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New missile strikes hit Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia; Russia warns that if the US is involved in a war, commercial satellites could become targets

Story Highlights
  • The United States and its allies have previously denied Russian claims that Ukraine intends to use a "dirty bomb" to escalate the conflict.
  • According to a report in Russia's RIA Novosti, Ukrainian forces intend to fill the rocket with radioactive material and blame an explosion on Russian forces.

Russia has launched new missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia, the latter of which is located in the south and is home to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Air raid sirens began to sound in Kyiv around midnight and lasted until the morning. Authorities urged residents to seek shelter, according to Ukrainian local media and officials.

A senior Russian official warned that if the United States and its allies become involved in the Ukraine conflict, Russian retaliatory strikes could target their commercial satellites. Commercial satellites from the United States have already provided imagery of Russian troops and weapons formations, as well as mass grave sites left behind in areas they occupied.

Meanwhile, according to a Ukrainian presidential advisor, the “heaviest of battles” await Ukrainian troops in Kherson as they advance on occupying Russian forces. While Russia’s grip on the strategic territory appears to be weakening, it does not appear to be ready to abandon it. Rather, it appears to be digging in for a long fight after ordering civilians to flee and inviting remaining men to join militias in the area.

According to IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, inspectors will arrive in Ukraine this week in response to Russian allegations that Kiev is planning to use a “dirty bomb.”

“I am grateful for the Ukrainian government’s openness, and I had a very thorough discussion with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba about this.” “He came to the conclusion, and I agree, that the best way to remove any doubt is to allow the inspectors in, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Grossi told reporters at the UN.

Grossi added that the inspections will most likely only take a few days.

The United States and its allies have dismissed Russian claims that Ukraine is constructing a “dirty bomb.”

Before the U.N. Security Council meeting, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told her colleagues that she would keep her remarks brief because “frankly, this meeting is a waste of everyone’s time.”

“Russia has summoned us once more for the sole purpose of spreading disinformation.” “We all know these claims are utter nonsense, made without a shred of evidence,” Thomas-Greenfield said, referring to recent Moscow claims that Kyiv possesses a biological weapon.

“We’ve heard Russia warn that biological weapons will be delivered by birds, bats, and now mosquitoes.” “Birds and bats,” she said, dismissing Russia’s claims as “absurd.”

“Russia’s assertions are absurd for a variety of reasons, including the fact that such species, even if weaponized, would pose just as much of a threat to the European continent and Ukraine as they would to any other country,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

The organisation in charge of grain exports from Ukraine announced the approval of nine vessels to leave the besieged country.

According to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a July agreement between Ukraine, Russia, the United Nations, and Turkey, the vessels carry 117,341 metric tonnes of grain and other crops.

The nine ships will sail from Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Yuzhny-Pivdennyi in Ukraine to Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, Italy, Israel, and Greece.

The Joint Coordination Center announced on Wednesday that departures from Ukraine would be halted until an inspection of a “suspicious mine-like object” was completed. The inspection revealed no dangerous items, and the shipping lanes reopened on Thursday.

According to John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, the US is concerned that Iran may supply Russia with advanced conventional weapons.

On a conference call with reporters, Kirby stated that Moscow may seek “surface-to-surface missiles, which would almost certainly be used in Ukraine.”

Moscow has carried out a number of devastating missile and drone strikes against what Kyiv claims are civilian targets as well as critical infrastructure such as power plants.

Iran and Russia’s UN representatives have flatly denied reports that Tehran provided Moscow with a fleet of drones for use in Ukraine. The Kremlin has denied using Iranian-made drones to target residential and other high civilian areas on numerous occasions.

Following lawmakers’ concerns about the financial and security burden, the White House said it expects “terrific bipartisan support” for additional support for Ukraine.

“We believe that support will continue,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said during a conference call with reporters.

Earlier this week, 30 progressive Democrats signed a letter urging US President Joe Biden to engage in direct negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The letter was quickly retracted after it was published.

The two-page letter, signed by Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Reps. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and others, called for a renewed diplomatic push to end the conflict in Ukraine, including direct talks with the Kremlin.

Jayapal said in a statement on Tuesday that the letter was released by mistake.

“The letter was written several months ago, but it was unfortunately released by staff without being vetted. “I accept responsibility for this as Chair of the Caucus,” she added.

A prominent TV celebrity and former socialite with close family ties to President Vladimir Putin has fled Russia in the aftermath of a criminal investigation, the latest sign of the domestic impact of the Ukrainian war.

Ksenia Sobchak, dubbed the “Russian Paris Hilton,” arrived in Lithuania on an Israeli passport on Thursday, the Baltic country’s state security service confirmed to NBC News.

Russian state media initially reported that she had fled to avoid arrest and that her home had been raided as part of a criminal case involving one of her employees, reports that dominated domestic news.

Sobchak, 40, is one of Russia’s most well-known figures.

She has frequently criticised Putin and spoken out against the war, but opponents have viewed her family history, as well as her transformation from party girl to politician and well-connected journalist, with suspicion, accusing her of assisting the Kremlin’s agenda.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned Russia that if it uses a nuclear weapon in its conflict with Ukraine, it will face a “significant response” from the international community.

Austin told reporters at the Pentagon that the United States has warned Russia not to use nuclear weapons since the conflict began.

When pressed by reporters, he declined to elaborate on hypotheticals and potential US responses, adding that he would provide “credible responses” to President Joe Biden if necessary.

Austin stated that the US is continuing to monitor the situation and that there are no indications that Russia is planning to use a nuclear weapon in Ukraine at this time.

A suspected Russian spy was arrested this week in a Norwegian Arctic town, adding to concerns about Moscow’s activity in the region following a string of recent incidents.

Norway’s domestic security agency said Tuesday that it had arrested a man suspected of spying for Russia while posing as a Brazilian academic in Tromsoe, about 700 miles north of Oslo.

The announcement comes after a string of recent arrests involving drone sightings near critical infrastructure, and it comes as European countries work to strengthen security in the aftermath of the Nord Stream gas pipeline sabotage. Norway, a NATO member, shares an Arctic border with Russia.

The Norwegian public broadcaster NRK was the first to report that the man, who entered the country as a Brazilian citizen, was detained on his way to work at UiT. On Monday, a student at the Arctic University of Norway, also known as the University of Tromsoe, was arrested on suspicion of being a Russian national and working for one of Russia’s intelligence services.

Ukrenergo, a Ukrainian energy company, said it was limiting energy consumption in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Cherkasy, and Zhytomyr to avoid overloading the weakened central system damaged by Russian strikes.

According to an NBC News translation, the company wrote on its Facebook page, “The consumer restrictions are necessary to reduce the load on the networks and avoid repeated malfunctions after the infrastructure was damaged by the Russian attacks.”

“Such measures enable local energy companies to quickly restore damaged facilities while maintaining system balance,” the company added.

Russia has “no need” to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, according to Russia’s defence minister, who called media speculation that Moscow might use nuclear or chemical weapons in the conflict “absolute lies.”

“From a military standpoint, there is no need for Ukraine to use nuclear weapons to achieve its objectives.” “The main purpose of Russian nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack,” Sergey Shoigu said at a Moscow international security conference.

He blamed the media for spreading rumours about whether Russia would use nuclear weapons or chemical weapons in its special military operation. All of these informational attacks are complete fabrications.”

Former prisoners and advocates say Brittney Griner will enter a system of isolation, arduous labour, and psychological torment when she is transferred to a penal colony, the successor to the infamous Russian gulag, to serve a nine-year sentence handed down Tuesday in Moscow.

According to the US State Department, human rights groups, and others who have maintained regular contact with Russian prisoners, human rights violations are a regular feature of many of the camps. The fact that the WNBA star, who lost her appeal on Tuesday, is a gay Black woman could introduce unknown variables into a penal system that is already notoriously remote and harrowing.

“Conditions in prisons and detention centres varied, but they were frequently harsh and life-threatening,” according to a 2021 State Department report on Russian human rights violations. “In prisons, penal colonies, and other detention facilities, overcrowding, abuse by guards and inmates, limited access to health care, food shortages, and inadequate sanitation were all common.”

According to the report, “physical and sexual abuse by prison guards was systemic,” torture of prisoners was common — sometimes resulting in death or suicide — and discriminatory protections for women and people of colour were not always enforced. The law also does not prohibit sexual orientation discrimination.

After Russian missile and drone strikes knocked out 30% of the area’s power generation capacity overnight, the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and its surrounding region will implement a schedule of pre-planned blackouts in the coming days to avoid uncontrolled power outages.

Russia’s missile and Iranian-made drone strikes have targeted critical energy infrastructure across Ukraine. This has raised serious concerns about the country’s ability to maintain access to basic electricity needs such as lighting and heating, especially as winter approaches.

Ukrainian authorities are working to restore power in many areas, but residents have been asked to reduce their power usage to assist. In Kyiv, some residents are leaving emergency kits containing water, snacks, a flashlight, and other basic necessities in elevators in case someone becomes trapped in an elevator when the power goes out.

Russian-installed authorities in Ukraine’s occupied and illegally annexed regions announced the implementation of “selective” mobile phone checks as part of the imposition of military censorship under President Vladimir Putin’s recently declared martial law.

“From today in the Zaporizhzhia region, law enforcement officers have begun a selective preventing check of citizens’ mobile phones,” Vladimir Rogov, a Moscow-appointed official in the territories, said.

Anyone who accesses “propaganda resources of the terrorist Kyiv regime” will receive a warning, followed by a fine, according to Rogov. He also threatened “criminal liability” for “malicious violations of a law governing foreign agent activities.”

Residents in these areas have been reporting censorship and phone checks by Russian authorities for months, with often dire consequences for anyone seen spreading information from Kyiv or sympathising with the Ukrainian government.

Ukraine is preparing its forces for an attack by Russian troops in Belarus, according to a Kyiv official, who described how his government is increasing Ukrainian troop numbers in the country’s north, closer to the Belarussian border.

“At the moment, the formation of a strike force (in Belarus) is not observable,” said Oleksii Hromov, deputy chief of operations at Kyiv’s general staff. “There are and will be threats,” he cautioned. We are reacting, and we have already increased our troops in the north.”

A large number of Russian troops are stationed in Belarus, Russia’s main ally, which has allowed Moscow to use its territory as a staging area for attacks into Ukraine.

The Kyiv region of Ukraine is facing a 30% reduction in power generation capacity as a result of overnight Russian missile strikes on its energy infrastructure, according to the regional governor.

“Last night, the enemy damaged our region’s energy infrastructure facilities.” “A number of critical facilities have been disabled,” Oleksiy Kuleba said in a video posted on Telegram.

According to Reuters, local officials also stated that the area must “prepare for emergency power outages for an indefinite period” as a result of the attacks.

According to the British Ministry of Defence’s Twitter page, Australia is the latest country to join a coalition of states providing training to Ukrainian forces in the UK.

According to a tweet from the ministry, “Australia will join the list of countries contributing to the British-led programme to train Ukrainian personnel in the UK.”

Ben Wallace, the UK Defence Minister, praised the news.

“I am delighted that Australian troops will support Ukrainian personnel training in the UK beginning in 2023, joining eight other partner nations,” Wallace said in a statement. “Australia’s Armed Forces are world-class, and they will bring a wealth of expertise to ensure that our Ukrainian friends have the knowledge and skills they need to defend their country.”

New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Lithuania are also participating in the training programme.

Russian missile strikes hit Ukraine’s Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia regions overnight, according to local media and officials.

“At night, Russians terrorise the Kyiv region.” “We have several arrivals in one of the region’s communities,” Kyiv regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba announced on his official Telegram channel.

“Rescuers and other emergency personnel are on the scene.” The fire’s extinguishment and the consequences of its impact are ongoing.”

Air raid sirens began to sound in Kyiv at midnight, and residents were advised to seek shelter.

According to Zaporizhzhia Mayor Anatoly Kurtev, Russian forces attacked the southern city and surrounding land, causing a fire in the area that houses Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.

As the war in Ukraine enters its ninth month, Estonia’s foreign minister has urged new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to commit to increasing defence spending.

Sunak’s predecessor, Liz Truss, who served only 44 days in office, pledged to increase defence spending to 3% of the UK’s GDP by 2030. Sunak has refused to keep that promise and has previously described the spending targets as “arbitrary.”

“Autocrats are spending money on weapons.” They believe in the strength of arms. To defend our values – the rules-based order – we must also invest in weapons,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu told the BBC.

Reinsalu responded, “absolutely,” when asked if NATO’s requirement of 2% of a member country’s GDP spent on defence should be increased to 3%. Sunak has yet to respond to the remarks.

A senior Russian official warned that if the United States and its allies become involved in the Ukraine conflict, their commercial satellites and those of their allies could become targets of Russian retaliation.

According to state news agency Tass, “quasi-civilian infrastructure may be a legitimate target for a retaliatory strike.”

“We’re talking about the involvement of civilian space infrastructure components, including commercial, by the US and its allies in armed conflicts.”

Due to a “suspicious mine-like object,” no vessels were approved to leave the besieged country, according to the organisation in charge of grain exports from Ukraine.

According to the Joint Coordination Center, departures from Ukraine have been halted until an inspection of the suspicious object is completed. According to the group, eight ships will leave Ukrainian ports on Thursday.

More than 390 vessels have left Ukraine carrying a total of 8.8 million metric tonnes of grain and other crops since the inception of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal announced in July among Ukraine, Russia, the United Nations, and Turkey.

According to Russian state media, Ukraine built a dummy rocket to drop a “dirty bomb” near the Chornobyl nuclear power plant.

The United States and its allies have previously denied Russian claims that Ukraine intends to use a “dirty bomb” to escalate the conflict.

According to a report in Russia’s RIA Novosti, Ukrainian forces intend to fill the rocket with radioactive material and blame an explosion on Russian forces.

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