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Russia-Ukraine war news: Putin ‘may pin blame for losses on new commander’

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Volodymyr Zelensky rules out talks with Russia if land is annexed

Vladimir Putin may try to pin the blame for future Russian losses in eastern Ukraine on a recently appointed commader, observers said.

Russian media reported that Lieutenant-General Roman Berdnikov had been appointed to head a Russian military division operating in Kharkiv Oblast, where Mr Putin’s forces had lost almost all of their territory to a Ukrainian counteroffensive launched at the start of September.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said Mr Putin may have made the appointment in an attempt to redirect mounting criticism for the Russian loss of land in Kharkiv and the strategically significant Donetsk city of Lyman.

The criticism has loosened the Kremlin’s hold on information in Russian nationalist circles, the ISW said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has ruled out holding talks with Vladimir Putin and has signed a decree, declaring any talks between Kyiv and the Russian leader “impossible.”

The decree formalised comments made by Mr Zelensky on Friday.

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Don’t give in to Russian threats, says Estonian PM after Musk tweets

Estonia’s prime minister said the West must not give in to Russia’s nuclear threats or premature peace proposals, the day after Elon Musk caused a stir with his suggestion for a route to peace in the seven-month war.

Kaja Kallas, who has led the government of one of Russia’s Nato member neighbours since last year, told the Associated Press in an interview that “very dangerous” calls for negotiations and peace in Ukraine have come from “very prominent people” lately.

She did not specify anyone by name, but her comments came a day after Tesla CEO Elon Musk floated on Twitter a proposal for ending the war that elicited fierce opposition from Kyiv.

Mr Musk argued that Russia should be allowed to keep the Crimean Peninsula that it seized in 2014. The four regions Russia annexed following Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” last month should hold repeat votes organised by the United Nations, he said.

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US unveils new £500m Ukraine aid package

The US has pledged an additional $625 million (£545m) in military aid to Ukraine, a package that includes additional advanced rocket systems credited with helping the country’s military gain momentum in its war with Russia.

President Joe Biden provided details on the latest package, which includes High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (Himars) artillery systems ammunition, and armored vehicles, in a call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Vice President Kamala Harris joined the leaders on Tuesday’s call.

The White House said in a statement: “President Biden also affirmed the continued readiness of the United States to impose severe costs on any individual, entity, or country that provides support to Russia’s purported annexation.”

This round of military aid marks the first time the US has sent Himars to Ukraine since late July. The systems – the latest assistance includes four Himars and will bring the total number sent to Ukraine to 20 – have become a key tool in Ukraine‘s ability to strike bridges that Russia has used to supply its troops, enabling Ukrainian forces to make inroads in Russia-controlled regions.

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Nuclear power plant chief won’t return after detention

The head of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) in Ukraine who was recently detained in what Ukraine called a Russian act of terror and released, will not return to that job, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday.

“The IAEA understands that Mr [Ihor] Murashov is now with his family in territory controlled by Ukraine and will not be continuing with his duties at the ZNPP,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.

“It is not yet clear who will replace him in this role.”

Mr Murashov was detained on Saturday as he was being driven to ZNPP. Energoatom, Ukraine’s energy regulator, blamed Russia and said the director’s detention jeopardised “the safety of operation of Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant”.

IAEA experts have been present at the ZNPP for weeks after arriving for an inspection as attacks near the highly sensitive site escalated.

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Putin may pin blame for Russian losses on new commander

Vladimir Putin may try to pin the blame for future Russian losses in eastern Ukraine on a recently appointed commader, observers said.

Russian outlet RBK, citing sources within the Russian regime, reported on Monday that Lieutenant-General Roman Berdnikov had been installed as commander of the Western Military District, which had been operating in Kharkiv Oblast in recent months.

Russian forces have mostly been driven out of Kharkiv by a Ukrainian counteroffensive launched at the start of September. The loss of the key city of Lyman over the weekend has led to widespread criticism of the Russian commander in charge of the operation there, General Alexander Lapin.

The Institute for the Study of War said this criticism has served as a catalyst for wider breakdown within the Russian nationalist information space, so Mr Putin is likely to wish to divert criticism towards a new target in Mr Berdnikov to detract from this dissatisfaction.

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Russian court fines Tik Tok over LGBT+ content

A court in Russia has fined TikTok for failing to delete online LGBT+ material (Eleanor Sly writes).

Moscow’s Tagansky District Court issued a three million ruble (£44,000) penalty to the video sharing platform after it received a complaint from Russian regulators.

According to the case file, state communications regulator Roskomnadzor had complained about a video published on the platform earlier this year on the grounds that it breached Russian laws against promoting “LGBT, radical feminism and a distorted view on traditional sexual relations”.

The Russian government has been increasing efforts to enforce control over internet and social media in the country.

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Kremlin scorns ‘Western nuclear rhetoric’

The Kremlin said it did not want to take part in Western “nuclear rhetoric” after a report that Russia was preparing to demonstrate its willingness to use nuclear weapons in its conflict with Ukraine.

The Times reported on Monday that Nato had warned members that Vladimir Putin was set to demonstrate his willingness to use nuclear weapons by carrying out a nuclear test on Ukraine’s border.

Russia was also reported to have moved a train thought to be linked to a unit of the defence ministry that was responsible for nuclear munitions.

A Nato official today told Reuters the alliance had not observed changes in Russia’s nuclear posture, while a Western diplomat, commenting on the Times report, said the had not warned allies about a nuclear threat from Russia.

When asked about the Times report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia did not want to take part in what he cast as Western exercises in “nuclear rhetoric”.

“The Western media, Western politicians and heads of state are engaging in a lot of exercises in nuclear rhetoric right now,” Mr Peskov said. “We do not want to take part in this.”

Western speculation over Russia’s nuclear intentions spiked after a speech a fortnight back by Mr Putin in which he threatened to use atomic weapons to defend Russian territory.

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Roger Waters claims he’s on Ukraine’s ‘kill list’

Roger Waters has claimed he’s on Ukraine’s “kill list” in a recent interview (Megan Graye writes).

The Pink Floyd co-founder was discussing his recent statements regarding the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia when he made the remark.

Recently, Waters wrote an open letter to Vladimir Putin and the first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, asking them for their commitment to help bring the war to an end.

Now, Waters claims he himself is under threat from Ukraine. “Don’t forget, I’m on a kill list that is supported by the Ukrainian government,” Waters said in an interview with Rolling Stone.

“I’m on the f***ing list, and they’ve killed people recently… But when they kill you, they write ‘liquidated’ across your picture. Well, I’m one of those f***ing pictures,” he claimed.

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Nato sees no change in Russia’s nuclear posture, says official

Nato has not observed changes in Russia’s nuclear posture but is vigilant, an alliance official told Reuters today, commenting two weeks after Vladimir Putin escalated the war in Ukraine with a mobilisation and warnings of nuclear weapons use.

“We have not seen any changes in Russia’s nuclear posture, but Nato and allies remain vigilant,” the official said.

The official, who declined to be named, added that – as laid out in Nato’s new strategic concept in June – Russia’s expansion of “novel and disruptive dual-capable delivery systems, while employing coercive nuclear signalling” was a challenge to the defence alliance’s security and interests.

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UK foreign secretary’s comments on Putin’s nuclear threat

We reported earlier that UK foreign secretary James Cleverly had warned Vladimir Putin that there would be consequences for using nuclear weapons, as the Russian leader has threatened [16.10].

Here follow Mr Cleverly’s remarks in full. He was asked at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference how Britain would respond to the use of tactical nuclear weapons by Russia.

He said: “It would inevitably be the case that the use of nuclear weapons by any country anywhere in the world would not go without a response.”

“I’m not going to discuss the nature or the threshold.”

Cleverly at the conference in Birmingham today

(Getty)

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Maps presented by the Russian defence ministry on Tuesday appeared to show rapid withdrawals of Russian invasion forces from areas in eastern and southern Ukraine where they have been under severe pressure from a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

The ministry’s daily video briefing made no mention of any pullbacks, but on maps used to show the location of purported Russian strikes, the shaded area designating Russian military control was much smaller than the day before.

In northeast Ukraine, where Russia suffered a rout last month, its forces along a frontline running some 40 miles southward from Kupiansk along the River Oskil appeared to have retreated some 12 miles to the east, as far as the border of Luhansk province.

This would mean they had vacated the last remnants of Ukraine’s Kharkiv province – where Russia for several months maintained an occupation administration – but for a small patch between the town of Dvorichna and the Russian border.

In southern Ukraine’s Kherson province, Russia’s line of control on the right bank of the Dnipro river had shifted 15 miles southward on the map, to a line running westward from the riverside town of Dudchany.

Both areas are battlefields where Ukraine has been reporting advances, albeit without giving full details.



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