Ukraine reclaims even more territory; 2 Russians seek asylum after reaching Alaskan island

11 vessels to depart Ukraine carrying more than 170,000 metric tons of agricultural products

An aerial view of Sierra Leone-flagged dry cargo ship Razoni which departed from the port of Odesa Monday, arriving at the Black Sea entrance of the Bosporus Strait, in Istanbul, Turkey, on August 3, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The organization overseeing the export of agricultural products from Ukraine said it has approved 11 vessels to leave the besieged country.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal among Ukraine, Russia, the United Nations and Turkey, said the vessels are carrying 177,950 metric tons of grain and other crops.

Six ships are destined for Turkey and are carrying sunflower oil, wheat, barley and peas. Another ship will depart from Ukraine’s Yuzhny-Pivdennyi port for Greece and is carrying wheat. One ship carrying corn will sail to Turkey. Another ship carrying wheat will sail to Spain.

One vessel from Odesa will sail to Algeria and is carrying wheat. The 11th vessel with leave from Chornomorsk for Romania and is carrying corn.

Read more about the Black Sea Grain Initiative here.

— Amanda Macias

‘Zaporizhzhia belongs to Ukraine,’ U.S. State Department says

A Russian serviceman stands guard the territory outside the second reactor of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Energodar on May 1, 2022.

Andrey Borodulin | AFP | Getty Images

The U.S. State Department said that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant belongs to Ukraine after Russia claimed control of the facility.

“Zaporizhzhia belongs to Ukraine. The power plant belongs to Ukraine and the electricity and the energy that it produces rightly belongs to Ukraine,” Vedant Patel, a spokesman for the State Department, said during a daily press briefing.

“President Putin has absolutely no authority to take over a power plant in another country, and a piece of paper issued by him or his government certainly doesn’t change that fact, either,” he added.

Earlier this week, Putin signed a decree saying that Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest facility, belongs to Russia.

— Amanda Macias

Zelenskyy says Russian claims that it owns Zaporizhzhia are ‘worthless’ and ‘pointless’

In this photo illustration, a screen showing president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s speech before the members of the international tribunal in The Hague. He accused the Russian authorities of war crimes and international terrorism.

Igor Golovniov | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia’s claims of “purported ownership” of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are “worthless” and “pointless.”

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree saying that the nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest facility, belongs to Russia.

“The international community will only contact Ukraine regarding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant because it is Ukrainian property,” Zelenskyy said during a nightly address on the Telegram messaging app.

Zelenskyy said that there are about 500 Russian troops at the facility.

“Now there are about five hundred occupiers at the station. And this is nothing but five hundred risks of a disaster. The world understands this,” he added.

— Amanda Macias

Putin formalizes annexation claims even as Ukraine forces Russian military to retreat

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech during a ceremony formally annexing four regions of Ukraine Russian troops occupy, at the Kremlin in Moscow on September 30, 2022.

Gavriil Grigorov | AFP | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to “stabilize” the situation in the four regions of Ukraine whose annexation he formalized on Wednesday, as Ukrainian advances exposed the Kremlin’s struggle to match its political theater with the reality on the battlefield.

“We proceed from the fact that the situation will be stabilized, we will be able to calmly develop these territories,” the Russian leader said during a video conference with Russian teachers on Wednesday.

Kyiv said its forces were making rapid advances in the south and the east, retaking land after Putin escalated his seven-month war with the illegal annexation, renewed nuclear threats and a military call-up plagued by issues.

In a last symbolic step, Putin signed the decrees to legislate the absorption of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions early Wednesday after the two chambers of Russia’s parliament ratified the plan this week. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov vowed that Russian forces would retake annexed territory that had been lost in the Ukrainian advance and that land will be with Russia “forever” — as Putin promised last week. “They will be returned,” Peskov told reporters.

Read more on NBC News.

— NBC News

2 Russians seek asylum after reaching remote Alaskan island

Buildings stand in the Yupik village Gambell on St. Lawrence Island, in Alaska.

Ann Johansson | Corbis Historical | Getty Images

Two Russians who said they fled the country to avoid compulsory military service have requested asylum in the U.S. after landing on a remote Alaskan island in the Bering Sea, Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office said Thursday.

Karina Borger, a spokesperson for Murkowski, said by email that the office has been in communication with the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection and that “the Russian nationals reported that they fled one of the coastal communities on the east coast of Russia to avoid compulsory military service.”

Spokespersons with the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection each referred a reporter’s questions to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which did not immediately respond Thursday.

Alaska’s senators, Republicans Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, on Thursday said the individuals landed at a beach near Gambell, an isolated community of about 600 people on St. Lawrence Island. The statement doesn’t specify when the incident occurred though Sullivan said he was alerted to the matter by a “senior community leader from the Bering Strait region” on Tuesday morning.

— Associated Press

IAEA’s Grossi met with Zelenskyy to discuss Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), speaks during the IAEA’s General Conference at the agency’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria on September 26, 2022.

Joe Klamar | AFP | Getty Images

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after Russia claimed control of it from Ukraine.

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree saying that the nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest facility, belongs to Russia.

Grossi said that the IAEA recognizes the facility as Ukrainian, not Russian. But he added the organization “must do the right thing and look after the safety and security conditions at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.”

“For us, it is obvious that this is a Ukrainian facility, and it is owned by Energoatom,” Grossi said, according to an NBC News translation.

Grossi added that he is going to Russia “very soon” to discuss the power plant.

— Amanda Macias

IAEA plans to stay at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine

A Russian serviceman stands guard the territory outside the second reactor of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Energodar on May 1, 2022.

Andrey Borodulin | AFP | Getty Images

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said that the nuclear watchdog agency will keep employees at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

“There are currently two IAEA staff members at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and we will enlarge this group to four. Currently, we have three-to-four weeklong rotations,” Grossi said, according to an NBC News translation.

“IAEA plans to stay at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as we speak, we are operating a rotation of our employees,” he added.

— Amanda Macias

Photos show destroyed Russian armored vehicles left behind in Lyman

Russian troops withdrew from Krasny Port due to the threat of siege, leaving behind armored vehicles. Kyiv had said that thousands of Russian soldiers were encircled by Ukrainian forces in the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region.

A view of destroyed armored vehicles and tanks belonging to Russian forces after Russian forces withdrawn from the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region (Donetsk Oblast), Ukraine on October 05, 202.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

A view of damaged cars after Russian forces withdrawn from the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region (Donetsk Oblast), Ukraine on October 05, 202.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

A view of remains belonging to Russian forces after Russian forces withdrawn from the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region (Donetsk Oblast), Ukraine on October 05, 202.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

A view of destroyed armored vehicles and tanks belonging to Russian forces after Russian forces withdrawn from the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region (Donetsk Oblast), Ukraine on October 05, 202.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

A view of destroyed armored vehicles and tanks belonging to Russian forces after Russian forces withdrawn from the city of Lyman in the Donetsk region (Donetsk Oblast), Ukraine on October 05, 202.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

– Metin Aktas | AFP | Getty Images

Human rights organization warns that Russia’s illegal annexation of part of Ukraine could lead to more abuses

A Ukrainian flag waves in a residential area heavily damaged in the village of Dolyna in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine after the withdrawal of Russian troops on September 24, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory earlier this month could trigger more human rights abuses, a top nongovernment organization official warned.

“ODIHR has been on the ground monitoring the human rights situation in Ukraine for many months now, and we are particularly concerned that the annexation will further worsen the alarming situation in these territories, including the new reports of forced conscription of civilians and the plight of human rights defenders,” said Matteo Mecacci, director of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

Mecacci emphasized that Russia’s illegal annexation does not change the status of these territories and that those living there are protected under international humanitarian law.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson were now part of Russia.

— Amanda Macias

European Commission has carried out more than 1,300 medevac flights from Ukraine

The European Commission has carried out 1,321 medevac flights from Ukraine to neighboring Western countries as Russia’s months long assault continues.

“Pre-planned flights for groups of Medevac patients have been taking place twice per week since midAugust, using a medicalized plane offered by Norway,” the EU wrote in a release.

Here’s a look at the EU’s medevac operation:

Ukraine deploys homemade weapons and transport to combat Russia

Homemade rocket launchers and modified buggies are just some of the weapons Ukrainian forces are using to combat Russia.

Ukrainian soldier with call-sign Ryba, which means “fish” in English, stands on the vehicle with a homemade four-tube multiple rocket launcher n Kryvyi Rih on September 28, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Genya Savilov | Afp | Getty Images

Workers assembly a buggy in a workshop in Kryvyi Rih on September 29, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. – About thirty buggies are already used by the army on the Northern and Southern fronts and ten more are about to be finished.

Genya Savilov | Afp | Getty Images

Sergiy Bondarenko, a member of a territorial defense unit, speaks next to a heavy machine gun which will be transformed into an anti-drone system in a workshop in Kryvyi Rig on October 2, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Genya Savilov | Afp | Getty Images

A workers assembles a buggy in a workshop in Kryvyi Rih on September 29, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Genya Savilov | AFP | Getty Images

– Genya Savilov | AFP | Getty Images

USAID announces $55 million to help Ukraine prepare for winter

Maria Pshenychnykh, 83, sits in the kitchen of her war-damaged home near Kharkiv on May 18, 2022 in Vilkhivka, Ukraine, which had until recently been occupied by Russian forces. Seniors in the city have been relying on humanitarian aid, as their monthly government pension payments were suspended due to the fighting. In recent weeks Ukrainian forces have advanced towards the Russian border after Russia’s offensive on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city stalled.

John Moore | Getty Images

USAID Administrator Samantha Power announced a $55 million investment in Ukraine’s heating infrastructure to help the country prepare for winter as Russia’s war marches on.

“This assistance will support repairs and maintenance of pipes and other equipment necessary to deliver heating to homes, hospitals, schools and businesses across Ukraine,” USAID wrote in a release, adding that the funds will “directly benefit up to seven million Ukrainians in 19 regions.”

USAID will also provide generators and alternative fuel sources to hospitals, centers for internally-displaced persons and shelters for vulnerable citizens.

— Amanda Macias

USAID Administrator Samantha Power arrives in Kyiv to discuss humanitarian aid

US Agency for International Development Administrator, Samantha Power (L), speaks at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, on November 4, 2021.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

USAID Administrator Samantha Power arrived in Kyiv to discuss humanitarian aid with Ukrainian government officials.

At the train station, Power was seen with Bridget Brink, the newest U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

“It is a critical moment for the Ukrainian people as they defend their freedom from brutal attack, liberate occupied land, prepare for winter and strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law,” Power added.

— Amanda Macias

Sweden says investigation into Russian pipeline leaks strengthens suspicion of ‘gross sabotage’

Sweden’s national security service on Thursday said a crime scene investigation into the gas leaks from two underwater pipelines connecting Russia to Germany “strengthened the suspicions of gross sabotage.”

Sweden’s Security Police said the investigation found there had been detonations at the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Swedish exclusive economic zone, which caused “extensive damage” to the pipelines.  

It added that “certain seizures have been made,” without offering further details, adding that these would now be reviewed and analyzed.

Read more on the story here

— Sam Meredith

Ukraine has liberated more than 154 square miles of territory in Kherson

Ukraine’s armed forces have liberated more than 400 square kilometers (154 square miles) of territory in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, and “are advancing further,” according to a military spokeswoman.

“Our successes are quite convincing. We do not name the directions, but more than 400 square kilometers of Kherson region have already been liberated from the occupiers. And we are moving forward,” Natalia Humeniuk, spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern command unit said on Thursday, according to comments reported by news agency Ukrinform.

Humeniuk’s comments come after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials have hailed Ukraine’s advances in Kherson, one of four regions that Russia claimed to have “annexed” last week.

— Holly Ellyatt

Kremlin says Russia will not be invited to join pipeline investigation

Russia said it has been informed that there are no plans to invite it to join an investigation into the recent Nord Stream gas leaks, Reuters reported Thursday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia considers it impossible to conduct an investigation without Moscow’s participation.

Russia and Europe’s energy ties have deteriorated over the summer, with gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline (the only one in use) stopping and starting over the summer. The pipelines were physically damaged last month, with leaks at both the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines occurring under suspicious circumstances.

The damage prompted an international outcry with the EU vowing a “robust” response to attacks on its energy infrastructure.

Russia denied it had sabotaged the pipelines.

Climate scientists described the shocking images of gas spewing to the surface of the Baltic Sea as a “reckless release” of greenhouse gas emissions that, if deliberate, “amounts to an environmental crime.”

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

On Thursday, Sweden’s Security Police said its own preliminary investigation had “strengthened the suspicions of gross sabotage” to the pipelines, which they said showed “extensive damage.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian forces shell Zaporizhzhia twice, residents told to shelter

Ukrainian firefighters push out a fire after a strike in Zaporizhzhia on October 6, 2022.

Marina Moiseyenko | Afp | Getty Images

Russian forces have shelled the southern city of Zaporizhzhia several times today with residential buildings being hit in the early hours of the morning.

Oleksandr Starukh, the head of the Zaporizhzhia regional military administration, said on Telegram this morning that residential buildings had been struck with two people killed in the attacks and others wounded and trapped under the rubble.

Ukrainian firefighters clear debris after a strike on Zaporizhzhia on October 6, 2022.

Marina Moiseyenko | Afp | Getty Images

Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, slammed the attacks, calling the Russian forces “crazy cowards” for launching rocket attacks on apartment buildings. “Russian terrorists are able to fight only with civilians,” he wrote on Telegram.

Both officials posted footage and images of the destruction following the rocket attacks showing the same buildings as the Getty images above.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia has few ‘high quality forces’ available to stabilize Kherson front, UK says

A damaged car, which was carjacked by Russian soldiers, pictured in front of a damaged hospital building on Sept. 27, 2022, in Vysokopillia, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russia has “few additional, high quality rapidly deployable forces available” to stabilize the front in Kherson in southern Ukraine, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defense, and Moscow likely aims to deploy mobilized reservists to the sector.

Reflecting on Ukraine’s push to reclaim territory in Kherson, the ministry said that Ukrainian units have advanced southward, pushing the front line forward by up to an additional 12.5 miles and “primarily making gains along the east bank of the Inhulets [river] and west bank of the Dnipro [river], but not yet threatening the main Russian defensive positions.”

Russian forces have typically broken contact and withdrawn, the ministry noted, adding that Russian commanders are likely to see the growing threat to the Nova Kakhovka area (a town on the south bank of the Dnipro river) as “one of their most pressing concerns” given that the damaged river crossing there remains one of the few routes available for them to resupply forces in Kherson.

The U.K. ministry said Russia faces a dilemma given the fact that the “withdrawal of combat forces across the Dnipro makes defence of the rest of Kherson Oblast more tenable; but the political imperative will be to remain and defend.”

— Holly Ellyatt

More settlements liberated in ‘annexed’ region Luhansk

Ukraine’s armed forces are making progress in liberating settlements in Luhansk, an eastern region that Russia claims to have “annexed.”

After announcing that the “de-occupation of Luhansk” had begun Wednesday, the Ukrainian head of the Luhansk regional military administration Serhiy Haidai said Wednesday evening on Telegram that Ukrainian troops had “begun to liberate the occupied settlements of Luhansk region: six small settlements have been liberated as of now, but there may be more by the morning.”

Haidai refrained from naming the settlements that had been liberated.

“We are not naming the villages yet, because the Russians then out of malice start shelling them powerfully,” he noted, adding: “the de-occupation continues … there should be good news every day.”

Ukrainian forces have made swift and significant progress after recapturing the strategically important town of Lyman, which was used by occupying Russian forces as a logistics hub, in Donetsk before pushing toward neighboring Luhansk.

A Ukrainian army press officer shows the debris of Russian air strike aircraft Su-34 at a collection point of destroyed Russian armored vehicles at an animal feed plant in the recently retaken town of Lyman in the Donetsk region, on Oct. 5, 2022.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine’s gains in both eastern regions which make up the larger Donbas (which contains two pro-Russian, separatist “people’s republics” of Luhansk and Donetsk), come after Russia announced last week that it had “annexed” Luhansk and Donetsk, as well as Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south.

There has been renewed vigor in Ukraine’s counteroffensives in the east and south since the “annexations,” which Ukraine and its allies call illegal and illegitimate, and its forces have made gains around Kherson too. Kyiv has vowed to fight until it reclaims all its lost territory.

— Holly Ellyatt

‘You’ve already lost’ the war, Zelenskyy tells Russia

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy poses for a pictures with Ukrainian servicemen as he visits the town of Izium, recently liberated by Ukraine’s armed forces, in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine on Sept. 14, 2022.

Gleb Garanich | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told Russia’s leadership that it cannot win the war.

“You’ve already lost. Lost because even now, on the 224th day of the full-scale war, you are forced to explain to your people the purpose of all this — this war, deceitful mobilization, self-destruction of your nation’s every prospect,” he said in Russian in his nightly address.

Zelenskyy thanked Ukrainian troops for their successes in reclaiming dozens of settlements in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine and said “there will be more” gains to come.

“Ukrainians know what they fight for. And more and more Russian citizens realize that they must die simply because one single man does not want to stop the war.”

This photograph, taken on Oct. 5, 2022, shows destroyed Russian armored vehicles gathered at a collection point in an animal feed plant in the recently retaken town of Lyman in the Donetsk region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images

Zelenskyy gave more detail on Ukraine’s successes on the battlefield Wednesday, stating on Telegram that the settlements of Novovoskresenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka in Kherson had been “liberated … and stabilized.”

Ukraine’s latest advances in regions like Kherson and Donetsk come after Russia announced last week that it was “annexing” such regions, a move signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

Ukraine has said it will never recognize the results of sham referendums in occupied parts of Ukraine and its counteroffensives are proving that Russia’s hold on occupied territory is shaky.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian-installed official says Ukrainian troops have made ‘breakthroughs’ in Kherson

Ukrainian soldiers wave a national flag as they ride on a personnel armoured carrier on a road near Lyman, Donetsk region on October 4, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Anatolii Stepanov | AFP | Getty Images

A Russian-installed official conceded that Kyiv’s forces were making gains around Kherson, one of four regions that Moscow “annexed” last week.

“It’s tense, let’s put it that way,” Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed head of Ukraine’s Kherson region, said on state television, according to a Reuters report.

Last week that Moscow was “annexing” four regions in Ukraine: Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “republics” in eastern Ukraine. Kyiv and its allies condemned the move, calling it illegitimate and illegal.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian defense minister shares video showing reclaimed land from Russian forces

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov shared a video on Twitter of Ukrainian advances on the battlefield against Russian troops.

“While the Russian parliament is intoxicated from the futile attempts at annexation, our soldiers continue moving forward,” Reznikov wrote on Twitter.

“This is the best answer to any and all referenda, decrees, treaties and pathetic speeches,” he added.

In the past few weeks, Ukrainian forces have reclaimed more occupied land from Russia, despite the Kremlin’s announcement that it was annexing four regions in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

Russia ready to supply gas to Europe via Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Kremlin says

Nord Stream 2 logo displayed on a phone screen and Russian flag displayed on a laptop screen are seen in this multiple exposure illustration photo taken in Krakow in Krakow, Poland on February 22, 2022.

Jakub Porzycki | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Russia’s deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Moscow is ready to begin supplying gas via the Nord Stream 2 line if Europe removes restrictions.

“The infrastructure is ready,” Novak told reporters. “If the necessary legal decisions are made by European colleagues regarding its certification and removal of restrictions, I think Russia could ensure supplies through this line of the gas pipeline in a short time,” Novak said referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Earlier this month, the Nord Stream pipelines that run under the Baltic Sea began leaking. Novak said that Russia was investigating those leaks and described the damage to the pipeline as “sabotage.”

Russia has accused the U.S. and its allies of damaging the pipeline. The Biden administration said Russia’s accusations are “absurd.”

— Amanda Macias

Zelenskyy speaks with NATO chief on joining the military alliance

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on August 17 August 2022.

Francois Walschaerts | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg about Kyiv’s admittance into the NATO alliance.

“I’m in constant contact with our strategic partners. Had a phone call with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Coordinated further steps on the path of Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.

Last week, Zelenskyy submitted an “accelerated” application for his country to join the 30-member defensive alliance.

— Amanda Macias

Russia’s defense ministry concedes it’s under pressure from Ukraine’s advances

Wreckage of a car marked with a Russian military symbol “Z” at a Russian military base, which Ukrainian forces destroyed by HIMARS during a counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast, on Sept. 26, 2022 in Balakliia, Ukraine. Balakliia was under Russian occupation for half a year. On Sept. 10, Ukraine’s armed forces liberated the city.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russia’s Ministry of Defense said it continues to hold positions in the regions of Kherson in southern Ukraine despite advances from Ukrainian forces.

The MOD acknowledged that its units have been able to maintain their positions toward the south of the country despite “repelling superior enemy forces’ attacks.” 

In its latest update on Telegram, Russia’s MOD said its forces had conducted attacks on Ukrainian units in Kharkiv, Donetsk (in the east) and Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south, claiming to have killed several hundred Ukrainian troops and destroyed a variety of weaponry in its various attacks.

Nonetheless, it acknowledged that in the Kherson region, where Ukraine has reported a number of significant advances in recent days, it was under pressure with Russian units maintaining their positions in the Andriivka-Kyrvyi-Rih direction (in the south) despite attacks from “superior” Ukrainian forces. It’s unclear whether the ministry was referring to the quality or size of the Ukrainian units it described.

CNBC was unable to verify the details in the report.

— Holly Ellyatt

The liberation of Luhansk region has begun, top Ukrainian official says

A Ukrainian armored personnel carrier transports troops toward a pontoon bridge crossing of the Oskil River on September 30, 2022 in Kupiansk, Ukraine. Ukraine has recaptured thousands of square miles of its northeast Kharkiv region from Russian forces in recent weeks.

Scott Peterson | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukraine’s forces are making gains in the Luhansk region in the east of the country, according to a prominent Ukrainian official.

If verified, the advances will mark further progress for Ukraine as it fights to reclaim territory that Russia claims to have annexed.

“Well, now it’s official. The de-occupation of Luhansk region has begun,” Luhansk Regional Military Administration Head Serhiy Haidai said on Telegram Wednesday in comments translated by news agency Ukrinform.

Several settlements have already been liberated from the Russian army, and there the Armed Forces of Ukraine are already raising the Ukrainian flag there,” Haidai said without specifying where.

Haidai said that the de-occupation of the region would continue, saying: “I thank our Armed Forces for wonderful news. Let’s help them, don’t get tired, we believe in our victory. Luhansk region is Ukraine, it has been and will be so. Carry on.”

Ukraine’s counteroffensives in southern and eastern parts of the country have made headlines with the country’s armed forces making rapid advances and reclaiming dozens of settlements around Kherson in the south and Donetsk and Kharkiv in the east and northeast.

If Haidai’s comments are verified it will confirm that Ukraine is now pushing into Luhansk from Donetsk, both of which are regions where Russia was seen to have a strong foothold and where two pro-Russian, self-proclaimed “republics” have now been incorporated into the Russian Federation (as have Kherson and Zaporizhzhia).

Ukraine and its allies completely reject the annexation of Ukrainian territory, saying they will never recognize the illegal seizure of Ukrainian territory.

— Holly Ellyatt

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

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