More ‘torture chambers’ uncovered in liberated regions, police say; Russia expands evacuation zone in Kherson

Russia expands evacuation zone in Kherson region

Russian-installed officials in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region are expanding an evacuation zone.

Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed head of the region that Russia partially occupies, said on Telegram Monday evening that he was extending an evacuation area in the region and asked civilians on the eastern bank of the Dnipro river, which bisects the Kherson region, to leave their homes.

People arrived from Kherson wait for further evacuation into the depths of Russia inside the Dzhankoi’s railway station in Crimea on October 21, 2022.

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Saldo repeated a claim — that Kyiv says is baseless and false — that Ukraine’s forces are planning to destroy the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power plant dam in order to flood parts of Kherson. Kyiv says Russia could be planning such an attack and looking to pin the blame on Ukraine.

“There is an immediate danger of flooding of the territories due to the planned destruction of the Kakhovskaya HPP dam and the release of water from a cascade of power plants upstream of the Dnieper [the Dnipro river],” Saldo said. 

“In such a situation, I made a difficult but correct decision to announce the organized movement of the civilian population of Berislav, Belozersky, Snigiryovsky and Aleksandrovsky municipalities to the left bank of the Dnieper,” he said.

Reuters reported that the expanded evacuation area equates to an additional nine mile area.

“We will take the civilian population to the left bank in an organized, stage-by-stage manner,” Saldo said.

Russian-installed officials in Kherson have already moved thousands of people in the Kherson region to Russian territory, with Ukraine telling residents not to comply with what it sees as forcible relocations.

— Holly Ellyatt

Multiple torture chambers and illegal prisons discovered in liberated territories, police say

The entrance to a basement allegedly used as a torture chamber in a house where prisoners were held, discovered by Ukrainian police in the center of Pisky Radkivsky, Ukraine, on Oct. 6, 2022.

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Ukraine’s National Police said they have uncovered 34 sites where they believe Russian forces have illegally detained and tortured people.

“Thirty-four sites where the Russians unlawfully held and tortured citizens were found in the de-occupied areas: Kharkiv region – 24, Kherson region – 3, Kyiv region – 3, Sumy region – 2, Donetsk, Chernihiv regions – 1 each,” the press service of the National Police posted on Telegram, according to a translation by the Ukrinform news agency.

A man who claims to be a former prisoner, tortured with electric shocks by the Russian military, checks the debris inside a destroyed Russian command center on September 29, 2022 in Izium, Ukraine. On September 9th, Ukrainian armed forces hit the center that was known as a jail and torture chamber.

Paula Bronstein | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukraine’s police force and international investigators continue to discover and document evidence of multiple alleged war crimes by Russia’s occupying forces including the widespread occurrence of rape and torture, and mass killings which Ukraine says are war crimes.

Russia says it does target civilians despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary with the daily shelling of residential buildings and civilian infrastructure.

Forensic experts collect the pieces of evidence at the District Police Department allegedly used by Russian occupiers for torture, Balakliia, Kharkiv Region, northeastern Ukraine.

Future Publishing | Future Publishing | Getty Images

As of Oct. 31, Ukraine’s police have initiated 40,742 criminal proceedings over alleged crimes committed by the Russian service members “and their accomplices” in Ukraine, Ukrinform reported.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia is moving large ballistic missile to Belarus to send the West ‘a message,’ UK says

Russia is likely to have moved large ballistic missiles to Belarus as a “message to the West,” the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence said Tuesday.

In an intelligence update on Twitter, the ministry said Russia is likely to have deployed AS-24 Killjoy missiles (air launched ballistic missiles) to Belarus “mainly to message to the West and to portray Belarus as increasingly complicit in the war.”

Belarus is a strong ally of Russia although it is widely seen as subservient to Moscow. Although not directly involved in the Ukraine conflict it has assisted Russia during the war and missiles have been launched at Ukraine from Belarus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko during their meeting in Sochi on February 22, 2021.

ALEXEI DRUZHININ | AFP | Getty Images

The ministry said Moscow has “very limited stocks” of AS-24 Killjoy missiles, and it “continues to expend its advanced long-range munitions against targets of limited operational importance.” Basing such weaponry in Belarus would give Russia “little added advantage in terms of striking additional targets within Ukraine,” however.

The U.K. said evidence that Russia was deploying such missiles to Belarus had come after imagery showed two MiG-31K Foxhound interceptor jets “almost certainly parked at Belarus’s Machulishchi Airfield on 17 October, with a large canister stored nearby within a protective earth berm.”

“It is likely that the canister is associated with the AS-24 Killjoy air launched ballistic missile, a large munition which the MiG-31K variant is adapted to carry.”

It noted that Russia had not previously deployed these weapons in Belarus and while it has occasionally launched these weapons during the Ukraine war, “stocks are likely very limited.”

“It continues to expend its advanced long-range munitions against targets of limited operational importance,” it noted and, with a range of over 2000km, basing Killjoy missiles in Belarus “gives Russia little added advantage in terms of striking additional targets within Ukraine.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine sees more shelling overnight after wave of missile attacks

Ukraine has reported more shelling in several regions overnight, as well as intense fighting along the front line in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, a day after it witnessed a wave of attacks across a number of regions.

Shelling has been reported in the Dnipropetrovsk region in southeast Ukraine and there have been reports of missile strikes on the southern port city of Mykolaiv overnight, demolishing half an apartment building and killing one resident, Reuters reported.

A Ukrainian rocket launches from a vehicle of the 53rd Mechanized Brigade of the Ukrainian Military forces in Donetsk Oblast on October 28, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s armed forces reported in its early morning update that fighting remained intense on the front line in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. It said on Facebook that the Russian army was “concentrating its efforts on restraining Ukraine’s defense forces in certain directions, and is not stopping offensive operations in the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions” in Donetsk.

 “The enemy continues shelling units of the defense forces along the contact line, carries out fortification equipment of the lines in separate directions and conducts aerial reconnaissance. Strikes critical infrastructure and civilian homes, violating international humanitarian law, laws and customs of war,” Spokesman of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Andriy Kovalev said Tuesday.

People use the touch on their phones to look at an exhibition of weapons in near total darkness on October 31, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine, following missile strikes that took out power and water supplies.

Ed Ram | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A wave of missile attacks targeted Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure on Monday, with major cities Kyiv and Kharkiv among those targeted. Hundreds of thousands of people were left without power and water for hours, although Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko said water supplies were restored Tuesday morning.

— Holly Ellyatt

Zelenskyy reaffirms Ukrainian support for the Black Sea Grain Initiative in call with U.N. Secretary-General

“The morning is difficult. We are dealing with terrorists. Dozens of missiles, Iranian ‘Shahids’,” Zelenskyy wrote on his Telegram official account, referencing the Iranian-made Shahid drones increasingly used by Russian forces.

Ukrinform | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he spoke with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres about Russia’s decision to suspend its role in the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Zelenskky said he reaffirmed Ukraine’s support for the deal, which reopened three Ukrainian ports for agricultural exports, during his call with Guterres.

“We’re ready to remain a guarantor of global food safety,” Zelenskyy said on Twitter.

The Ukrainian leader also said he updated Guterres on Russia’s missile strikes and called for a “tough” U.N. response.

— Amanda Macias

U.N. warns of rising food prices as Black Sea Grain Initiative comes to a standstill

Farmers are seen harvesting wheat in Druzhkivka, Ukraine on 7 August, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said that the FAO Food Price Index was in decline for six straight months, due in part to the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a United Nations-backed deal brokered in July, eased Russia’s naval blockade and saw the reopening of three key Ukrainian ports. Since August, nearly 400 ships carrying a total of 9 million metric tons have departed Ukraine’s ports for international destinations.

“The Food and Agriculture Organization food price index has declined for six months in a row by about 16%. According to World Bank models, this decline may have prevented over 100,000,000 people from falling into poverty,” Rebeca Grynspan said before the United Nations Security Council.

Grynspan added that the uncertainty of the continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is now causing food prices to rise again.

“Just today, wheat futures have risen by over 6%,” she said, urging all parties to make “every effort to resume and extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative.”

— Amanda Macias

Turkey calls for “common sense” on Black Sea Grain Initiative at UNSC meeting

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a joint news conference with Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita in Chisinau, Moldova May 9, 2022. 

Vladislav Culiomza | Reuters

Turkey’s representative to the United Nations called for “common sense” at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council regarding Russia’s suspension of its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

“Today we call for common sense, common sense in recognizing the need for restraint, common sense in upholding our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable populations of the world who have turned to the United Nations,” representative Feridun Sinirlioğlu said. He argued that the deal should be “decoupled from the developments on the ground,” as it was made in good faith and should continue that way.

He also lauded the achievements of the Initiative, which has moved more than 9.5 million metric tons of grain and foodstuff and brought down global food prices since it was agreed to in July.

“The Black Sea Grain Initiative marked a turning point in how we put the needs of those furthest behind first, even at times of war,” Sinirlioğlu said.

“Turkey hopes that reason will prevail and the Black Sea Grain Initiative will remain intact and in place,” he said. Turkey has been in contact with both Ukraine and Russia to ensure the continuation of the deal, according to Sinirlioğlu.

Russia suspended its participation in the program over the weekend in response to an alleged Ukrainian drone strike on a Russian fleet near Sevastopol.

— Rocio Fabbro

‘We are outraged,’ Ukraine says over Russian suspension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative

Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya speaks during a General Assembly Emergency Special Session on Ukraine at the United Nations in New York on March 23, 2022.

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United Nations slammed Russia’s decision to suspend its role in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal that reopened Ukrainian ports for agricultural exports.

“We are outraged but not surprised over the announcement by Russia to suspend its participation in the Black Sea Grain initiative. This announcement did not come all of a sudden, as Russia has never given up aggravating the food crisis as a tool to pressure and blackmail the world,” Sergey Kyslytsya said before the United Nations Security Council.

 “We have already heard Russian threats to quit the initiative,” Kyslytsya said of the deal, which is set to expire next month.

He added that Russia was carrying out “an absolutely deliberate blockade.”

“Their intention is crystal clear to make Ukraine succumb to Kremlin’s demands by blackmailing to bring back the threat of large-scale famine across the globe,” he said.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a United Nations-backed deal brokered in July, eased Russia’s naval blockade and saw the reopening of three key Ukrainian ports. Since August, nearly 400 ships carrying a total of 9 million metric tons of agricultural products have departed Ukraine’s ports.

— Amanda Macias

NATO’s Stoltenberg speaks with Finnish president as the Nordic country prepares to join the alliance

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he spoke with Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto as the Nordic country prepares to join the world’s most powerful military alliance.

“We addressed Russia’s war on Ukraine and Finland’s path to NATO. Finland is already more secure, and your membership will make us all safer & stronger. We look forward to having you as full members of our alliance soon,” Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter.

Niinisto confirmed the call in a separate tweet adding that his country looks forward to “the future role of Finland as a NATO ally.”

He said the two spoke about the ratification process of adding Finland to the alliance and shared updates on Russia’s war in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

Russian suspension of Black Sea Grain Initiative tantamount to “collective punishment,” U.S. State Department says

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price holds a press briefing on Afghanistan at the State Department in Washington, August 16, 2021.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

United States State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Russia’s suspension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative is akin to “collective punishment” for the world.

“Any acts by Russia to disrupt critical grain exports is essentially a statement that the Kremlin doesn’t care if people and families around the world pay more for food or go hungry,” Price said in a press briefing.

“We’ve seen Russia engage in what appears to be collective punishment for the people of Ukraine, again, ironically and cruelly in the context of a war that Russia itself started. But Moscow’s suspension of the initiative would be tantamount to collective punishment for the rest of the world.”

Price noted that the suspension especially affects lower and middle income countries, which have been the recipients of the vast majority of grain coming out of the deal. Two-thirds, or 66%, of the grain has gone to developing countries, with 19% going to the least developed countries of the world, according to Price.

“It is not in anyone’s interests. It is not in Russia’s interest. It is not in the interest of the international community to see what could be akin to a form of collective global punishment now for this to remain suspended,” he said.

Price put full U.S. support behind the United Nations, which helped to initially broker the deal, in its efforts to maintain the humanitarian corridor and encourage cooperation between Russia and Ukraine over grain exports.

“We are going to support the Secretary General in any way that we can, as he seeks to have this grain initiative resume and to add a degree of longevity to it,” Price said.

— Rocio Fabbro

Biden slams oil companies for ‘their war profiteering’ amid energy crisis triggered from Russia’s war in Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks while launching a new plan for Americans to receive booster shots and vaccinations against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), onstage in an auditorium on the White House campus in Washington, October 25, 2022.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Joe Biden again placed blame for soaring gas prices on Russia’s war in Ukraine before outlining steps his administration has taken to address mounting energy costs for American consumers.

“Putin’s invasion in Ukraine in March sent gas prices soaring literally around the world and because of the actions we’ve taken since then,” Biden said, adding that prices have since lowered.

“This difference makes a difference in a difficult time,” Biden said. “Not everyone’s stepped up. The oil industry has not,” Biden added, slamming oil companies for “their war profiteering.”

— Amanda Macias

Intense fighting in the Kharkiv region, situation ‘really tense’

Artillery craters scar the landscape on October 24, 2022 in Sulyhivka, Kharkiv oblast, Ukraine.

Carl Court | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Intense fighting is taking place in the Kharkiv region in northeastern Ukraine with the country’s armed forces fighting to liberate 24 settlements, and facing active Russian resistance in the process.

“Our Armed Forces are actively fighting for the liberation of our territories. We still have an average of 24 settlements under occupation. I say ‘on average’ because the situation is really changing at the front,” Oleg Synehubov, head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, said during a nationwide telethon, news agency Ukrinform reported Monday.

Synehubov said Ukraine’s forces were “making every effort to completely liberate the region as soon as possible” but that Russian units were “actively resisting and were not going to leave.”

“The situation is really tense there,” he added with both sides looking to reinforce their positions.

“Defense and fortification structures are being built. Let me remind you that we have a 315km border with the Russian Federation. The Russians are also reinforcing the positions from their territory. Indeed, construction is underway on fortified areas, concrete structures,” Synehubov said.

—Holly Ellyatt

More than 50 missiles fired at Ukraine, prime minister says

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that Russia’s shelling of various regions in Ukraine on Monday morning has damaged civilian energy infrastructure.

“Missiles and drones hit 10 regions, where 18 objects [facilities] were damaged, most of which are energy-related,” he said on Telegram.

“Hundreds of settlements in seven regions of Ukraine were cut off. The consequences could have been much worse. But thanks to the heroic and professional work of the Air Defense Forces, 44 of the more than 50 missiles fired at our territory were shot down,” he added.

A series of missile strikes hit major Ukrainian cities on Monday morning, with the capital Kyiv and cities to the northeast and south being targeted. Much of Kyiv is without power and water following the attacks.

Kyivvodokanal, a utilities company supplying water for Kyiv, said Monday that 80% of the city’s residents are currently without a water supply.

— Holly Ellyatt

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