People gather during celebrations marking the incorporation of regions of Ukraine to join Russia in Red Square with the Kremlin Wall and the Historical Museum in the background in Moscow, Russia, September 30, 2022. © Maksim Blinov, Kremlin Pool Photo, AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin formalised the annexation of four Ukrainian regions on Wednesday despite major battlefield reversals in recent days, shrinking the amount of seized territory Moscow controls. Follow FRANCE 24’s live blog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
3:06pm: Russian TV journalist confirms she has gone on the run
Russian TV journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, famous for staging an on-air protest against the Ukraine invasion, has confirmed that she escaped house arrest over charges of spreading fake news and has proclaimed her innocence.
“I consider myself completely innocent, and since our state refuses to comply with its own laws, I refuse to comply with the measure of restraint imposed on me as of 30 September 2022 and release myself from it,” she said on Telegram.
Her lawyer said she was due to turn up for a hearing at 10am Moscow time at a Moscow district court, but that investigators had failed to establish her whereabouts.
Ovsyannikova, 44, was put under house arrest in August over a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Her house arrest was due to last until October 9, but the state-run news outlet Russia Today reported on Saturday that she had fled along with her 11-year-old daughter, and that her whereabouts were unknown.
1:28pm: Russia annexed Ukraine regions to ‘rethink, regroup, reframe’
Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions, formalised by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, came as “a bit of a surprise to many” in terms of the “speed with which it happened”, given the lack of full Russian military “control” over them, noted freelance correspondent Daniel Hawkins, reporting from Moscow.
“It was done, probably, for three reasons: rethink, regroup, and reframe. The Russian military has often, in most cases, failed to adapt as quickly as the Ukrainian military has with its Western allies and NATO support. It’s been able to inflict setbacks on the Russian military, so clearly they need to come up with a new plan. Though there was some positive dynamic [for Russia] over the summer, that dynamic has now been lost.”
“Regrouping: This was done partly to incorporate the Donbas militias in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions into the Russian army, to bring them under the streamlined command of Russian officers, to bring them into their equipment supply chain, and provide Russian commanders with between 20,000 and 40,000 Russian army soldiers, though that number of course may now be smaller,” Hawkins continued.
“And also to reframe; to reframe this from a ‘special military operation’ in a foreign land, effectively; a neighbouring country but still a foreign land, to now defending Russia and Russian territory. It’s been done domestically to shore up support for mobilisation, which has proven rather unpopular.”
12:21pm: Kremlin vows to win back territory recaptured by Ukraine
The Kremlin on Wednesday vowed to take back land it lost to Kyiv within Ukrainian regions it annexed, saying the territories will be Russian “forever”.
“The given territories will be taken back,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters after Moscow suffered a series of military defeats. He said regions annexed by Moscow “will be Russian forever and will not be returned”.
11:11am: Russian forces ‘trapped’ next to Dniepr river
“Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed eight villages or small towns were taken over by the Ukrainian forces just yesterday, on Tuesday, and the total is 50 in the Kherson region since the counter-offensive started,” FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reported from Kramatorsk.
“So, yes, they’re really gathering momentum. The Ukrainian military action is concentrated mostly, at the moment, in the north or northeastern part of Kherson region. All of it is on the right bank of the Dniepr river, which cuts across Kherson region. Kherson city is also situated on the right bank but down in the southwest of the region. Ukrainian forces are advancing in that direction from Mykolaiv as well, but much, much less rapidly. That’s where the Russian defences are really, I think, the strongest – trying to protect the capital of Kherson region.
“But elsewhere in the region they seem to be retreating quite quickly,” Cragg continued. “Though according to the Ukrainian spokeswoman for the southern military command, [the Russian retreat] is in a somwhat more orderly fashion than what was seen in the Kharkiv region. And that means they’re destroying bridges and pontoon bridges as they leave. […] And that may slow Ukrainians’ advances going forward. […] But the Russians face a very difficult choice because a large part of their forces are trapped on that right bank of the Dniepr river. How are they going to get back across it?”
10:50am: Zaporizhzhia plant to operate under Russian supervision after annexation
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.
10:43am: EU ambassadors agree on new sanctions against Russia
European Union member countries have agreed on another round of sanctions against Russia over its aggression against Ukraine, the Czech EU presidency said on Wednesday.
“Ambassadors reached a political agreement on new sanctions against Russia – a strong EU response to Putin’s illegal annexation of Ukraine territories,” the presidency said on Twitter.
9:42am: Putin gives final approval to Ukraine annexation plan despite retreats
Russian President Vladimir Putin formalised the annexation of four Ukrainian regions on Wednesday despite major battlefield reversals in recent days shrinking the amount of seized territory Moscow controls.
Russia has escalated its seven-month war with the annexation drive, a military mobilisation and warnings of a possible recourse to nuclear weapons to protect all of its territory.
Putin has now signed off on a law formally incorporating the four regions, representing about 18% of Ukraine’s territory, into Russia, the state-owned TASS news agency reported on Wednesday morning.
The Russian leader’s signature was the final stage in the legislative process; the two chambers of Russia’s parliament have already ratified the plan.
Kyiv and its Western allies say Russia’s attempted annexation is an illegal land grab and will never be recognised with Ukraine saying its army will recapture any territory occupied by Russian forces.
8:35am: One injured in attack by Iran-made drones near Kyiv
One person was injured in an attack with Iranian-made drones on the town of Bila Tserkva southwest of Kyiv, the region’s governor said Wednesday.
“During the night, the enemy carried out strikes with Shahed-136 type kamikaze drones against Bila Tserkva,” governor Oleksiy Kuleba said on social media, adding that the attack left one person injured and damaged infrastructure.
8:32am: Gazprom says it will resume gas exports via Austria
Russian energy giant Gazprom said on Wednesday it is set to resume gas exports via Austria, mainly to Italy.
It added that the company and Italian customers have found a solution on gas sales following regulatory changes in Austria.
7:35am: Ukraine forces approaching borders of Luhansk region, UK says
The Ukrainian armed forces have advanced up to 20 km (12 miles) beyond the Oskil river in the northeastern Kharkiv region into Russia’s defensive zone towards the town of Svatove in Luhansk region, Britain 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 Defence 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.
6:09am: Hungary says new EU price cap on Russian oil will not apply to pipeline shipments
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.
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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.
12am: Zelensky claims gains in south Ukraine, ‘dozens’ of villages retaken
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday said his forces were making “rapid and powerful” gains in southern Ukraine and that they had retaken “dozens” of villages from Russia this week.
“The Ukrainian army is quite rapidly and powerfully advancing in the south,” Zelensky said in his daily address on social media, adding that “dozens of settlements” had been recaptured in the south and east.
Some of the territory was taken back in the regions of Kherson, Lugansk and Donetsk, he said, where referendums were held last week on being annexed by Russia.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)
Sources from: FRANCE24.COM
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