Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Ukraine increasingly successful at taking down Iranian drones, UK’s Defence Ministry says

Local residents look at parts of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), what Ukrainian authorities consider to be an Iranian-made drone Shahed-136, after Russian drone strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine October 17, 2022.

Vladyslav Musiienko | Reuters

Russia has been using Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones over many parts of Ukraine to target critical infrastructure and civilian areas, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said in its latest intelligence update, but added that Ukrainian forces’ use of anti-drone technology is becoming more effective.

“Russia continues to use Iranian uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) against targets throughout Ukraine. Ukrainian efforts to defeat the Shahed-136 UAVs are increasingly successful,” the ministry said in a Twitter post.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and other officials claim that up to 85% of attacks are being intercepted, the ministry wrote, adding “These UAVs are slow, noisy and fly at low altitudes, making lone aircraft easy to target using conventional air defences.”

The drones are likely to be used as a replacement for Russia’s precision-guided long-range missiles, which it said “are becoming increasingly scarce.”

— Natasha Turak

Zelenskyy calls out Kremlin’s ‘dirty bomb’ claim, says only Russia would use nuclear weapons in Europe

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia is the only actor that would deploy nuclear weapons in Europe, calling out its destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure over the past eight months.

His comments came in response to the Kremlin’s claim, without evidence, that Ukraine was preparing to use a ‘dirty bomb’ — which uses nuclear fission to contaminate a large area with radioactivity, without using an explosion — on its own territory.

It was Russia using “nuclear blackmail” at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has been under Russian occupation since March, as well as using phosphorus munitions and other banned weapons again civilian infrastructure, Zelenskyy said.

He added that such a claim only meant that Russia was the one preparing to deploy the weapon it accused Ukraine of having.

— Natasha Turak

‘Ukraine has neither ability nor need to use dirty bomb,’ former British ambassador says

Ukraine “has neither ability nor need to use dirty bomb,” senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Nigel Gould-Davies, wrote in a thread on Twitter.

“[Russian Defense Minister] Shoigu’s round of calls with US, UK, France and Turkey, claiming Ukraine planning to use a ‘dirty bomb’ is v worrying. We’ve seen nothing like this intense military diplomacy since war began. Its substance is even more worrying,” Gould -Davies, who formerly served as the UK’s ambassador to Belarus, wrote.

“Of course, Ukraine has neither ability nor need to use dirty bomb. It’s Russia that’s losing. Nor will anyone believe Shoigu anyway – esp [UK Defense Minister] Ben Wallace, who was lied to during his pre-invasion visit to Moscow.

“Shoigu also warned of ‘uncontrolled escalation’. It’s Russia that is escalating… So hard to see these calls as anything other than Shoigu either doubling down on Putin’s bluffs, or preparing way for Russian nuclear use. Yes, nuclear (ie fission ),” Gould-Davies added. “A dirty bomb wd breach nuclear taboo but not achieve significant effects.”

— Natasha Turak

US dismisses Russian claims that Ukraine will use a ‘dirty bomb’

US and Ukrainian officials have struck down claims by Moscow that Ukraine is planning to use a “dirty bomb,” calling them “transparently false.”

The allegation was made by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in a round of high-level calls with Western defense directors. Shoigu expressed “concerns about possible provocations by Ukraine with the use of a ‘dirty bomb’,” according to Russia’s defense ministry.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov attend a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia February 27, 2022.

Aleksey Nikolskyi | Sputnik | Reuters

A “dirty bomb” is made to contaminate a large area with radioactivity, making it harmful or uninhabitable for residents there, without using a nuclear explosion.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that “the United States rejects Russian Defense Minister Shoygu’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory and that the world would see through any attempt by Russia to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation,” according to a White House statement.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also slammed the Russian accusation.

“If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing: Russia has already prepared all this,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.

— Natasha Turak

France’s Macron says terms of peace with Russia must be decided by Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures during a press conference on the last day of the NATO Heads of State summit in Madrid on June 30, 2022.

Bertrand Guay | AFP | Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron said that the terms of peace with Moscow must be decided by Ukraine, stressing that the war’s end “can’t be the consecration of the law of the strongest.”

“To stay neutral would mean accepting the world order of the strongest, and I don’t agree with this,” Macron said from Rome on Sunday, as the three-day Cry for Peace conference began.

Macron added that the international community would be receptive when Ukraine’s government decides on that time.

Ukrainian forces are gradually retaking territory occupied and illegally annexed by Russia, and while Moscow increasingly looks to be on the back foot, its ability to wreak havoc on Ukraine’s cities and vital infrastructure remains intact and analysts fear it could use more extreme measures in retaliation, such as nuclear weapons.

— Natasha Turak

More than 1 million Ukrainian homes are without power

Smoke rises above the buildings after the Russian missile attack on the critical infrastructure of Lviv on Oct. 10, 2022. Russia launched 15 rockets in the Lviv region, some were shot down by air defense forces, the rest hit energy infrastructure facilities. Due to the rocket attack, Lviv was left without electricity, water and mobile communication.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Russian strikes on critical energy infrastructure in Ukraine have left more than 1 million homes in the country without power, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidency Kyrylo Tymoshenko said over the weekend. Cities and towns all over Ukraine have faced power outages this month due to Russian attacks , prompting fear about what could be in store for the coming winter.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged his fellow citizens to be careful with their power use.

“We should consume electricity very consciously. Please remember to limit the use of unnecessary and energy-consuming appliances … It is necessary to be really frugal with energy consumption in public space,” he said in his nightly address Sunday.

— Natasha Turak

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Jorge Oliveira

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