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Russia-Ukraine war: Ukraine retakes more settlements in Kherson, Zelenskiy says; UN nuclear chief heads to Kyiv – live

Key events

Unconfirmed reports of shelling in Ukraine’s southeastern city of Zaporizhzhia has damaged or destroyed several residential buildings overnight leaving some residents trapped under rubble, according to the region’s governor.

“As a result of the enemy attacks, fires broke out in the city,” Oleksandr Starukh wrote on the Telegram messaging app early on Thursday morning.

“There are possible casualties. Rescuers are already pulling people out from under the rubble.”

Starukh later alleged Russia “fired 7 rockets at high-rise buildings” and said the number of victims is still being clarified.

⚡️Governor: Russian forces strike Zaporizhzhia with 7 missiles.

Zaporizhzhia Oblast Governor Oleksandr Starukh reported that Russian forces targeted a number of high-rises in the city early on Oct. 6.

— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) October 6, 2022

Russian troops leave behind mass burial sites, evidence of torture

Isobel Koshiw

As Russian troops have retreated, they have left behind smashed towns once under occupation and, in places, mass burial sites and evidence of torture chambers.

The Guardian’s Isobel Koshiw brings us this dispatch from Kyiv.

In the town of Lyman, which was retaken by Ukrainian forces on Sunday, more than 50 graves have been found, some marked with names, others with numbers, the Kyiv-based outlet Hromadske reported on Wednesday.

The Russians forced Ukrainians they suspected of collaborating to collect bodies and bury them. One boy, who was detained by the Russians and forced to bury bodies, told Hromadske that some of the bodies were left lying on the street for a long time.

A local resident wheels her bicycle after receiving humanitarian aid in the recently liberated town of Lyman, Donetsk region, Ukraine.
A local resident wheels her bicycle after receiving humanitarian aid in the recently liberated town of Lyman, Donetsk region, Ukraine. Photograph: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

More evidence of tortured and extrajudicial killings has been discovered in Kharkiv region.

Two civilians corpses aged 30-35 were found in a grave in the village of Novoplatonivka, Kharkiv region, according to Ukrainian authorities. The left hand of one man was handcuffed to the right hand of the second man. Investigators said one of the skulls was fractured and the other had suffered a gun shot wound to the head.

Kharkiv prosecutors and police said 250-350 Russian special forces were stationed near the grave. They said their initial suspicion is that the men were killed by Russian special forces.

In Pisky-Radkivskyi, another village in Kharkiv region, Ukraine authorities said they found another torture chamber.

Serhii Bolvinov, chief investigator for Kharkiv region said: “Neighbours constantly heard screams from here. Investigators found a terrible torture chamber in the village.

“Police have been made aware of the torture of burying people alive and the use of a gas mask with a smouldering rag.”

Russian troops retreat from Ukraine’s east and south

Ukraine’s forces are pushing their advance in the east and south, forcing Russian troops to retreat under pressure on both fronts.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s military had made major, rapid advances against Russian forces in the past week, taking back dozens of towns in regions in the south and east that Russia has declared annexed.

Military experts say Russia is at its weakest point, partly because of its decision not to mobilise earlier and partly because of massive losses of troops and equipment.

#UAarmy’s autumn offensive, day by day. While the “russian parliament” is intoxicated from the futile attempts at annexation, our soldiers continue moving forward.
This is the best answer to any and all “referenda”, “decrees”, “treaties” and pathetic speeches. pic.twitter.com/qLCBu0Vdns

— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) October 5, 2022

In the Kherson region, Ukraine has extended its area of control by six to 12 miles, according to its military’s southern command.

Zelenskiy confirmed the recapture of the villages of Novovoskresenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka, saying the settlements were “liberated from the sham referendum and stabilised” during a Wednesday evening address.

Kherson region’s Moscow-appointed governor, Kirill Stremousov, said Russia’s withdrawal was a tactical “regrouping” to “deliver a retaliatory blow”. The extent of Russia’s retreat remains unclear for now.

Ukraine’s minister of defence, Oleksii Reznikov, said his soldiers “continue moving forward” in its autumn offensive.

“While the ‘Russian parliament’ is intoxicated from the futile attempts at annexation, our soldiers continue moving forward,” he said in a Twitter post on Thursday. “This is the best answer to any and all ‘referenda’, ‘decrees’, ‘treaties’ and pathetic speeches.”

UN nuclear chief heads to Kyiv

The UN nuclear agency chief will shortly arrive in Kyiv to discuss creating a security zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, after Putin ordered his government to take it over.

“On our way to Kyiv for important meetings,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Rafael Grossi wrote on Twitter, saying the need for a protection zone around the site was “more urgent than ever”.

Putin earlier signed a decree ordering the Russian government to take control of Europe’s largest atomic plant and make it “federal property”.

Grossi is also expected to visit Moscow in the coming days to discuss safety at the plant, Russian state-owned news agency Tass reported.

The IAEA said it had learned of plans to restart one reactor at the plant, where all six reactors have been shut down for weeks.

Putin appears to admit severe losses, vows to ‘stabilise’ annexed regions

Isobel Koshiw

Isobel Koshiw

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has appeared to concede the severity of the Kremlin’s recent military reversals in Ukraine, insisting Russia will “stabilise” the situation in the four Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia it illegally claimed as its own territory last week.

Putin told Russian teachers during a televised video call on Wednesday:

We are working on the assumption that the situation in the new territories will stabilise.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears in a video conference outside Moscow on 5 October where he vows to ‘stabilise’ the situation in the four annexed regions of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin appears in a video conference outside Moscow on 5 October where he vows to ‘stabilise’ the situation in the four annexed regions of Ukraine. Photograph: SPUTNIK/Reuters

His comments appear to indirectly acknowledge the challenges Moscow faces to assert its control.

When later asked by journalists whether there was a contradiction between Russia’s annexation rhetoric and the reality on the ground, the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said there was none.

There is no contradiction whatsoever. They will be with Russia forever and they will be returned.”

Hello and welcome back to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

I’m Samantha Lock and I’ll be bringing you all the latest developments for the next few hours.

Ukraine’s forces are pushing their advance in the east and south, forcing Russian troops to retreat under pressure on both fronts.

In the Kherson region, president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s military has made major advances against Russian forces and recaptured the villages of Novovoskresenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka during a Wednesday evening address.

The UN nuclear agency chief, Rafael Grossi, will shortly arrive in Kyiv to discuss creating a security zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, after Putin ordered his government to take it over.

Here are all the major developments you may have missed:

  • The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has appeared to admit severe losses in Ukraine, conceding the severity of the Kremlin’s recent military reversals and insisting Russia would “stabilise” the situation in four Ukrainian regions – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia – it illegally claimed as its own territory last week. “We are working on the assumption that the situation in the new territories will stabilise,” Putin told Russian teachers during a televised video call on Wednesday.

  • The UN nuclear agency chief is en route to Kyiv to discuss creating a security zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, after Putin ordered his government to take it over. “On our way to Kyiv for important meetings,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Rafael Grossi wrote on Twitter, saying the need for a protection zone around the site was “more urgent than ever”. Grossi is also expected to visit Moscow in the coming days to discuss the situation at the plant. The IAEA said it had learned of plans to restart one reactor at the plant, where all six reactors have been shut down for weeks.

  • Ukraine’s forces are pushing their advance in the east and south, forcing Russian troops to retreat under pressure on both fronts. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s military had made major, rapid advances against Russian forces in the past week, taking back dozens of towns in regions in the south and east that Russia has declared annexed. Military experts say Russia is at its weakest point, partly because of its decision not to mobilise earlier and partly because of massive losses of troops and equipment.

  • Ukraine has extended its area of control in the Kherson region by six to 12 miles, according to its military’s southern command. Zelenskiy confirmed the recapture of the villages of Novovoskresenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka, saying the settlements were “liberated from the sham referendum and stabilised,” in an address on Wednesday. Kherson region’s Moscow-appointed governor, Kirill Stremousov, said the withdrawal was a tactical “regrouping” to “deliver a retaliatory blow”. The extent of Russia’s retreat remains unclear.

  • Moscow’s forces have left behind smashed towns once under occupation and, in places, mass burial sites and evidence of torture chambers. In Lyman, which was retaken by Ukrainian forces on Sunday, more than 50 graves have been found, some marked with names, others with numbers, the Kyiv-based outlet Hromadske reported on Wednesday.

  • The UN has warned Russia’s claimed annexation of Ukraine territory will only exacerbate human rights violations. Christian Salazar Volkmann, said UN experts had documented “a range of violations of the rights to life, liberty and security” and warned the situation would only worsen as Russia pushes forward with the annexation of some Ukrainian regions.

  • Attempts to play down retreats in Ukraine are no longer washing inside Russia with the latest military failures spilling on to local television screens. “Why do we advance metre by metre when they advance village by village?” Olga Skabeyeva, the country’s top state-TV host, asked a Russia-appointed official in Luhansk in a recent broadcast. Pro-war military bloggers and journalists are also criticising the Kremlin and painting a bleak picture of deteriorating Russian morale. Roman Saponkov, a prominent war correspondent, described his despair over the pullback in Kherson on his Telegram channel: “I really don’t know what to say to you. The retreat … is catastrophic.”

  • Poland says it has asked to have US nuclear weapons based on its territory, amid growing fears that Putin could resort to using nuclear arms in Ukraine. The request from the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, is widely seen as symbolic and appears to be the latest example of nuclear signalling to deter Putin. The White House, however, said it had not received such a request.

  • The car bombing that killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of prominent Russian political figure Alexander Dugin, was allegedly authorised by elements within the Ukrainian government, according to US intelligence sources who spoke with the New York Times and CNN. The United States took no part in the attack, either by providing intelligence or other assistance, the officials said.

  • A SpaceX rocket carrying Russian cosmonaut, Anna Kikina, the only female cosmonaut in service, soared into orbit from Florida on Wednesday. The International Space Station crew comprising Kikina, two Americans and a Japanese astronaut flew together in a demonstration of US-Russian teamwork in space despite Ukraine war tensions.

People wait in line for food and medical aide in the town of Lyman in Donetsk region on 5 October.
People wait in line for food and medical aide in the town of Lyman in Donetsk region on 5 October. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images




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