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Latest Developments in Ukraine: Oct. 5

A BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher fires at Russian positions in Kharkiv region, Ukraine.
A BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher fires at Russian positions in Kharkiv region, Ukraine.

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

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

10:01 p.m.: Ukrainian staff running the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) are preparing to restart one of the plant's six reactors, all of which are shut down, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

"Senior Ukrainian operating staff informed IAEA experts present at the ZNPP that preparations are under way to start unit 5 at reduced power to produce steam and heat for the needs of the plant," the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement, adding that preparations would take "some time."

9:30 p.m.: Lloyd's of London is investigating a possible cyberattack, the commercial insurance market said on Wednesday, with companies on high alert for intrusions as a result of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

"Lloyd’s has detected unusual activity on its network and we are investigating the issue," a Lloyd's spokesperson said by email, Reuters reported, adding that the market was resetting the network.

Lloyd's, which has been vocal in its support for sanctions against Russia, declined to comment on the possible source of the attack.

8:50 p.m.: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will suggest to EU leaders meeting this week how the EU could cap gas prices in a bid to contain soaring energy costs, Reuters reported.

EU governments have debated a gas price cap for weeks, without reaching agreement. While a majority of EU members support some form of cap to tackle soaring inflation, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands are opposed, citing concerns over security of supply.

The EU executive's chief laid out her proposals in a letter on Wednesday to EU country leaders, who will discuss whether or how to cap gas prices at a meeting in Prague on Friday.

Such a cap would be a temporary fix while the EU works on a new gas price benchmark, von der Leyen said.

8:05 p.m.:

7:17 p.m.: Elon Musk's rocket company SpaceX on Wednesday launched from Florida the next long-duration crew of the International Space Station for NASA, including a Russian cosmonaut hitching a ride with two Americans and a Japanese astronaut as part of the mission.

The four-member crew were expected to reach the International Space Station (ISS) in about 29 hours, on Thursday evening, to begin a 150-day science mission aboard the orbital laboratory some 250 miles (420 km) above Earth, Reuters reported.

6:44 p.m.: French energy giant TotalEnergies will continue to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Russia as long as there are no European sanctions on the fuel, the company's Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

"We will continue to ship LNG from Russia as long as there is no sanctions, or push, from Europe on the gas, because we contribute to the security of supply for Europe. If there are sanctions we will stop immediately," Pouyanne told Energy Intelligence Forum in London.

6:13 p.m.: The European Union should deliver tanks to Ukraine and speed up the procedure of having the country join the bloc, European Parliament speaker Roberta Metsola told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday.

The centre-right Maltese official said she would relay the message to EU leaders at a summit in Prague on Friday.

The Ukrainians "need weapons that they can fight with in order to regain their territory, and that means, for example, Leopard II tanks that several members states have," Metsola said in an interview during the parliament's plenary sitting in Strasbourg.

Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and non-EU members Norway, Switzerland and Turkey altogether possess some 2,000 of the tanks, according to an EU official.

Metsola said countries willing to give tanks would be reimbursed from an EU fund, the European Peace Facility, which has released $2.5 billion for Ukraine military purchases.

5:27 p.m.: The squeak of their shoes and the thump of the ball on the court feel blessedly normal for Vika Kovalevska and Vlada Hozalova,The Associated Press reported.

Basketball provides a brief sanctuary from the ceaseless undercurrent of tension they feel about what’s happening at home in Ukraine. The game also helps ground them in their new life in southern Alberta, where they play basketball for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns.

“Basketball helps to distract from everything that has happened around you,” Kovalevska said. “I just try to focus on the practices, turn off my brain and immerse myself in the world of a fast and dynamic game, where there is not time to think about anything else.”

Kovalevska and Hozalova are friends who have played internationally for Ukraine’s under-20 women’s team. The two guards arrived in Canada in May. Kovalevska, 23, enrolled in business studies in Lethbridge and will begin playing this season.

Hozalova, 24, needs to complete an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program at the university before she’s academically eligible to play conference games in Canada West. Hozalova, who answered questions for this story via email with the Canadian Press, can still practice with the Pronghorns and play exhibition games.

4:55 p.m.: The bodies of two Russian soldiers lay bloating in trees on opposite sides of the road, close to the blasted hulks of the cars and the van in which Ukrainian army officers said the dead men’s unit was retreating into the eastern town of Lyman, Reuters reported.

Unaware that their forces had withdrawn from the key rail junction, the Russians last weekend drove into an ambush by Ukrainian special forces, their flight and lives ended by a storm of gunfire, the officers said.

The bodies, the ruined vehicles and carpets of bullets, torn uniforms and metal shards testified on Wednesday to Moscow’s loss of Lyman to a Ukrainian counteroffensive that has reclaimed parts of Donestk province overrun by Russian forces earlier this year.

Armored vehicles, trucks and cars bearing Ukrainian troops or ladened with supplies churned past the ambush site toward frontlines, their occupants craning their necks to view the scene.

4:07 p.m.: Ukrainian officials are reporting further strategic losses for Russia within the territories Moscow has illegally annexed following sham referendums, The Associated Press reported.

Russian troops have started to withdraw from a southern Ukrainian city that was annexed along with the Kharson region though it administratively belongs to the neighboring Mykolaiv area, said Mykolaiv Governor Vitaliy Kim on Wednesday.

Kim says officials are “seeking to confirm that officers have left Snihurivka, but there are troops still remaining there.” Earlier, a Russia-installed official, Yury Barbashov, admitted Ukrainian troops were advancing toward the city but claimed Russia was still in control.

Snihurivka, a city of 12,000, is a strategic railway hub in the Mykolaiv region. The Russians have seized the city in March and then annexed it together with the neighboring Kherson region.

In the eastern Luhansk region, the governor, Serhiy Haidai, said Wednesday that Ukrainian forces have retaken several localities in the region, which also is among the four illegally annexed by Moscow.

“The de-occupation of the Luhansk region has begun, we can talk about it officially - several settlements have been liberated from the Russian army and the invaders,” Haidai said in a video statement on Telegram.

The official did not name the recaptured places, but said that the retreating Russian forces “are trying to mine everything as much as possible - roads, buildings, everything around.”

3:15 p.m.: Police have searched the Moscow office of Golos (Voice), a movement that monitors elections and defends voters' rights, as well as the homes of the group's members in Moscow and other parts of Russia,Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Grigory Melkonyants, the movement's co-chairman, said on October 5 that Moscow police confiscated computers, flash memory cards, payment cards, and his passport during an early morning that was executed "on completely trumped-up reasons."

According to Melkonyants, police said the searches were conducted because the Golos members were "witnesses" in a probe launched against Mikhail Gusev, a member of the movement from the city of Ivanovo, who was charged with discrediting Russia's armed forces.

Police also searched the homes of leading Golos members Arkady Lyubarev and Vitaly Kovin in Perm, Irina Matlseva in Ivanovo, Natalya Guseva in the Chelyabinsk region, as well as journalist Denis Kamalyagin and two members of the Yabloko opposition party -- Nikolai Kuzmin and Katerina Novikova -- in the city of Pskov.

Golos member Vitaly Averin said the searches were held over the organization's "fight for fair and free elections, and for a humane state governed by the rule of law."

2:30 p.m.: Ukraine’s prosecutor general says more evidence of torture and unnecessary killings is turning up in areas of the country previously held by Russian forces, including four bodies found in the Kharkiv region with bound or handcuffed hands, The Associated Press reported.

Andriy Kostin also told The Associated Press on the sidelines of a security conference in Poland’s capital on Wednesday that he had just heard about the bodies. He said the dead people were believed to be civilians but an investigation was needed to determine that.

Two were found in a factory in the city Kupiansk with their hands bound behind their backs, while the other two were discovered handcuffed in the village of Novoplatonivka, according to Kostin.

During public remarks at the Warsaw Security Forum, Kostin said Ukrainian authorities also discovered “six cars where 24 civilians were killed near Kupiansk.” The victims included 13 children and a pregnant woman who were killed while trying to escape, he said, without specifying when the killings took place.

Kostin also said that Russia’s proclaimed annexation of four Ukrainian regions “means nothing” legally but only serves as evidence of Russia’s “intentional policy … in the crimes of aggression.”

2:10 p.m.:

1:45 p.m.: Russia has devised yet another way to spread disinformation about its invasion of Ukraine, using digital tricks that allow its war propaganda videos to evade restrictions imposed by governments and tech companies, The Associated Press reported.

Accounts linked to Russian state-controlled media have used the new method to spread dozens of videos in 18 different languages, all without leaving telltale signs that would give away the source, researchers at Nisos, a U.S.-based intelligence firm that tracks disinformation and other cyber threats, said in a report released Wednesday.

The videos push Kremlin conspiracy theories blaming Ukraine for civilian casualties as well as claims that residents of areas forcibly annexed by Russia have welcomed their occupiers.

English-language versions of the Russian propaganda videos are now circulating on Twitter and lesser-known platforms popular with American conservatives, including Gab and Truth Social, created by former President Donald Trump, giving Russia a direct conduit to millions of people.

In an indication of the Kremlin’s ambitions and the sprawling reach of its disinformation operations, versions of the videos were also created in Spanish, Italian, German and more than a dozen other languages.

1:15 p.m.:

12:50 p.m.: U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said Wednesday that President Joe Biden is “disappointed by the shortsighted decision by OPEC+ to cut production quotas while the global economy is dealing with the continued negative impact of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” according to a statement released by the White House.

“At a time when maintaining a global supply of energy is of paramount importance, this decision will have the most negative impact on lower- and middle-income countries that are already reeling from elevated energy prices,” the statement said.

It said the Biden administration will release another 10 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to the the market next month, “to protect American consumers and promote energy security.”

“Finally, today’s announcement is a reminder of why it is so critical that the United States reduce its reliance on foreign sources of fossil fuels,” the statement noted. “With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the U.S. is now poised to make the most significant investment ever in accelerating the clean energy transition while increasing energy security, by increasing our reliance on American-made and American-produced clean energy and energy technologies.”

12:30 p.m.:

12:15 p.m.: Dozens of firefighters rushed to douse blazes on Wednesday in a town near Ukraine's capital Kyiv following multiple strikes caused by what local officials said were Iranian-made loitering munitions, often known as 'kamikaze drones,' Reuters reported.

Six drones hit a building overnight in Bila Tserkva, around 75 km (45 miles) south of the capital, said the governor of the Kyiv region, Oleksiy Kuleba.

Ukraine has reported a spate of Russian attacks with Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in the last three weeks, but the strike on Bila Tserkva was by far the closest to Kyiv.

12:05 p.m.:

11:55 a.m.: In a tit-for-tat move, Russia has expelled Lithuania's charge d'affaires and suspended the operations of a cultural center at the Lithuanian Embassy in Moscow, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The Foreign Ministry in Moscow said in a statement on October 5 that Virginia Umbrasene was labeled as persona non grata and ordered to leave Russia within five days.

The order comes two days after Lithuania declared Russia's envoy to the Baltic state, Sergei Ryabokon, persona non grata over his actions, which Lithuanian authorities described "incompatible" with his diplomatic status and which interfered with internal Lithuanian affairs.

11:40 a.m.:

11:25 a.m.: Belarus’ opposition leader said Wednesday that she believes Russian military setbacks in Ukraine could shake the hold on power of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, The Associated Press reported.

“We have a distracted Russia that is about to lose this war. It won’t be able to prop Lukashenko up with money and military support as in 2020,” said Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, speaking at a security conference in Warsaw.

Tsikhanouskaya fled to Lithuania after Russian ally Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in disputed August 2020 elections that were viewed in the West as fraudulent, and which many thought she won.

She said that hundreds of Belarusian volunteers have supported Ukrainians in their recent liberation of Ukrainian territory.

“As I speak, a Belarusian battalion is part of Ukraine’s counter-offensive chasing the invaders away. We all understand that the speed of changes at the Ukrainian front opens new opportunities for Belarus. And it’s moving so fast,” she said at the Warsaw Security Forum.

“We keep our fingers crossed for our military volunteers in Ukraine. Fifteen lost their lives already.” she said.

11:10 a.m.: The Director General of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said on Twitter Wednesday that he is headed back to Ukraine for more meetings concerning the safety of nuclear facilities there.

10:50 a.m.: The European Union gave its final approval for a new batch of sanctions against Russia over its war against Ukraine, the bloc's executive arm in Brussels said on Wednesday.

The EU was spurred into action by Russia's nuclear threats and military mobilization for its seven-month war in Ukraine, as well as Moscow announcing annexation of parts of its neighbor - a former Soviet republic that now wants to side with the West.

The measures include more restrictions in trade with Russia in steel and tech products, and an oil price cap for Russian seaborne crude deliveries to third countries through European insurers meant to align the bloc with the United States, Reuters reports.

In addition, the sanctions will target more individuals at the Russian defense ministry, people involved in Moscow's ad-hoc annexation votes in occupied eastern Ukraine and those participating in bypassing sanctions.

10:35 a.m.:

10:15 a.m.: President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would stabilize the situation in four Ukrainian regions it has claimed as its own territory, an indirect acknowledgment of the challenges it faces to assert its control, Reuters reported.

"We proceed from the fact that the situation will be stabilized, we will be able to calmly develop these territories," Putin said in televised remarks.

Earlier his spokesman said the four regions faced an intensive process of adaptation, and that it would be difficult.

Putin, speaking at an award ceremony for teachers, also said he had great respect for the Ukrainian people. "We always, and even today despite the current tragedy, hold great respect for the Ukrainian people, Ukrainian culture, language, literature and so on," he said.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions of Ukrainians have fled their homes and their country since Putin ordered Russia's invasion on February 24.

10:05 a.m.: Millions of Ukrainian schoolchildren are returning to the classroom despite air sirens that are still interrupting lessons. With more than 2,000 school buildings around the country destroyed, educators are working hard to rebuild and bring normality to children’s lives. VOA Eastern Europe Chief Myroslava Gongadze visited the village of Bohdanivka near Kyiv where Russian occupiers destroyed the local school and kindergarten.

Devastated by Russian Assault, Ukraine’s Schools Come Back to Life
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9:50 a.m.: The World Trade Organization forecast a slowdown of global trade growth next year as sharply higher energy and food prices and rising interest rates curb import demand, and warned of a possible contraction if the war in Ukraine worsens, Reuters reported.

The Geneva-based trade body said on Wednesday that merchandise trade would increase by 3.5% this year, up from its April estimate of 3.0%. However, for 2023, it sees trade growth of just 1.0%, compared with a previous forecast of 3.4%.

"The picture for 2023 has darkened considerably," WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told a news conference, adding that risks for next year's forecast were more on the downside.

"If the war in Ukraine worsens, rather than gets better, that's going to have a huge impact," she said.

9:40 a.m.: As the world is gripped by food insecurity, Somalia, a country of 15 million people shaking off its past as a failed state, can be considered the end of the line. The nation of proud pastoralists that has survived generations of drought now stumbles amid several global crises descending at once, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

They include climate change, with some of the harshest effects of warming felt in Africa. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which stalled ships carrying enough grain to feed hundreds of millions of people. A drop in humanitarian donations, as the world shifted focus to the war in Ukraine. One of the world’s deadliest Islamic extremist groups, which limits the delivery of aid.

9:25 a.m.: Half a million Nigerians are affected by flooding in 29 of Nigeria's 36 states this year. Farmers say the rising waters will push food bills higher in a nation where millions have fallen into food poverty in the past two years, Reuters reported.

Farming was constrained by flooding and food shortages and COVID-19 restrictions in 2020. Prices shot higher due to this year's war in Ukraine and nationwide insecurity that has pushed thousands of farmers off their land.

"This is a catastrophe indeed," said Dimieari Von Kemedi, chief executive of Alluvial Agriculture, a farm collective. "All of these wrong things are happening at the same time."

9:10 a.m.: Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said Wednesday on Twitter that Russian positions in occupied territory are “legitimate military targets” and said Ukraine was engaged in legitimate counteroffensive operations. President Vladimir Putin formally incorporated four Ukrainian regions into Russia on Wednesday even as his forces retreated within them.

8:55 a.m.: The head of Ukraine's state nuclear energy company said on Wednesday he was taking charge of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, and urged workers at the plant not to sign any documents with its Russian occupiers, Reuters reported.

Energoatom chief Petro Kotin made his comments in a video address posted on the Telegram messaging app despite Russia saying it plans to supervise the plant's operations.

The video address followed the brief detention by Russian forces of the Ukrainian who had been in charge of the plant, where Ukrainian staff are still working.

"All further decisions regarding the operation of the station will be made directly at the central office of Energoatom," Kotin said. "We will continue to work under Ukrainian law, within the Ukrainian energy system, within Energoatom."

8:40 a.m.:

8:15 a.m.: Ukraine's exports of agricultural products are up 41% in September, the Kyiv Independent reported Wednesday.

“Ukraine increased its export of agricultural products by land and naval routes in September to 6.9 million metric tons,” the media outlet said, citing information from Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.

The export volume has increased by 41% compared to August, he added.

7:50 a.m.: Russian energy giant Gazprom resumed gas exports to Italy via Austria on Wednesday after resolving an issue over guarantees that had led to the suspension of flows over the weekend, Reuters reported.

Gazprom said the company and its Italian customers had found a solution following regulatory changes in Austria which halted flows entering Italy via a pipeline passing through Tarvisio in the northeast of the country.

Italian energy group Eni confirmed in a statement on Italy's GME platform that supplies had resumed although it said it expected only part of the gas requested to arrive on Wednesday.

Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said on Monday that the suspension of flows was not down to "geopolitical factors."

7:35 a.m.:

7:15 a.m.: Denis Pushilin, head of the Russian-installed separatist administration in Ukraine's Donetsk region, said on Wednesday that the frontline around the town of Lyman, which Ukraine retook over the weekend, was "stabilizing," Reuters reported citing Russian state-owned news agency RIA.

RIA also cited Pushilin as saying that Russian units were reinforcing defensive lines near Lyman, amid Ukrainian successes across a range of fronts.

Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield reports.

7:05 a.m.: Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant will operate under the supervision of Russian agencies after President Vladimir Putin formally annexed the wider Zaporizhzhia region this week, the RIA state-owned news agency reported.

Another state-owned news agency, TASS, reported that Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will visit Moscow in the coming days to discuss the situation at the plant.

Russia moved to annex Zaporizhzhia and three other regions after holding what it called referendums — votes that were denounced by Kyiv and Western governments as illegal and coercive.

6:45 a.m.: Rebeca Grynspan, secretary general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), may visit Moscow next week to discuss the Turkish-brokered deal to unblock Ukrainian Black Sea grain exports, Russian state-owned news agency RIA reported, citing the foreign ministry.

Russian officials have in recent months leveled increasing criticism at the deal, which Moscow agreed to in July.

6:20 a.m.:

6 a.m.: International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi said on Wednesday that he may visit Ukraine's Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant again, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported.

TASS reported Grossi, who headed an IAEA delegation to the plant last month, as saying that he would continue discussing the creation of a "safety zone" around the facility.

5:15 a.m.: The U.N. General Assembly is expected to vote next week on a draft resolution condemning Russia’s annexation claim. Russia used its veto power to stop a similar measure at the U.N. Security Council last week.

5 a.m.: Foreign minister James Cleverly said on Wednesday Britain was listening carefully to nuclear threats made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, but that Putin had a long history of "saber-rattling."

Asked whether Russian nuclear threats had to be taken seriously, Cleverly told BBC radio: "We always listen carefully ... to what Vladimir Putin is saying. We also recognize of course that he has a long history of saber-rattling."

4:30 a.m.: European Union governments are set to reach agreement on Wednesday on proposals for new sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Reuters reported citing EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

EU governments, grouped together as the Council, have been debating an eighth round of sanctions against Russia since last week.

"I trust that before the end of this plenary sitting, we will have reached an agreement within the Council and the adoption of the joint proposal put forward by the Commission," Borrell told the European Parliament on Wednesday.

4 a.m.: European Union countries need to step up protection of their critical infrastructure, by conducting stress tests and using satellite surveillance to detect potential threats, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.

"The acts of sabotage against Nord Stream pipelines have shown how vulnerable our energy infrastructure is. It is in the interest of all Europeans to better protect this critical infrastructure," von der Leyen said in a speech in the European Parliament.

3:15 a.m.: French Junior Minister for European Affairs Laurence Boone said on Wednesday that Russians fleeing their country to avoid being mobilized in the Russian army would not automatically get visas to remain in France, but that their situation and any security risks would be considered, Reuters reported.

"We have limited conditions under which visas can be given. We will make sure dissident journalists, people who fight the regime, artists and students can still come here, and we will issue visas on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the security risks," she said in an interview with franceinfo radio.

3 a.m.: The United States will on Wednesday carry a Russian to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX ship, in a voyage that carries symbolic significance amid the Ukraine war, Agence France-Presse reported.

Anna Kikina, the only female cosmonaut in service, is part of the Crew-5 mission, which also includes one Japanese and two American astronauts.

Blast-off is set for noon from the Kennedy Space Center, with the weather forecast so far promising.

Two weeks ago, an American astronaut took off on a Russian Soyuz rocket for the orbital platform.

The long-planned astronaut exchange program has been maintained despite soaring tensions between the two countries since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February.

2:50 a.m.:

2:30 a.m.: Ukraine has accused Russia of trying to push its ally Belarus to the top of an international diamond certification body to protect Moscow's gems from being branded conflict diamonds following its invasion, Reuters reported.

Some members of the Kimberley Process, a coalition of governments, industry and civil society that certifies diamonds, have called for diamonds from Russia, the world's top producer by volume, to be labeled conflict diamonds. Belarus has applied to be the KP's vice chair in 2023 and chair in 2024, according to a September 19 letter seen by Reuters.

The KP makes decisions by consensus, so the rift over Russia risks paralyzing it.

"Russia is pushing Belarus to become chair, so that Russia's interests can be better pursued and protected within the KP," Ukraine's Kimberley Process representative Vladimir Tatarintsev said in an email on Tuesday.

Belarus did not respond to emailed requests for comment. Russia has said it condemns attempts to "politicize" the KP. The KP has the power to ban diamond exports from certain countries, as it did in 2013 when rebels seized power in Central African Republic.

In its bid, Belarus said it was prepared to uphold the KP's "unity and authority." Belarus, which has never before been KP chair, supported Russia in quashing a proposal to discuss the invasion of Ukraine at a KP meeting in June. Jacob Thamage of Botswana, the current KP chair, to whom the bid was addressed, did not respond to a request for comment.

2 a.m.: The Ukrainian armed forces have advanced up to 20 kilometers (12 miles) beyond the Oskil river in the northeastern Kharkiv region into Russia's defensive zone towards the town of Svatove in Luhansk region, the U.K. said on Wednesday.

"Politically, Russian leaders will highly likely be concerned that leading Ukrainian units are now approaching the borders of Luhansk Oblast, which Russia claimed to have formally annexed last Friday," the British Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence bulletin.

The intelligence update added that it was highly likely that Ukraine could now strike the Svatove-Kremina road in Luhansk region and added that Ukraine continued to make progress is its operations in the southern front as well.

1:30 a.m.: Anatoly Antonov, Russia's ambassador to the United States said Washington's decision to send more military aid to Ukraine poses a threat to Moscow's interests and increases the risk of a military clash between Russia and the West, Reuters reported.

"We perceive this as an immediate threat to the strategic interests of our country," Antonov said on the Telegram messaging app on Wednesday.

"The supply of military products by the U.S. and its allies not only entails protracted bloodshed and new casualties, but also increases the danger of a direct military clash between Russia and Western countries."

1:05 a.m.: A price cap for Russian oil proposed as part of the European Union's eighth round of sanctions against Russia will not apply to pipeline shipments, Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a statement late on Tuesday.

Hungary, which has been the most vocal critic of sanctions against Russia in the EU, largely relies on Russian crude shipments and Russian gas, both imported via pipelines, Reuters reported.

1 a.m.: The head of the company operating Europe's largest nuclear plant says Ukraine is considering restarting the Russian-occupied facility to ensure its safety.

Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom shut down the plant's last reactors last month amid fears that fighting nearby could cause a radiation disaster. In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Energoatom President Petro Kotin said the company could restart two reactors within days to make sure the plant's safety systems don't freeze during the winter.

The power plant sits within one of four Ukrainian regions that Russia has illegally claimed as its territory. The plant’s director was seized and blindfolded by Russian forces on his way home from work Friday.

12:30 a.m.: Amazon faces fines of up to $204,000 (12 million rubles) in Russia for failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal, news agencies reported on Tuesday, Reuters reported, in what would be a first penalty of this kind for the U.S. tech giant.

Russia has fined several other foreign tech firms for the same offense; part of what critics say is a wider campaign by the Kremlin to throttle the influence and reach of Western technology companies in Russia.

TASS quoted a Moscow court as saying that two cases had been drawn up against Amazon, both pertaining to a "violation of the procedure of restricting access to information" in accordance with Russian legislation.

Amazon did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

12:05 a.m.: Two women in Moscow-annexed Crimea, including Miss Crimea, were found guilty of discrediting the Russian army by singing a Ukrainian patriotic song in a video posted on social media, Agence France-Presse reported, quoting local authorities.

Olga Valeyeva, who won the Miss Crimea 2022 beauty pageant, and an unnamed friend sang the popular Ukrainian "Chervona Kalyna" song on a balcony.

A video of the women singing was posted on Instagram stories, which auto-deletes after 24 hours. Crimean police said Valeyeva was fined 40,000 rubles (about $680), while her friend was given a 10-day prison sentence.

Crimean police also posted a video of the women apologizing for singing the song, blurring their faces.

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

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