Live Updates: Russia-Ukraine War

October 3, 2022 GMT
People receive humanitarian aid at a distribution point in Slavyansk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)
People receive humanitarian aid at a distribution point in Slavyansk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)
People receive humanitarian aid at a distribution point in Slavyansk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)
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People receive humanitarian aid at a distribution point in Slavyansk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)
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People receive humanitarian aid at a distribution point in Slavyansk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)

KYIV, Ukraine — The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development has met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss Ukraine’s humanitarian, economic and development needs.

At a briefing in Kyiv on Thursday, USAID director Samantha Power said that “this war will be won on the battlefield, but it is also being won in Ukraine’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its democracy and its economy.”

Power says her visit included meetings with Ukrainian farmers, civil society activists, journalists and groups that USAID has been supporting to identify and document war crimes.

Earlier in the day, Power announced that USAID has committed an additional $55 million to assist Ukraine with repairs to heating pipes and other infrastructure and equipment. USAID has since February given $9.89 billion in aid to Ukraine.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

— EXPLAINER: Russia’s military woes mount amid Ukraine attacks

— Russian rockets slam into Ukrainian city near nuclear plant

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— Experts: Russia finding new ways to spread propaganda videos

-- EU agrees on price cap for Russian oil over Ukraine war

— Belarus opposition hopeful at Russian setbacks in Ukraine

Ukraine links World Cup host bid to beating horrors of war

Follow all AP stories on the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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UNITED NATIONS — Russia is calling for a secret ballot next week in the U.N. General Assembly on a Western-backed resolution that would condemn Moscow for its “attempted illegal annexation” of part of four Ukrainian regions and demand an immediate reversal.

Russia apparently hopes it would get more support from the 193 nations if their votes are not made public.

The General Assembly has announced that its emergency special session on Ukraine will resume Monday when the draft resolution will be presented. Diplomats say they expect the vote on the resolution likely on Wednesday.

Votes on resolutions in the world body are traditionally public and illuminated with different colored lights on a large board which has the name of every country.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The head of the U.N.’s atomic energy agency says it’s doubling to four the number of inspectors that it plans to deploy to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in a Russian-controlled area of southern Ukraine as fighting continues in the region, threatening its safety.

During a visit Thursday to the Ukrainian capital, Director-General Rafael Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency deplored how workers in Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant are facing “almost unbearable circumstances.”

He said he would take up that issue and hopes of establishing a secure protection zone around the nuclear power station during talks with an unspecified “very high-level” official when he travels soon to Moscow.

Grossi emphasized that despite Russia’s proclaimed — and widely criticized — annexation of the Zaporizhzhia oblast, or region, the plant remains a Ukrainian facility that belongs to state-run company Energoatom.

Earlier Thursday, a local official said Russian missiles hit apartment buildings in the nearby city of Zaporizhzhia, killing three people and wounding at least 12.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The head of Ukraine’s human rights commission says Russian authorities detained hundreds of Ukrainians as they neared Russia’s border with Estonia.

Dmytro Lubinets wrote in a post on his Facebook page on Thursday that Russians “took them away on trucks to an unknown destination” a day earlier. He cited information from the Estonian Interior Ministry about the transfers.

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Amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, most of those Ukrainians had fled their country through Russia and Crimea and were seeking ways to enter the European Union — Estonia is a member state — or find a way to return home, Lubinets wrote.

Some travelers, including women, the elderly, and children, were waiting to cross the Russia-Estonia border in cold, humid weather without proper clothes or food, he said, adding that he planned to bring up the matter with Russia’s commissioner for human rights.

Lubinets noted that a mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which counts both Russia and Ukraine as members, was expected to meet next week with Ukrainians who had been processed through Russian “filtration camps.”

Also Thursday, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said: “We condemn the Russian Federation for not allowing war refugees to cross the border,” saying such actions could amount to provocations by Moscow along the EU-Russia border.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian forces have retaken 400 square kilometers (155 square miles) of territory in the southern Kherson region, so far this month as they continue to push Russian troops back in the south and east, Ukraine’s southern military command says.

Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for the Ukrainian military’s Operational Command South, said in a briefing Thursday that the situation along the southern front was rapidly changing and remained complicated.

Ukraine has recaptured 29 settlements in the oblast since Oct. 1, Oleksii Hromov, deputy chief of the Main Operational Department of the Ukrainian army’s General Staff, told a separate briefing.

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BRUSSELS — The European Union on Thursday froze the assets of an additional 37 people and entities tied to Russia’s war in Ukraine, bringing the total of EU blacklist targets to 1,351.

The newly sanctioned people include officials involved in last week’s illegal Russian annexation of — and sham referenda in — the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

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The latest sanctions, published in the EU’s Official Journal, also widen trade bans against Russia and lay the ground for a price cap on Russian oil being prepared with other G-7 members. The new commercial curbs hit an estimated 7 billion euros ($6.9 billion) of EU imports of Russian goods including steel, plastics, textiles and non-gold jewelry.

The wider EU prohibition on exports to Russia covers such products as coal, electronics used in Russian weapons and aircraft components.

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Norway on Thursday said that Russian fishing vessels can only call at three Arctic ports ports, and that all Russian vessels arriving at these ports will be checked.

Russian fishing boats only will be allowed in three Arctic ports -- Kirkenes, Tromsø and Båtsfjord.

“We now have information which indicates that there is a need to increase the control of Russian fishing vessels, Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said.

“The recent serious developments with Russia’s unacceptable annexation of Ukraine, the attacks on gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea and increased drone activity, means that the government has further tightened preparedness.

“This will make it more difficult to use Russian fishing vessels for illegal activities, for example by circumventing export regulations, ”Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl added.

In April, the European Union, of which Norway is not a member, banned Russian vessels from entering EU ports. Norway followed suit with the exception of fishing boats, which led to criticism from the Norwegian opposition.

Authorities in Norway, a major oil and gas producer, have reported several drone sightings near offshore installations in the North Sea.

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PRAGUE — Czech social media users have shared satirical tweets claiming that the Czech Republic has annexed the Russian territory of Kaliningrad and renamed it Královec.

It is a satire on Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian territories where Kremlin-installed authorities held voter “referendums” that Ukraine and its allies regard as an illegitimate farce.

Even Slovak President Zuzana Caputova got in on the joke on Thursday, tweeting “I might consider a state visit. Or not.” Turning serious, she added: “Well done our #Czech friends for de-masking the absurdity of #Russia’s fictitious referendums in #Ukraine.”

An anonymous Twitter user in Poland first posted about the fake “annexation” of Kaliningrad. A Czech member of the European Parliament, Tomasz Zdechovsky, then posted about it. There has since been an explosion of jokes under the hashtags Kralovec and VisitKralovec.

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CANBERRA, Australia — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday it was “hard to say” whether the risk of nuclear war had increased with his military’s territorial gains, but he remains confident his Russian counterpart would not survive such as escalation in hostilities.

Zelenskyy was addressing the Lowy Institute international think tank in Sydney via video link after Ukraine’s military retook ground illegally annexed by Russia last week. He questioned whether Russian President Vladimir Putin had enough control over the Russian campaign to direct a tactical nuclear strike.

The Russians found it “hard to control everything that is happening in their country, just as they’re not controlling everything they have on the battlefield,” Zelenskyy said.

Putin “understands that after the use of nuclear weapons he would be unable any more to preserve, so to speak, his life,” Zelenskyy said, “and I’m confident of that.”

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WARSAW, Poland –- Poland is distributing potassium iodide tablets to regional firefighters’ stations in a pre-emptive measure in case of damage to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russian troops.

Stored in some 1,500 stations nationwide, the potassium iodide pills would be distributed to Poles in case of real threat, the government said. Deputy interior and administration minister, Blazej Pobozy, has said radioactive contamination is “very unlikely.”

The Zaporizhzhia plant, some 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from Poland’s eastern border, is Europe’s largest. It was damaged recently in the fighting with Russian forces.

In 1986, following the accident at Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear power plant many Poles took iodine solution to prevent absorbing radiation.

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WARSAW, Poland — Poland is raising its security emergency level for energy infrastructure located outside Poland’s borders.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki signed the decision Thursday to raise security to the second out of four levels, through November. The decision means that security services need to be especially vigilant and ready to react to any potential terrorist threats.

Poland recently opened a new natural gas pipeline from Norway, the Baltic Pipe, that partly runs on the Baltic seabed. It is helping Poland cut its decades-long dependence on Russian gas.

Last week Russian’s Nord Stream pipelines suffered leaks in the Baltic Sea caused by explosions, widely believed to be the result of sabotage.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The U.S. deployed its international development chief to Ukraine on Thursday, the highest-ranking American official to visit the country since Russia illegally annexed the four regions.

The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Samantha Power, traveled to Kyiv and was holding meetings with government officials and residents. She said the U.S. would provide an additional $55 million to repair heating pipes and other equipment.

Among the sites she visited were a Kyiv neighborhood and school that had previously been hit by Russian missiles.

USAID said the United States has delivered $9.89 billion in aid to Ukraine since February.

A spending bill signed by President Biden last week promises another $12.3 billion in Ukraine-related aid — directed both at military and public services needs. Power said Washington plans to release the first $4.5 billion of that funding in the coming weeks.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog is expected to visit Kyiv this week to discuss the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which has been occupied by Russian troops since the early part of the war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Wednesday declaring that Russia was taking over the six-reactor plant, the largest in Europe.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry called it a criminal act and said it considered Putin’s decree “null and void.” The state nuclear operator, Energoatom, said it would continue to operate the plant.

Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, plans to talk with Ukrainian officials about the Russian move.

He will also discuss efforts to set up a secure protection zone around the facility, which has been damaged in the fighting and seen staff including its director abducted by Russian troops.

Grossi will travel to Moscow for talks with Russian officials after his stop in Kyiv.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that Russia is taking ownership of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest.

Putin signed a decree Wednesday ordering the creation of a state company to manage the facility and said all workers now need Russian permission to work there. Russian troops have occupied the plant for months.

Ukraine condemned the “illegal” Russian takeover attempt and called on the West to impose sanctions on the Russian state nuclear operator, Rosatom, and for all countries to limit civilian nuclear cooperation with Russia.

Ukraine’s state nuclear operator, Energoatom, said it considers Putin’s decree “worthless” and “absurd.” It said the plant would continue to be operated by Energoatom as part of the Ukrainian energy system.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

Putin signs laws annexing 4 Ukrainian regions

Ukraine nuclear workers recount abuse, threats from Russians

— Experts: Russia finding new ways to spread propaganda videos

-- EU agrees on price cap for Russian oil over Ukraine war

Belarus opposition hopeful at Russian setbacks in Ukraine

— Ukraine links World Cup host bid to beating horrors of war

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

WARSAW, Poland — 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.

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.”

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MADRID, Spain — Leaders of Spain and Germany are meeting in northwestern Spain for a brief summit centering on Europe’s energy crisis and consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and 15 ministers from their governments are attending the meeting Wednesday in the city of A Coruña.

Germany’s gas supplies have been cut by its main provider Russia and the country is interested in proposals to build a gas pipeline linking the Iberian peninsula to the rest of Europe. The two will also discuss European fiscal policies and possibly Germany’s suggested European anti-missile defense shield.

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MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin says results of the “referendums” that Moscow held in four regions of Ukraine before annexing them are valid despite being described as a sham by the West and Kyiv.

The vote results are “more than convincing, and it is absolutely transparent and not subject to any doubt,” Putin said.

“This is objective data on people’s mood,” the Russian president said at an event dedicated to the Teachers’ Day. He added that he himself was pleasantly “surprised” by the outcome.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian officials are reporting further strategic losses for Russia within the territories Moscow has illegally annexed following sham referendums.

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.”

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BRUSSELS — The head of the European Union’s executive arm wants to introduce checks on key EU infrastructure, including energy, after the suspected sabotage of natural-gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that the damage last week to the Nord Stream pipelines linking Russia and Germany has shown “how vulnerable our energy infrastructure is.”

She says that a comprehensive plan is needed to ensure the safety of key EU networks, including for data. Von der Leyen also says that satellite surveillance will be used to detect potential threats.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Residents of Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv have expressed anger and dismay that Russia declared annexations of parts of their country.

Sofia Moroz, 20, says she can’t understand how all this is happening.” Moroz adds “it’s strange, there is sovereignty, there is a country.”

“There is a state, borders, ministries,” she said. “I can’t understand why some people decided to change it. Why is it like that? For what?”

Olha Sviatka, 19, from Kyiv, says “it’s not logical and it’s not true.” The land is not Russian, so “they must not touch it.”

A 38-year-old man from Kyiv who identified himself only by his first name, Oleh, says “it’s my land.”

“They, Russians, need to be thrown out,” he says. “All of them.”

Serhiy Lischuk, 26, agrees: “It’s our country and we will defend it, and our rights.”

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KYIV, Ukraine — The head of Ukraine’s nuclear power company says he will take over managing the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, after its director was first kidnapped and then released by Russian forces who occupy the facility.

Petro Kotin, the head of Energoatom, said Wednesday he will be running the plant from the capital Kyiv. Ukrainian workers continue to operate the facility, which shut down its last operational reactor last month.

Zaporizhzhia is Europe’s biggest nuclear plant. Fighting close to the complex has sparked fears of leaks or incidents.

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WARSAW, Poland — Belarus’ opposition leader says she believes that Russian military setbacks in Ukraine could shake Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s hold on power.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said at a security conference in Warsaw on Wednesday that it seems that Russia is “about to lose this war,” and that, if it does, it will no longer be able to prop up the Belarusian dictator.

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

She told the Warsaw Security Forum that hundreds of Belarusian volunteers have supported Ukrainians in their recent liberation of Ukrainian territory, and that 15 have died.

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Researchers at the U.S.-based intelligence firm Nisos say in a new report that Russia has disguised its own propaganda videos so they can be posted on platforms such as Twitter without revealing their true origin.

The report says the videos falsely claim that Ukraine caused civilian deaths attributed to Russian forces or say residents of areas forcibly annexed by Russia welcome their occupiers.

The reported new tactic is Russia’s latest attempt to circumvent efforts by European governments and tech companies trying to stop Kremlin propaganda and disinformation about the war.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian officials have released disturbing evidence and images they say are from areas that Ukrainian forces recently have retaken from Russian troops.

Serhiy Bolvinov, who heads the investigative department of the national police in the eastern Kharkiv region, on Wednesday said authorities are investigating an alleged Russian torture chamber in the village of Pisky-Radkivski.

He posted an image showing a box of what appeared to be precious metal teeth and dentures presumably extracted from those held at the site.

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MOSCOW — Russian-installed authorities of the Kherson region accused Ukrainian forces on Wednesday of carrying out a missile strike on a hotel in the city of Kherson.

Moscow-backed health officials in the region said one person was killed and three more were wounded. Ukrainian officials haven’t commented on the strike.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed laws on Thursday absorbing Kherson and three other Ukrainian regions occupied by his army into Russia after the Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” that Ukraine and the West have rejected as a sham.

Putin’s attempt to cement the increasingly precarious gains of Russia’s army come as Ukrainian troops are pressing a counteroffensive to reclaim those very regions.

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MOSCOW — The Kremlin held the door open for expanding areas of Ukraine under Russian control following the absorption of four regions it currently holds.

Speaking in a conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “certain territories will be reclaimed, and we will keep consulting residents who would be eager to embrace Russia.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed laws absorbing the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine into Russia after the Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” that Ukraine and the West have rejected as a sham.

The move came even as Ukrainian forces were pressing a counteroffensive to reclaim those regions.

Asked about Ukraine taking back some territory in the four regions after their declared annexation, Peskov said Russia would reclaim them.

He wouldn’t say if Moscow planned to organize votes in any more Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.

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A former Russian state television journalist who quit after staging an on-air protest against the conflict in Ukraine and who was later charged with spreading false information about Russia’s armed force says she is no longer abiding by house arrest rules.

Marina Ovsyannikova separately was charged in August for taking part in a street protest and holding a banner reading: “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin is a killer, his soldiers are fascists. 352 children have been killed (in Ukraine). How many more children should die for you to stop?”

A former state-controlled Channel One employee, Ovsyannikova faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted under a law that penalizes statements against the military and that was enacted shortly after Russian troops moved into Ukraine.

Ovsyannikova was placed under house arrest pending an investigation and trial, but over the weekend her ex-husband claimed she had escaped with her young daughter.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Ovsyannikova said that “starting from Sept. 30, I refuse to abide by the restrictions imposed on me in the form of house arrest and (I) release myself from it.”

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BRUSSELS — European Union countries agreed on Wednesday to impose new sanctions on Russia after it illegally annexed four regions in Ukraine, according to an EU official, including an expected price cap on Russian oil.

No details of the sanctions were immediately released. They will be published as soon as Thursday.

They are expected to include a price cap on Russian oil, curbs on EU exports of aircraft components to the country and limits on Russian steel imports.

The moves build on already unprecedented European sanctions against Russia as a result of its war against Ukraine since February.

EU measures to date include restrictions on energy from Russia, bans on financial transactions with Russian entities including the central bank and asset freezes against more than 1,000 people and 100 organizations. They also include a ban on most Russian oil products from December.

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MOSCOW -- A Russian-installed official in the Kherson region insisted Wednesday that Ukrainian advances in the region have been halted.

Kirill Stremousov, in comments to the state-run news agency RIA Novosti, said that “as of this morning ... there are no movements” by Kyiv’s forces.

Stremousov vowed that “they won’t enter (the city of) Kherson, it is impossible.” He added that the Russian forces in the region were “regrouping” in order to “gather strength and strike (back.)”

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s presidential office says that at least five civilians have been killed and eight have been wounded by the latest Russian shelling.

A statement on Wednesday says Russian troops used six Iranian suicide drones to strike the town of Bila Tserkva in the Kyiv region, leaving one person wounded.

The strikes were the first on the town since March when the Russians retreated from the areas near the Ukrainian capital after a failed attempt to capture it.

Russian forces also shelled areas on the western bank of the Dnieper River, facing the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and in the Donetsk region.

In Sviatohirsk, which was reclaimed by Ukrainian forces, a burial ground for civilians was found and bodies of four civilians were discovered, according to Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Kyiv has dismissed as “worthless” the laws that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed on Wednesday formalizing the annexation of four Ukrainian regions into Russia.

“The worthless decisions of the terrorist country are not worth the paper they are signed on,” the head of the Ukraine President’s Office, Andriy Yermak, said on Telegram messaging application. “A collective insane asylum can continue to live in a fictional world.”

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier said in his nightly address that he has signed a decree rendering void any of Putin’s acts designed to annex Ukrainian territories since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

“Any Russian decisions, any treaties with which they try to seize our land — all this is worthless,” Zelenskyy said at the end of his video address.

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MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed laws formally absorbing four Ukrainian regions into Russia, even as its military is struggling to hang on to control of the regions it illegally annexed.

The documents finalizing the annexation carried out in defiance of international laws were published on a Russian government website on Wednesday morning.

Earlier this week, both houses of the Russian parliament ratified treaties making the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions part of Russia. That followed Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” in the four regions that Ukraine and the West have rejected as a sham.

On the ground, the conflict has entered a new, more dangerous phase. Russia faces mounting setbacks, with Ukrainian forces retaking more and more land in the east and in the south — the very regions Moscow has pushed to annex.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian army has recaptured a number of villages in the Kherson region as a part of its massive counteroffensive in the south of the country, the regional military command said.

The Ukrainian flag has been raised above Liubymivka, Khreschenivka, Zolota Balka, Biliaivka, Ukrainka, Velyka and Mala Oleksandrivka villages, Operational Command South said.

The villages are all concentrated on the right bank of the Dnipro river in the northern part of the region.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom says it may halt gas deliveries to Moldova, Europe’s poorest country, if it fails to pay its latest bill by Oct. 20 as its contract stipulates.

In a statement Tuesday, Gazprom said it had repeatedly allowed Moldovan national gas supplier Moldovagaz this year to pay its monthly bills with delay, but may not continue that practice.

Gazprom further said it reserved the right to annul completely its 5-year supply contract with the tiny country over its failure to settle its old debts.

The director of Moldovan natural gas supplier Moldovagaz, Vadim Ceban, said his company “will make every effort to fulfil its contractual obligation.” Moldovagaz has struggled this year to meet its payment commitments to Gazprom after prices under its long-term contract rose sharply.

Separately, Gazprom claims Moldovagaz owes it over 700 million euros for gas deliveries before 2019, over 40% of the sum due to late-payment penalties. Moldovan authorities have asked for an audit to determine the debt.

Moldova has condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, its neighbor, and barred its citizens from displaying pro-Russia symbols. But it did not fully join European Union sanctions on Russia for fear of being cut off from Russian gas.

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

International experts guess at Putin’s nuclear plans

Russian losses evident in city liberated by Ukraine

— The AP Interview: Ukraine aims to restart occupied reactors

— Frustration with retreat reaches Kremlin-friendly television

10 torture sites in 1 town: Russia sowed pain, fear in Izium

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

Russia’s defense chief says the country’s military has recruited over 200,000 reservists as part of a partial mobilization launched two weeks ago.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that the recruits were undergoing training at 80 firing ranges before being deployed to the front lines in Ukraine, where Russian forces are on the retreat in some areas.

President Vladimir Putin ordered the mobilization on Sept. 21 to beef up his troops in Ukraine.

Shoigu previously said that up to 300,000 reservists were to be called up for service, but Putin’s order left open the possibility of an even larger recruitment effort. Some Russian media have speculated that the military plans to call up 1 million reservists or more.

The mobilization sparked protests in many areas across Russia and drove tens of thousands of men to flee Russia.

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DAKAR, Senegal — Ukraine’s foreign minister has promised that his embattled country will do all it can to send more grain to Africa.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba began a tour of the continent this week in Senegal. He met with Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, who is the current chairman of the African Union, on Monday.

Ukraine will be sending “boats full of seeds for Africa,” Kuleba said said at a joint press briefing with his Senegalese counterpart, Aissata Tall Sall. “We will do our best until the last breath to continue exporting Ukrainian grain to Africa and the world for food security.”

Many African countries depend heavily on grain imports from Russia and Ukraine. Amid market shortages, Russia has sought to portray the West as the villain, blaming it for rising food prices.

Western leaders, meanwhile, have accused the Kremlin of cynically using food as a weapon and waging an imperial-style war of conquest.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The head of the company operating Europe’s largest nuclear plant says Ukraine is considering restarting the Russian-occupied facility to ensure its safety as winter approaches.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Energoatom President Petro Kotin said the company could restart two of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant’s reactors in a matter of days.

“If you have low temperature, you will just freeze everything inside. The safety equipment will be damaged,” he said.

Fears that the war in Ukraine could cause a radiation leak at the Zaporizhzhia plant prompted the shutdown of its remaining reactors. The plant has been damaged by shelling, prompting international alarm over the potential for a disaster.

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BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reiterated that, in his view, “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine are inviolable.”

“The sham referendums and the Russian initiative to annex parts of Ukraine are in breach of international law and without value. They are null and void for us,” he said during a Tuesday news conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Scholz said Germany and the Netherlands will continue to stand by and support Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression.

He said both countries are training Ukrainian mine removal teams and will continue to work closely to provide weapons to Ukraine, as they have already done with howitzers.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has formally ruled out talks with Russia following its illegal annexation of Ukrainian territories.

Zelenskyy’s decree released Tuesday declares that holding negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin has become impossible after his decision to annex four regions of Ukraine. The decree enacted a decision by Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council to bolster Ukrainian defenses and seek more weapons from the country’s Western allies in response to Moscow’s move.

Russia’s upper house of parliament on Tuesday ratified the treaties that make the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine part of Russia. Putin is expected to sign their official adhesion later in the day, completing the annexation.

The Kremlin responded to Zelenskyy by saying that it will wait for Ukraine to sit down for talks on ending the conflict, noting that it may not happen until a new Ukrainian president takes office.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevhen Perebyinis has called for the deployment of more weapons from Western allies to Ukraine following the partial mobilization of reserve troops announcement by Russia.

In a video address to a conference in Turkey’s capital on Russia’s war against Ukraine on Tuesday, Perebyinis said the additional weapons would not lead to an escalation but help to end the war sooner.

“We need additional long-range artillery and ammunition, combat aircrafts, and armed vehicles to continue the liberation of the occupied territories,” the deputy minister said. “We need anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense systems to secure our civilians and critical infrastructure from the terrorist attacks on the Russian forces.”

Perebyinis said: “such assistance doesn’t lead to escalation; it will only bring the end of the war closer. The sooner Ukraine receives weapons, the sooner the war will be over and more lives of Ukrainians will be saved.”

Western weapons have helped Ukraine launch a counterattack that has forced a Russian retreat from some previously conquered terrain.

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KYIV, Ukraine — The city council of Kyiv says it is providing evacuation centers with potassium iodine pills in preparation for a possible nuclear strike on the capital, Ukraine’s largest city.

Potassium iodine pills can help block the absorption of harmful radiation by the thyroid gland if taken just before or immediately after exposure to nuclear radiation.

The pills will be distributed to residents in areas contaminated by nuclear radiation if there is a need to evacuate, the city council said in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he would “use all the means at our disposal” to win the war while his ground forces retreat from a Ukrainian counterattack.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Tesla CEO Elon Musk has proposed his own peace plan for Ukraine that would include a redo of referendums in Russian-occupied regions, triggering a wave of criticism from Ukrainians including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Musk argued Monday that Russia should be allowed to keep Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula that it annexed in 2014 and that Ukraine adopt a neutral status, dropping its bid to join NATO. The tech billionaire also argued that the four Ukrainian regions that Russia has just moved to annex following Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” denounced by the West as a sham should hold repeat votes organized by the United Nations.

Musk launched a Twitter poll to ask whether those regions should remain part of Ukraine or become part of Russia.

In a sarcastic response, Zelenskyy suggested a Twitter poll of his own: “Which Elon Musk do you like more? “One who supports Ukraine” or “One who supports Russia.”

And Andrii Melnyk, the outgoing Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, responded to Musk’s proposal with a four-letter word.

Musk replied to Zelenskyy that “I still very much support Ukraine, but am convinced that massive escalation of the war will cause great harm to Ukraine and possibly the world.”

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WASHINGTON — Ukrainian troops are making “substantial gains” in both the east and south of the country, the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War says.

In the east, the institute said, Ukrainian forces pushing from Lyman in the Donetsk region may have gone as far as the border of neighboring Luhansk as they advance eastward toward the city of Kreminna.

The gains in the east and on the southern front around Kherson are noteworthy because Russian troops there “were previously considered to be among Russia’s premier conventional fighting forces,” the institute said.

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MOSCOW — The upper house of the Russian parliament has ratified the treaties with four Ukrainian regions to absorb them into Russia.

The Federation Council voted quickly Tuesday to endorse the treaties making the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions part of Russia. The vote came a day after the lower house endorsed the pacts following the Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” in the four regions that Ukraine and the West have rejected as a sham.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is now expected to quickly sign the ratification treaties to complete the process of absorbing the regions even as intense fighting is raging in those areas.

The move by Russia is seen as an escalation of its war effort since it could interpret attacks by Ukrainian forces in those areas as aggressions on its own territory.

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KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s presidential office says at least five civilians have been killed and another 10 have been wounded in the latest Russian shelling.

It said Tuesday that one person was killed when Russian missiles struck Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. A doctor was killed and two nurses were also wounded when Russian shelling hit a hospital in the Kharkiv region.

The southern city of Nikopol across the Dnieper River from the Russia-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant came under intense shelling that damaged more than 30 houses, a school and several stores. The shelling interrupted water supplies and led to partial blackouts.

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The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, said the director general of Ukraine’s and Europe’s largest power plant, Ihor Murashov, has been released from Russian custody after his detention last week.

“I welcome the release,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi tweeted. “I have received confirmation that Mr. Murashov has returned to his family safely.”

Murashov was blindfolded and detained after leaving the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant on Friday.

KEY DEVELOPMENTS:

— Ukrainian troops continue offensive, claim new gains

— AP Investigation: Russia smuggling Ukrainian grain to help pay for Putin’s war

— Europe faces ‘unprecedented risk’ of gas shortage, IEA says

— Fleeing Russians follow path of 1917 refugees to Istanbul

— 10 torture sites in 1 town: Russia sowed pain, fear in Izium

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

MOSCOW — The Russian military on Monday acknowledged that Kyiv’s forces have broken through Moscow’s defenses in the Kherson region.

Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in his daily briefing that “With numerically superior tank units in the direction of Zolota Balka and Oleksandrivka, the enemy managed to forge deep into our defenses.”

Konashenkov added that “Russian troops have occupied a pre-prepared defensive line and continue to inflict massive fire damage” on Kyiv’s forces.

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MOSCOW — The lower house of the Russian parliament voted Monday to endorse the treaties for four regions of Ukraine to join Russia.

The unanimous vote by the State Duma followed the signing of the treaties by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of the four regions on Friday after the Kremlin-orchestrated referendums that were rejected by Ukraine and the West as having no legal validity.

The vote was unanimous on each of the four treaties, but the number of yes votes ranged from 409 to 413, apparently because some lawmakers were slow to push the voting buttons.

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WASHINGTON — White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby says Ukraine has made gains in the northeast of the country where they are pushing up against the Luhansk region, and he said they are making gains in the south, too.

“They’re absolutely on the move here,” Kirby said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program. “And like you’ve heard President Biden saying, we’re going to continue to make sure we can give them the weapons and capabilities so they can continue that sign of progress.”

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KYIV, Ukraine — Russian shelling of eight Ukrainian regions over the past 24 hours has killed two civilians and injured 14 more, Ukraine’s presidential office reported Monday.

A missile strike was carried out on the city of Zaporizhzhia, capital of the Zaporizhzhia region, parts of which are under Russian control and which has been illegally annexed by Moscow.

Russian forces fired some 10 S-300 anti-aircraft missiles at the city and two nearby villages, according to the presidential office. The strike destroyed a rehabilitation center for children with special needs; one person was injured.

Cities across the Dnieper River from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant were also shelled. In Nikopol, a frequent target of Russian shelling, power lines were damaged, as were a dozen residential buildings and private houses.

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MOSCOW — The Kremlin says no final decision has been made on the territory of two of the four regions it plans to incorporate into Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Donetsk and Luhansk regions would join Russia as defined by administrative borders that existed before a conflict erupted there in 2014. He noted that the issue of the borders of the two other regions – Zaporizhzhia and Kherson – remains open.

“We will continue to discuss that with residents of those regions,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties on Friday to make the four regions part of Russia in a move rejected by Ukraine and its Western allies. The lower house of Kremlin-controlled parliament is set to ratify the treaties Monday and the upper house will follow Tuesday.

Russia controls virtually all of the Luhansk region and about 60% of the Donetsk region that together makes Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland of Donbas. In the south, Russia controls most of the Kherson region and a significant part of the Zaporizhzhia region.

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WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador on Monday to protest to protest Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions last week. The Polish Foreign Ministry said it’s a coordinated action across Europe Union countries.

Russian Ambassador Sergey Andreev defended Russia’s annexation of the territories. Speaking to reporters after the meeting Andreev said the four former territories of Ukraine “will forever remain Russian territories. This is by no means a breach of international law, it is an act of self-determination.”

He was also asked about the large numbers of Russian men fleeing the country. He replied: “Yes, there are people who are fleeing, but this is how our society cleanses itself of those who are not part of our nation.”

___ LONDON -- The Joint Expeditionary Force group of northern European nations will meet Monday to discuss the safety of undersea pipelines and cables after blasts ruptured two natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said.

Wallace said the virtual meeting has been called by the U.K. and the Netherlands. The force brings together troops from 10 countries, including the Baltic and Nordic nations, and has seen its importance increase since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Wallace also said Britain will acquire two specialist ships to protect undersea cables and pipes, with the first “multi-role survey ship for seabed warfare” operational by the end of next year.

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BELGOROD, Russia — Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of Russia’s Belgorod region on the border with Ukraine, reported Monday that Ukrainian shelling of a village near the border killed a 48-year-old woman.

The shells, Gladkov said in a statement posted on Telegram, hit the center of the village of Golovchino, damaging several buildings. It wasn’t immediately clear if there were other casualties, according to the statement. ___

MOSCOW — Russia’s top diplomat Monday compared Western military support for Ukraine to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II.

Addressing the lower house of the Russian parliament before it voted to ratify the treaties for four regions of Ukraine to join Russia, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the United States of rallying allies to counter Russia in Ukraine just as Nazi Germany relied on European resources when it invaded the Soviet Union.

“The U.S. has mobilized practically all of the collective West to turn Ukraine into an instrument of war against Russia, just as Hitler mobilized military resources of most European nations to attack the Soviet Union,” Lavrov said.

Presenting the treaties with the four regions to lawmakers before the vote, Lavrov said they marked “the logical continuation of the process of reunification of Russian lands.”

___ MOSCOW -- Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says criticism of Russia’s military leadership by Chechnya’s regional leader was driven by emotions.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, scathingly criticized the Russian military command over the weekend, saying that the Russian retreat from the city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine was a result of incompetence and nepotism.

Kadyrov also called for the use of low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine to reverse the tide of the conflict in Russia’s favor.

Asked about Kadyrov’s statements, Peskov said they were driven by emotions.

“Even in difficult moments, emotions must be excluded while making assessments,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters Monday. “We prefer to stick to well-balanced, objective assessments.”

Responding to Kadyrov’s comments on nuclear weapons, Peskov said conditions for their use are outlined in Russia’s security doctrine, adding that “there could be no other reasons” for their deployment.

___ Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine