Mon, 02 Oct 2023

Ukraine denied involvement in unprecedented drone attacks in Moscow on Tuesday that caused minor damage to buildings but no casualties. The Kremlin maintains the drones were Ukraine's response to Russian strikes on its territory. A pre-dawn attack on Kyiv killed at least one person and injured four after falling debris hit an apartment building. Read our live blog to see how all the day's events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

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05:40am: Ukraine shelling of Luhansk village kills four, injures 16 - Moscow-installed administration

Four people were killed and 16 injured as a result of Ukraine's shelling of the Karpaty village in the Luhansk region, the Moscow-installed local coordination centre said on Wednesday.

The centre said on its Telegram messaging channel the shelling hit a poultry farm.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the report. Moscow controls nearly all of the Luhansk region in Ukraine.

There was no immediate respond from Ukraine, but Kyiv almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia and on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine.

9:41pm: IAEA chief asks Russia, Ukraine to protect Zaporizhzhia power plant

UN International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi on Tuesday asked Ukraine and Russia to respect five core principles to safeguard the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, suggesting that he had not yet secured their agreement on protecting the facility.

Among the principles was that the power plant not be used as a base for heavy weapons such as multiple rocket launchers, artillery systems and munitions and tanks or for military personnel that could be used for an attack from the plant.

9:39pm: One dead in Russia after Ukrainian strike on centre for displaced people, governor says

One person was killed and two others injured on Tuesday in a Ukrainian bombardment on a centre for displaced people in the border region of Belgorod, the regional governor said.

"Ukrainian armed forces fired artillery at a centre for displaced people housing elderly civilians and children... a security guard was killed and two people were injured," the governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram.

7:36pm: Blinken says 'the time is now' for Sweden to join NATO

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced hope Tuesday that NATO can welcome Sweden in time for its July summit, days after the re-election of Turkey's president who so far has blocked the idea.

"The time is now to finalise Sweden's accession," Blinken told a joint news conference with Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in the northern Swedish city of Lulea.

6:55pm: Experts say Russia aims to sap Kyiv's defences ahead of counteroffensive

Russia has focused near-daily attacks on the Ukrainian capital recently, sending missiles and drones overhead in the early hours and even broad daylight.

While Ukraine says it has mostly managed to intercept the barrages and has reported only two deaths from falling debris, the strikes raise questions about the motives for such disruptive tactics in a city far from the war's main hotspots.

Officials and analysts believe that Russia's overall goals are to hinder Ukraine's planned offensive and deplete its air defences.

According to the US-based Institute for the Study of War, "Russian forces began a new limited air campaign (...) to degrade Ukrainian counteroffensive capabilities."

6:52pm: Swedish NATO decision 'absolutely possible' before July summit, Stoltenberg says

A decision on Sweden's NATO membership is "absolutely possible" before the Alliance's summit in July, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday, two days after the re-election of Turkey's president who is opposed to the idea.

"There are no guarantees but it's absolutely possible to reach a solution and enable the decision on full membership for Sweden by then," Stoltenberg told reporters in Oslo on the eve of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting in the Norwegian capital.

6:30pm: US says it does not back attacks inside Russia

The United States said Tuesday that it does not back attacks inside Russia after drones hit Moscow high-rises, but said Russia bore responsibility for the war with Ukraine.

"As a general matter, we do not support attacks inside of Russia. We have been focused on providing Ukraine with the equipment and training they need to retake their own sovereign territory," a State Department spokesperson said as Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Sweden.

The spokesperson said that the United States was still assessing what happened in Moscow, where residential buildings were hit for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin blamed Kyiv.

But the State Department spokesperson said that Russia had carried out air strikes in Kyiv on Tuesday for the 17th time in May.

"Russia started this unprovoked war against Ukraine. Russia could end it at any time by withdrawing its forces from Ukraine instead of launching brutal attacks against Ukraine's cities and people every day."

5:58pm: IMF reaches staff agreement on Ukraine loan review; will enable $900 million disbursement

The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday that it has reached a staff-level agreement with Ukraine for the first review of the war-torn country's $15.6 billion IMF loan program, which would allow for a $900 million disbursement to Kyiv upon approval by the IMF Executive Board.

The IMF said in a statement that the board is expected to consider the staff-level agreement in the coming weeks.

The IMF approved the $15.6 billion four-year Extended Fund Facility program for Ukraine in March, enabling additional donor support of about $100 billion.

The IMF said Ukraine's performance under the arrangement's economic program has been strong, and all quantitative performance criteria for end-April targets were met. Structural benchmarks through end-May were also met.

"Overall, macroeconomic and financial stability have been maintained, thanks to prudent policy making and continuous and timely external support," the Fund said upon completion of a review mission in Vienna.

4:29pm: Putin says attack on Moscow 'response' to strike on Ukrainian army intelligence HQ

President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that a drone attack on Moscow was Kyiv's "response" to a Russian strike on a military intelligence headquarters in Ukraine.

A Ukrainian "headquarters of military intelligence was struck two or three days ago," Putin said on state television. "In response, the Kyiv regime chose a different path to frighten Russians," referring to the attack on Moscow earlier Tuesday.

3:44pm: Putin says Ukraine is seeking to 'frighten' Russians

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Ukraine was trying to "frighten" Russians after Moscow and the surrounding region were hit by eight drones in an attack blamed on Kyiv.

"We have spoken about hitting command centres (in Ukraine). In response, the Kyiv regime has chosen a different path, the path of trying to frighten Russia, frighten the citizens of Russia and of strikes on residential buildings," Putin said.

3:43pm: Putin says air defence worked 'satisfactorily' in Moscow drone attack

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said that Moscow's air defence had worked well during an unprecedented drone attack on the capital.

"Moscow's air defense system worked normally, satisfactorily, although there is some work to do," Putin said on Russian television.

3:36pm: Scholz condemns Russian strikes on Ukraine 'civilian targets'

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday slammed fresh Russian strikes on "Ukrainian civilian targets" during a call with President Volodymyr Zelensky, his office said in a statement.

Scholz "condemns the latest Russian air raids on Ukrainian civilian targets and underlines our steadfast solidarity with Ukraine in the face of the Russian Federation's aggression," said the statement, which made no mention of the unprecedented drone strikes on residential buildings in Moscow Tuesday.

3:34pm: Russia blames West for 'reckless' Moscow attacks

Russia said on Tuesday that Western support for Ukraine was "pushing" Kyiv towards "increasingly reckless" behaviour, following drone attacks Russia said were designed to spread "panic".

"Western support for the Kyiv regime is pushing the Ukrainian leadership towards increasingly reckless acts, including terrorism," the Russian foreign ministry said, adding that the attacks on Moscow were aimed at "spreading panic among civilians".

3:22pm: Russia puts Ukraine's top generals on wanted list, RIA reports

Russia's Interior Ministry has put two of Ukraine's top generals, including commander in chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, on a "wanted list", the state-run RIA news agency said on Tuesday.

Also on the list is Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine's ground forces, it said.

The articles they are wanted under have not been specified, RIA reported, citing the ministry's wanted person database.

Deputy Ukrainian defence minister Hanna Maliar dismissed the listings as a failed attempt to demoralise pro-Kyiv forces. "Putting psychological pressure on commanders who are fighting against an enemy that significantly outnumbers them in terms of personnel and weaponry is pointless," she wrote in a Telegram post.

3:11pm: Russia says it can take 'severe measures' after drone attack

Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that it reserved the right to take the most "severe measures" in response to a drone attack on the capital Moscow earlier in the day.

"Assurances by NATO officials that the Kyiv regime will not launch strikes deep into Russian territory prove to be completely hypocritical," the ministry said in a statement.

"Russia reserves the right to take the harshest possible measures in response to the terrorist attacks by the Kyiv regime," it added.

2:29pm: Russia's Lavrov accuses West of 'supporting genocide' in Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that the West was "supporting genocide" in Ukraine by backing President Volodymyr Zelensky's peace plan, which he claimed would "destroy everything Russian" in east Ukraine and Crimea.

Lavrov, speaking during a trip to Africa, did not offer evidence to support his claim. Russia has long accused the West of ignoring what it says is Ukrainian persecution of Russian language speakers in the eastern Donbas region and elsewhere.

"The conclusion is very simple - the West directly supports genocide," Lavrov said during a press conference with his Burundian counterpart.

1:46pm: Russian PM says 1.5 million in annexed Ukraine regions have received Russian passports

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Tuesday that almost 1.5 million people in the newly annexed Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson have now received Russian passports.

Russia claimed last September to have annexed the four regions but its forces do not fully control any of them, and the annexations have not been recognised internationally. Moscow also annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014.

1:44pm: 'Some satisfaction' in Kyiv over drone attack on Moscow

The reaction in Kyiv to the unprecedented drone attack on Moscow is "one of some satisfaction", FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg reported from the Ukrainian capital. "Everybody who's commenting, whether it's officials or just ordinary people, [seems] to think that it's quite nice to see the Russians getting a little bit of a taste of their own medicine.

"Officially, Ukraine says that it is not directly involved in these attacks," Cragg continued. But the "official line" the Ukrainians are taking contains a "somewhat tongue-in-cheek attitude suggesting that they're probably co-ordinated at the very least with [Russians who are against Putin" such as the Free Russian Legion, the mysterious paramilitary group that claimed responsibility for an attack last week on Russia's Belgorod region near the Ukrainian border, he said.

>> Read more: A look at the Free Russia Legion, the pro-Ukrainian group that attacked Belgorod

"I have, though, heard pundits on the radio discussing whether or not this is really the way for Ukraine to be going; although, they said, emotionally one's initial reaction is to smile when one sees drones attacking Moscow [...] It's really questionable, they were suggesting, whether this is military going to be very useful to Ukraine," Cragg added. "They were suggesting that Ukraine's resources might be better used to attack oil depots, military installations and other targets closer to the Ukrainian border."

1:42pm: Drone attacks already have 'psychological impact' in Russia

It is unclear who is behind the drone attacks in and around Moscow, and Kyiv says it is not directly involved; nevertheless these attacks are "already having a psychological impact, and it's palpable", said FRANCE 24 International Affairs Commentator Douglas Herbert. "What we have here is the first time you have [...] civilian areas actually targeted by these attacks; and not civilian areas anywhere but in the showcase Russian capital Moscow. [...] We have had obviously incursions, all sorts of reported attacks, around the periphery [of Russia near the Ukrainian border]. This is the first time [...] that we have these types of attacks really reaching into the heart of Russia," Herbert continued.

Regardless of who is responsible for these attacks, with drones going for targets in Moscow, for Russian citizens it becomes "harder and harder to ignore the fact that this is not just some far off [so-called] 'special military operation' this is a real and present war", Herbert said.

1:28pm: Russia's Shoigu says West 'stepping up' supplies to Ukraine

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that the West was stepping up equipment and arms supplies to Kyiv ahead of what he said would be a "large-scale" Ukrainian offensive, and said Moscow would strike any supply routes it detected.

Speaking on state television, Shoigu also said Russia was inflicting "effective fire damage on the enemy" and that the Western weapons would not change the outcome of Moscow's "special military operation" in Ukraine.

1:16pm: NATO's Stoltenberg says no sign of Ukraine fatigue among Western democracies

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday he saw no signs of aid fatigue among Western democracies regarding supporting Ukraine.

Stoltenberg was speaking on the eve of a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo.

11:56am: Kremlin says Moscow drone attack a 'response' to recent Ukraine strikes

The Kremlin said Tuesday that an unprecedented drone attack on Moscow was a "response" by Kyiv to a recent Russian hit in Ukraine.

"It is completely clear that we are talking about response acts by the Kyiv regime to very effective strikes on a command centre (in Ukraine)," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, without clarifying where the Russian strike took place.

10:22am: Denmark to triple defence budget in light of Ukraine war

Denmark's government announced Tuesday that it would triple its defence budget over the next 10 years in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Denmark intends to reach the NATO goal of spending two percent of gross domestic product on the military by 2030 -- a target that few of the alliance's 30 members ever reach.

"The government wants to significantly strengthen Danish defence and security with approximately 143 billion kroner ($20.5 billion) over the next 10 years," acting Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen said in a statement.

10:21am: Ukraine denies involvement in Moscow strike, predicts more attacks

A Ukrainian presidential aide denied Kyiv was directly involved in a drone attack on Moscow on Tuesday, but said Ukraine was enjoying watching the events and predicted an increase in such attacks.

"Regarding the attacks: of course we are pleased to watch and predict an increase in the number of attacks. But of course we have nothing directly to do with this," Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told the "Breakfast Show" YouTube channel.

8:44am: Russia says drone strike on Moscow was Ukrainian 'terrorist attack'

Russia's defence ministry accused Ukraine on Tuesday of a "terrorist attack", saying it had intercepted all of the eight Ukrainian drones aimed at Moscow.

"This morning the Kyiv regime carried out a terrorist attack with drones on targets in the city of Moscow. Eight drones were used in the attack. All of the enemy drones were downed," the ministry said on social media.

8:05am: 'Flying mopeds'

A Russia-launched attack struck Kyiv in the early hours of Tuesday, the third night running for an aerial attack on the Ukrainian capital, with "around 20" Iranian-made Shahed drones used according to Ukrainian authorities, FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg reported from Kyiv.

"I could certainly hear them; that's actually the first time I've personally heard the sound of these drones, which are always described as 'flying mopeds' by the Ukrainians. [...] What we could mainly hear was the sound of the explosions of the Ukrainian air defence systems shooting these drones," Cragg continued.

"They did shoot most, if not all of them, down; we're waiting for confirmation. But this time there was rather more damage than usual caused by the falling fragments of the drones themselves and perhaps of the Ukrainian missiles used to shoot them down."

7:04am: Moscow targeted by drone attack, mayor says

The Russian capital was targeted by a rare drone attack Tuesday morning, causing "minor" damage to buildings and no casualties, the city's mayor said.

"This morning, at dawn, a drone attack caused minor damage to several buildings. All the city's emergency services are on the scene [...] No one has been seriously injured so far," Moscow's mayor Sergei Sobyanin said.

Moscow, located more than 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) from Ukraine, has only rarely been targeted by drone attacks since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, even though such attacks have become more common elsewhere in Russia.

Images posted on social media showed traces of smoke in the sky. Others showed a broken window.

4:22am: Ukrainian forces destroyed over 20 Russian drones, officials

Ukraine's air defence forces destroyed more than 20 drones in Russia-launched overnight air attacks on Kyiv, the military administration of the Ukrainian capital said early on Tuesday.

Calling it a "massive" attack launched in several waves, Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv's military administration, said on the Telegram messaging app that Russia conducted the assault using Iranian-made Shahed drones only.

It was the third attack on the city in 24 hours. It was not immediately known how many drones Russia launched.

Read yesterday's live blog to see how the day's events unfolded.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP & Reuters)

Originally published on France24

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