Biden underscores U.S. commitment to Ukraine, despite Republican threats to funding

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on deficit reduction from the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., October 21, 2022.

Sarah Silbiger | Reuters

President Joe Biden reaffirmed that the United States has the means and the will to continue supporting Ukraine in a press briefing.

“When we’re supporting Ukraine we’re supporting all of Europe. We’re supporting NATO,” Biden said. “Do you think that Mr. Putin decides he’s just going to deal with Ukraine and that’s the end of it? No.”

Biden also expressed confusion at Republicans’ recent comments on reducing aid – or even cutting funding altogether – to Ukraine in the midst of its fight against Russia, if they were to regain control of the Congress. He referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as “brutal dictator,” underscoring U.S. commitment to Ukraine’s cause.

— Rocio Fabbro

At least 260,000 people conscripted in Russia, officials say

A newly-mobilized Russian reservist prepares to fire a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher during a training on a range in Donetsk region, Russian-controlled Ukraine, October 4, 2022.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

The number of Russian citizens conscripted to join the country’s war against Ukraine has reached at least 260,000 people, state media reports.

The Russian Duma said Thursday that Moscow was close to reaching its goal of mobilizing 300,000 people, TASS reported.

It comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin said one week ago that the process would be complete in two weeks.

— NBC News

Deputy Treasury secretary speaks with Singaporean officials about Russian price cap on oil

Wally Adeyemo, deputy U.S. Treasury secretary, speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021.

Ting Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo discussed the price cap on Russian oil with Singaporean government officials, according to a Treasury readout of the meeting.

A price cap on Russian oil is expected to stabilize global energy prices by keeping low-priced Russian oil on global markets while slashing Moscow’s revenue.

“Deputy Secretary Adeyemo emphasized the price cap coalition’s work to create a robust but simple attestation system to ease compliance for service providers,” according to the readout.

Adeyemo also discussed sanctions and export controls placed on Russia.

— Amanda Macias

More than 6,300 people have died in Ukraine, U.N. says

A man pauses by a grave as Ukrainian flags fly in a cemetery for soldiers killed in action following the Russian invasion earlier this year, on October 19, 2022 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Russia’s president Vladimir

Carl Court | Getty Images

The United Nations has confirmed 6,306 civilian deaths and 9,602 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor on Feb. 24.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said the death toll in Ukraine is likely higher, because armed conflict can delay fatality reports.

The international organization said most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as missiles and airstrikes.

— Amanda Macias

Zelenskyy discusses reconstruction of Ukraine with European Bank President

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a news conference, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, August 23, 2022.

Gleb Garanich | Reuters

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy met with the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Odile Renaud-Basso, to discuss the restoration of Ukraine following the extensive cross-sector damage left by Russian attacks.

“Missile strikes and kamikaze drone attacks caused a great deal of destruction,” Zelenskyy said in a Telegram post. “Therefore, it is necessary to work on the rapid restoration of our state today.”

Reconstruction priorities include energy, infrastructure and educational spheres, as well as residential sites — all of which have been targets of Russia’s recent military strikes on major cities across Ukraine.

— Rocio Fabbro

Zelenskyy thanks U.S. lawmakers for visit to Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked members of the U.S. House of Representatives for their visit to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

“Your visit at this time is a bold step that demonstrates strong bicameral and bipartisan support for Ukraine. It confirms that the United States is our strategic partner.”” Zelenskyy said in a recent Telegram post, accompanied by a video of Zelenskyy greeting and sitting down with Reps. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, James Himes, D-Conn., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.

“We discussed the situation on the frontline, Ukraine’s preparation for winter and the need to rebuild the energy infrastructure that was destroyed, the strengthening of sanctions against the aggressor country, and the priority needs of the Armed Forces,” Zelenskyy said. He also underscored the importance of a robust Ukrainian air defense system.

Earlier this month, the State Department announced another $725 million in military assistance to Ukraine. The U.S. has provided extensive security assistance to Ukraine, totaling more than $16 billion since the start of Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24.

— Rocio Fabbro

Defense secretary Austin speaks with Ukrainian counterpart about additional security assistance packages

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said he spoke to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin about additional air defense systems in upcoming U.S. security assistance packages for Ukraine’s fight.

Reznikov said that Austin “assured that no matter who negotiates with whom, U.S. support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity remains unwavering.”

Austin also spoke with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu in a separate call. The Kremlin confirmed the call in a readout.

— Amanda Macias

At least half Ukraine’s thermal power capacity hit by Russian attacks, says Ukraine’s Energy Minister

Firefighters work to put out a fire in an energy infrastructure facility, damaged by a Russian missile strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, October 18, 2022.

State Emergency Service Of Ukraine | via Reuters

Russia has hit at least half of Ukraine’s thermal generation capacity and had carried out more than 300 air strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities since Oct. 10, Ukraine’s energy minister Herman Halushchenko said.

Halushchenko told Reuters in an interview that 30% to 40% of overall national power infrastructure had been hit in attacks that he depicted as intended to destroy Ukraine’s energy system — a goal that he said had not been achieved.

“I can tell you that that is at least half of our generation capacities. Even more,” he said, when asked about the scale of the damage.

Russia stepped up its aerial attacks on Ukraine last week using missiles and drones to target Kyiv, other major cities and energy infrastructure.

— Reuters

Ukrainian National Guard stand guard in the northern occupied territories of Kharkiv region

Photos show National Guard of Ukraine protecting the the northern occupied territories of Kharkiv region amid the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

A soldier of the National Guard of Ukraine stands at the entrance of a dugout in the northern occupied territories of Kharkiv region on October 21, 2022, amid the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

Soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine walk along a trench towards their positions on the northern occupied territories of Kharkiv region on October 21, 2022, amid the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

A soldier of the National Guard of Ukraine takes position in a trench in the northern occupied territories of Kharkiv region on October 21, 2022, amid the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

Soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine share their tea in a dugout in the northern occupied territories of Kharkiv region on October 21, 2022, amid the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

A soldier of the National Guard of Ukraine drinks tea in a dugout in the northern occupied territories of Kharkiv region on October 21, 2022, amid the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

A soldier of the National Guard of Ukraine provides a stove with firewood in a dugout in the northern occupied territories of Kharkiv region on October 21, 2022, amid the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.

Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

— Sergey Bobok | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. Defense Secretary Austin reiterates U.S. commitment to Ukraine in call with Defense Minister Reznikov

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin shakes hands with Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov ahead of a NATO defence ministers’ meeting at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 15, 2022. 

Yves Herman | Reuters

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Ukrainian Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov “to reiterate the unwavering U.S. commitment to supporting Ukraine’s ability to counter Russia’s aggression,” according to Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder.

In their call, Austin “underscored the international community’s continued support in building Ukraine’s enduring strength and safeguarding Ukraine’s ability to defend itself in the future.” Austin also highlighted U.S.-Ukraine cooperation in the wake of the Oct. 12 Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at NATO headquarters, where both ministers were present.

The call followed Austin’s conversation with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, which marked their first call in five months.

— Rocio Fabbro

Zelenskyy calls on West to warn Russian not to blow up dam

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the West to warn Russia not to blow up a huge dam that would flood a swath of southern Ukraine, as his forces prepare to push Moscow’s troops from Kherson in one of the war’s most important battles.

In a television address, Zelenskyy said Russian forces had planted explosives inside the huge Nova Kakhovka dam, which holds back an enormous reservoir that dominates much of southern Ukraine, and were planning to blow it up to cover their retreat.

“Now everyone in the world must act powerfully and quickly to prevent a new Russian terrorist attack. Destroying the dam would mean a large-scale disaster,” he said.

Russia accused Kyiv earlier this week of planning to rocket the dam. Sergei Surovikin, the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, said Ukrainian forces had already used U.S.-supplied HIMARS missiles against it in what Ukrainian officials called a sign Moscow could be planning to blow it up and blame Kyiv.

— Reuters

U.S. Defense Secretary Austin talks with Russian Defense Minister Shoigu

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks during a news briefing at the Pentagon on January 28, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu for the first time in five months, calling for open lines of communication as the war approaches its ninth month.

“Secretary Austin emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid the ongoing war against Ukraine,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder.

This is only the second time Austin and Shoygu have spoken since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine. In their first call on May 13, Austin urged immediate ceasefire and made the same request to maintain open lines of communication.

— Rocio Fabbro

Ukrainian forces pile pressure on Russian-held Kherson

A view of the village, located in the border of the Kherson region where the control was again taken by the Ukrainian forces, as Ukrainian soldiers patrol around the site amid Ukraine’s counterattack against Russian forces in the southern Kherson region, heavy clashes continue between the two sides in Kherson city, located in Kherson Oblast, Ukraine on October 07, 2022.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian forces continued to pile on the pressure on Russian positions in occupied Kherson, targeting resupply routes across the Dnieper river as Kyiv inched closer to a full-scale assault to retake the strategic southern port city.

As many as 2,000 Russian draftees have poured into the Kherson region “to replenish losses and strengthen units on the front line,” according to Ukraine’s Army General Staff.

The Antonivskyi Bridge that is on a main route from Crimea to Russian-held territories in southern Ukraine was struck late Thursday, said Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern operational command, but but only after the 10 p.m. local curfew, to avoid civilian casualties.

“We do not attack civilians and settlements,” Humeniuk told Ukrainian television after Kirill Stremousov, the Moscow-installed deputy chief of the regional administration claimed that at least four civilians were killed as a result of Ukrainian strikes.

— Associated Press

Local residents receive food and humanitarian aid in Sviatohirsk, Donetsk region after liberation of the area

Ukrainian civilians queue for humanitarian aid provided by the Red Cross as people try to survive amid the wave of Russia’s missile strikes in the eastern city of Sviatohirsk.

Local residents receive food and humanitarian aid in Svyatohirs’k, Donetsk region, on October 20, 2022, after the liberation of the area.

Dimitar Dilkoff | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian civilians queue for humanitarian aid provided by the Red Cross as people try to survive amid the wave of Russia’s missile strikes in Sviatohiersk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on October 20, 2022. 

Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian civilians queue for humanitarian aid provided by the Red Cross as people try to survive amid the wave of Russia’s missile strikes in Sviatohiersk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on October 20, 2022. 

Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian civilians queue for humanitarian aid provided by the Red Cross as people try to survive amid the wave of Russia’s missile strikes in Sviatohiersk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on October 20, 2022. 

Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

— Getty Images

Russia could be about to withdraw its troops from another part of Ukraine

A view of the grad rocket firing as counterattacks against Russian forces continue in the Kherson region, on October 07, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian authorities are carrying out mass evacuations of civilians from occupied Kherson in southern Ukraine, and defense analysts now believe that the movement of people is setting the scene for Moscow to withdraw its troops from a large part of the region.

Up to 60,000 civilians are planned to be evacuated in the coming days from the western part of the Kherson region to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, with residents told to then travel to other Russian-occupied regions.

Residents were told to leave Kherson after Russian-installed officials warned them that Ukraine is preparing to launch a large-scale offensive. Ukraine has decried the evacuations, likening them to deportations and telling residents not to comply.

Read the full story here.

— Holly Ellyatt

Reconstruction underway in Izium five weeks after Russian withdrawal

Ukrainian citizens carry food aid packages delivered by volunteer organizations after Russian Forces withdrawal from Izium as Russia-Ukraine war continues in Izium, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on September 18, 2022.

Metin Atkas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Reconstruction is underway in Izium, roughly five weeks after Russian forces withdrew from the strategic eastern city, ending its occupation in the face of a Ukrainian counter-offensive.

A video report published by the AFP news agency shows crews of Ukrainian construction workers rebuilding the badly-damaged and destroyed infrastructure, restoring asphalt and filling bomb craters on roads, and dismantling signs of Russian occupation like its ad-hoc military bridges.

Many of the residents however still rely on aid for basic necessities such as water and electricity.

The city of formerly 45,000 people in the Kharkiv region has seen the majority of its population flee due to the war, with as few as 8,000 residents remaining, according to the AFP. Mass graves were found in the surrounding woods after the Russians withdrew, with one containing at least 440 bodies.

— Natasha Turak

Kyiv vows to ‘hit back even harder’ if Russia attacks hydroelectric dam

Kyiv vowed to retaliate forcefully if Russia destroys a major hydroelectric dam in Ukraine’s Kherson region, after its top officials warned of alleged Russian plans to attack the plant.

“Russian terrorists are agonizing. Nuclear blackmail did not work, now they are trying to scare everyone by blowing up the Kakhovska HPP,” the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, Andriy Yermak, wrote on Twitter referring to the dam.

“There is right response to blackmail. Harder sanctions, further de-occupation of our territories, more weapons, and an even tougher stance on each and every of Russia’s crimes. They won’t break us,” he wrote. “We will hit back even harder.”

Russian forces have occupied Ukraine’s southern Kherson region since early March. But Ukrainian forces are making substantial inroads into the territory in a counter-offensive that’s forced the Russian-imposed authorities there to begin evacuating civilians.

— Natasha Turak

Announcement of 15,000 new Russian troops deployed to Belarus is likely a ruse, UK says

Belarus’ announcement of a new Belarus-Russia Group of Forces on its territory with as many as 15,000 Russian troops and 70,000 Belarussian troops may be an exaggeration used to distract, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence update.

“On 15 October 2022, the Belarussian authorities released a video claiming to show the arrival of Russian troops in Belarus. However, to date it is unlikely that Russia has actually deployed a significant number of extra troops into Belarus,” the ministry wrote in a Twitter post.

“Russia is unlikely to be able to generate combat-ready formations of the claimed size: its forces are committed in Ukraine. The Belarussian military highly likely maintains minimal capability to undertake complex operations,” it said.

The announcement, it claimed, “is likely an attempt to demonstrate Russian-Belarussian solidarity and to convince Ukraine to divert forces to guard the northern border.”

— Natasha Turak

Russian court orders arrest of reporter who criticized war on state TV

The act that prompted Marina Ovsyannikova’s initial house arrest was when she held up a poster during a live on-air nightly broadcast that read, in a mix of Russian and English, “No war” and “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, you are being lied to. Russians against war.”

STR | Nurphoto | Getty Images

A Russian court ordered the arrest of Marina Ovsyannikova, the TV reporter working for state news outlet Channel One Russia who made a high-profile criticism of the war on live television in March.

After spending years working for the country’s state news outlets, Ovsyannikova later said she felt “ashamed of working for Kremlin propaganda.” The act that prompted her initial house arrest was when she held up a poster during a live on-air nightly broadcast that read, in a mix of Russian and English, “No war” and “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda, you are being lied to. Russians against war.”

“With regard to Ovsyannikova, the court ordered her held in custody for one month and 29 days, imposed from the moment the accused is extradited to the Russian Federation or from the moment of her arrest in the Russian Federation,” court officials said, according to local news agency Interfax.

Marina Ovsyannikova was accused of “discrediting” the Russian army.

Alexander Nemenov | AFP | Getty Images

Ovsyannikova was already under house arrest, but her lawyer said she has fled the country.

The Kremlin announced a law shortly after it began its invasion of Ukraine that outlawed any spreading of “false information” about the war, which it calls its “special military operation,” with penalties of up to 15 years in prison.

— Natasha Turak

Zelenskyy warns Russia aims to attack hydroelectric dam

“Russia is preparing (to attack) the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plan,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.

Valentyn Ogirenko | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is warning that Russia may attack a hydroelectric dam in Kherson, where a growing Ukrainian counteroffensive is taking place.

Zelenskyy alleged that Russian forces have planted mines at the dam, which would threaten the entire canal network that stretches some 250 miles (402 km).

“Russia is preparing (to attack) the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plan,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address. “According to our information, the aggregates and dam of the Kakhovka HPP were mined by Russian terrorists.”

He warned that this would create “a catastrophe on a grand scale,” and added, “With this terrorist attack, they can destroy, among other things… supplying water from the Dnipro River to Crimea. In the event of the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP dam, the North Crimean canal will simply disappear.”

Russian forces have occupied the region in the country’s south since the early months of the war and Moscow illegally annexed the territory in early October, but its forces are now ordering civilians to evacuate as renewed conflict draws nearer.

— Natasha Turak

Blinken discusses humanitarian crisis in Ukraine with UN chief

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about US policy towards China during an event hosted by the Asia Society Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on May 26, 2022.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on continued coordination to address the urgent security and humanitarian crises in Ukraine.

“Secretary Blinken and Secretary-General Guterres emphasized the importance of safeguarding UN principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, especially in light of Russia’s illegal attempted annexation of Ukraine’s territory,” according to a State Department readout of the call.

— Amanda Macias

Vladimir Putin visits military training center outisde town of Ryazan, Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defese Minister Sergei Shoigu meet soldiers during a visit at a military training center of the Western Military District for mobilized reservists, outside the town of Ryazan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meets soldiers during a visit at a military training centre of the Western Military District for mobilised reservists, outside the town of Ryazan on October 20, 2022.

Mikhail Klimentyev | Afp | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) meet soldiers during a visit at a military training centre of the Western Military District for mobilised reservists, outside the town of Ryazan on October 20, 2022. 

Mikhail Klimentyev | Afp | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) meets soldiers during a visit at a military training centre of the Western Military District for mobilised reservists, outside the town of Ryazan on October 20, 2022. (Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

Mikhail Klimentyev | Afp | Getty Images

— Mikhail Klimentyev | AFP | Getty Images

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