As Russia continues to attack Ukraine’s vital civilian infrastructure, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed that his military will bolster its air defense systems to counter incoming Russian missiles.
“These treacherous strikes on critical facilities are the characteristic tactics of terrorists,” Zelensky said. “The world can and must stop this terrorism,” he added.
He said that although Ukraine does not currently have the technical ability to shoot down all the missiles and drones sent by Russia, it is only a matter of time before Ukraine “achieves it” with the help of partners.
Recent air strikes have caused power outages in many parts of the country.
In his nightly video address, Zelensky indicated that the Ukrainian forces on Saturday shot down 20 Russian missiles and more than 10 Iranian drones. Earlier, the Ukrainian Air Force confirmed that of the 33 missiles Russia fired at Ukraine, 18 were shot down.
Here are the other headlines of the war in Ukraine on October 23:
Russian and Western Defense Ministers discuss Ukraine in phone calls
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told his British counterpart Ben Wallace on Sunday that Moscow was concerned that Kyiv might plan to use a “dirty bomb” in Ukraine.
It is a claim that Moscow has made before, without providing evidence. A “dirty bomb” refers to a conventional explosive device that disperses radioactive material.
Wallace “refuted” Moscow’s allegations that Western countries were facilitating a planned escalation of the war in Ukraine. The British Ministry of Defense said in a statement that “the Minister of Defense denied these allegations and warned that such allegations should not be used as a pretext for further escalation,” noting that Moscow had requested the conversation.
Shoigu also repeated the “dirty bomb” allegations in phone calls earlier today with the French and Turkish defense ministers. He also later spoke with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
“The situation in Ukraine, which has a consistent tendency towards further uncontrolled escalation, was discussed” by Shoigu and France’s Sebastien Licornu, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Licornu said in a statement that France will not be drawn into any form of escalation in the Ukraine conflict, especially regarding nuclear options.
Ukraine also accused Russia of planning to deploy a “dirty bomb”.
There were growing concerns that Moscow might resort to the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, as counterattacks by Kyiv forces forced Russian units onto the defensive.
British Ministry of Defense: Moscow deploys mercenaries to defend the occupied territories
In its latest assessment, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russia plans to bring in mercenaries to defend its occupied territories as Kyiv faces counterattacks.
Wagner Group owner Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed online last week that his engineering teams were building a large batch of the dungeon.
The ministry said the “Wagner Line” of defenses in the Russian-occupied Luhansk region.
It added that a map published by Prigogine on the Internet “showed a section of the newly built anti-tank defenses and trench systems southeast of Kremena in Luhansk.”
Russia has been using the Wagner Group in conflicts for several years, including in Syria and the Central African Republic.
In a recent video, the head of a mercenary group appeared to be recruiting Russian prisoners to fight in Ukraine.
Russia withdraws its officers from Kherson – Research Center
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) says the Russian military command is withdrawing its officers from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson before the expected advance of Ukrainian forces.
The think tank said the Russian officers had been moved across the eastern bank of the Dnieper River, while the newly mobilized less experienced forces would be left on the western side to slow the Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Kherson is the capital of a region of the same name that was illegally annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin last month. The city was in the hands of Moscow since the beginning of the war. On Saturday, the Russian authorities there asked all residents to evacuate immediately.
On Sunday, the Ukrainian military said that Russian forces are now mostly on the defensive, but continue to target energy infrastructure and launch attacks on several towns in eastern Donbass.
The ISW think tank said Russia’s strategy to target power plants in recent days appears to be aimed at harming the Ukrainians’ will to fight and forcing Kyiv to spend additional resources to protect civilians and energy infrastructure.
The front lines in Kherson are in flux
Russian forces in Kherson urged civilians to “evacuate”, in a post on Telegram, noting that “given the tense situation at the front, the increased danger of intense shelling of the city and the threat of terrorist attacks, all civilians must immediately leave the city” and cross to the side east of the Dnieper River.
Russian forces control east of the Dnieper River.
After the warnings of a Ukrainian counterattack were announced to retake the city, thousands of civilians left Kherson.
In Oleshky, the opposite bank of the Dnieper, people were seen arriving on a river boat laden with boxes, bags and pets.
Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshuk wrote on Telegram, “Kherson region! Just a little more. Wait there. Ukrainian armed forces are on.”
G7 condemns Russia’s seizure of the Zaporizhia nuclear plant
Leaders of the G7 countries have condemned Russia’s kidnapping of Ukrainian officials responsible for the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.
In a statement, they condemned the kidnapping of the plant’s leadership and said that Russia should immediately return full control of the plant to Ukraine.
Russian forces took control of the nuclear plant following the invasion on February 24.
The urgent meeting of the G7 leadership came a day after Moscow fired more than 80 missiles at Ukraine. The attack killed at least 19 people and injured 105.
The G7 also condemned Putin’s nuclear weapons rumble.
Former Motor Sich owner arrested for treason
Ukrainian forces arrested Vyacheslav Bogoslav, the former owner of Motor Sich, a well-known manufacturer of aircraft engines in Ukraine.
He was reportedly accused of treason.
Many Ukrainian media reported that after his arrest, Bogoslav was transferred to Kyiv.
The reports quoted security sources as saying that Bogoslav, a former member of parliament, is suspected of collaborating and aiding in the Russian occupation of four Ukrainian regions, including Zaporizhia.
Citing security sources, Ukrainian journalist Irina Romalyska wrote in a Facebook post that Bogoslav is known for his pro-Russian views and was in contact with Russian intelligence services. It said Bogoslav allegedly helped supply aircraft spare parts to Moscow.
Kyiv warns of a “humanitarian catastrophe” after the Moscow air strikes
The Ukrainian government has warned that escalating Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure could lead to a major “humanitarian catastrophe”.
Kyiv said at least 40% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has already been destroyed. The attacks forced the country to prepare for a cold winter with limited energy supplies.
Zelensky thanked the energy service providers and network operators who were working to rebuild critical sites despite the risks.
On Saturday, his office said Russian air strikes had damaged energy company Uknergo, leaving nearly 1.5 million customers without power.
Mikhailo Podolak, Zelensky’s adviser, tweeted that “by hitting critical infrastructure in Ukraine, the Kremlin wants to provoke new refugees” to Europe. He added that the only way to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe was to “quickly move additional air defense and missiles.”
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyal also warned that massive Russian attacks would “lead to a new migration tsunami”.
ns/ar (dpa, Reuters)