Russian forces are edging closer to seizing the last pocket of resistance in Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region. Sievierodonetsk and its neighbouring city, Lysychansk, continue to be battered by intense Russian shelling. Luhansk’s governor, Serhiy Haidai, said on Wednesday that Russian forces were moving towards Lysychansk, targeting the buildings of police, state security and prosecutors.
Dramatic footage has emerged from Russia of what appears to be a drone flying into an oil refinery and causing an explosion in what could be an attack inside Russia’s borders. Video shared on social media showed the unmanned aerial vehicle crashing into the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in Rostov region, in what would be an embarrassing breach of Russia’s air defence systems.
A Russian missile strike has left at least one person dead in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv, according to its mayor, Oleksandr Senkevych. The attack caused several fires and damaged a number of buildings including a school, Senkevych said. The regional governor, Vitaliy Kim, said seven missiles had hit Mykolaiv.
Residents and workers at a nuclear power plant in Enerhodar, a city in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, are being abducted by Russian occupiers, according to the region’s mayor. “Whereabouts of some unknown. The rest are in very difficult conditions: they are being tortured with electric shock, bullied physically and morally,” said mayor Dmytro Orlov.
A television tower in the Ukrainian separatist-held city of Donetsk has been badly damaged by shelling and broadcasting has been interrupted, the local Donetsk news agency reported. The Petrovskiy television centre is still standing, but part of its equipment has been damaged, while some equipment has been moved out, the agency said.
British intelligence predicts that Russia’s momentum will slow over the next few months.“Our defence intelligence service believes, however, that in the next few months, Russia could come to a point at which there is no longer any forward momentum because it has exhausted its resources,” British prime minister, Boris Johnson, told reporters.
Leaders at the upcoming G7 summit in Germany will announce new measures aimed at pressuring Russia as well as new commitments to shore up European security, a senior US official has said. “We will roll out a concrete set of proposals to increase pressure on Russia,” the official said. The G7 is also likely to discuss the fate of a Russian turbine blocked in Canada and blamed for reducing gas supplies to Germany, Canada’s natural resources minister said.
The Kremlin said the EU sanctions that led Lithuania to block the transit of some goods to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad were “absolutely unacceptable”. Moscow was working on retaliatory measures in response to the “illegal sanctions” by the EU, it said. Russia’s foreign ministry said Moscow’s response to Lithuania’s ban would not be exclusively diplomatic but practical in nature.
Ukraine has played down the chances of reaching an agreement with Russia that could allow blocked grain shipments to start sailing across the Black Sea. Consultations are ongoing, Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Oleg Nikolenko, said. Russia’s defence ministry said Moscow and Ankara had agreed to continue discussions on safe vessel departures and grain exports from Ukrainian ports.
Finland’s armed forces chief said his country was prepared for a Russian attack and would put up stiff resistance in the event that one should occur. Finns are motivated to fight and the country has built up a substantial arsenal, Gen Timo Kivinen said, adding: “The most important line of defence is between one’s ears.”
Russian president Vladimir Putin has called for a strengthening of ties with countries from the Brics group of emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China South Africa– after western sanctions over Ukraine. Putin said discussions were continuing on the “opening of Indian chain stores in Russia, increasing the share of Chinese automobiles” on the Russian market.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov visited in Iran on Wednesday. The Iranian foreign ministry said Lavrov’s visit was aimed at “expanding cooperation with the Eurasian region and the Caucasus”.
Europe needs to prepare immediately for Russia to turn off all gas exports to the region this winter, according to the head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol. He called on governments to work on reducing demand and keeping nuclear power plants open.
A Ukrainian photojournalist and a soldier who was accompanying him were “coldly executed” when they were killed in the first weeks of Russia’s invasion, according to Reporters Without Borders. Maks Levin and Oleksiy Chernyshov were reportedly searching Russian-occupied woodlands for the photographer’s missing image-taking drone, the agency said, citing its findings from an investigation into their deaths.