Wed, 05 Oct 2022

The US will provide an additional $4.5 billion to Ukraine's government via the World Bank to help Kyiv assist the growing number of poor Ukrainians and millions of internally displaced people, the US Agency for International Development said Monday. In a separate announcement, the US Defence Department said it would provide $1 billion in new military aid for Ukraine, including more surface-to-air missiles and anti-armour rockets. Follow FRANCE 24's live coverage of the crisis. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

10:39pm: Tens of thousands of Russians have been killed or wounded in Ukraine, Pentagon official estimates

A senior Pentagon official estimated Monday that as many as 80,000 Russians have been killed or wounded in Ukraine since the war began in late February

"The Russians have probably taken 70 or 80,000 casualties in less than six months," Under Secretary of Defence Colin Kahl said.

Kahl also said Russian forces have also lost "three or four thousand" armoured vehicles, and could be running low on available precision-guided missiles, including air- and sea-launched cruise missiles.

Kahl admitted that Ukraine had also had significant losses of soldiers on the battlefield, but gave no figures.

"Both sides are taking casualties. The war is the most intense conventional conflict in Europe since the Second World War," he said.

7:37pm: US announces $1 billion in fresh military aid for Ukraine

The Pentagon announced Monday $1 billion in fresh military aid for Ukraine, including additional precision missiles for the HIMARS system that have helped Kyiv's forces attack Russian troops far behind the front lines.

The package also includes more surface-to-air missiles for defence against Russian aircraft and rockets, more Javelin anti-armour rockets and other ammunition, according to a Defence Department statement.

"These are all critical capabilities to help the Ukrainians repel the Russian offensive in the east, and also to address evolving developments in the south and elsewhere," said Under Secretary of Defence Colin Kahl.

It took to $9.1 billion the amount of security assistance the US has provided Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24.

"The United States stands with allies and partners from more than 50 countries in providing vital security assistance to support Ukraine's defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russia's aggression," said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

"We will continue to consult closely with Ukraine and surge additional available systems and capabilities, carefully calibrated to make a difference on the battlefield and strengthen Ukraine's eventual position at the negotiating table," Blinken said in a statement.

7:29pm: US to provide additional $4.5 billion to Ukraine via World Bank

The United States will provide an additional $4.5 billion to Ukraine's government, bringing its total budgetary support since Russia's February 24 invasion to $8.5 billion, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said on Monday.

The funding, coordinated with the US Treasury Department through the World Bank, will go to Ukraine's government in tranches, beginning with a $3 billion disbursement in August, USAID said.

"This economic assistance is critical in supporting the Ukrainian people as they defend their democracy against Russia's unprovoked war of aggression," US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.

The funds are meant to help Kyiv maintain essential functions, including social and financial assistance for Ukraine's growing poor population, children with disabilities and millions of internally displaced persons, as the war drags on.

"Ukraine needs continued government services, including health, education, and social protection to prevent further deterioration in living conditions and poverty," World Bank President David Malpass said.

Ukrainian officials estimate the country faces a $5 billion-a-month fiscal shortfall - or 2.5 percent of pre-war gross domestic product - due to the cost of the war and declining tax revenues. Economists say that will swell Ukraine's annual deficit to 25 percent of GDP, compared with 3.5 percent before the conflict.

The World Bank estimates that 55 percent of Ukrainians will be living in poverty by the end of 2023 as a result of the war and the large numbers of displaced persons, compared with 2.5 percent in poverty before the start of the war.

USAID said US budget support has enabled the Ukrainian government to keep gas and electricity flowing to hospitals, schools and other critical infrastructure and deliver humanitarian supplies to citizens.

6:26pm: Amnesty still stands by report on Ukrainian forces' use of bases in residential areas

Amnesty International has remained defiant in the face of an outcry over a report critics alleged boosted Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.

The rights group's August 4 press release that accused Ukraine of endangering civilians by creating army bases in residential areas sparked one of the most explosive controversies for a major rights group in recent years.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, backed by a chorus of Ukrainian officials, lashed out at Amnesty saying it sought to shift "the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim".

The head of Amnesty's Ukraine office, Oksana Pokalchuk, resigned, saying her team had not been properly consulted over a report "that sounded like support for Russian narratives".

The controversy represents the biggest crisis yet for Amnesty under its secretary general Agnès Callamard, a French rights expert who was a big-name choice to lead the London-based rights group after serving as the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.

Callamard told AFP in an email on Friday that Amnesty "fully stands by" the report that was subject to the "same rigorous standards" as all of Amnesty's publications.

Amnesty in a statement Sunday said: "We fully stand by our findings."

"We documented how in all 19 of the towns and villages we visited, we found instances where Ukrainian forces had located themselves right next to where civilians were living," the statement said.

The statement also noted the organisation's "multiple briefings and reports" accusing Russia of "violations and war crimes".

6:04pm: White House calls on Russia to 'cease all military operations' around Ukraine nuclear sites

The White House called on Russia on Monday to cease all military operations around nuclear facilities in Ukraine.

"Fighting near a nuclear plant is dangerous," White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One during a flight to Kentucky, where President Joe Biden is to tour flood-damaged areas.

"And we continue to call on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukrainian nuclear facilities and return full control to Ukraine," Jean-Pierre said.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant - Europe's largest - was occupied by Russia early in its invasion and recent fighting there has raised fears of a nuclear accident.

Jean-Pierre said the US is continuing to "closely monitor" the situation at the facility and radiation sensors have "thankfully" not shown any indications of an increase or abnormal radiation levels.

"We are also aware of the reports of mistreatment of the (plant's) staff and we applaud the Ukrainian authorities and operators for their commitment to nuclear safety and security under trying circumstances," she said.

4:39pm: Ukraine court sentences Russian soldier to 10 years in jail for firing tank at residential building

A Ukrainian court sentenced a Russian soldier to 10 years in jail on Monday after finding him guilty of violating the laws and customs of war by firing a tank at a multistorey apartment block, an interior ministry official said.

The court in northeast Chernihiv found Mikhail Kulikov, who was captured while fighting, guilty of hitting the residential building on February 26, two days after Russia invaded Ukraine, said Anton Herashchenko, an aide to Ukraine's interior minister.

Kulikov pleaded guilty at the trial and sought a more lenient punishment because he said he had been following orders, the Ukrainian general prosecutor's office said.

The residential block that was hit in the city of Chernihiv was not a military target nor being used for military purposes, it said.

Ukraine is investigating almost 26,000 suspected war crimes that were committed during the war and has charged 135 people, its chief war crimes prosecutor told Reuters last week.

Of those charged, around 15 are in Ukrainian custody and the remaining 120 remain at large, the prosecutor said.

2:45pm: Moscow-backed head of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia region says starting work on referendum to join Russia

Moscow-backed authorities in the southeastern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia said Monday they were pressing ahead with plans to stage a referendum on joining Russia.

"I signed a decree ... to start working on the issue of organising a referendum on the reunification of the Zaporizhzhia region with the Russian Federation," Yevgeny Balitsky, head of the Moscow-installed administration in the occupied part of the region, said on social media.

Balitsky had earlier indicated the vote could be held in the autumn.

The eponymous Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant - Europe's largest - has in recent days been the scene of strikes that have damaged several structures, forcing the shutdown of a reactor.

The southern Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia have been largely under Russia's control since the first weeks of Moscow's military campaign.

Both are now being forcefully integrated into Russia's economy.

1:11pm: Russian weapons powered by hundreds of Western parts, report says

More than 450 foreign-made components have been found in Russian weapons recovered in Ukraine, evidence that Moscow acquired critical technology from companies in the United States, Europe and Asia in the years before the invasion, according to a new report by Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) defence think tank.

Since the start of the war five months ago, the Ukrainian military has captured or recovered from the battlefield intact or partially damaged Russian weapons. When disassembled, 27 of these weapons and military systems, ranging from cruise missiles to air defence systems, were found to rely predominantly on Western components, according to the research shared with Reuters.

About two-thirds of the components were manufactured by US-based companies, RUSI found. Other components came from companies in countries including Japan, South Korea, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

While many of the foreign components are found in everyday household goods such as microwaves that are not subject to export controls, RUSI said a strengthening of export restrictions and enforcement could make it harder for Russia to replenish its arsenal of weapons such as cruise missiles.

11:35am: First Ukrainian grain shipment arrives in Turkey

One of the first of the ships to leave Ukraine under a deal to unblock grain supplies amid the threat of a global food crisis arrived at its destination in Turkey on Monday.

The Turkey-flagged Polarnet docked at Derince port in the Gulf of Izmit after setting off from Chornomorsk on August 5 laden with 12,000 tonnes of corn.

"This sends a message of hope to every family in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia: Ukraine won't abandon you," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted. "If Russia sticks to its obligations, the 'grain corridor' will keep maintaining global food security."

A total of 10 ships have now been authorised to sail under the grain deal between Ukraine and Russia, which was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations - eight outbound and two headed for Ukraine.

The first ship to depart Ukraine, the Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, which left on August 1, still hasn't reached its destination in Lebanon and was anchored off Turkey's southern coast on Sunday evening, according to the Marine Traffic website.

11:11am: Ukraine's nuclear chief calls for Zaporizhzhia plant to be made military-free zone

The head of Ukraine's state nuclear power company Energoatom has called for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to be declared a military-free zone and wants a team of peacekeepers to guard the site.

Petro Kotin made the comments on television after Ukraine and Russia accused each of shelling the plant. FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg reports in the video below.

10:40am: Finland hits record refugee numbers

Finland has registered a record number of asylum seekers following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, beating a previous high set during the 2015 migrant crisis, Finnish authorities said Monday.

"By August 4, those fleeing Ukraine due to the Russian military attack had submitted 35,074 applications for temporary protection," the Finnish Immigration Service said in a statement.

In total, more than 37,000 people are currently registered in the reception system, "which is more than ever before". The previous record in the Nordic country was 32,000, during the 2015 migrant crisis in Europe. "One third of those fleeing Ukraine are children," the Immigration Service added.

The latest figures from UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency, show that over 6.3 million refugees from Ukraine have been recorded across Europe.

09:53am: UN chief demands international access to attacked nuclear plant

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday demanded that international inspectors be given access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after Ukraine and Russia traded blame over weekend shelling of Europe's largest atomic plan.

Events at the Zaporizhzhia site - where Kyiv alleged that Russia hit a power line on Friday - have alarmed the world.

Guterres said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) needed access to the plant. "We fully support the IAEA in all their efforts in relation to creat(ing) the conditions for stabilisation of the plant," he said.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi warned on Saturday that the latest attack "underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster".

09:02am: Ukraine's first grain shipment bound for Lebanon 'having a delay'

The Razoni, the first ship to have left a Ukrainian port under the UN-backed deal, did not arrive in Lebanon on Sunday as planned, the Ukrainian embassy in Lebanon said.

The embassy said the ship was "having a delay" and "not arriving today", but gave no details of the cause of the delay, or whether a new arrival date had been scheduled.

The Razoni left Odesa on Monday carrying 26,527 tonnes of corn. On Sunday morning, Refinitiv Eikon data showed the ship off the Turkish coast.

08:48am: Ukrainian shelling delays reopening of bridge in Russia-controlled Kherson

Ukrainian forces again shelled the Antonovsky bridge in the Russian-controlled city of Kherson, damaging construction equipment and delaying its reopening, Interfax news agency quoted a local Russian-appointed official as saying on Monday.

The bridge is one of only two crossing points for Russian forces to territory they have occupied on the western bank of the Dnipro river in southern Ukraine. It has been a key target for Ukrainian forces in recent weeks, with Kyiv using high-precision US-supplied rockets to try to destroy it in possible preparation for a counter-offensive to retake Russian-controlled areas of the south.

Kirill Stremousov, the Russian-appointed deputy head of Kherson's city administration, told Interfax there had been no "critical damage" from the latest shelling. He did not say how long this would delay its planned reopening.

08:07am: Highly likely Russia is deploying anti-personnel mines in Donbas, UK intelligence says

Russia is highly likely to be deploying anti-personnel mines along its defensive lines in the Donbas region of Ukraine, Britain said on Monday, without citing evidence.

In Donetsk and Kramatorsk, Russia has highly likely attempted the employment of PFM-1 and PFM-1S scatterable anti-personnel mines, commonly called the 'butterfly mine', Britain's defence ministry said on Twitter.

These are "deeply controversial, indiscriminate weapons", the ministry said in the regular bulletin.

08:04am: Russia launches assault on eastern Ukrainian cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka

Russian forces launched an assault on two key cities in the eastern Donetsk region over the weekend, Ukraine's military and local officials said.

Both cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka had been considered key targets of Russia's ongoing offensive across Ukraine's east, with analysts saying Moscow needs to take Bakhmut if it is to advance on the regional hubs of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

07:50am: Russia-backed Kherson official dies after attack

Vitaly Gura, an official with the Russian occupying authorities in Ukraine's Kherson region, has died of his injuries after an assassination attempt, local Moscow-backed authorities said.

Gura, the deputy chief of the Kakhovka district, was attacked at home on Saturday morning and gravely wounded by bullets, a source in the Russian-backed administration told TASS news agency. Kakhovka is about 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of Kherson city.

Several assassination attempts have been reported against officials in Ukrainian regions seized by Russia since the start of its military operation in Ukraine in February.

7:44am: Six more grain ships leave Ukrainian ports

Four more ships loaded with grain set off from Ukrainian ports on Sunday, and an additional two on Monday morning, local and international officials said.

Among Sunday's shipments, three vessels departed from Chornomorsk and one from Odesa, carrying around 170,000 tonnes of agriculture-related merchandise.

On Monday, a ship carrying 11,000 tonnes of soybeans also left the port of Yuzni for Italy, and a second loaded with 48,458 tonnes of corn departed from Chernomorsk for Turkey.

4:05am: UN chief says any attack on a nuclear plant is 'suicidal'

Any attack on a nuclear plant is "suicidal", United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday after fresh shelling hit a huge atomic power complex in southern Ukraine.

Moscow and Kyiv blame each other for the latest strike at the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe's largest nuclear power site, which has been under Russian control since the early days of the war.

"Any attack to a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing. I hope that those attacks will end, and at the same time I hope that the IAEA will be able to access the plant," Guterres said.

12:25am: American actress Jessica Chastain meets President Zelensky

American actress Jessica Chastain visited Kyiv Sunday in a show of support and solidarity with the people of Ukraine. She also met President Volodymyr Zelensky, who thanked her for her "support".

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

Originally published on France24

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