announcing the implementation of military censorship under Russian President Vladimir Putin's martial law decree, Agence France-Presse reported.

"From today in the Zaporizhzhia region, law enforcement officers have begun a selective preventing check of the mobile phones of citizens," Moscow-appointed official Vladimir Rogov said. He said those subscribed to "propaganda resources of the terrorist Kyiv regime" will receive a warning, before being fined.

7:25 a.m.: Uzbek workers of a waste processing plant in the western Russian city of Oryol, who were handed mobilization notices and ordered to show up at the local conscription point, asked their president for help, Reuters reported Thursday, citing a local news outlet.

Moscow started the mobilization campaign, its first since World War II, last month as its military campaign in Ukraine stalled and Russian forces began to lose ground. Hundreds of thousands of men have since fled Russia to avoid being sent to the front lines.

According to the Istoki video report, Oryol authorities sent out a fresh batch of mobilization notices this week, including 50 to workers of the EcoCity waste processing facility.

Half of the workers, however, are Uzbek nationals, it said, showing a group of men displaying their Uzbek passports and asking Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to intervene on their behalf.

The mobilization campaign drew criticism after notices were served to many people not eligible for military service, prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin to order officials to correct all mistakes.

Uzbekistan has warned its citizens against joining foreign armies, which qualifies as a felony under Uzbek law.

Uzbekistan's embassy in Moscow could not be immediately reached for comment.

7:15 a.m.:

6:50 a.m.: Ukraine is bolstering its defenses near the border with Belarus, Reuters reports.

Ukraine's General Staff said that, while troops don't appear to be gathering across the boundary, "there are and will be threats."

Russia has been reportedly massed troops in Belarus, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko earlier this month ordered troops to deploy with Russian forces near Ukraine, accusing Ukraine and its allies of planning an attack on Belarus.

"Strikes on the territory of Belarus are not just being discussed in Ukraine today, but are also being planned," he said, without providing evidence for the assertion.

6:30 a.m.: The head of the Crimean city of Sevastopol said a power plant just outside the city has come under a drone attack, The Associated Press reported.

Mikhail Razvozhayev said early Thursday a drone hit a transformer and sparked a fire but didn’t affect the operation. Razvozhayev said that electricity supplies haven’t been interrupted.

Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, has faced drone attacks and explosions from supporters of Ukraine.

In a major setback for Russia on Oct. 8, a powerful truck bomb blew up a section of a strategic 19-kilometer bridge linking Crimea to Russia’s mainland.

6:15 a.m.: The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report Thursday that the war in Ukraine and economic factors may ramp up development of green energy, and the use of natural gas and other fossil fuels will level off and then decline in the next 15 years, according to the Associated Press.

“The energy world is shifting dramatically before our eyes. Government responses around the world promise to make this a historic and definitive turning point toward a cleaner, more affordable and more secure energy system,” the IEA's executive director Fatih Birol Birol said.

5:57 a.m.:

5:16 a.m.: Concerns of Germans that dissipated with the fall of the Berlin Wall are now creeping back after decades of peace, according to Reuters.

It's a flashback for a nation that found itself at the geographic and political center of the Cold War.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has escalated his "special military operation" in Ukraine - calling up reservists and threatening to use nuclear weapons to defend Russian land, while U.S. President Joe Biden has talked of "Armageddon".

A survey by insurer R+V found that 42% of Germans now fear a war with German participation, up from 16% last year, the biggest jump since the Kosovo War in 1999.

4:45 a.m.: The latest update from Britain’s Ministry of Defense Thursday says that the Russian government is interlinking regional governors into the national security system, thereby taking further steps to organize society as Russia’s war in Ukraine comes under pressure.

4:15 a.m.: Iran may soon boost its involvement on behalf of Russia in the invasion of Ukraine, according to an analysis published by Foreign Policy. In addition to supplying Russia with more drones – a charge Tehran denies – Iran may soon sell Fateh-110 and Zulfiqar short-range ballistic missiles to supplement Russia's shrinking supply of its own missiles. Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard are already deployed in Ukraine and Belarus to train Russian troops to use the Iranian drones, according to reports. An Israeli news agency last week reported that 10 Iranian soldiers died as Ukraine struck Russian forces.

4:05 a.m.:

3:50 a.m.: The area around Kherson, one of the first cities in Ukraine captured by Russia after it invaded in February, is now the scene of intense fighting as Ukrainian soldiers attempt to retake it, The New York Times reports. A nearby hydroelectric dam is the last major crossing over the Dnipro River available to Russian forces. If Ukraine captures the dam, thousands of soldiers may be left with no way to retreat.

According to the report, the Russian occupiers are stepping up measures aimed at getting civilians to abandon the city and flee to Russia ahead of the expected battle for the city.

"We live, like, in a dystopian movie here,' one resident told The Times.

2:45 a.m.:

2:20 a.m.: News reports and social media in Russia indicate that many of the soldiers heading for the frontlines in Ukraine may not be well-equipped or well-trained, according to the Associated Press.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last month ordered the conscription of about 300,000 men to bolster Russia's forces fighting in Ukraine. During a photo-op at a military facility earlier this week, Putin was seen talking to soldiers in new uniforms and equipped with combat gear, including helmets and bulletproof vests. But independent media and rights groups suggest the call-up is poorly organized, and men are being moved to combat duty without adequate training or gear.

Recruits posted video on social media showing rusty weapons and filthy living conditions.

Activists also report that ethnic minorities in some regions are being drafted in numbers disproportionate in comparison to other regions of Russia.

1:00 a.m.:

12:05 a.m.: Chicago wheat futures gained more ground on Thursday, with slowing exports from the Black Sea region amid the Russian-Ukraine war raising concerns about world supplies.

Concerns over Ukrainian grain exports mounted as data from the country's farm ministry showed that shipments have slowed over the past 10 days, with volumes so far this month 9% behind the same period last year.

Ukraine on Sunday said Russia was blocking the full implementation of a Black Sea grain export deal, forcing Ukrainian ports to work at 25% to 30% of their capacity, Reuters reported.

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 in February.

United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said on Wednesday that he was "relatively optimistic" that a U.N.-brokered deal that allowed a resumption of Ukraine Black Sea grain exports would be extended beyond mid-November. Griffiths traveled to Moscow with senior U.N. trade official Rebeca Grynspan earlier this month for discussions with Russian officials on the deal, which also aims to facilitate exports of Russian grain and fertilizer to global markets.

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

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