Ukraine latest: SpaceX will continue funding satellite network, Musk says

The Russian invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24 continues, with casualties rising on both sides.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced Russia’s annexation of four partially occupied Ukrainian regions following referendums that Western nations called a “sham.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are mounting a strong counteroffensive against Russian troops, reclaiming territory lost when Moscow launched its invasion. Ukraine has managed to withstand the Russian onslaught with the help of Western military aid, but President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regularly calls on the world to do more. For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.

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Note: Nikkei Asia decided on March 5 to suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.

Here are the latest developments:

Sunday, Oct. 16 (Tokyo time)

3:30 a.m. Billionaire Elon Musk appears to do an about face over the need for funding the Starlink internet service in Ukraine, saying his SpaceX rocket company would continue to fund the satellite network 24 hours after claiming it could no longer afford to do so.

“The hell with it. Even though Starlink is still losing money and other companies are getting billions of taxpayer dollars, we’ll just keep funding the Ukraine government for free,” Musk says on Twitter.

On Friday, Musk said SpaceX could not indefinitely fund Starlink in Ukraine. The service has helped civilians and military stay online during the war. He made his remark after a media report that SpaceX had asked the Pentagon to pay for the donations of Starlink. The billionaire has been in online fights with Ukrainian officials over a peace plan he put forward which Ukraine says is too generous to Russia.

Saturday, Oct. 15

9:00 a.m. The U.S. Defense Department has received a request from SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk to take over funding for his satellite network, which has provided crucial battlefield communications for Ukrainian military forces since almost the beginning of its war with Russia, U.S. officials said. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter not yet made public, told the Associated Press that the issue has been discussed in meetings and senior leaders are weighing the matter. There have been no decisions.

In a statement later Friday, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said, “We can confirm the department received correspondence from SpaceX about the funding of Starlink, their satellite communications product in Ukraine. We remain in communication with SpaceX about this and other topics.”

7:00 a.m. The Biden administration will send Ukraine a new $725 million package of weapons and other military assistance, the White House says. The announcement comes on the heels of meetings at NATO, where defense leaders from Europe and around the world pledged weapons and air defense systems to Ukraine as Russia intensified its bombardment of Kyiv and other regions. Officials said there are no major new weapons in the U.S. package. Instead, the U.S. aid is largely aimed at restocking thousands of rounds of ammunition for the weapons systems Ukraine has been successfully using in its counteroffensive against Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference following the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) leaders’ summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Oct. 14. (Sputnik/Valery Sharifulin/Pool via Reuters)

1:45 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says that he sees no need for talks with U.S. counterpart Joe Biden and that no decision has been made on his own attendance at the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia, a potential venue for such a meeting.

Asked at a news conference in Kazakhstan whether he is ready for talks with Biden, Putin says the same question should be put to the American leader.

Putin also says he thinks Russia’s mobilization of military reserves will be completed within about two weeks. About 222,000 people have been mobilized, he says, out of a target of 300,000.

September’s partial mobilization order sent Russians fleeing across the border to escape a feared draft. Putin later said “mistakes” with the mobilization should be corrected and signed an amended order narrowing the scope of the call-up.

Friday, Oct. 14

6:00 p.m. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked Ukraine’s Defenders Day holiday on Friday by promising victory over Russia and freedom for Ukraine. In a video address delivered somewhere in the hills outside the capital Kyiv, Zelenskyy thanked Ukraine’s armed forces for defending their country. He said everything that had been taken away from Ukraine would be returned, and no soldier left in captivity.

“It seems that the current enemy in its evil unites all the enemies of our statehood that we faced before,” he said. “By defeating this enemy, we will respond to all enemies who encroached on Ukraine — on those who lived, who live and who will live on our land. This will be a victory for all our people. This will be a victory for the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”

A Ukrainian army officer stands among the ruins of a school in the recently liberated town of Lyman, Donetsk region, Ukraine on Oct. 5.

  © Reuters

3:30 p.m. Russian-backed forces have made tactical advances in the last three days toward the center of Bakhmut, a strategically important town in the eastern Donetsk region, and likely advanced into villages south of the town, the U.K. says. Bakhmut sits on a main road leading to the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. Private military company Wagner Group “likely remains” heavily involved in the Bakhmut fighting, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence bulletin.

12:00 p.m. Ukraine has liberated more than 600 settlements from Russian occupation in the past month, including 75 in the highly strategic Kherson region, Ukraine’s Ministry for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories says. Some 502 settlements have been liberated in the northeast Kharkiv region where Ukrainian forces last month advanced deep into Russian lines, the ministry said, noting that 43 settlements were liberated in the Donetsk region and seven in the Luhansk region.

8:00 a.m. Evacuees from Ukraine’s southern Kherson region were expected to begin arriving in Russia on Friday after a Moscow-installed official suggested residents should leave for safety, a sign of Moscow’s weakening hold on territory it claims to have annexed. “We suggested that all residents of the Kherson region, if they wish, to protect themselves from the consequences of missile strikes … go to other regions,” Russian-installed Kherson administration chief Vladimir Saldo said in a video message. People should “leave with their children.”

Russian-installed Kherson administration chief Vladimir Saldo, right, is joined onstage at a concert in Moscow on Sept. 30 with Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and Denis Pushilin, head of the Donetsk region. (Sputnik/Pool via Reuters)

12:09 a.m. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi says he has raised with the Russian authorities the issue of a detained senior official at southeastern Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Valeriy Martyniuk’s detention is unacceptable, Grossi says, speaking on a visit to Kyiv. Martyniuk is the plant’s deputy director general for human resources.

Thursday, Oct. 13

11:40 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin tells Asian leaders the Western-led financial system is trying to live at their expense.

“The world is becoming truly multi-polar,” Putin says in a speech to the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in the Kazakh capital Astana. “And Asia, where new centers of power are emerging, plays a significant, if not key, role in it.”

“Like many of our partners in Asia, we believe a revision is needed of the global financial system, which has for decades allowed the self-proclaimed so-called ‘golden billion’, who redirected all capital flows and technologies to themselves to live largely at others’ expense,” Putin also says. Read more.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that a United Nations resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territories is “anti-Russian.” (Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout via Reuters)

6:30 p.m. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that a United Nations resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territories is “anti-Russian” and that it had been achieved using “diplomatic terror,” TASS news agency reports. The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday overwhelmingly condemned Russia’s move to annex four partially occupied regions in Ukraine, calling on all countries not to recognize it.

5:50 p.m. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that Ukraine has only about 10% of what it needs for its air defenses and rules out diplomatic contact with Russia. He said in a question-and-answer session with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Europe’s leading human rights watchdog, that diplomacy was not possible with leaders who did not respect international law.

2:30 p.m. Admitting Ukraine to NATO could result in a third world war, the deputy secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Alexander Venediktov, told the state TASS news agency in an interview. “Kyiv is well aware that such a step would mean a guaranteed escalation to a World War III,” TASS cited Venediktov as saying. “Apparently, that’s what they are counting on — to create informational noise and draw attention to themselves once again.”

Residents inspect damage from Russian shelling in Kyiv on Oct. 11: Authorities in the capital say the area was hit again on Oct. 13, without saying where.

  © Reuters

1:00 p.m. Critical infrastructure was hit by drone strikes early on Thursday, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s presidential office says. “Another attack by kamikaze drones on critical infrastructure facilities,” Tymoshenko said on the Telegram messaging app. Ukraine has reported a spate of Russian attacks with Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones in recent weeks. Iran denies supplying the drones to Russia, while the Kremlin has not commented.

12:30 p.m. A settlement in the region of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, was hit by shelling early on Thursday, the region’s administration said on the Telegram messaging app. “Rescuers are already working at the site,” the administration said, without providing further details on where the shelling took place.

5:45 a.m. The U.N. General Assembly condemns Russia’s “attempted illegal annexation” of four occupied regions of Ukraine in a new resolution.

Three-quarters of the 193-member body vote in favor of the resolution. Five countries, including Russia, Syria and North Korea, voted against. Thirty-five countries, including China, abstained.

Monitors at the United Nations General Assembly hall display a vote on a resolution condemning the annexation of parts of Ukraine by Russia, on Oct. 12.

  © Reuters

5:31 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urges the international community to step up financial support for his country.

Ukraine will need $38 billion to cover next year’s budget deficit and another $17 billion for the “reconstruction of critical infrastructure,” Zelenskyy says in a virtual speech at a ministerial roundtable led by the Ukrainian government, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

4:39 a.m. France will deliver radar and air defense systems to Ukraine in the coming weeks, in particular to help Ukraine protect itself from drone and missile attacks, French President Emmanuel Macron says in a TV interview. He did not give specifics regarding the types and quantities of anti-aircraft missiles that will be provided.

Japanese and U.S. forces conduct joint exercises on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido on Oct. 10.

  © Kyodo

2:00 a.m. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it has lodged a protest with the Japanese Embassy over the use of HIMARS rocket launchers during a joint military exercise with U.S. forces.

The ministry says the exercise, which took place this month on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, was staged near the Russian border and constituted a challenge to ensuring the security of the Russian Far East.

1:30 a.m. U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggests that Russia’s recent missile attacks on Ukraine amount to war crimes.

“Russia has deliberately struck civilian infrastructure with the purpose of harming civilians,” Milley says at a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

“They have targeted the elderly, the women and the children of Ukraine,” he adds. “Indiscriminate and deliberate attacks on civilians … is a war crime in the international rules of war.”

Wednesday, Oct. 12

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic attend a ceremony in Istanbul marking the formal launch of the TurkStream pipeline in January 2020.

  © Reuters

11:30 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin calls the damage to the Nord Stream gas pipelines “an act of international terrorism” and blames “those who seek to finally break the ties between Russia and the European Union.”

Putin tells an energy industry conference in Moscow that Russia is “ready” to start gas deliveries in the undamaged branch of Nord Stream 2, according to a Kremlin transcript. “The ball, as they say, is on the side of the European Union.”

He also floats the idea of an alternative hub for gas deliveries to Europe: Turkey.

Russia could shift gas that would have otherwise been shipped under the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, “creating in Turkey the largest gas hub for Europe — if, of course, our partners are interested in this,” Putin says.

4:49 p.m. The recently restored power line supplying the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine has been cut again, forcing the plant to switch to emergency diesel generators, U.N. atomic watchdog chief Rafael Grossi says. “Our team at #Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant informed me this morning that the plant has lost all of its external power for the 2nd time in five days,” Grossi said on Twitter, renewing his call for a protection zone around the plant to prevent shelling near the facility.

A Russian all-terrain armored vehicle sits outside the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during the visit of an International Atomic Energy Agency expert mission outside Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine on Sept. 1.

  © Reuters

3:08 p.m. Russia’s Federal Security Service says it has detained five Russians and three citizens of Ukraine and Armenia over the explosion that damaged the Crimea bridge last Saturday, Interfax reported. The FSB says the explosion was organized by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and its director, Kyrylo Budanov.

7:06 a.m. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen calls on partners and allies to swiftly make good on their commitments to support Ukraine and to join the U.S. in doing more as Russia continues its “barbaric” attacks. Washington intends to disburse $4.5 billion in direct budget support to Ukraine in the coming weeks, she says. Congress approved that funding two weeks ago, bringing total U.S. direct budget support for Ukraine to $13.5 billion — all in grants.

5:15 a.m. The Biden administration plans to supply Ukraine with advanced air defenses soon, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby says after a plea from Kyiv.

Kirby says to the initial delivery of two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) will be made “in the very near future.” NASAMS have been used to defend the U.S. capital since around 2005.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier called on Group of Seven nations to provide his country with the ability to defend itself against Russian missiles, which rained down on cities for a second straight day.

4:00 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin calls the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power a matter of concern in his meeting with visiting International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi, according to a Kremlin readout.

Grossi stressed to Putin the need to establish a safety and security protection zone around the embattled plant, according to an IAEA news release on their meeting.

“We can’t afford to lose any more time,” Grossi said. “The stakes are high. We must do everything in our power to help ensure that a nuclear accident does not happen during this tragic conflict, as it could cause even more hardship and suffering in Ukraine and beyond.”

Grossi’s trip to Russia follows his visit to Ukraine, where he met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

3:06 a.m. The Group of Seven nations condemn recent Russian missile strikes on Ukraine, noting that attacks on civilian populations constitute a war crime.

“We will hold President Putin and those responsible to account,” the G-7 said in a statement.

The G-7 also vow to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, adding that any use of nuclear weapons by Russia would be met with severe consequences.

Tuesday, Oct. 11

11:24 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calls on the leaders of the Group of Seven rich nations to give Ukraine enough air defense capabilities to stop Russia.

At a virtual meeting, he urges G-7 leaders to implement tough new sanctions on Moscow and again rules out talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking a day after missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities including the capital, Kyiv. Zelenskyy also asks the G-7 to support an international mission on the Ukraine-Belarus border.

11:15 p.m. “Any deliberate attack against allies’ critical infrastructure would be met with united and determined response,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tells a news conference ahead of a ministerial meeting.

Stoltenberg says that infrastructure has been a priority for NATO for many years. “Following the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, we have further enhanced our vigilance across all domains,” including air and undersea capabilities in the Baltic Sea, he says.

On the situation in Ukraine, Stoltenberg says that “Ukraine has the momentum and continues to make significant gains, while Russia is increasingly resorting to horrific and indiscriminate attacks on civilians and critical infrastructure.”

Putin is “failing in Ukraine,” and his attempted annexations, partial mobilization and nuclear threats represent “the most significant escalation since the start of the war,” he adds.

7:00 p.m. Nissan Motor plans to withdraw from the Russian market, the company says, and its partner Mitsubishi Motors is also considering the same.

Nissan says it expects to transfer its operations, including its assembly plant in St. Petersburg, to a Russian government body.

Nissan has roughly 2,000 employees in Russia. While it will stop selling once its inventories run out, Nissan will continue to offer maintenance services. Read more.

4:00 p.m. Hong Kong leader John Lee has hit back at U.S. claims that the city could become a haven for Russians avoiding Western sanctions after the arrival of a steel tycoon’s $500 million superyacht.

Sanctioned billionaire Alexey Mordashov’s 142-meter Nord, equipped with two helipads, a swimming pool and 20 cabins, anchored in the city’s Victoria Harbor last Wednesday.

The arrival sparked a warning from the U.S. State Department that Hong Kong’s status as a global business hub depended on its “adherence to international laws and standards.”

Lee, who himself faces U.S. sanctions over his alleged role in cracking down on civil liberties in Hong Kong, says the city only had jurisdiction to enforce U.N. sanctions rather than unilateral penalties imposed by other countries over the invasion.

“We cannot do and will not do anything that has no legal basis,” he says. Read more.

Japan finds itself in a dilemma on what to do with its Sakhalin 1 stake now that a Russian state-run company has been authorized to decide whether foreign shareholders can retain their participation. (Exxon Neftegas via Kyodo)

12:15 p.m. Japan will decide what to do about the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project in Russia’s Far East in consultation with its partners as it reviews details of a decree by Moscow, Japanese industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura says.

Russia last week issued a decree allowing it to seize Exxon Mobil’s 30% stake and gave a Russian state-run company the authority to decide whether foreign shareholders, including Japan’s SODECO, can retain their participation in the project. “The Sakhalin-1 remains an important project for Japan in terms of energy security,” Nishimura said, adding that the project is a key energy source outside the Middle East, on which Japan relies for more than 95% of its oil supply.

10:51 a.m. Israeli-Russian billionaire Yuri Milner says he has renounced his Russian citizenship. Milner is the founder of internet investment company DST Global. He made a fortune by betting on Chinese tech companies like e-commerce platforms Alibaba and “My family and I left Russia for good in 2014, after the Russian annexation of Crimea,” Milner said in a tweet. “And this summer, we officially completed the process of renouncing our Russian citizenship.” Milner has been an Israeli citizen since 1999 and has not visited Russia since 2014, according to a fact sheet on DST Global’s website.

7:30 a.m. The U.N. General Assembly voted on Monday to reject Russia’s call for the 193-member body to hold a secret ballot later this week on whether to condemn Moscow’s move to annex four partially occupied regions in Ukraine. The General Assembly decided, with 107 votes in favor, that it would hold a public vote — not a secret ballot — on a draft resolution that condemns Russia’s “illegal so-called referenda” and the “attempted illegal annexation.” Diplomats said the vote on the resolution would likely be on Wednesday or Thursday.

5:20 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden pledged to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday that the United States will provide Ukraine with advanced air systems after a devastating missile barrage from Russia. Biden spoke by phone with Zelenskyy to give assurances about continued U.S. support and to condemn the “senseless attacks” from Russia that hit civilian targets. “President Biden pledged to continue providing Ukraine with the support needed to defend itself, including advanced air defense systems,” a White House statement on the phone call said.

A driver walks near his burned car after Russian military strike, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in central Kyiv, Ukraine Oct.10.

  © Reuters

Monday, Oct. 10

11:10 p.m. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “deeply shocked” by Russia’s most widespread airstrikes since the start of the Ukraine war on Monday, a U.N. spokesman said.

“This constitutes another unacceptable escalation of the war and, as always, civilians are paying the highest price,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

7:35 p.m. The Group of Seven countries will hold talks on Tuesday after Russian missiles struck several Ukrainian cities, a German government spokesperson said on Monday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address leaders at the start of the virtual talks, said the spokesperson.

7:10 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Ukraine had carried out “terrorist acts” against Russia and pledged a “harsh response.”

In televised remarks, Putin said Moscow had launched long-range missile attacks against Ukraine’s energy, military and communications infrastructure on Monday in retaliation for an attack on the bridge linking Russia to the annexed Crimean Peninsula over the weekend.

7:00 p.m. United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan will travel to Russia on Tuesday to meet with Putin, UAE state news agency WAM reported on Monday.

The announcement came less than a week after OPEC+, a group of oil producers that includes the UAE and Russia, agreed steep oil production cuts in defiance of U.S. pressure.

6:50 p.m. The Kremlin said on Monday that Putin may meet Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at a security summit in Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana this week.

5:30 p.m. Ukraine’s top general said Ukrainian forces shot down at least 41 missiles of 75 that were fired at Ukraine by Russia on Monday morning.

“This morning, 75 missiles were launched. 41 of them were neutralized by our air defence,” Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, commander in chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, wrote on Twitter.

4:40 p.m. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said it would seek revenge for Russian missile strikes that hit cities across Ukraine on Monday morning.

“The enemy will be punished for the pain and death brought upon our land! We will get our revenge,” the ministry said on its Facebook page.

4:00 p.m. Multiple explosions rocked Kyiv early Monday following months of relative calm in the Ukrainian capital. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported explosions in the city’s Shevchenko district, a large area in the center of Kyiv that includes the historic old town as well as several government offices.

Lesia Vasylenko, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, posted a photo on Twitter showing that at least one explosion occurred near the main building of the Kyiv National University in central Kyiv. The spokesperson for emergency services in Kyiv told the AP that there are deaths and injuries. The number of casualties is not yet known.

Zelenskyy said on the Telegram messaging app that there were dead and wounded in blasts that rocked cities across Ukraine on Monday and accused Russia of trying to wipe his country “off the face of the earth.”

12:00 p.m. India does not want to say in advance how it will vote at the United Nations General Assembly on a likely draft resolution condemning Russia’s proclaimed annexation of parts of Ukraine, Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar says. “As a matter of prudence and policy, we don’t predict our votes in advance,” Jaishankar said during a joint media briefing along with Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong in Canberra.

The General Assembly is due to vote on the draft resolution on Tuesday or Wednesday, diplomats said.

Late last month, Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution introduced by the United States and Albania condemning the annexation, with China, Gabon, India and Brazil abstaining.

An infrared satellite image of smoke rising from a fire on the Kerch Bridge over the Kerch Strait linking Russia to the Crimean Peninsula on Oct. 8. (Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters)

10:30 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Ukraine of orchestrating the explosion of a key bridge linking Russia and Crimea, an act he described as terrorism. “There is no doubt. This is an act of terrorism aimed at destroying critically important civilian infrastructure,” Putin said on Sunday in a video on the Kremlin’s Telegram channel. “This was devised, carried out and ordered by the Ukrainian special services.”

4:06 a.m. A nighttime Russian missile attack on apartments and other residences has killed 17 people in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, according to preliminary data cited by Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych.

The predawn strikes were the second such attack against the city in three days, Reuters reports. Arestovych calls the latest strikes President Vladimir Putin’s revenge, presumably for the recent explosion that damaged a bridge linking Russia and Crimea.

1:08 a.m. The International Atomic Energy Agency team at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has confirmed that the off-site power line that was lost the day before has been restored and that the plant is reconnected to the grid — “a temporary relief in a still untenable situation,” IAEA chief Rafael Grossi tweeted.

“A protection zone is needed now,” Grossi continued. He wrote that he will travel to Russia and later meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to establish the zone.

Grossi’s update came after he retweeted World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who calls the situation at the Russian-held, Ukrainian-operated plant “deeply concerning” and pushes for an agreement on a nuclear safety and security protection zone. “Russia must end the war,” Tedros concluded.

12:43 a.m. Russia is scrambling to restore transportation links across the explosion-damaged bridge to Crimea and Russia, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Railway traffic of long-distance passenger and freight trains “proceeds under the statutory schedule,” the Transport Ministry says in a story from the Russian government’s Tass news agency. Suburban train traffic was to resume at 7 p.m. Sunday local time, according to the ministry. Tass reports a partial restoration of auto traffic.

Two hundred fifty trucks waiting in Crimea will be ferried across the Kerch Strait, and Crimea residents are asked not to use the bridge in the coming days without an urgent need, Tass separately reports, quoting official sources.

The damage to the 12-mile bridge, critical for moving arms, ammunition and other military supplies, could hurt Moscow’s war effort in southern Ukraine.

Sunday, Oct. 9

1:30 p.m. Dozens of people have been killed or injured in overnight shelling in the southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said on Sunday.

“Overnight, the Russian occupiers cynically struck the residential buildings and civil infrastructure,” the military’s central command said on its Facebook page.

“Information about victims is being confirmed, but it is already known about dozens of dead or injured.”

A rescuer works at a site of a residential building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia on Sunday.

  © Reuters

6:50 a.m. Ukrainian troops are involved in very tough fighting near the strategically important eastern town of Bakhmut, which Russia is trying to take, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in video address on Saturday.

Russian forces have repeatedly tried to seize Bakhmut, which sits on a main road leading to the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. Both are situated in the industrial Donbas region, which Moscow has yet to fully capture.

“We are holding our positions in the Donbas, in particular in the Bakhmut direction, where it is very, very difficult now, very tough fighting,” said Zelenskyy, according to Reuters.

12:06 a.m. Russia’s Defense Ministry names air force Gen. Sergei Surovikin as the overall commander of Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.

Surovikin, who has led Russia’s Air and Space Forces since 2017, marks Moscow’s third senior military appointment in a week.

Commanders of two of Russia’s five military regions were reportedly sacked in the past week as forces suffer dramatic reversals in northeastern and southern Ukraine.

Saturday, Oct. 8

11:21 p.m. Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has switched to emergency diesel generators after overnight shelling cut off external power, according to Ukraine’s state nuclear company and the U.N. atomic watchdog.

Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for shelling at the site of Europe’s biggest nuclear plant.

Although the plant’s six reactors are shut down, they need a constant supply of electricity to keep the nuclear fuel inside cool and prevent a meltdown.

2:42 p.m. An explosion causes the partial collapse of a bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula with Russia, damaging a key supply artery for the Kremlin’s war effort in southern Ukraine.

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee says a truck bomb caused railway cars carrying fuel to catch fire, resulting in the partial collapse of two sections of the bridge. Three people were killed in the blast, Russian authorities say.

Ukrainian officials have threatened to strike the bridge, but Kyiv stopped short of claiming responsibility.

The 19-kilometer bridge across the Kerch Strait linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, the longest in Europe, opened in 2018.

7:20 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a newly published decree to set up a new operator for the Exxon-led Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project. Japanese and Indian investors are partners in the energy venture. Read more.

7:00 a.m. “We must de-occupy all the lands that the Russian occupiers are trying to keep for themselves,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says in his latest video message.

Zelenskyy refers to the Ukrainian parliament’s resolution supporting the Japanese government’s position on the Russian-administered islands that Japan calls the Northern Territories.

“Russia has no right to these territories,” he says. “Everyone in the world knows this well. And we must finally act.”

The president says Ukrainian forces in their ongoing counteroffensive have liberated 2,434 square kilometers of land occupied by Russian forces.

5:55 a.m. The International Monetary Fund says its executive board has approved $1.3 billion in emergency financing “to help meet Ukraine’s urgent balance of payments needs.”

The financing will be issued through the newly created food shock window of the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument, which is available to member states facing a balance of payments crisis. Ukraine’s need stems in part from “a large cereal export shortfall,” the IMF says in a news release.

“The Ukrainian authorities deserve considerable credit for having maintained an important degree of macro-financial stability in these extremely challenging circumstances,” IMF also says.

4:00 a.m. Ukraine’s parliament has passed a resolution supporting the Japanese government’s position on the Russian-administered islands that Japan calls the Northern Territories.

The resolution describes the islands — which lie to the north of Hokkaido and form the southern tip of the Kuril chain — as Japanese territory occupied by Russia. It calls on the international community to support Japan’s position.

Efforts by Japan to negotiate their return had faltered even before Russia invaded Ukraine. Now, with Tokyo joining Western-led sanctions against Moscow, prospects for restarting talks on a peace treaty to formally end World War II look even more distant.

This marks Ukraine’s latest expression of support for Japan on the Northern Territories. In 2020, Kyiv said the islands should be returned to Japan.

1:25 a.m. Asked why U.S. President Joe Biden used the word “Armageddon” when referring to Russian nuclear threats, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says the U.S. had seen no reason to adjust its own nuclear posture and had no indications Russia was preparing to use nuclear weapons.

In a press gaggle on board Air Force One, Jean-Pierre calls Russia’s talk of using nuclear weapons “irresponsible.” She says Biden’s comments were meant to reinforce how seriously the White House takes these threats.

U.S. President Joe Biden take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats very seriously, the White House says. (Source photos by AP)

1:00 a.m. A Russian navy submarine along with a destroyer and a submarine rescue ship have been observed transiting the Soya Strait north of Japan, the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Joint Staff says.

The Kilo-class submarine and other ships passed from the Sea of Okhotsk to the Sea of Japan starting on Thursday, according to a Joint Staff news release.

The Soya Strait, also known as the La Perouse Strait, lies between the Japanese island of Hokkaido and Russia’s Sakhalin.

12:45 a.m. Ukrainian troops have reported outages of their Starlink communications terminals made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the Financial Times reports, citing a senior Ukrainian official who called the loss of communication “catastrophic.”

12:40 a.m. British diplomat Simon Manley sends a birthday message of sorts to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Friday, Oct. 7

11:10 p.m. The U.S. has unveiled its new national strategy in the Arctic, warning of “increasing strategic competition” exacerbated by Russia and China and calling for greater cooperation among allies to “uphold international law, rules, norms and standards” in the region.

The strategy, which is an update of a 2013 document released by former President Barack Obama’s administration, covers the U.S. agenda in the region over the next 10 years.

The document says that as an Arctic nation itself, the U.S. has the “authority and responsibility” to steward and protect the region.

“The United States seeks an Arctic region that is peaceful, stable, prosperous, and cooperative,” it says. Read more.

6:20 p.m. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize is going to jailed Belarus rights activist Ales Bialiatski, the Russian group Memorial and the Ukrainian organization the Center for Civil Liberties, the award’s judges say. Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said the judges wanted to honor “three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy and peaceful coexistence in the neighbor countries Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.”

The superyacht Nord, connected to Russian tycoon Alexey Mordashov, anchored in Hong Kong on Oct. 7. (TVB via AP)

4:50 p.m. A superyacht connected to Russian tycoon Alexey Mordashov anchored in Hong Kong this week amid moves by Western governments to seize yachts connected to sanctioned Russian businessmen. The yacht Nord — worth over $500 million — arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday afternoon after traveling for over a week from Vladivostok, Russia, its last port of call. Mordashov is the main shareholder and chairman of Severstal, Russia’s largest steel and mining company.

11:00 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden says the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is at the highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, after Russian officials spoke of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering massive setbacks in the invasion of Ukraine. Speaking at a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “a guy I know fairly well” and was “not joking when he talks about the use of tactical nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons.” Biden added, “We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.” He suggested the threat from Putin is real “because his military is — you might say — significantly underperforming.”

U.S. President Joe Biden arrives in New York to attend a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee reception on Oct. 6.

  © AP

8:00 a.m. Russian missiles hit apartment buildings in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia on Thursday, leaving at least seven people dead and five missing in a region that Moscow has illegally annexed, the regional governor said. Two strikes damaged more than 40 buildings hours after Ukraine’s president announced that his military had retaken three more villages in another of the four regions annexed by Russia. Gov. Oleksandr Starukh said more than 20 people had been rescued from the buildings.

5:55 a.m. Two Russian nationals have sought asylum in the U.S. after sailing to an island in Alaska, the state’s U.S. senators say.

The Russians landed at a beach near Gambell on the northwest tip of St. Lawrence Island, according to a news release.

Only local and state authorities had the capability to respond immediately, while “Customs and Border Protection had to dispatch a Coast Guard aircraft from over 750 miles away to get on scene,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski says.

Sen. Dan Sullivan says the incident makes it clear that “the Russian people don’t want to fight Putin’s war of aggression” and that “our state has a vital role to play in securing America’s national security.”

Republicans Murkowski and Sullivan push for the administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat, to strengthen American military capabilities in the Arctic.

5:45 a.m. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi has held “a positive and constructive meeting” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, discussing the Russian-held, Ukrainian-operated Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the IAEA says.

The talk also covered Grossi’s proposed nuclear safety and security protection zone around the plant. Grossi and Zelenskyy agreed to meet again after Grossi visits Russia.

“This is a particularly dangerous moment for the safety and security” of the plant, Grossi says in the IAEA news release, referring to demands that workers there sign on with Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom. “Staff at the plant are being forced to make a hugely difficult decision for themselves and their loved ones. The enormous pressure they are facing must stop.”

The IAEA team at the plant has also reported shelling in an industrial area close to the access road.

12:30 a.m. The head of the International Monetary Fund warns of a “darkening” global economic outlook for next year, blaming “multiple shocks” including the “senseless” war in Ukraine.

“We estimate that countries accounting for about one-third of the world economy will experience at least two consecutive quarters of contraction this or next year,” Kristalina Georgieva says in a speech ahead of the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank. “And, even when growth is positive, it will feel like a recession because of shrinking real incomes and rising prices.”

In addition to the war, the IMF managing director also blames the COVID-19 pandemic and climate disasters for “driving a global surge in prices, especially on food and energy, causing a cost-of-living crisis.”

“Far from being transitory, inflation has become more persistent,” Georgieva says. “High energy and food prices, tighter financial conditions and lingering supply constraints decelerated growth.”

For earlier updates, click here.

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